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DEC Announces Proposed Rule Changes to Allow Big Bore Air Rifles for Big Game Hunting
Public Comments Accepted Through February 8
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is now accepting public comment on proposed regulation changes that would allow the use of big bore air rifles as a legal implement for taking big game at certain times and places in New York, beginning in the fall 2016 hunting seasons, Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. DEC will accept written public comment on the proposed rule changes through February 8, 2016.
DEC is proposing to amend the regulations found within Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR section 180.3) to allow the use of certain air-powered firearms for hunting big game. Air-powered rifles that meet certain specifications, termed "big bore air rifles," have adequate downrange energy to effectively harvest New York big game species. In 2010, DEC amended these regulations to allow the use of air-powered firearms for hunting small game.
"The popularity of air-powered firearms is growing, largely because of technological advancements," said Acting Commissioner Seggos. "These modern firearms produce the force necessary to efficiently harvest big game animals. In addition, because big bore air rifles are not as loud as conventional rifles or shotguns, allowing their use may make hunting more acceptable in locations with higher human densities, including areas where deer are overabundant."
Big bore air rifles are available commercially, and they fire bullets of sufficient size at sufficient velocities to safely and efficiently harvest big game. These big bore air rifles would only be allowed for taking big game where other types of rifles are allowed to be used for taking big game. Use of rifles for big game hunting is allowed in most New York counties. Please visit the Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas webpage on DEC's website for more information.
Details of the proposed rule can be viewed in the December 23 publication of the New York State Register and on DEC's website under Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Proposed, Emergency and recently adopted regulations.
Citizens who wish to make formal public comments through February 8 may do so by sending an email to: WildlifeRegs@dec.ny.gov
(include "air rifle regulations" in the subject line) or by writing to: Bryan L. Swift, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.
I would like to submit the following comments in regards to allowing the use of Air Rifles for Big Game hunting. I believe that the use of new innovative technology to improve the effectiveness, enjoyment, and safety of hunting and wildlife conservation is crucial to the success of these programs. I not only encourage the DEC to implement regulations allowing the use of this new technology but to bring public awareness to its allowance and to use this as reasoning to gather data in support of relaxing current regulations.
I see this as a great opportunity to test the relaxation of current regulations; such as the use of laser sites (artificial light). Being that the main driver of this purposed regulation is to correct the population imbalance that exists, (I encourage you to read more on my thoughts about this subject at http://huntingtactical.com/blog/nys-new
... cy-part-1/) I can most certainly see how these regulations can include exemptions for these technologies in the interest of public safety and data collection.
I myself was in a situation this year that I believe to be the point of "allowing their use may make hunting more acceptable in locations". The use of an Air Rifle would have resulted in a safer and more enjoyable hunting experience for myself, the impacted neighboring community, and resulted in not wasting the time and resources of the law enforcement officers that were called to investigate. Furthermore the use of better technology, such as laser sights would have improved the safety of that situation and increased the comfort level of the neighboring community.
I also would encourage the DEC to use this as an opportunity to collect data pertaining to "big bore air rifles are not as loud as conventional rifles or shotguns". I believe that the regulations outlawing suppressors go against public interest and pose significant health risks to all those impacted. The use of these Air Rifles can be used to study the impact of reduced noise pollution and hearing damage or loss by those operating them. I encourage you to read more regarding my thoughts on this subject at http://huntingtactical.com/blog/are-sup
There is also additional support for these proposed regulations by evaluating other states that have previously opened up the use of this new technology. Alabama and Arizona to name a couple have allowed the use of Air Rifles for big game and hog hunting. With the recent introduction of these invasive species into our state I think that anything we can do to help promote the use of this new technology should be considered.
A concern that I do have over the use of Air Rifles is that historically they have been less accurate than conventional hunting rifles and shotguns. To help alleviate this problem and encourage hunters to use more accurate technology I encourage the DEC to take a deregulated approach. In doing so I believe this will encourage private enterprise to develop and improve the technology resulting in safer firearms and practices. Said differently I would not like to see any language that specifies any specific criteria, bullet use, means of propulsion, or restrictions on this technology outside of a very general and basic definition. I believe that hunters will choose the technology themselves that will allow for the safest and most effective uses. As in many new innovate technology industries (such as the introduction of the PC) the industry as a whole will develop standards that are in the best interest of the users, manufactures, and technology development without government interference.
I expect that the DEC will word these new regulations in such a way that they clearly align themselves with current doctrine. They need to clearly spell out that these regulations recognize that the use of these new technologies and firearms are in alignment with the Supreme Courts guidance in the Heller vs. District of Columbia and are not "dangerous or unusual weapons". Furthermore specific language should be used to recognize that these Air Rifles regardless of action, design, magazine, propulsion, stock or any other characteristic are not assault or militaristic in nature.
I thank you for continuing to develop and import the hunting and shooting sports by accepting public opinions. However like any opinion I hope that the DEC strongly considers the source and motivation of those opinions.http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/104508.html