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Waterfowl Season Setting Process

Process for Setting Duck Seasons for 2019 and Beyond

Choosing the "best" duck season dates has long been a contentious topic amongst duck hunters. Depending on which species you're interested in pursuing or the types of habitat you hunt (i.e. shallow marshes, deep water, fields, etc.), the "best" dates for each zone can vary from person to person. In an effort to include a greater number of duck hunters in the decision-making process, DEC and Cornell University developed a new process for selecting the "best" duck season dates in each zone. Last fall, Cornell University surveyed about one-third of the duck hunters in New York State (6,000 of about 18,000; see below for more details). The survey was sent a random selection of Harvest Information Program (HIP) registrants that indicated they hunted ducks during the year prior. The first step to identifying the optimal season dates was to ask what hunters value and what drives their duck hunting satisfaction. The survey asked hunters to rank, in order of importance, the following six fundamental objectives that were developed by the Waterfowl Task Force and DEC biologists:

  • Seeing and shooting wood ducks and teal (being able to hunt when wood ducks and teal are most abundant)
  • Seeing and shooting mallard and black ducks (being able to hunt when mallards and black ducks are most abundant or most suceptible to decoying)
  • Seeing and shooting diving ducks (e.g., scaup, redheads, common goldeneye) (being able to hunt when diving ducks are most abundant or most susceptible to decoying)
  • Seeing and shooting any ducks (regardless of species) (being able to hunt when abundance of ducks (any species) is highest, or when the variety of duck species is greatest)
  • Having maximum opportunity to go hunting duck hunting (including the most weekend days and holidays in the season)
  • Minimizing overlap of waterfowl and deer hunting seasons (minimize duck season overlap with the first week of firearms deer season and avoiding opening duck season on the same day as youth big game seasons)

In addition to the hunter survey, DEC worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to develop zone-specific migration information and relative abundance estimates for each week for 12 species of ducks that frequently occur in the hunter's bag. During the summer of 2018, DEC worked with the waterfowl task forces in each zone to develop 5-10 unique season date "alternatives" (i.e. different season dates that would accomplish each of the above objectives described above). DEC and Cornell University will use the results of the survey in conjunction with the migration and abundance data to determine which of the alternatives developed by the hunter task forces best matches the values of duck hunters in their zone.

DEC's objectives for the new season setting process are to:

  1. maximize hunter satisfaction with, and inclusion in the decision-making process;
  2. ensure the decision-making process is scientifically defensible and data driven; and
  3. all steps involved in the decision-making process are clear and transparent.

The season dates identified through this process as the "best" season will be used as a framework for the next five years (assuming the federal framework continues to be a 60-day season). Tentative future season dates (pending adoption of the federal framework) will be posted for each zone on this website during the spring of 2019. DEC will also post a final report and informational handouts that explains the new process, the ultimate decision in each zone, the data that was used to arrive at the decision, and an explanation of why that season was chosen as the best possible option for the zone.

2017 New York State Duck Hunter Survey

During fall 2017, DEC and Cornell University sent out a survey to 6,000 randomly-selected New York duck hunters to better understand factors that influence hunter preferences for the timing of waterfowl hunting seasons. Duck hunters seized the opportunity to provide their feedback on what they value with nearly 50% completing the survey (2,791 duck hunters). Hunters in all zones consistently ranked seeing and shooting mallards and black ducks as the most important factor influencing their satisfaction with duck season dates in their zone, followed closely by seeing and shooting any duck (regardless of species). Click on the figure to the right for detailed information on hunter preferences in each zone.

For more information, please see the complete Cornell University report of the 2017 Duck Hunter Survey - Understanding Factors that Influence Hunter Preferences for Timing of Waterfowl Hunting Seasons (PDF, 1.9 MB). This survey gave a representative, large number of duck hunters direct input into how season dates will be selected. Their input will be used in the decision-making process for selecting the optimal duck season in each zone.

