New York Assembly Bill A11033, a bill that would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm in New York when accompanied by a qualified adult, is about to be approved by the Assembly.
The approval, which came by a 92-14 vote the next day, was significant in that the legislation, which has repeatedly been approved by the Senate in recent years, has traditionally died in Assembly committees.
"(Approval) wasn't easy," said Lupardo (D-Endwell), who co-sponsored the bill. "We had to convince a lot of downstate legislators, particularly from New York City, that it was a good thing; that we wouldn't be turning kids loose on the streets with guns. "The speaker (Sheldon Silver) told them that it wasn't a gun issue but rather an economic issue for upstate -- that hunting means a lot to the communities up here."
Lupardo said that she felt the turnaround in sentiment in the Assembly was largely attributable to the support Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis has given the bill.
The companion bill in the Senate, S8228, will likely reach that house's agenda early this week, and will be passed. If it is signed by Gov. Paterson, the regulations take effect immediately, which means youngsters can be hunting big game this season.
The bills provide 14- and 15-year-old license holders the ability to hunt big game when accompanied by a person over 21 with at least three years of big game hunting experience. It requires both the youth and mentor to wear hunter orange (minimum hat or vest; orange camo being acceptable); the mentor must maintain physical control (defined as in close physical proximity, and be in constant visual contact and able to issue verbal directions and instructions) over the minor at all times.
The inclusion of the blaze orange requirement reportedly helped the bill gain the support of many legislators who in the past have not supported lowering the age to hunt big game. The bill specifically prohibits the hunter-mentor from using treestands.
Another aspect of the bill is that it will also allow an adult, with written permission, to take a junior hunter out for small game at the age of 12, not just the parent or legal guardian.
It also allows youths less than 12 years of age to accompany a licensed trapper over 21 years of age with at least three years of trapping experience and participate in all aspects of trapping without requiring the youth to be licensed.