Thursday, April 5, 2012

Changes Proposed for Hunting Regulations

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced proposed rules affecting deer and bear hunting in New York to implement the state’s Five-Year Deer Management Plan.

“Regulation changes are needed to implement many of the strategies of the recently adopted Management Plan for White-tailed Deer,” Commissioner Martens said in a press release. “The changes to the deer hunting seasons, mandatory antler restrictions, use of Deer Management Permits (DMPs), and development of Deer Management Focus Areas will increase opportunities for New York hunters, consistent with input we’ve received from the public and deer management goals.”

DEC adopted the five-year deer management plan in October 2011 [pdf].

DEC will accept public comments on this proposal through May 21, 2012. Comments on this rule change should be specific to the proposals and should not be resubmissions of previous comments submitted on the full deer management plan or previous regulatory proposals, the agency said.

This rule also proposes some adjustment of bear hunting seasons, which are generally concurrent with deer seasons. Among other changes in the southern zone, DEC is proposing the following changes for the Adirondack region:

Establish a three-day youth firearms season for deer to occur during Columbus Day weekend in portions of the Northern Zone where deer may be taken with a firearm which will increase opportunities for junior hunters. Junior hunters (ages 14 and 15) will be authorized to take one deer of either-sex with a firearm during the youth season. DEC anticipates participation by approximately 16,000 youth hunters, roughly one youth hunter for every two to three square miles of deer habitat in New York. The youth season will run concurrently with early bowhunting season and is not expected to have any noticeable impact on deer behavior or bowhunter success, particularly in light of the more than 100,000 small game hunters also afield during the early fall. Youth deer hunts are held concurrent with bowhunting seasons in many other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Adjust the Northern Zone muzzleloader and regular season start dates by up to one week later certain years to increase bowhunting opportunities and accommodate the proposed youth firearms season. This rule will begin the Northern Zone muzzleloader and regular seasons one week later in 6 of 10 years allowing for a longer early bow season these years.

Establish a late bowhunting season in the Northern Zone, concurrent with the late muzzleloading season, to increase bowhunting opportunities. This rule will increase bowhunting opportunities in the Northern Zone by an additional seven days and will be similar to the concurrent bow and muzzleloader seasons in the Southern Zone.

Allow Deer Management Permits (DMPs) to be used during Northern Zone bow and early muzzleloader seasons to simplify regulations and increase hunter opportunity and choice. Current regulations allow use of DMPs in the Northern Zone only during the regular season and late muzzleloader season. This change will only affect those portions of the Northern Zone in Region 6 where DMPs can be issued (Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A, 6C, 6G, 6H, 6K), and this change will not affect the number of DMPs issued.

Adjust bear seasons in the Northern Zone to remain consistent with bow, muzzleloader and regular seasons for deer.

Correct a road name in the boundary descriptions for WMUs 5A and 5C, where Franklin County Route 24 was incorrectly identified as State Route 24.

To see more complete and detailed explanations of the proposals, including instructions for providing comments, visit the DEC website.

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