2018-19 Waterfowl Season Task Forces

Below is the contact information for the 2018 task force members in the Western, Southeastern, Northeastern and Long Island Waterfowl Hunting Zones. The names and contact information for current task force members can be found below. Task Force members act as representatives of all duck hunters in each zone, and they met last spring to recommend a duck season for 2018-2019 that best satisfies the diverse interests.

There is no task force for the Lake Champlain Zone because seasons there are set by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Management Board, with consultation from DEC and input from hunters in New York and Vermont. Although there is no formal task force for this zone, interested hunters may send their input directly to DEC for consideration.

You can provide input on Canada goose, brant, and youth season dates in a variety of ways:

  • by directly contacting one of the task force members in your zone - the list of members can be found on the DEC website
  • by filling out the Waterfowl Input Form (link leaves DEC's website)
  • by sending an email to the Waterfowl Season Input Mailbox - suggestions sent to this inbox will be forwarded to all task force members in the zone

Input on hunting seasons for other migratory game birds including Canada geese, snow geese, brant, woodcock, snipe, rails, and crows can also be provided by e-mailing the waterfowl season input mailbox.

2018-19 Western Zone Task Force
Name Address Telephone & E-mail
Jim Adriance
(Southeastern Area)
1930 Cole Place
Vestal, NY 13850
607-768-1528 (c)
adriance@uic.com
Jim Eckler
(NYS DEC)
1385 Morgan Road
Savannah, NY 13146
315-365-2134
james.eckler@dec.ny.gov
Dave Erickson
(NYSCC - R7)
18 Second Avenue
Auburn, NY 13021
315-224-4494 (c)
rockyericksoncolbert@yahoo.com
Ron Falkowski
(Central NY Wildfowlers)
767 Nichols Point Road
Bridgeport, NY 13030
315-633-9567
ronfalkowski@netscape.net
Jay Forster
(Lake Plains Waterfowl Assoc)
98 True Hickory Run
Rochester, NY 14615
585-865-8986 (h)
585-314-0566 (c)
jay.forster@gm.com
Randy Holden
(South Central Area)
219 Breesport Road
Horseheads, NY 14845
607-739-6735 (h)
607-742-9886 (c)
rholdenIII@stny.rr.com
Paul Niedzielski
(Canandaigua Lake Duck Hunters)
3896 Chatham Lane
Canandaigua, NY 14424
585-729-6600 (c)
pniedzielski@mtb.com
Bill Howell
(Niagara Frontier Area)
5859 Stinson Road
Arcade, NY 14009
585-496-5162
blhowell1@gmail.com
Darin J. Katta
(Southwestern New York)
10 Westerly Drive
Fredonia, NY 14063
716-785-0713
dk007w@hotmail.com
Mark Kircher
(NYSCC - R8)
1023 Buffalo Road
Rochester, NY 14624
585-303-5491
mark@upstatetk.com
Bill Kalwas
(Finger Lakes & Western NY Waterfowl Assoc)
1264 School Road
Victor, NY 14564
585-749-4948
wkalwas@yahoo.com
Ken Zolnowski
(NYSCC - R9)
30 Danbury Drive
Cheektowaga, NY 14225
716-468-4323
krz@pce.net
2018-19 Southeastern Zone Task Force
Name Address Telephone & E-mail
Bill Alexander
(Hudson River)
170 Clinton Corners Road
Salt Point, NY 12578
845-266-5747
ekoroc@gmail.com
Tim Barnard
(NYSCC - R4)
21 Balsam Way
Albany, NY 12205
518-527-0508
barnardtl@aol.com
Josh Stiller
(NYSDEC)
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12333-4754
518-402-8861
joshua.stiller@dec.ny.gov
Vince Olechnowicz
(Catskill Area)
258 Braymer Lane
Delhi, NY 13753
607-746-6180
gwpoley@delhi.net

