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Images: Metro Creative Graphics
Images: Metro Creative Graphics

New York state takes steps to protect animals


Tue, Jan 2nd 2024 11:55 am

Legislation to Protect Wildlife

S.4099/A.2917 updates hunting competition laws to end certain contests, competitions, tournaments and derbies with no conservation purpose

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation to protect wildlife in New York.

Legislation S.4099/A.2917 amends the environmental conservation law to make certain hunting contests, competitions, tournaments and derbies that allow for the take of large numbers of wildlife unlawful. 

Hochul’s team said, “The legislation does not ban hunting or fishing, but does protect New York's rich biodiversity by prohibiting the wasteful taking of certain wildlife.”

The governor said, “Protecting wildlife is critical to fostering the integrity and resilience of our environment and our outdoor recreation economy. This legislation establishes strong safeguards for our state’s precious wildlife species and protects our important fishing and hunting traditions.”

The new law makes it unlawful for an individual to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote or participate in any contest, competition, tournament or derby with the objective of taking or hunting wildlife for prizes, inducement or entertainment. Any wildlife killed during these activities become the property of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The law specifically helps prevent the taking of significant numbers of animals, often coyotes, crows, squirrels and rabbits, in contests held for prizes and entertainment rather than the targeted management of wildlife populations. 

The legislation excludes contests for hunting white-tailed deer, turkeys and bears, as well as fishing contests, which are regulated by the state. 

The press release noted, “By enacting this legislation, New York joins a national trend of states banning such contests.”

New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, “With the signing of this legislation, we are sending a clear message that the wanton waste of one of our state’s most treasured resources will not continue. The indiscriminate, inhumane killing of our shared wildlife in exchange for cash prizes is a waste of life, and I am proud that New York state is taking the lead in outlawing these contests. Thank you to the dozens of organizations and countless advocates who supported this legislation, and Gov. Hochul for signing it into law.”

Assembly member Deborah Glick said, “It is shocking that, in New York, dozens of these barbarous, unsporting contests take place each year to kill the largest number of certain species of wildlife. These killing contests serve no conservation or scientifically backed ecological purpose and encourage senseless brutality. I applaud Gov. Hochul for signing this legislation and ending this inhumane practice while protecting a farmer, rancher, or other New Yorkers’ right to safeguard companion animals and livestock from nuisance animals through DEC regulations. The wildlife of New York is a natural resource that should be protected, not brutally killed for cash.”

Humane Society of the United States New York State Director Brian Shapiro said, “With Gov. Hochul’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship, New York is now the 10th state to end wasteful cash-for-wildlife competitions. We thank and appreciate Gov. Hochul for upholding sound policies that protect and celebrate our state’s precious wildlife resources.”

ASPCA Eastern Division Senior Director of State Legislation Bill Ketzer said, “These indiscriminate killing sprees do nothing to manage wildlife populations. In fact, this brutal activity can create significant ecological problems, while promoting an egregious and unjust attitude toward our wildlife, which must be managed for the benefit of all New York residents and taxpayers.”

‘Birds and Bees’ Act to Protect New Yorkers & Wildlife from Harmful Pesticides

Hochul has signed into law Legislation S.1856-A/A.7640, known as the Birds and Bees Protection Act. This legislation protects New Yorkers from potentially harmful toxins by prohibiting the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticide (neonics)-treated corn, soybean or wheat seeds, and neonicotinoid pesticides for outdoor ornamental plants and turfs – what Hochul’s team described as “creating important protections for New York’s pollinators, birds and other wildlife.”

Hochul said, ““By signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York is taking a significant stride in protecting our kids, environment and essential pollinators. This law underscores our commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem while we prioritize sustainable farming and agricultural practices.”

Legislation S.1856-A/A.7640 is a proactive measure to protect pollinators by restricting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on certain seeds, outdoor ornamental plants, and turf.

The press release explained, “It allows sufficient time for innovative research on alternatives and the development of more cost-effective products that are less harmful to the environment. After this period, the use of neonicotinoids will be subject to science-based evaluations and waiver provisions to assist farm and agriculture operations in the transition to this new program.”

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “The EPA recently found that neonicotinoid pesticides are driving more than 200 species towards extinction, marking them as the most ecologically destructive pesticides since DDT.”

