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December 03, 2010 - Field Notes

Noteworthy News from the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources

Significant Notes

searching for rabbit pellets
DEC biologist, Paul Novak, searches for
rabbit pellets (bottom right) in the thickets of
Hubbard Perkins Conservation area in Putnam
County. The DNA of the rabbit's pellets will help
identify whether it is a New England cottontail or
Eastern cottontail.
  • Searching For Our Native Cottontail.
    In the northeast, there are two species of rabbits that are very similar in appearance, the New England cottontail and the Eastern cottontail. While Eastern cottontails were widely introduced across most northeastern states, the New England cottontail is a native to New York, found in counties east of the Hudson River from Columbia County to Westchester County. Primarily due to loss of preferred habitat, populations of New England cottontails have declined by more than 75 percent across its northeastern range, prompting biologists to identify the distribution of remaining populations. While hunter submissions through the New England Cottontail Initiative will increase our knowledge of the rabbit's distribution in New York, volunteers and staff from various agencies, including NYS DEC Region 3 and 4, Office of Parks and Recreation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NY Natural Heritage Program, and various Land Trusts, will also be afield this winter to assess the species' status, albeit searching for rabbit pellets. Rabbit pellets can be identified to species through DNA analysis. Last winter, nearly 400 pellet samples from 80 different locations were collected and eight new sites for the New England cottontail were located, all within a few miles of previously identified locations. More information on New England Cottontail (link leaves DEC website) (PDF, 198 kb) studies can be found on the USFWS website.
  • 2011 Draft Quota Allocations For Marine Commercial Fisheries.
    The Bureau of Marine Resources is in the process of developing the 2011 quota allocation management plans for commercial fishery species. Draft proposals for black sea bass, bluefish, scup, and summer flounder are now available for review on the 2011 Draft Quota Distribution Plan webpage. Comments on the draft proposals can be submitted to the Bureau of Marine Resources by email to or by calling (631) 444-5621.
  • Commercial Marine Fishing Limit Changes.
    The horseshoe crab commercial fishery has closed, effective December 01, 2010, until further notice. View additional commercial trip limit regulations online. For questions or concerns, contact the Bureau of Marine Resources by email or call (631) 444-5621.

Hunting Season Reminders

(Get all available hunting dates on the Hunting Seasons webpage)

Successful hunters must report take on deer, bear and turkey within 7 days. Effective November 17, 2010, the reporting deadline was extended from 48 hours to 7 days. Simply report your take online or call toll-free at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

Migratory Waterfowl

  • December 3: Last Day for Hunting Brant and Canada Geese in the Lake Champlain Zone.
    The final day to hunt for brant and Canada geese in the Lake Champlain waterfowl zones is December 3, 2010. View the Canada Goose Season Map and the Migratory Waterfowl Seasons Map to identify specific hunting area boundaries that will be closing.
  • December 6: Last Day for Hunting Canada Geese in the Northeast Zone.
    The final day to hunt for Canada geese in the Northeast Zone is December 6, 2010. View the Canada Goose Season Map to identify hunting area boundaries.
  • December 6: Last Day for Hunting Ducks, Coots, and Mergansers in the Western Zone.
    The final day to hunt for ducks, coots and mergansers in the Western Waterfowl Hunting Zone is November 27, 2010. The season will re-open in this zone on December 26, 2010.
  • December 7: Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Re-open in Long Island.
    Hunting for Canada geese re-opens in Central and Eastern Long Island and for ducks, coots and mergansers in the Long Island Waterfowl Hunting Zone on December 7, 2010. View the 2010-11 Waterfowl Hunting Seasons and/or Canada Goose Hunting Seasons to identify season bag limits. Please remember that all licensed waterfowl hunters must register with HIP and have a federal migratory bird/duck stamp; details on this and additional information can be found in the migratory waterfowl hunting regulations and license requirements online.

Big Game

  • December 5: Last Day for Regular Firearm Big Game Hunting in the Northern Zone.
    The last day for regular firearm bear and deer hunting in Northern Zone Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) is December 5, 2010. View the Big Game Season Maps to identify hunting area boundaries that will be closing.
  • December 6: Deer Muzzleloader Hunting Opens in Select Northern Zone Areas.
    Muzzleloader hunting opens for Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 5A, 5G, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6H, 6G on December 6, 2010 and continues through December 12, 2010. View the Deer Muzzleloader Season Map to identify hunting area boundaries and harvest information. Review big game hunting regulations and hunting license information before going afield.

Furbearer/Small Game

  • December 10: Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Closures in Northern Zones.
    The last day for bobcat trapping in all Northern Zones and bobcat hunting in the Tug Hill Wildlife Management Unit (WMU-6) is December 10, 2010. Bobcat hunting remains open for all other areas. View the appropriate Trapping Season Map and/or Hunting Season Map to identify areas that will be closing.
  • December 10: Last Day for Trapping Fisher and Marten Statewide.
    The final day to trap for fisher and marten is on December 10, 2010. View the Trapping Season Map to identify hunting area boundaries that will be closing.
  • December 11: Use of Bait or Lure for Body-Gripping Traps Prohibited.
    As of December 11, 2010, body gripping traps set on land may not be set with bait or lure. These trapping methods are in place to avoid the capture of fisher during the closed season.

Did You Know...?

river otter mother with her pup or kit
A mother river otter teachers her pup how to swim.
~Photo courtesy of Columbus Zoo.

River otter's streamlined body, webbed feet, and long tail are adaptations that make them skillfully acrobatic and swift in the water: yet, they are not born with much swimming skills. A mother river otter will have to carry, drag, or offer a tasty snack to entice her young in the water for their first swimming lesson.

View a river otter pup's training day in the following YouTube video (link leaves DEC website) produced by the Columbus Zoo.

Also, read more about this playful otter on the DEC website.

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