Niagara Gazette — It started with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, when he included the use of crossbows as an important initiative to pursue in the Empire State. It’s something that’s been pushed for by every major conservation group in the state for years. Finally, it’s drawn the attention of the state’s top politician and he’s pushing to make the crossbow a legal hunting implement in the state, letting the Department of Environmental Conservation manage the use of the crossbow as it sees fit, which is the way it should be.
The crossbow initiative then appeared in Cuomo’s Executive Budget (which was turned in this past week), an important next step to help make this happen. The ball is now in the court of every single sportsman and woman in the state who would like to see the crossbow push happen in New York. It’s important to write those letters, send those emails and make those phone calls to all your locally-elected politicians. In addition, you might want to Cuomo, as well as the heads of the Assembly and Senate, a note to let them know that you stand behind this important initiative. After 25 years, the crossbow may finally be an important hunting tool in the Empire State!
That’s not to say it wasn’t before. A couple of years ago, the crossbow was permitted for two hunting seasons, but there were so many restrictions that you could only hunt with it during the regular and late muzzleloader seasons, when firearms could be used and the weather was poor. It wasn’t the hunting tool of choice for sure. Prior to that time, there was a provision for a special crossbow permit, but it was so restrictive that only a handful existed in the state. One of the “tests” to see if you qualified was if your finger moved. If it did, then you did NOT. You had to fire the crossbow with your mouth, a “sip and puff” release that was expensive and degrading for someone who might be 90 percent quadriplegic but could still use their finger. Crazy!
In the past, the Senate has supported this type of crossbow initiative pushed by the governor, but the Assembly has fought it tooth and nail in the Environmental Conservation Committee chaired by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney of Long Island. He would not release it out of committee for reasons we can only speculate. We know that at least one group – the New York Bowhunters – have fought long and hard against having the crossbow in New York. You know that letters will be coming from them opposing Cuomo’s push, so it’s important to let your voice be heard in the affirmative.
Here’s what happens next (according to Sen. George Maziarz’s office): The Budget proposal actually consists of about 10 different budget bills covering different areas (health, education, etc.). The crossbow provisions are included in the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation budget bill. After Cuomo submits his budget proposal, the Senate and Assembly will review it to determine what they like and don’t like. Then, negotiation begins among Cuomo, Senate and Assembly. Eventually, an agreement is made on what will stay in the budget, what will be added and what will be removed. The Senate majority supports the crossbow initiative and now Cuomo is supporting it, which is helpful in the negotiation stage. The negotiation will continue for the next couple months until an agreement is reached by the budget deadline (April 1). If the crossbow provisions stay in the budget bill, then they will become law if the budget bill passes the Legislature and the Governor signs it. Write and call today!
LOTSA featured in Fishing Expo Today!
If you haven’t attended the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Show yet, this is the day to go. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association have their Marketplace today and it should be bigger and better than ever according to Joe Yaeger, president of the fishing club. Admission into the main Expo also gains you admission into the Marketplace, so it’s two for the price of one. Remember that this is a first-time event that we hope will continue into the future. There definitely has to be learning curve for the folks at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls, site for the Expo, and so far things are looking pretty darn good. The Seneca Niagara Casino is even offering free parking! Come on out and support this great event. For LOTSA, this is the main fund-raiser for their pen rearing project in Olcott. For more info on LOTSA, check out their website at www.lotsa.org. If you want information on the show, check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com.
The Bass University will also continue today within the Expo – another show within a show. The good news about that is the bass pros who are instructing will also be part of an important panel and will give seminars to the main Expo – some great insight into bass fishing around the country AND in Western New York.
Other seminars will be given on walleye, salmon and trout fishing locally – perfect way to ramp up your fishing knowledge and get more involved in what the area offers. If you’re a kid looking to learn the basics – of if you are a parent looking to increase your fishing abilities to take your kids fishing – then you’ll want to attend the special LOTSA Kids Fishing Class. A youngster MUST be accompanied by a parent so that you can learn together. No excuses here. If you can’t find something to increase your fishing abilities at this Expo, your eyes are closed and you’re not looking hard enough!
The Conference and Events Center is located on Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls – across from the Casino. Doors are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Check it out!
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at email@example.com.OUTDOORS CALENDAR Today • Final day, Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Conference and Events Center, Niagara Falls. Free parking in the Seneca Niagara Casino lots. There will be a great lineup of seminar speakers. Go to www.niagarafishingexpo.com for all of the details. • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. Marketplace, a special one-day mini-expo within the main Conference and Events Center hall focusing on Lake Ontario with an extra 50 tables selling new and used equipment -- fishing tackle manufacturers, charter captains and more. For more info check out www.lotsa.org. • Niagara Region Open 3-D Winter Archery League Shoot from sunrise to 1 p.m. at Erie County Conservation Society. Kids 13-and-under shoot free. For more info call Greg Gattie at 560-9613. • Chautauqua Lake Cross Country Ski from 10 a.m.-noon at Long Point State Park. Call 549-1050 to register. Tomorrow • Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs general monthly meeting starting at 7 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara 4-H Building, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport. For more info contact John Butcher at 433-1014. Tuesday • Niagara County Fisheries Development Board meeting starting at 7 p.m. at the Newfane Community Center, Main Street, Newfane. Call chairman Frank Campbell at 523-0013 for details. • James Carr NYS Pistol Permit Class starting at 6 p.m. at Genesee County SCOPE, Batavia. Call Carr at 778-9431 to preregister. Wednesday • Niagara Frontier Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold their monthly meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Twin Village Post 463, Litchfield Avenue, Lancaster. Friday • Deadline for nominations to the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame. A nomination form is available on the website at www.nysohof.org or by calling 315-829-3588. Saturday • Ice Bridge Display and Walk. The presentation will be held from 1-4 p.m. at Niagara Falls State Park. Call 285-0516 to preregister for the presentation. • Great American Outdoor show (formerly the Eastern Sports, Travel and Outdoor Show) at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg through Feb. 9. The granddaddy of sport shows is back, now being run by the NRA. For more info check out www.greatamericanoutdoor.reachlocal.net.