Provisions in New York State Environmental Conservation Law that allow the use of crossbows for big-game hunting and eliminate a permit requirement for hunters with physical disabilities to use special archery equipment  will expire on Dec. 31.

Provisions in New York State Environmental Conservation Law that allow the use of crossbows for big-game hunting and eliminate a permit requirement for hunters with physical disabilities to use special archery equipment  will expire on Dec. 31.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens issued that reminder to hunters earlier this week.

Legislation allowing the use of crossbows during certain big-game hunting seasons took effect on Feb. 1, 2011. This allowed licensed hunters to use a crossbow during the 2011 and 2012 big-game hunting seasons.

“The popularity of crossbows is growing in New York, though relatively few hunters have taken deer with crossbows because they may only be used during the regular firearms season and subsequent muzzleloader season,” Martens said.

The immediate effect of the law expiring is that big-game hunters will not be able to use a crossbow during the January 2013 deer hunting season in Suffolk County, or during a special January 2013 deer hunting season established in the designated “Deer Management Focus Area” in Tompkins County.

For hunters with physical disabilities who are allowed to use special archery equipment during any big-game or small-game season, that activity will still be lawful, but they may need to apply again for a “Modified Archer Permit” from DEC’s Special Licenses Unit in Albany.