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For Release: Thursday, December 20, 2012

DEC Alerts Hunters: Crossbow Law Expires December 31, 2012

Expiration of State Law Will Make Use of Crossbows Unlawful for Big Game Hunting

The provisions in the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) that allow the use of crossbows for big game hunting, as well as eliminate a permit requirement for hunters with physical disabilities to use special archery equipment during any big game or small game hunting season, will expire on December 31, 2012, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens reminded hunters today.

Legislation allowing the use of crossbows during certain big game hunting seasons in September 2010 took effect on February 1, 2011. This allowed licensed hunters to use a crossbow during the 2011 and 2012 big game hunting seasons.

"The popularity of crossbows is growing in New York, though relatively few hunters have taken deer with crossbows because they may only be used during the regular firearms season and subsequent muzzleloader season," Commissioner Martens said.

The immediate effect of the law expiring is that big game hunters will not be able to use a crossbow during the January 2013 deer hunting season in Suffolk County, or during a special January 2013 deer hunting season established in the designated "Deer Management Focus Area" in Tompkins County.

For hunters with physical disabilities who are allowed to use special archery equipment during any big game or small game season, that activity will still be lawful, but they may need to apply once again for a "Modified Archer Permit" from DEC's Special Licenses Unit in Albany. The expiring legislation had required only a physician's affirmation of need, instead of a special permit.

For information about current crossbow hunting rules in New York and what opportunities will expire, visit DEC's website. For information about hunter preferences regarding crossbow use, see Appendix 5 of DEC's Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State 2012-2016 (PDF) ( 2.54 MB).

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