The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the release of a draft Deer Management Plan for New York State for public review and comment. The plan builds upon the progress made by DEC’s first deer management plan, released in 2011, and will guide DEC’s deer management actions to balance natural resource protection, public safety, and recreational and economic interests for the next 10 years. The draft plan is available on DEC’s website and public comments will be accepted through Dec. 28, 2020.
The plan includes proposals for extending legal hunting hours to be from one half our before sunrise until one half hour after sunset. It also contains a proposed regulation change to extend the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone to include the period from December 26 to January 1. DEC received several thousand comments through Nov. 8, 2020 on this proposed regulation, and those comments are presently under review as part of that public regulatory process.
The draft plan details a new method for setting deer population objectives that integrates an assessment of deer impacts on forests with public preferences for deer population changes. It emphasizes new and adaptive approaches for harvesting antlerless deer by recommending strategic hunting season and tag changes in rural landscapes where additional harvest is needed and developing new opportunities for community-based deer management in suburban and urban landscapes.
A summary of the accomplishments from the first plan, many of which have become integrated into DEC’s deer management program, is also included. In addition, the plan provides greater transparency into the processes behind deer management including the methodology for setting Deer Management Permit (DMP, antlerless tag) quotas and the calculations for estimating annual deer harvest totals. Finally, this plan identifies a series of statutory recommendations that would improve deer management capacity throughout New York.
Significant elements of the Draft Plan include:
- Establishing desired deer population trajectories (more deer, fewer deer, stay the same) for 23 regions of the state by aggregating existing deer management units, including deer impacts on forest regeneration with new tools like AVID (see below), and considering public preferences for deer population change;
- Monitoring deer populations for diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease and taking steps to reduce disease risk;
- Recommending several hunting-related changes to provide additional hunter opportunity such as a Southern Zone holiday hunt, special seasons to meet local objectives, and increasing antlerless harvest where deer population reduction is warranted;
- Maintaining a voluntary approach for letting young bucks go and re-evaluating the existing mandatory antler restriction program for consistency with hunter values and management objectives;
- Encouraging voluntary use of non-lead ammunition (such as copper) by deer hunters to reduce human and wildlife exposure to lead by ingestion;
- Pursuing regulatory mechanisms to improve the Deer Management Assistance Program and Deer Damage Permit program so landowners and municipalities can reduce deer damage and deer-human conflicts;
- Providing technical assistance for community-based deer management including local hunting programs, suburban/urban hunter-training workshops, and other management tools;
- Exploring the potential for a small grants program to assist communities in developing local deer management plans and implementing actions from those plans;
- Promoting the Assessing Vegetation Impacts of Deer (AVID) protocol for citizen science monitoring of deer browse impacts on forests; and
- Better understanding and addressing public values and interests regarding deer populations, impacts, and deer management decisions.
Comments on the draft plan should be sent to email@example.com (using “Deer Plan” in the subject line) or by mail to: DEC Deer Management Plan, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. The public comment period closes on Dec. 28, 2020. After reviewing public comments on this draft, DEC will amend the plan before adopting and publishing a final version. Some recommendations will require new or amended state regulations and these regulatory proposals will be subject to an additional public comment period during the formal rulemaking process.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released the State’s final Trout Stream Management Plan that will improve the management of trout streams across the state. The final plan is the product of extensive public engagement and sound science that embraces simplicity, encourages angler participation, and recognizes the value of managing trout streams for self-sustaining populations of wild trout. In addition, to support implementation of the Trout Stream Management Plan, today DEC issued proposed regulations that are available for public comment until Jan. 25, 2021.
Significant aspects of the plan are the result of more than 20 public meetings held with anglers in 2017 to identify desired outcomes for the state’s numerous and diverse trout streams. The plan covers a broad spectrum of management areas and angler interests associated with trout stream management in New York. To view the plan and the categorization of managed trout stream reaches visit DEC’s website.
