New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul after catching a fish. Credit: NY Governor/Facebook

New York Governor Signs Bills Protecting Sharks, Bears and Birds

New York Gov. Hochul said she signed the legislation because she wanted to protect “the wildlife that makes our state so special.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul extended protections for a variety of fish and wildlife when she signed seven bills into law this week. In Wednesday's announcement, Hochul said she signed the legislation because she wanted to protect "the wildlife that makes our state so special." She added: "Our animal populations are at the center of industry and culture for much of our state and serve an intrinsic purpose for all of us - we must take every measure necessary to protect them."

New hunting and fishing laws in New York

According to the announcement, the measures include prohibiting the use of certain fishing hooks when fishing for sharks. It extends state protections for scallops, American lobster, striped bass, monkfish; changing regulations for deer and bear hunting. And it allows the federal government to set bag limits for bird hunting.

Protecting Sharks From Harmful Fishing Hooks

State Sen. Pete Harckham, a Democrat representing parts of Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties, filed the measure, arguing that it will "reduce needless shark mortality" as the shark population dwindles worldwide. The measure comes about three months since the state Department of Environmental Conservation implemented new gear regulations and handling requirements for shark fishing.

Extending protections for sea and wildlife

Five of the measures signed extend protections for animals on land and sea. Lawmakers who filed the bills argue that they're designed to safeguard the livelihood of those who depend on fisheries and protect them for the future.

Assembly member Fred W. Thiele, Jr, a Democrat representing areas of The Hamptons and Montauk, said the measures regarding marine life would "ensure that New York strikes the right balance in managing these resources." Thiele added: "It is imperative that responsible management provides for both economic and environmental sustainability."

Regulations for bear and deer hunting

Assembly member Deborah J. Glick, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, said the measure would protect bear and deer from "the dual threats of climate change and habitat loss."

According to the bill summary, the measure amends the current law and gives the DEC authority to manage bear and deer populations until the end of 2027. With that authority, the agency could determine hunting seasons, bag limits, and fees associated.

"New York is fortunate to have such diverse areas of the state that are home to different types of species each requiring careful monitoring and management to guarantee their continued well-being," Glick said. "These measures are vital to maintain healthy ecosystems and support strong populations of these animals."

Authority to manage migratory birds

Assembly member William Conrad, a Democrat representing parts of Erie and Niagara Counties, said he sponsored the bill so hunting zone boundaries aligned with those set by the federal government. "This allows us to afford appropriate hunting opportunity and to help maintain wildlife habitats and ecosystem health," Conrad said. And added: "As these periodic adjustments must coincide with fluctuating environmental factors."