After stating on Sunday that an archer broke the law by shooting a goose with an arrow, the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief said Monday afternoon that it is in fact legal to hunt geese in New York State with a bow and arrow — but that does not necessarily mean that the shooter is off the hook.
A $1,000 reward still stands if it turns out that the shooter, who has not been identified, is convicted by the New York State Department of Conservation for violating the law by hunting without a license or hunting, licensed or not, outside of a designated hunting area, SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Monday afternoon.
The SPCA reported on Sunday that a goose was photographed in Noyac, near Sag Harbor Cove across from Long Beach Road, walking around with an arrow going straight through its body. Gross explained before the SPCA sent out an email offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the shooter, the New York State Department of Conservation was consulted.
Gross said the first DEC officer the SPCA spoke to said that using a bow and arrow to hunt geese is against the law. “We don’t just send out an email without checking," Gross said. "We did check, but obviously we got the wrong information.”
A different DEC representative later contacted the SPCA and said that bowhunting of geese is legal, when hunting regulations are adhered to, according to Gross.
Gross said that the SPCA's legal counsel is determining whether an animal cruelty charge could be leveled against the shooter in the case that the shot broke a hunting law, or if it would be a matter for the DEC to pursue alone.
“The Suffolk SPCA still looks at it as an act of cruelty, whether it is legal or not," Gross said. He said that it is his belief that a true sportsman would have used a more lethal broad tip arrow to shoot a goose and give it a quick death, rather than what appears from photographs to be a narrow field tip arrow. He said he consulted hunters that agreed they would not use a field point to hunt geese, but he acknowledged that it is not against to law to hunt small game with a field point. “We’re not interfering with legal hunting," Gross said. "We’re certainly not trying to do that.”
The DEC website states then when hunting waterfowl, "You must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all killed or crippled birds. Any wounded birds must be immediately killed and included in your daily bag."
Regardless of the legalities behind the shot, the SPCA is working with a number of agencies — including the DEC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons — to find the bird. Gross said that it is urgent that the bird is captured and given veterinary treatment, because it must be in pain and slowly dying.
To capture the goose, the SPCA is looking at borrowing or buying a net gun, Gross said.
In October, a Peking duck with an arrow through its neck was discovered in Patchogue, and in July 2011 a swan shot with an arrow was found near Indian Island County Park in Riverhead. Gross said neither shooter has been found.
He is asking anyone with information on the goose shooter to come forward by confidentially calling the SPCA at 631-382-7722.