DEC officer discusses hunting safety

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- One day before Thanksgiving, 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist of the Town of Sherman was shot and killed when a neighbor mistook her for a deer.

Billquist was shot once in the hip, and died at an Erie, Pennsylvania hospital.

The hunter has not been charged and the case is being presented to a Grand Jury in Chautauqua County.

“It is a town where a lot of people get out and hunt. It’s a town where a lot of people from outside the area come to hunt. There’s a lot of people out in the woods on any given day during hunting season with weapons,” explained Chautauqua County DA Patrick Swanson.

Rosemary Billquist (right) with her husband, Jamie.

Swanson said given how small the Town of Sherman is, local charges would have posed a procedural problem because the judge and prosecutors likely know both Billquist and the hunter.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff said the shooting occurred after sunset, which is against state hunting regulations.

“The hunters, what some of them don’t realize is that sunrise does not occur as soon as you can see light in the morning, and sunset is not when it’s too dark to see in the evening. There is a specific time that the sun rises every day and the sun sets every day,” DEC Conservation officer Lt. James Schultz told News 4.

The New York State DEC is investigating the incident, as it is hunting-related.

Schultz said it’s the hunter’s responsibility to check sunrise and sunset times; violating that rule could result in a fine of up to $250 dollars.

“Always know your target, always know your target environment, not just what’s between you and the target you’re shooting at but anything that is beyond,” Lt. Schultz said.

In 2016 there were 13 hunting-related injuries in New York State, most self-inflicted. Four of those injuries were fatal.

Schultz pointed out that’s out of 500,000 licensed hunters state-wide; he said generally speaking, hunting in New York State is a safe sport when done according to the rules.

A funeral for Billquist was held in the Town of Sherman Wednesday.

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