PENN YAN — The Yates County Legislature is wasting little time when it comes to possibly lowering the age for hunting deer with a firearm or crossbow.

During a special meeting Thursday, the Legislature set a May 10 date for a public hearing on the topic. The hearing will be at approximately 1 p.m., before the board’s regularly scheduled meeting, and the Legislature could adopt a local law at the meeting.

Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced a pilot program that could lead to 12- and 13-year-olds hunting big game with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader. The minimum age is now 14, and upstate counties would need to approve a local law to lower the age locally.

New York was the only state in the nation that didn’t allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt big-game with those weapons. They can do so with a bow and arrow.

There would be some stipulations in the proposed local law for lowering the age:

• Hunters 12 and 13 would need to be supervised by a licensed adult hunter, 21 and older, with at least three years of hunting experience.

• Younger hunters would have to remain at ground level, meaning they couldn’t use a tree stand.

• Unless there are state or federal laws to the contrary, the younger hunters could shoot a deer with a firearm or crossbow, but not a bear.

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