With the stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week reluctantly put an end to crossbow hunting in New York.
The use of crossbows was scheduled to “sunset” at the end of this year, but Cuomo nixed a bill that would have extended their use because it also would have ended the state’s Youth Firearms Deer Hunt, which allows 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt big game under the supervision of an adult.
“Simple extender bills should not be used as a basis to impose unrelated restrictions,” Cuomo wrote in response to the Assembly.
The move was the correct one, as the youth hunting weekend has proven to be a safe and enjoyable experience to which no reasonable person should have any objection. But Cuomo and Albany lawmakers should finish the job by immediately getting to work on a new bill to extend crossbow hunting.
Objections to crossbow hunting come from a broad ideological spectrum, including bowhunters who don’t want the competition and anti-hunting activists who consider such activity cruel.
But similar traditionalist arguments were made by recurve-bow enthusiasts around the time compound bows became prominent. The deer population, it was argued, would be wiped out by such devastating weapons. Such fears proved unwarranted, and today it’s nearly impossible to find a hunter who doesn’t use a compound bow.
The use of a crossbow is certainly no less sporting than the use of a rifle, and for some archery fans, it’s the only option. For disabled people and the elderly, drawing a bow powerful enough to drop big game can be a struggle.
But these folks are willing and able to hunt during archery season, and should be encouraged to do so. For sporting goods stores and the state treasury, this would mean an influx of money spent on licenses and equipment.
For wildlife biologists, increased hunting puts many more eyes and ears into the wilderness. Those who enjoy the outdoors, for example, are often the first to report disturbances involving invasive species or diseased flora.
Beyond that, hunting provides exercise, enjoyment and an efficient, low-cost source of meat. Eating wild game instead of meat produced on a farm is one of the most effective ways people can reduce their carbon footprint – not to mention providing one’s family with nutritious, tasty meals free from chemical additives.
Since Cuomo’s veto wasn’t the result of any opposition to crossbow hunting on his part, it’s reasonable toassume he’ll bring the season back if lawmakers give him a good bill to sign. And given the many ways crossbow hunting benefits the state, it would be a shame if they didn’t.