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Deer Defenders Seeking To Balance State Oversight As Hunting Season Opens

State Sen. George Latimer has introduced legislation that would limit the number of permits the Department of Conservation issues for hunting geese and turkeys. Latimer, a Rye Democrat, said his bill is not getting much support from legislators.
State Sen. George Latimer has introduced legislation that would limit the number of permits the Department of Conservation issues for hunting geese and turkeys. Latimer, a Rye Democrat, said his bill is not getting much support from legislators. Photo Credit: File photo

Hunting season has opened in Westchester and Putnam counties.

And groups seeking to halt what they perceive as the state-sanctioned slaughter of wildlife are pursuing legislative and other legal paths to change New York hunting laws and oversight.

The groups are circulating this petition supporting state Sen. George Latimer's proposed legislation (Senate Bill 6644) that would limit the number of Department of Environmental Conservation permits authorizing the removal of turkeys and geese and require the DEC to provide information "related to humane alternatives to execution of such birds (and) prohibit the department from donating turkeys or geese for human consumption."

On Monday, Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, said, "The bill, frankly, has gotten very little support in either house from colleagues."

Meanwhile, Manhattan attorney Del Seligman recently filed a Notice of Dangerous Condition regarding hunting in lower Westchester. The notice is aimed at keeping Wetchester County government or local municipalities from hiring hunters to control suburban wildlife, primarily deer.

According to Kiley Blackman, founder of Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW), Seligman also is looking into the constitutionality of the rules that govern who can be designated as a member of the state Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB) --which makes recommendations to state agencies on state government plans, policies, and programs affecting fish and wildlife.

To be one of the 11 members serving on CFAB "at the time of designation, board members must hold a valid New York state hunting, fishing or trapping license and have held one three years prior."

Seligman, in a press statement, said, "This legal proviso excludes every single humane non-hunting state resident from serving on their board, to protect their own special interests. Having an advisory board for a wildlife protection agency composed solely of hunters is akin to having a medical advisory board staffed by undertakers.'

Blackman added, "Our tax dollars support these agencies. It is an almost incredible situation that only hunters need apply."

Blackman said, "I believe this bill touched a nerve: People are tired of being kept in the dark about what the government does with their money. . . . their taxes used to kill wildlife -- in secret no less."

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