The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that “a major initiative to crack down on illegal deer hunting from the Hudson Valley to the Canadian border” has led to nearly 300 charges against 107 individuals in just six weeks. Dubbed “Operation Jackhammer,” Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) focused on deer jacking, the illegal practice of killing deer at night by shining a spotlight on the animals feeding in fields to “freeze” them long enough to shoot them.
According to DEC spokesperson Yancey Roy, this fall’s six-week long enforcement operation was “the largest coordinated anti-deer jacking initiative in the state’s history” and included more than 100 Forest Rangers from the Hudson Valley, Capitol Region, the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Rangers targeted rural locations, mostly in the weeks before deer season opened when DEC tends to field more complaints about deer jacking.
In all, DEC officers charged 107 individuals with 187 misdemeanors and 87 violations. This included 27 instances of hunters killing deer at night while using a spotlight or other artificial light and 48 instances where a hunter was caught using a light but had yet to kill a deer. Typically, other related charges were filed in these instances, such as carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle, hunting after hours and firing a gun within 500 feet of a house.
In the Adirondack Park and surrounding North Country there were 102 misdemeanors and 37 violations. The Capital Region and northern Catskills accounted for 71 misdemeanors and 46 violations, and in the southern Catksills and Lower and Mid-Hudson Valley there were 14 misdemeanors and four violations.
Approximately 40 guns were confiscated and 42 illegally-taken deer recovered.
“Taking of Deer with the Aid of an Artificial Light” is a misdemeanor punishable by a
fine of $250 to $2,000 and/or incarceration for up to one year, as well as possible revocation of hunting privileges for up to five years.
“Operating an Artificial Light on Lands Inhabited by Deer While Possessing a Firearm” is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $200 to $1,000 and/or incarceration for up to 90 days.
Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $250 and/or incarceration of up to 15 days.