Gun Law Creates Dilemma For Hunters
Leroy Peets has been hunting the Wanakena Ranger School forest land for years.
It's been a popular place for hunters for decades.
But that has now changed because of the state's stricter gun control law.
Peets and dozens of other hunters aren't happy.
"I don't know where I'm gonna go," said Peets.
The college has traditionally allowed the use of firearms for hunting on its forest properties statewide.
But a technicality in the NY SAFE Act is now making the 2,800 acre Dubuar Forest off-limits to all firearms carried by Peets and other small and big game hunters.
That's because under the SAFE Act, firearms are banned from all college campus properties.
While there are some exemptions, they don't pertain to the ranger school, which is operated by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
But the quirk is that the lands are actually owned by Syracuse University and leased to SUNY ESF, making any hunter with a firearm in violation of the SAFE Act and subject to a felony charge of criminal possession of a weapon if caught.
"The land has to be owned and maintained by ESF in order for that exemption to apply," said Robert Davis, director of Forest Properties, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
College officials say while firearms, such as rifles and shotguns, are not allowed on SUNY ESF forest property, bow hunting and trapping can still take place.
With the early bear season opening Saturday in the Adirondacks, Peets says the firearms ban makes little sense.
SUNY ESF officials say they will be replacing existing signs that read hunting is allowed in season with one that say "No Firearms Allowed" within the next couple of weeks.
They also say they are hoping for a legislative change that would exempt the college forest land from the law, but that could take some time.