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Rod, Gun & Game: Hunter harrasment is against law

With the opening day of big game firearm season in New York on Saturday, Nov. 16 in mind, the topic of hunter harassment is a subject of interest. If you are part of the unfortunate circumstance of having your hunting event intruded upon by anti-hunting protests — or to put this in more socially acceptable language, where people are “causing interference with the lawful taking of wildlife,” remember hunter harassment is illegal in all 50 states.

Many organizations have been drawn together to identify how best to fight back, but about 25 years ago, the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance wrote the draft for hunter-harassment language that was used by the majority of states when they passed laws protecting hunters and hunting. This language has withstood all court challenges during those decades.

New York State has specific environmental laws (Section 11-0110) on the books for those guilty of interference in the lawful taking of wildlife. Anti-hunters cannot legally follow you, engage in a course of conduct to sound an alarm or annoy a licensed hunter. Also remember that hunters cannot take the law into their own hands. The perpetrators need to be identified for their violations and arrested by a police officer from any of many agencies.

If you happen to encounter an anti-hunter group while in the field attempting to disrupt your hunting experience, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, they’re actions are illegal and yours is not. Report the incident to authorities as soon as possible, use your cellphone. Take notes and provide an accurate description of the protesters, as well as a license plate number and vehicle information and if you can, be prepared to file harassment charges against the perpetrators.

Remember, hunter harassment doesn’t always just occur in the field; you can find it during everyday activities such as social gatherings, soccer games and with some of your cohorts at work. Many folks are actually discriminated against at work because they hunt. Often times, you will find yourself on the defensive with those uneducated about hunting and it is best to keep your cool and be prepared to help educate them. This can be difficult and while most sportsmen are courteous, be very careful not to be defensive, simply explain the details.

If you experience hunter harassment in the field, understand that you need to be prepared with more than a firearm or compound bow; you need to be knowledgeable about what to do. Explain predator-prey relationships and how well-balanced ecosystems work — that usually helps to correct any misdirection with the sense of right and wrong. Protesters are usually not educated on how and why hunters are actually helping conserve wildlife and may just need to hear the facts.

That means you need to know your sport and you need to be totally legal, too, in how you hunt. Carry a list of Region 9 environmental conservation officers (ECOs) with your back tag or in your wallet. It is amazing how this list can be used to your total advantage on opening day or at any time during hunting season. To learn the names and contact numbers of local Region 9 ECOs, visit the following link: www.dec.ny.gov/about/689.html.

Provide details on how hunters help fund conservation. Sometimes ordinary individuals do not realize that hunters pay for wildlife conservation. Explain that and mention that sportsmen eat their legal kill. The animal rights lobby constantly spreads misinformation that hunters kill just to kill.

You may not succeed in persuading anyone about the positive aspects of hunting, but you will have at least left them with a better understanding of our outdoor heritage, the sincere and humble passion you share for the outdoors and your need for unspoiled wildlife for your freezer that is free of growth hormones to feed your family.

Lake Erie Tributary Steelhead

Mike Todd of the NYS-DEC, in his weekly hotline, reports that all of the Lake Erie tributaries are running high and muddy following the weekend rain. The smallest streams or the upper reaches of streams are the best bet unstained water. Medium-sized streams, such as Chautauqua, Canadaway, Eighteenmile and Buffalo Creeks could take at least a couple days to settle down. Cattaraugus Creek is running high and muddy at nearly 3,000 cubic feet per second (the ideal fishable range is 200-400 cfs) and won’t settle down until next weekend or so.

Outdoor calendar:

– Nov. 7: Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, monthly meeting, Southtowns Walleye Association, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg, 7pm start, call 440-6995.

Nov. 9: Ladies Hoot and Shoot Day, North Forest Rod & Gun, 6257 Old Niagara Rd., Lockport, 1:30pm, registration due by 11/7, call 628-9023.

Nov. 9/10: Niagara Frontier Gun Show, Springfield Volunteer Fire Hall, 405 Main St., Springville, 9am-3pm both days, visit nfgshows.com.

Nov. 11: Trap Shooting open to public, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Alden, 6-9:45pm, call 937-3615.

Nov. 14: Invasive Species of Lake Erie, informative seminar presentation with Helen Domske of NY Sea Grant, free, 7pm start, 4968 Lake Shore Rd., Hamburg, call 627-2773.

Nov. 15: Last day of NYS Southern Zone early Big Game archery season.

Send outdoor info, 10 days in advance, to nugdor@yahoo.com.
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