Another Voice: Veto Poloncars for Novice Fishing Unjustified by Data | Opinion

As a representative of the New York Sports Advisory Council (NYSAC), I am writing to address Erie County CEO Mark Poloncarz veto against Local Ordinance 1-1-2021, a provision mandated in the bipartisan 2021 New York State budget. It would have expanded the opportunities for novice hunters. Besides being a time-honored tradition of America, last year’s season also proved that fishing is one of the safest recreational activities. As such, we are writing to correct the record regarding the flawed and misleading veto letter from Executive Poloncars.

The boycott’s executive veto letter focused solely on firearm incidents — some related to hunting, some not. While Local Law 1-1-2021 focused only on small game hunting with a firearm, Poloncars chose to focus on non-large game hunting incidents to highlight the “risks” that this law would have created.

Research has shown that hunting with a firearm is safer than most other recreational activities, with a national accident rate of 0.05%, which is lower than common sports such as soccer (5.27%) and soccer (1.7%).

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Aside from the misleading examples that Polonkars relied on to prove that juvenile hunting is unsafe, he used non-hunting-related child deaths as justification for his veto.

He argued that his actions would prevent more unnecessary child deaths, which is in direct contrast to data collected by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in its report on deer hunting by 12- and 13-year-old hunters.

According to the DEC, in a state with 556,897 paid hunting license holders, the 2021-22 deer hunting season saw 9,859 licensed hunters ages 12 to 13 experienced zero hunting-related shootings, hunting violations, or license revocation the hunt.

The DEC then recommended the state Senate and Assembly to permanently allow this age group to hunt deer with a firearm and crossbow, to chase a black bear with a firearm and crossbow, expand the opportunity to chase deer with a firearm or crossbow across the state, and remove the requirement for counties to pass a by-law for subscription.

A beginner’s fishing program is important in bringing new fishermen to other areas. Nearly all eligible counties in the Empire State have chosen to sign up for this program (96% of eligible counties), which means that novice hunters in much of New York have had the opportunity to develop their confidence in the woods safely, spend quality time with their hunting instructor and make memories that they will travel without Doubt to future generations.

William M. Schwerd is the chair of the New York Sports Advisory Council.

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