Assembly member Deborah Glick said, “Limiting toxins that pose adverse effects and health risks is an essential step forward to stop poisoning the environment and create a healthier New York. I applaud Gov. Hochul for recognizing the importance of our pollinators and our environment and signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act. This bill accommodates concerns about seed supplies while ensuring transparency and agronomic justification through a waiver process overseen by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in consultation with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets with time built in for the market and farmers to adjust. This groundbreaking legislation will help safeguard the vitality of our pollinators while ensuring a healthier environment for all New Yorkers.”

Hochul’s team said, “New York is committed to promoting the health and recovery of pollinator populations, as highlighted in the state's Pollinator Protection Plan (PDF). Pollinators contribute substantially to New York's environment and economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators provide approximately $344 million worth of pollination services to New York and add $29 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. The state's ability to produce crops such as apples, grapes, cherries, onions, pumpkins and cauliflower relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.

“This new law will build on action the Department of Environmental Conservation has already taken to restrict the use of many neonics and work with registrants to narrow the uses of many of these products to protect pollinators or state resources.

“Last year, DEC took action to limit the unrestricted use of pesticides that can harm bee and other pollinator populations by reclassifying certain products containing the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and acetamiprid as ‘restricted use’ to ensure applications are limited to trained pesticide applicators in specific situations.”

President David Fisher said, “New York Farm Bureau greatly appreciates Gov. Hochul’s leadership in offering thoughtful chapter amendments on the ‘Birds and Bees Protection Act.’ She sought input from all sides and reached consensus on a balanced approach that ensures farms will have safe risk management tools that they need to grow food for our state. New York Farm Bureau also is pleased about the continued role the Department of Environmental Conservation will have in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to make science-based regulatory decisions. The governor once again demonstrated her willingness to find a reasonable pathway forward to support New York agriculture.”

Atlantic Chapter Conservation Program Manager Caitlin Ferrante said, “The Sierra Club applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act into law. Using sound science as a backbone for the policies that protect NY’s pollinators, water and soil health will ensure NY’s communities are safer for generations to come.”

Natural Resource Defense Council Pollinator Initiative Acting Director Dan Raichel said, “Gov. Hochul and the Legislature have taken a critical step forward in protecting New York’s food systems, ecosystems, and public health by signing this first-in-the-nation bill. Neonics harm nearly every part of our environment – from the water to the soil to our health – and kill bees and other pollinators, driving down crop production. With the sensible and flexible model outlined in the bill, New York will now lead the country in commonsense regulation to curb the use of these dangerous pesticides.”

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said, “We are thrilled and buzzing with excitement! This legislation will leave a legacy of cleaner, safer drinking water and saves our pollinators so that they can continue to pollinate 75% of the fruit, nuts and vegetables we eat.”

National Audubon Society Senior Policy Manager Erin McGrath said, “Over the last decade, neonics have come under increasing scrutiny because of their negative impacts on birds, pollinators, other wildlife, and people. Science has shown us that even low doses of neonics can prevent songbirds from orienting themselves for their migration, cause significant weight loss, and interfere with their reproductive success. Due to these impacts, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides should be greatly reduced to help reverse the steep declines observed in many bird populations. We thank Gov. Hochul for taking swift action to curtail the unrestricted use of neonic pesticides and championing birds and the places they need to survive.”

Good Farmers Guild of Western New York President and co-owner of Dirt Rich Farm Laura Colligan said, “As a vegetable farmer, a wide range of beneficial insects and other bugs are essential to my success, whether it’s bees to pollinate my crops, lacewings to control pests, or earthworms to return nutrients to the soil. Neonicotinoid pollution threatens all of them and, by extension, my livelihood. I’m grateful for Gov. Hochul’s leadership on this critical legislation to protect farmers like me across New York State from needless neonicotinoid use.”

Plan Bee Farm Brewery owner Emily Ann Watson said, “We depend on our honeybees and clean water for our farm and brewery. I can control what we use on our farm, but hive collapse and the threat creeping contamination are a continuous problem. I’m so glad the governor and the Legislature made the right decision today to take smart action to eliminate wasteful and destructive neonic use.”

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