The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed rules affecting deer and bear hunting in New York to implement the state’s five-year Deer Management Plan.
DEC adopted the five-year deer management plan in October 2011 following extensive public input and can be viewed at: www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/deerplan2012.pdf.
Comments previously submitted on the draft deer management plan were important in finalizing the deer plan and developing this rulemaking proposal. The DEC will accept public comments on this proposal through May 21, 2012. Comments on this rule should be specific to the proposals herein and should not be resubmissions of previous comments submitted on the full deer management plan or previous regulatory proposals.
This rule also proposes some adjustment of bear hunting seasons, which are generally concurrent with deer seasons. The DEC is proposing to:
• Establish a three-day youth firearms season for deer to occur during Columbus Day weekend in portions of the Northern and Southern 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. Opinions of potential participants about a youth firearms season can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/ythdeer2012.pdf.
• Lengthen bowhunting seasons in the Southern Zone by moving to a fixed opening date of Oct. 1 to increase bowhunting opportunities. This will lengthen bowhunting seasons in the Southern Zone, and lengthen the regular season (bowhunting only) in Westchester County by an average of 15 days and include an additional four weekend days in most years.