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Public Input on Hunting Regulations

Hunting activities in New York State are governed by laws enacted by the New York State Legislature (located in the Environmental Conservation Law or "ECL") and by regulations or "rules" adopted by DEC (located in the New York Code of Rule and Regulations or "NYCRR"). DEC may advise the Governor and Legislature regarding possible law changes, but DEC does not have the authority to make changes to the ECL. To provide input on any hunting laws that exist in the ECL, contact your local member of the NYS Senate or Assembly.

To provide input on any hunting regulations being considered by the Department, the public generally has two opportunities to do this: during the formal "rule making" process and before that process begins.

Formal Rule Making Process

To be adopted and put into effect proposed hunting regulation changes must move through the State's formal rule making process as outlined by the State Administrative Procedures Act. This includes publishing the proposed rule or rule change in the State Register and a formal public comment period (generally 45 days) which provides opportunity for the public to submit written comments on the proposed regulation. At the end of the comment period, DEC reviews the comments submitted and then withdraws the proposal, modifies the proposed rule and republishes it for another round of public comment, or submits a final rule adoption package to the Department of State. The rule becomes effective upon publication in the State Register as an adopted rule.

See Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Proposed, Emergency and Recently Adopted Regulations for any hunting-related items currently in the formal rule making process.

Informal Comments on Regulation Ideas Being Considered

Prior to initiating the formal rule making process, DEC routinely seeks informal input from hunters, hunting groups, and other stakeholders regarding their concerns or interest in potential changes to hunting regulations. In many situations, DEC uses scientific surveys to gather public opinion about potential rule changes. In other cases, we may communicate informally through e-mails, letters, or meetings in response to ideas we have as well as suggestions from others. DEC also invites public input on various game species management plans which often describe specific regulation changes being considered. In any of these situations, it is helpful to obtain informal feedback to gauge public interest and support, and to learn of any concerns that may exist, before we begin the formal rulemaking process. Below are some changes to hunting regulations that are currently under consideration, and we invite you to comment on any of these by the date(s) indicated.

Current Changes to Hunting Regulations Being Considered

Keep in mind that these are preliminary ideas which may or may not be formally proposed at a later time. Also, DEC may formally propose rule changes that are not noted here, but as described above, those would be available for public comment when they are published in the State Register.

Submit your comments by December 23, 2016 to any of the ideas below by sending an email or by writing to NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

Possible Big Game Regulation Changes for 2017:

1. Idea: Clarify and strengthen regulations that prohibit the feeding of wild white-tailed deer by:

  • more explicitly defining bait or feed;
  • clarifying that incidental feeding such as the attraction of deer or moose to a birdfeeder would only be considered a violation if the Department had previously issued a written warning to the person responsible for the incidental feeding. This will allow the Department to respond appropriately to specific complaints of nuisance situations without limiting bird feeding in general.

Background Information: Feeding of white-tailed deer causes un-natural concentrations near the food source which can lead to ecological damage, damage to property, and increases the risk of transmission of disease between deer. A general prohibition on feeding white-tailed deer has been in effect since 2002. Updated regulations are needed to address additional concerns related to deer feeding while maintaining appropriate exemptions for agriculture and wildlife food plots and establishing new exemptions for 4-Poster devices (described below).

2. Idea: Define the conditions under which the DEC may issue permits for the use of 4-Poster TickicideTM and 4-PosterTM deer treatment devices in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, including:

  • 4-Poster Tickicide may only be used by a municipality, landowner association, or private individual/corporation that has control over at least 40 acres of deer habitat. This is necessary to comply with the current product label which states that 4-Posters should be deployed at a rate of one device per 40 acres of treatment area;
  • 4-Poster Tickicide may only be used as a single component of an Integrated Pest Management program, which must include steps to inform the public about the presence and use of 4-Poster devices and best practices to avoid exposure to tick bites, and assertive management actions to ensure white-tailed populations and the impacts of deer will not increase as a result of deploying 4-Poster devices;
  • Discontinue 4-Poster use in event that they pose a threat to disease transmission or spread.

Background Information: 4-Poster TickicideTM is registered by DEC and the EPA as a pesticide used to kill ticks on deer. In accordance with the pesticide labeling restrictions, 4-Posters may only be deployed in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Its use depends on attracting deer to combination feeder/pesticide applicator devices (4-Posters) baited with corn. Thus clear regulations are needed to address and lessen potential environmental impacts associated with use of 4-Poster devices and high deer populations.

