Distrust in the New York DEC Brewing?

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Surveys run on the New York State Outdoor Writers Association Web site have shown eye-opening distrust of the current administration and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to act in the best interests of sportsmen and even more overwhelming disagreement with Gov. David Paterson's announced closing of the state's only publicly owned pheasant-rearing facility.

"As an organization, the New York State Outdoor Writers Association is dedicated to several key principles, one of which is to keep the public informed on matters relating to the earth's natural resources, such as proper management, conservation, use and restoration," said the association's president, Joel Lucks of East Northport in Suffolk County. "By conducting surveys like these, we give the citizens of the state the opportunity to express their views on important matters and to provide our members an added opportunity to put their editorial fingers on the pulse of their readers. In this case, the pulse beat is loud and clear."

In Gov. Paterson's proposed budget, the Reynolds Game Farm, near Ithaca, has been earmarked for closure, and no alternative has been offered to provide the pheasants that have been an instrumental part of a put-and-take hunting opportunity that has existed in the state for decades. Projected savings for the program have been estimated by the governor of being close to $750,000 annually. Those dollars are provided by the sale of hunting licenses and the federally imposed excise tax on sporting equipment, including arms and ammunition purchased by hunters. Sportsmen, however, had no input into the decision made by the governor's office.

In the NYSOWA survey, "How do you feel about the governor cutting New York's pheasant programs?" nearly 95 percent of the participants disagreed with the governor's action. In contrast, 2.54 percent agreed. The remaining replies were either, "I don't hunt small game (1.13 percent)," I don't hunt pheasants (.85 percent) and "I have no opinion (.56 percent)."

In its next poll, "Do you Trust the current administration and NYSDEC to act in the best interests of sportsmen?" NYSOWA learned that nearly 61 percent of poll participants said "No." Nearly 30 percent more strongly voted, "Absolutely not." Nearly 5 percent voted, "Time will tell," and almost 2.5 percent vote, "I'm not sure." Only 2.44 percent voted, "Yes."

Polls and other information of value to the public are accessible at the NYSOWA Web site, www.nysowa.org. The NYSOWA is an organization founded in 1967, and its current membership rolls include some 100 professional communicators from across the state, in addition to dozens of supporting members in the outdoor industry.

To learn more about the organization, its activities and requirements for membership, visit www.nysowa.org, or contact the organization's president, Joel Lucks, at info@joelluck.com