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DEC commissioner calls after-dark hunting shootings 'senseless'

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos today called Rosemary Billquist's death "incredibly tragic."

And, completely preventable.

"Even one incident is too many," Seggos said. "Every single hunting incident that we see is preventable. Hunting incidents are preventable."

Seggos added: "None of these incidents are acceptable. It's just not worth it to take such risks and put others in jeopardy and put yourself in jeopardy."

After Environmental Conservation Officer James Davey was shot last Nov. 29 in Columbia County, officials thought hunters would get the message about "the devastating effects of shooting after dark," said Joseph H. Schneider, the DEC's director of law enforcement.

"But, unfortunately, this year we've had a rash of incidents," Schneider said. "Sunrise and sunset are a specific, official time. They're not just an interpretation of 'well, it looks like it's light enough to shoot now,' or 'it's still light enough to shoot.' "

Schneider added: "Sunset is a number that you can look up and know what it is so that you know when you're done hunting for that day."

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Besides Billquist's death, Schneider pointed out several other after-hours hunting incidents have injured or narrowly missed others, including:

  • a hunter who was shot in the leg by his partner who mistook him for a deer;
  • a hunter who shot a brown pick-up truck occupied by two people in the Southern Tier;
  • another hunter shot his fingers off his hand north of Albany.

"It was all after sunset," Schneider said. "It was all after legal hunting hours."

Schneider said when hunters act irresponsibly, charges can quickly escalate from environmental conservation violations to criminal offenses.

"Where that type of reckless conduct gets you arrested for manslaughter, for negligent homicide," Schneider said. "The case that's going in WNY right now: serious, serious charges following that incident."

Schneider added: "And, that's as it should be."

Later this afternoon, officials in Chautauqua County are expected to announce charges against Thomas B. Jadlowski in connection with Billquist's shooting last week.

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