From: The Albany Times Union.
It would be convenient to misconstrue a bill in the state Legislature to ban wildlife killing contests in New York as some kind of anti-hunting measure. It is not.
As even many hunters and fish and game officials are realizing, the waste and bloodlust of these indiscriminate killing events threaten to harm the image of hunting as a valid wildlife management tool. It’s time for New York to join a growing number of states in ending this inhumane, barbaric practice.
Dozens of wildlife killing contests have taken place across upstate New York in recent years, often billed as a way to control predators like coyotes and foxes. Prizes are typically given out for most kills, heaviest animal killed, and other such achievements.
The irony is that wildlife management experts say these shooting sprees don’t help control predator populations. Whatever decline might briefly occur can actually spur overpopulation, some studies have found, as the natural dynamics that limit breeding within packs are disrupted. That in turn can create a greater demand for prey and make predators more likely to attack livestock.
Removing predators, even temporarily, can also cause a surge in rodent populations and in the numbers of sick animals that predators normally kill and eat in the natural course of things.
And it’s bad public relations for hunting. The Humane Society of the United States documented instances in wildlife killing contests in Sullivan and Wayne counties in recent years where carcasses were tossed into dumpsters. Wildlife and game officials across the country have voiced concern that these contests are giving hunting a bad image in the public’s eye.
Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department put it like this in an analysis of the impact on coyotes: “Coyote hunting contests are not only ineffective at controlling coyote populations, but these kinds of competitive coyote hunts are raising concerns on the part of the public and could possibly jeopardize the future of hunting and affect access to private lands for all hunters.”
Citing the ineffectiveness of these contests as a wildlife management tool and the poor image they lend to hunting, Vermont has banned them, as have Massachusetts and five other states — Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington.
It’s time New York did, too.
A bill to do that has been proposed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Sen. Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo (A.5746/S.6643). The bill would make organizing or participating in these contests a violation of state Environmental Conservation Law, with a fine of $500 to $2,000 per incident. It would not apply to contests for hunting white-tailed deer, turkey, or bear, or to fishing contests or hunting dog trials. Similar legislation has been around in one form or another since at least 2003. It is long overdue. New Yorkers — hunters and nonhunters alike — would be better off without this gory, inhumane form of “entertainment.”
New York should be a leader
not lagging on parole reform
From: Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Zachary Katznelson, Special to USA Today.
No New Yorker wants to hear that our state is the worst in the country on any issue. Yet for six years running, no other state has locked up as many people for “technical” parole rules violations, like missing appointments with parole officers or being late for curfew.
There is no excuse for New York to be mired in last place with a unified legislature, a governor who prides himself on getting things done and a pathway for reform that has been tried and tested in other states.
We can learn from the growing number of state legislatures that over the past decade have recognized there are smarter, more cost-effective ways to help people succeed after prison and reduce crime.
This is at once a moral and a practical issue.
… As community members, we believe our justice system should maximize public safety while protecting the rights of people accused of wrongdoing.
Not a single study says re-incarcerating people on parole for technical rules violations improves safety. A New York State Bar Association task force made up of judges, district attorneys, defenders,
and other experts recently concluded that “there is little to no evidence that the current revocation process for persons accused of technical parole violations in New York actually enhances public safety or reduces recidivism as intended.”
… In the final weeks of the legislative session, our elected leaders have the chance to refocus New York’s parole system based on tried and tested models. It is time for New York to not just catch up, but to lead.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, a Westchester resident, is president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Zachary Katznelson is policy director of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.