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For Release: Wednesday, August 18, 2021

DEC Accepting Waterfowl Hunting Permit Lottery Entries for Duck Hunting Opening Weekend at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas

Applications Accepted through Sept. 15

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that special permits will be issued for the opening weekend of duck season to hunt waterfowl at two popular State-managed locations in Western New York. The permit requirement applies to waterfowl hunting at the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda wildlife management areas (WMAs) located primarily in Genesee and Niagara counties, with small portions in Orleans and Erie counties. The special permits are part of DEC's ongoing efforts to promote hunter safety, reduce hunter conflicts, and increase the quality of hunting on days when these areas receive the greatest use.

A special permit is required to hunt waterfowl at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs on the duck season's first Saturday and first Sunday of the Western Zone Duck Season. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit any other day of the open duck season. The permit system has been used successfully at both WMAs for many years. Special permits are not required to hunt other game species in these WMAs.

Western New York's opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting season are Oct. 16 and 17. Goose season is not open during the opening weekend of duck season in 2021. No special permit is needed for goose season this year.

Opening weekend waterfowl hunting permits for the two WMAs will be distributed by a random lottery. For each of the two days, DEC anticipates issuing 100 permits for the Tonawanda WMA and 50 permits for Oak Orchard WMA.

How to Apply

To apply for the lottery, hunters will fill out an online form (leaves DEC's website). This link can also be found on the DEC webpage for Tonawanda and Oak Orchard WMAs. Hunters must enter their name, email address, zip code, and waterfowl ID number (applicants must have taken a waterfowl identification course to enter the lottery). Hunters also need to indicate their choices of hunt day (Saturday or Sunday) and area (Oak Orchard or Tonawanda) in order of preference. There is also an option to request email updates regarding habitat conditions (helpful information when planning your trip) and restoration projects at these WMAs.

For general questions, or for those unable to access the survey online, contact DEC's regional wildlife office at 585-948-5182. Online applications will be accepted through midnight Sept. 15, 2021. Anyone unable to complete the online survey should contact the office before Sept. 15.

Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger. Issued permits are nontransferable and are not valid for companion(s) unless the permittee is present and hunting within 50 yards. The permittee is responsible for completing an online harvest report (a link will be provided with your permit) by Nov. 15, 2021; even if the hunter did not go hunting, they must report. If the completed questionnaire is not received by Nov. 15, the permittee will be ineligible for the 2022 lottery.

Annual Waterfowl Information Meeting

DEC is holding the agency's annual waterfowl information meeting virtually. During the meeting, wildlife biologists from NYSDEC and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will discuss items of interest to waterfowl hunters, including:

  • Highlights of wetland management and research programs at Iroquois NWR, Tonawanda, Oak Orchard, Northern Montezuma and Braddock Bay WMAs, including drawdown schedules and hunt program news;
  • Regional and statewide waterfowl news and updates;
  • Atlantic Flyway news and waterfowl population status; and,
  • NY 2021-22 duck and goose hunting seasons.

The meeting will be a live virtual event on Wednesday, Sept. 22, from 7 - 9 p.m. The link to join the meeting will be posted on the webpage for Tonawanda and Oak Orchard WMAs. A recording of the meeting will also be posted on this webpage.

Wetland Restoration at Tonawanda WMA

Hunters should be aware of a wetland restoration project that will be under construction starting the second or third week in December within the southeast corner of West Ruddy Marsh at Tonawanda WMA. The project is being done in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited and the Finger Lakes and Western New York Waterfowl Association and will improve habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife as well as access for hunters by creating potholes and channels within a section of dense cattail. In order for construction to proceed, water levels will need to be lowered in West Ruddy Marsh starting in mid-October. The marsh should still have water levels conducive to waterfowl hunting, although some areas will likely be harder to paddle with a canoe or kayak, especially by later in the hunting season. During construction, a portion of the marsh will be marked as off limits for safety reasons. Questions about the project can be directed to the DEC's regional wildlife office at 585-948-5182.

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