Assemblymen Brian Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua), Gary D. Finch (R,C-Springport), and Robert C. Oaks (R,C-Macedon), along with Cayuga County Sheriff Rob Outhouse and Tom Jasikoff, refuge manager to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, joined on Monday to advocate on behalf of hunter safety in New York.
Kolb has introduced a bill, sponsored by Finch, that requires big game hunters to wear safety clothing during firearm season. The bill specifically calls for 250 square inches of blaze orange fabric, either patterned or solid, to be worn above the waist, or a hat or cap in the same color.
Kolb cited statistics that show hunters wearing orange clothing are seven times less likely to be shot at while hunting than individuals who don other gear such as camouflage apparel. “From 1994 to 2003, four out of five hunters wore orange, and not one of them was mistaken for a deer and shot by another hunter. However, 15 hunters who did not wear orange clothing while hunting during those years were mistakenly shot and killed. We need to pass this law in New York.”
Finch said, “Both federal guidelines and the laws of Pennsylvania recommend blaze orange be worn for safety purposes while hunting. Many of our hunters cross the border between Pennsylvania and New York during hunting season, and while we are looking out for the best interests of our residents, we know it is also important to respect the integrity of our hunters.”
“Hunting is a long-standing tradition that we need to preserve while making as safe as possible,” said Assemblyman Bob Oaks. “This legislation will allow hunters to be more visible to one another, while not overburdening them with excessive restrictions.”
Sheriff Outhouse, in reference to recent hunting accidents at the start of this year’s season said, “This is yet another case that necessitates an investigation where it appears there was a lack of communication in the hunting party and high-visibility clothing was not worn by the two hunters involved.”
“We have a long-standing hunter safety record here at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge,” said Jasikoff. “As a federal facility, we require hunters to wear fluorescent, highly visible orange clothing, and would support efforts by the state of New York to make hunters safer by wearing more visible clothing.”
Since 1989, more than 20 hunters have been killed during hunting season, and a vast majority of those fatalities were not wearing any form of safety garments. A similar bill was passed by both the Assembly and the Senate in 2003, but was vetoed by the governor. Assemblymen Kolb and Finch expressed hope this bill will see action in the 2006 legislative session.