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The Village of Lansing trustees voted 4-0 Monday to permit the use of crossbows, but only for hunters who have been approved to participate in the Village's official deer population management program.  Village attorney William Troy explained that hunters may now use crossbows in addition to long bows and compound bows if they are members in good standing of the deer management program and the Village mayor. 

"It's one of the things, as a responsible government, that we have to do," said Mayor Donald Hartill. "I like to watch deer, but I don't like to watch cars kill them.  That's the equation we have to deal with."

With the obvious exception of law enforcement officers, shooting any firearm within Village borders is prohibited.  The exception the new amendment to Village law allows is hunting on your own property and participating in the official deer population management program.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allows the program to run outside of the normal deer hunting season, and extends allowed hunting hours of the day, as well as allowing baiting to lure deer to areas in the Village where landowners have signed off on deer management program hunters participating on their properties.

The program was launched in 2007, and Hartill says it has been demonstratively effective.  He added that continuing the program is needed to keep the deer population at a sustainable level, both in terms of overrunning the Village and allowing new forest growth.

"It is important that we continue to limit the deer population.  If we don't do that then we go back to the state where we were about ten years ago when we had a major method of controlling the deer population called automobiles.  At the height we were taking between 40 and 50 animals a year by car.  This past year, after running this program for about a decade, our take by car was one, or perhaps two -- it wasn't clear.  In that sense we made a lot of progress.  There are small maple trees beginning to grow.  The oaks are also beginning to do the same.  Generally the forest is going to be in much better shape as a result of the program."

The Board considered concerns about crossbow use, including that its bolts travel farther than arrows from long bow or compound bows.  He explained that because hunters in the program shoot downward from tree stands, the concern is moot.

"This is a change in our local law that would permit crossbows as part of our program to control our deer population," Hartill said. "We're part of a program that permits feeding the animals to bring them in so that they can be taken care of.  One of the reasons for considering this change in our local law is that crossbows are quite a bit more accurate than compound bows.  It relieves some of the problems associated with the (compound bow) projectile doesn't kill the deer, which then has to suffer for a while. The crossbow is a more effective tool."

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