3. Idea: Amend the existing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Regulation (6 NYCRR Part 189) to strengthen and enhance CWD prevention measures to protect the wild White-tailed deer herd in New York including:

  • prohibiting the importation of all CWD-susceptible carcasses taken outside New York;
  • prohibiting the retail sale and use of urine, glands or excreted materials from any CWD-susceptible animals for scents, lures, or attractants while afield;
  • including Reindeer/Caribou in the list of CWD-susceptible cervids;
  • requiring that synthetic scents, lures or attractants used for attracting deer be labeled as not containing any biological material from any CWD-susceptible cervid;
  • requiring that people in the taxidermist business and people in the business of butchering deer dispose of all biological waste material and any other waste material used in the process of mounting or butchering deer be disposed of only in a regulated solid waste landfill;
  • increasing the inspection, oversight and CWD testing of animals possessed under the authority of a Domestic Game Animal Breeder License.

Background Information: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) represents a serious threat to New York State's wild white-tailed population. DEC's existing CWD regulation is antiquated and does not provide adequate measures to protect the deer population. Prevention is the only proven effective method of wildlife disease management. Specifically, the proposed measures will keep CWD infectious material out of the state and prevent exposure of CWD infectious material to wild white-tailed deer in New York. In addition, the proposed measures will provide DEC with enhanced oversight of captive white-tailed deer facilities including an increase of CWD testing of deer held at such facilities.

NOTE: Previously DEC had suggested possible changes to antlerless hunting rules in 2017, possibly including a new muzzleloader season in some Wildlife Management Units where additional antlerless harvest is needed. At this point, we anticipate these changes may not occur until 2018. We are still engaged in processes to assess the impacts of existing deer populations on forested habitats and to revise how we obtain public input about desired changes in deer abundance. Both of these processes have bearing on future objectives for deer populations throughout the state. Additionally, several portions of the state are limited to bowhunting-only by statute, and alternative strategies are needed to address deer populations in these areas. Thus, we believe it is appropriate to temporarily hold-off on new proposals for increasing antlerless harvest until we make further progress with ongoing assessment projects and assemble a more comprehensive approach to address situations of deer overabundance.

Possible Small Game Regulation Changes for 2017:

4. Idea: Remove the requirement for a special permit for hunting and trapping bobcats in the Harvest Expansion Area (HEA).

Background Information: Over the past four years hunters and trappers who pursue bobcats in the Harvest Expansion Area (HEA; Wildlife Management Units 3R, 3S, 4A, 4F, 4O, 5R, 6R, 6S, 7S, 8T, 8W, 8X, 8Y, 9J, 9K, 9M, 9N, 9P, 9R, 9S, 9T, 9W, 9X, and 9Y) have been required to obtain a special permit from their regional wildlife office. The special permit process allowed DEC biologists to collect information on harvest and hunting and trapping effort and was designed as a short-term monitoring effort. Based on data collected over the past four seasons and the presence of other mechanisms such as mandatory pelt-sealing, the special permit is no longer needed to monitor take or effort. All hunters and trappers are already required to possess a hunting or trapping license to take a bobcat anywhere in New York where the season is open. Furthermore, any bobcats taken during the open season must be pelt-sealed (have a plastic tag affixed) by DEC staff. Mandatory pelt-sealing allows DEC staff to monitor harvest and to estimate the number of hunters and trappers pursuing bobcats within the HEA. No changes to the season timing, season length, or Wildlife Management Units open to bobcat hunting/trapping are proposed for fall 2017.

5. Idea: Amend 6 NYCRR Part 3 to close the season on diamondback terrapin and add the species to the list of native turtles with no open season.

Background Information: Diamondback terrapins are a species of turtle that live in brackish waters associated with the lower Hudson River, Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay, and the coastal embayments along the south shore of Long Island. Declines in terrapin populations and increasing pressures from habitat loss, nesting predation, and commercial harvest for specialized markets has prompted closure of harvest in all of the states in the terrapin's range with the exception of New York. Concerns for New York terrapin populations have prompted this change to repeal Part 3.1 to close the open season and provide protection to the species from harvest. Amending part 3.2 to add diamondback terrapin to the list of native turtles with no open season would effectively protect the species in all lifestages from being collected in the wild without a Special License to collect and possess.

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