(Central NY Wildfowlers)
Nathan Pieruzzi
(Hudson River Waterfowlers)
58 Salvino Drive
Athens, NY 12015
518-469-3822
npieruzzi@hotmail.com
Mike Podgorski
(NYSCC - R7)
2287 Ferndell Road
Cazenovia, NY 13035
315-655-8067
goosedr@windstream.net
Chuck Law
(Saratoga Lake - Upper Hudson)
1027 Hudson Avenue
Stillwater, NY 12170
518-321-7634
claw@creatacor.com
Gary Will
(Chenango Valley area)
1019 River Road
Hamilton, NY 13346
315-691-3168
gwill@twcny.rr.com
Ron Zega
(Mohawk River Valley)
344 Windy Hill Road
Schenectady, NY 12306
518-944-6664
rzega@ducks.org
Dan Spigner
(Waterfowl Improvement Assoc.)
9 Academy Street
Greenwich, NY 12834
518-441-3182
spigs13@yahoo.com
2018-19 Northeastern Zone Task Force
Name Address Telephone & E-mail
Kevin Bodmer
(Central Adirondacks)
236 Keese Mills Road
Paul Smiths, NY 12970
518-327-3022
kebodmer@roadrunner.com
Doug Carr
(Central NY Wildfowlers)
109 Roosevelt Avenue
Canastota, NY 13032
315-744-2114
dpcarr0306@yahoo.com
George Gedney
(Waterfowl Improvement Assn)
15 Stonehurst Drive
Queensbury, NY 12804
518-361-9918
gedney@roadrunner.net
Tom Humberstone
(North Central Area)
2766 County Route 6
Hammond, NY 13646
315-715-1217
Steve Heerkens
(NYSDEC)
207 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501
315-793-2557
steve.heerkens@dec.ny.gov
Nick McNamara
(Northern WMAs)
1125 County Route 14
Rensselaer Falls, NY 13680
315-276-5704
basswoodhunting@yahoo.com
Kurt Snyder
(Oneida Lake Assoc)
6429 Long Point Road
Brewerton, NY 13029
315-668-9156
lakerat2@twcny.rr.com
James Tracy
(Upper Mohawk Area)
5525 Marsh Road
Lee Center, NY 13363
315-337-6829
2018-19 Long Island Zone Task Force
Name Address Telephone & E-mail
John Adams
(South Shore Waterfowlers Assoc)
30 Diane Drive
Manorville, NY 11949
631-618-5728
michjon30@msn.com
Robert Christensen
(Oyster Ponds Rod & Gun Club)
PO Box 14
Orient, NY 11957
631-566-0879
foxtrotter@optonline.net
Kelly Hamilton
(NYSDEC)
50 Circle Road - SUNY
Stony Brook, NY 11790
631-444-0257
kelly.hamilton@dec.ny.gov
William Spadafora
(Peconic River Sportsmans Club)
26 Croyden Avenue
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
631-626-6657
wfss01@optonline.net
Ron Kee
(Smith Point Fish & Hunt Club)
11 Skyhaven Drive
Patchogue, NY 11772
917-753-4054
dipmaster10@aol.com
Steve Laurino
(Manhasset Bay Sports Club)
9 Corchaug Avenue
Port Washington, NY 11050
516-729-9189
stevelaurino@gmail.com
Warren Ferdinansen
(Suffolk Co Alliance of Sportsmen)
10 Rockhall Lane
Rocky Point, NY 11778
631-566-2804
Ron Sineo
(NYSCC - R1)
10 Rutherford Street
St James, NY 11780
631-862-8518
duckboater@gmail.com
Curt Matzinger
(Nassau Co Fish & Game Assoc)
32 Magro Drive
North Babylon, NY 11703
631-661-0379
cazinger@yahoo.com
James Jankowski
(Pattersquash Gunners Assoc)
19 Woodland Park Road
Bellport, NY 11713
631-803-2772
Jjmm2002@optonline.net
Frank Lopez
(Member at Large)
59 Radio Avenue
Miller Place, NY 11764
631-744-2042
dblgun@hotmail.com
Sab Caponi
(Matinecock Rod & Gun Club)
2708 Elm Drive
North Bellmore, NY 11710
516-286-0795
Scaponi1@hotmail.com