The management plan draws a distinct line between stocked and wild trout management and prioritizes habitat management as the primary tool to improve and restore wild populations of trout. It also creates the foundation to learn and build upon for continuous improvement of the State’s trout stream fisheries resources, solidifying DEC’s commitment to protecting and promoting the health of wild trout fisheries.
The plan also takes into consideration the hundreds of thousands of New York anglers who enjoy the State’s ongoing stocking efforts and balances protecting natural populations while supporting a robust hatchery network and partnerships that expand recreational opportunities and meet anglers’ diverse needs. The plan extends the duration of stocking on select stream reaches, increases the size of stocked fish, and ensures that each stocking contains some fish that are 12 inches or larger. It also seeks to improve the vigor of hatchery brown trout for increased survival.
Anglers would also be provided with the ability to fish year-round through the creation of a statewide catch-and-release season. DEC has preliminarily concluded that fishing during the spawning season will not result in negative fishery impacts, and DEC will evaluate the potential impact of the catch-and-release season with a study on select streams.
DEC seeks continued angler engagement to support efforts moving forward, including developing a new angler-friendly interactive map for information on stream reach management and fishing access locations. DEC will also expand public outreach about the significance of wild trout populations and the water they inhabit.
The proposed regulations are published in the State Register today and are available at DEC’s website. DEC is accepting public comments on the proposed rule changes from Nov. 25, 2020, to Jan. 25, 2021, by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that a new online bowhunter education certification course opens today, July 15, 2020. A bowhunter education course is required for all hunters who use a bow and arrow to hunt deer or bear. All hunters must also complete a mandatory hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license.
To take the online course and receive a bowhunter education certificate, you must be a New York State resident. The cost of the course is $30. The course can be accessed at https://www.bowhunter-ed.com/newyork/. The online course will be available through August 31, 2020.
All in-person bowhunter education courses have been cancelled this year during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. The online course provides an opportunity for new archery hunters to get their required bowhunter education certificates before the fall hunting seasons begin. Since the April 15 launch of DEC’s new online hunter education course, more than 30,000 people have completed the course. Nearly 70 percent of those completing the online course are 21 or over, and almost 40 percent are women.
DEC’s Hunter Education Program is partnering with Kalkomey Enterprises, a company that specializes in hunter education, to offer online courses that can be completed in six to eight hours. The online course covers all the topics of the traditional in-person course including bow safety, tree stand safety, hunting ethics, wildlife conservation, and New York State hunting laws and regulations.
Students who successfully complete the online bowhunter education course and pass the final exam will receive their bowhunter education certificate. The course is available to individuals aged 11 years and older, but only those 12 or older may purchase a hunting license. Students can complete the courses from a computer, tablet, or smart phone at any time.
DEC Seeking Reports of Moose Sightings
(6/12) DEC is asking the public to report moose sightings as part of ongoing efforts to monitor moose distribution in New York. Most of New York’s moose live in the Adirondacks, but we also have moose in portions of eastern New York along the border with Vermont and Massachusetts. Occasionally, moose are seen in southeastern New York and the Catskills — these are generally single animals that have dispersed from other areas in New York, Connecticut or Massachusetts. In 2019, the public reported 447 moose observations to DEC.
Moose are the largest land mammal in the state. Bulls weigh from 600 to 1,200 pounds and stand up to six feet tall at the shoulder. Cows weigh anywhere from 500 to 800 pounds. Moose are primarily browsers, feeding on the leaves, twigs and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs. An adult moose eats 40 to 60 pounds of browse every day. Favored plant species include willows, birches, maples, balsam fir, viburnums, aspen, and mountain ash. In the summer, when most moose sightings occur, moose feed heavily on aquatic plants in ponds and wetlands, wading into the water and reaching beneath the surface for plants.
Many moose sightings also occur along roadways. Drive cautiously at dusk and dawn as moose can be hard to spot due to their dark color. If you see a moose, do not block traffic and remember to respect wildlife by keeping quiet and viewing from a distance.