Proposal pulled to permit Nassau bowhunters on Suffolk land

A proposal to allow bowhunting on county property by non-Suffolk residents was recently withdrawn. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)
A proposal to allow bowhunting on county property by non-Suffolk residents was recently withdrawn. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

A short-lived plan to allow Nassau County bowhunters onto Suffolk County lands was quickly shot down last week.

At Wednesday’s Suffolk County Parks & Recreation Committee, chairman Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) pulled a bill he had sponsored personally after it was clear to him that the proposal had nothing but opposition from area hunters — and little support from those who suggested it in the first place.

Mr. Schneiderman, the deputy presiding officer of the county legislature, had been recently approached by bowhunters from Nassau, he said, though nobody from the county came to fight for passage of the bill at Wednesday’s meeting. Not only that, but the one speaker on the issue — Suffolk hunter Steve Barbato — offered several reasons against considering it, which was more than enough to take it off the table.

“I had made it clear to the folks from Nassau, that without the support of Suffolk bowhunters, I was not going to pursue it,” Mr. Schneiderman said at the meeting. “I haven’t heard any support from Suffolk bowhunters.”

On Friday, the legislator said when the idea was floated to him, it made logical sense.

“So we’re inviting sharpshooters in from other areas, and paying them to kill deer with a rifle?” he said. “Why couldn’t we have some bowhunters from Nassau and have them kill deer with bows? I would feel better about that.”

But Mr. Barbato, who said he’s been hunting in the county for the past 27 years, said earlier this week that there is enough competition as it is in the Suffolk parks system to get a hunting spot in-season. He said that 70 spots exist in the 20 Suffolk parks, and that for six out of the county’s 20 hunting grounds don’t even open until at least Nov. 1 — one month after the season starts on other lands.

In addition, he said, “if Nassau County residents want to hunt in Suffolk County, there are more than enough opportunities available” to do so on state-owned land. He pointed to 13 properties totaling over 21,000 acres in Suffolk that permit over 300 hunters per day.

Despite the opposition at the meeting, Mike Tessitore — who represents Hunters for Deer, a hunting advocacy group — said on Friday that he would have supported the program, had he known about it.

“It says in our licenses, ‘New York State.’ It doesn’t say ‘Suffolk’ or ‘Nassau,'” he said. As long as the county charged a fee, and limited the amount of space opened up to out-of-towners, he said he’d likely favor it.

The plan had called for allowing no more than 100 non-resident permits to be given out to bowhunters, at a cost of $100 each. Suffolk residents pay $35 annually to hunt on county land, with a green key — which must be purchased every few years.

Mr. Schneiderman said on Friday, though, that without the support of the group that approached him in the first place, he wasn’t about to move forward with it without the backing of those who approached him in the first place.

“If you want something like that, you gotta fight for it,” he said. “I was willing to put in the bill and get the conversation started. I would have wanted to see a healthy group come out and endorse it.”

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