New York’s top court will take up a long-running lawsuit that pits Smithtown against deer hunters.
The state Court of Appeals announced Thursday it has granted the town’s request to appeal a lower court ruling striking down a local ordinance that some say effectively bans bow hunting in most of Smithtown.
It likely will take more than a year before the Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in the case, meaning it might not occur until 2022, a court spokesman said.
Still, Thursday’s decision means the town has one last chance in the case. And it could settle whether municipalities have any authority to restrict bow hunting.
At issue is a town code forbidding firearms discharge within 500 feet of occupied buildings, parks and beaches. Further, the code covers not just guns but air guns and bows.
That puts it at odds with state hunting laws, which set separate such distances for firearms (500 feet) and long bows (150 feet).
Hunters for Deer, an East Quogue group, sued and in 2018 a state judge upheld the Smithtown ordinance. But in August, the mid-level Appellate Division reversed and determined state law preempted the town ordinance.
In part, the Appellate Division said Smithtown erroneously claimed it is "free to define for itself the meaning of ‘firearm’" and that state law defining the term "plainly does not encompass a bow and arrow."