(Long Island Wildfowl Heritage Group)
Jack Passie
(Windy Guide Service)
8 South Fulton Street
Montauk, NY 11954
631-668-5741
charterboatwindy@yahoo.com
DEC Waterfowl Season SettingTeam
Name DEC Region Address & Telephone
Kelly Hamilton
kelly.hamtilon@dec.ny.gov
Region 1 50 Circle Road - SUNY
Stony Brook, NY 11790
631-444-0255
Jonathan Russell
jonathan.russell@dec.ny.gov
Region 3 21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
845-256-3088
Karl Parker
karl.parker@dec.ny.gov
Region 4 1130 N. Westcott Road
Schenectady, NY 12306
518-357-2154
John O'Connor
johnr.oconnor@dec.ny.gov
Region 5 1115 Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977
518-897-1296
Steve Heerkens
steven.heerkens@dec.ny.gov
Region 6 207 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501
315-793-2557
Tom Bell
thomas.bell@dec.ny.gov
Region 7 1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045
607-753-3095
Jim Eckler
james.eckler@dec.ny.gov
Region 8 1385 Morgan Road
Savannah, NY 13146
315-365-2134
Connie Adams
connie.adams@dec.ny.gov
Region 9 270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203
716-851-7010
Joshua Stiller
joshua.stiller@dec.ny.gov
Central Office 625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4754
518-402-8861

Task Force Membership

  • The Bureau of Wildlife develops and maintains the TF membership lists of avid waterfowl hunters the represent the values and interests of duck hunters in the State.
  • To establish a membership list, the SST first looks to organized groups to provide a member to serve on a TF. Examples of types of these groups include:
    • organized, long-standing waterfowl hunting organizations;
    • NYS Conservation Council regional Waterfowl Committee representative;
    • county sportsmen's federations;
    • waterfowl interest groups; and
    • sportsmen's organizations with waterfowl hunting interests within their membership.
    • "At-Large" members may be chosen by several methods. Hunter interest groups may be asked to provide the SST with a person to serve on the TF (they may be asked for several names from which the SST may choose). The SST may select a member on their own, based on prior contacts with local hunters.

Duties of Task Force Members

  • The names, addresses, phone, and e-mail are made available to the public.
  • TF members are expected to actively solicit the opinions and desires of hunters in their zone.
  • They should be available to any and all hunters to receive their opinions.

Objectives and Expectations of the Annual Task Force Meeting

  • TF members are representatives for all hunters within the zone. They must be willing to sit with other members to discuss issues, negotiate and, ultimately, compromise in order to recommend season dates that all members can live with and that are satisfying to the majority of hunters in the zone.
  • All decisions are by consensus; there is no voting.
  • TFs will develop Recommendations for:
    • dates for youth waterfowl hunt dates; and
    • regular Canada goose hunting dates.
  • In all cases the final decisions for season dates and regulations are made by the BOW Chief and Commissioner.
  • The TFs may also be asked for opinions on waterfowl management issues (for example, preferences for alternative bag restrictions on a specific species) and used as a sounding board for hunter interests and concerns.

Responsibilities of Bureau of Wildlife

  • Develop the annual TF membership lists.
  • Provide public communications (news release, website) on the TF process, including names and contact information for all TF members.
  • Accept public input to be shared with all TF members.
  • Provide a facilitator to oversee the TF meeting.
  • Provide TF meeting locations.
  • Be available to answer all questions concerning the TF process and waterfowl management.
  • Provide a SST member to participate in the meeting to provide information and insight.
  • Provide harvest and management information to TF members.

Timing of Annual Meetings

  • Each TF meets one time, usually on a Saturday in February, March or April. TFs base their discussions on the anticipated upcoming federal frameworks. Recommendations from all TFs are reviewed by the SST and subject to approval by the Bureau Chief and Commissioner.
  • DEC submits final season dates to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for approval annually by late April.