Bow Hunting in the Juhring Estate - Open Letter to Mayor Seskin
Mayor Seskin and
The Board of Trustees
Village of Dobbs Ferry
113 Main Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Dear Mayor Seskin and the Board of Trustees:
I would like to comment on the bill that would allow the state laws for bow hunting deer to be applied to the Juhring Estate preserve. As I understand the law, bow hunting would be permitted for a period in the Fall, sunrise to sunset. The age requirements for hunting would be: 16 years old and higher alone; and, 12 years old when accompanied by an adult. Hunting must be conducted 500 feet from a public highway or a dwelling (although no buffer seems to exist for a golf course or someone’s yard).
While I am sympathetic to the need to reduce the deer population in the village, I am concerned that a bill to allow loosely-regulated bow hunters is not the best way to go about it -- for the following reasons:
1. Lack of Public Awareness and Experience with Hunting: Deer hunting upstate has existed in those communities for generations, and people learn from an early age how to act around hunters. In lower Westchester, there is no longer an historical awareness of hunting. How does somebody know when hunting is taking place? How far does one need to be from a hunter? For Dobbs Ferry to allow hunting, effective due diligence requires that an education campaign of non-hunters be conducted.
2. Cost and Effectiveness of Hunting Education: An education campaign would need to be conducted by the village government to teach non-hunters about hunting safety. Such a campaign would need to reach children at all the public and private schools served by the village (Dobbs, Arsdsley, Masters, Childrens Village, St. Christophers, others), and somehow also educate adults and guests of village residents using Jurhring. (Since the law does not seem to require any hunting buffer from a golf course, Ardsley Country Club members, guests, and non-members attending golf outings would need to be educated as well.) This could be expensive, and would be an additional burden on village resources.
3. Pedestrian Traffic in and around Juhring Estate: There are more than 10,000 residents of the village. Lots of people use it for passive recreation, particularly during the Autumn bow hunting season as this is when the fall foliage is most attractive. Many parents encourage their children to use Juhring’s paths as a safer alternative to non-sidewalked streets. Golfers at the Ardsley Country Club play along the Juhring borders. All these people will be subjected to the hazard of bow hunting.
4. Age of bow hunters a concern: Sixteen (16) year old unsupervised hunters may lack the judgment to hunt safely in close quarters with non-hunters. Parents of twelve year old children may not provide the level of supervision required either. I do not know how the village will pay for the oversight required. Also, assuming that the 500 foot buffers are maintained from dwellings and Parkway, the actual permissible hunting area will be small, placing many hunters in close proximity of each other.
5. Enforcement, Liability and Insurance Costs: It seems that the village will be subjected to additional risks and responsibilities under this bill, and I am concerned that they are more than the village should take on. Does the village’s insurance policy cover this bill and/or will additional premiums be required? Is the village prepared for the educational burden that this bill demands? Will the village have to incur legal expense to research these questions as part of effective due diligence? Could the village be subject to lawsuits in case of injuries or fatalities?
This bill seems to be relatively cost-free on its surface, but once one digs deeper, there are extensive costs and risks associated with it. I strongly urge the village to come up with another way deal with the deer problem.
I propose that the village make the more prudent and cost-effective decision to hire a professional culling service. This service would cull the deer on particular dates that are well-publicized, in an area where the terrain provides natural shielding to protect people and property. On these dates, the police would seal off the area from pedestrians and provide adequate signage. This proposal would have a higher initial upfront cost, but would subject the village and its residents to fewer related costs and risks.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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