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For Release: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

DEC Adopts New Regulations to Protect Wildlife Management Areas

New Regulations will Improve Conservation and Safeguard Sustained Public Use

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the adoption of new regulations governing the public use of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), and the simultaneous repeal of three obsolete area-specific regulations. These regulations will become effective Jan. 1, 2022. DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife manages 125 WMAs and several Unique and Multiple Use Areas across the state. Collectively known as the WMA system, these areas comprise nearly 250,000 acres.

"Visitor use and enjoyment of DEC's wildlife management areas across the state have increased significantly over the years," Commissioner Seggos said. "To protect these special places for future generations and sustainably welcome visitors, DEC is updating our rules to ensure the WMA system continues to meet the primary goals of conserving wildlife and providing opportunities to safely hunt, trap, and appreciate wildlife."

DEC adopted the new regulations following a public comment period earlier this year. The full text can be found on the State Register website (leaves DEC's website). New regulations include provisions to:

  • Restrict the use of motor vehicles and some motorized equipment, such as chainsaws, in WMAs. Snowmobiles will be allowed on designated routes covered by a minimum of three inches of snow or ice and only from the close of the regular big game hunting season until March 31. This measure will help prevent the degradation of trails and habitat, particularly during winter and spring thaws;
  • Prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species;
  • Restrict the discharge of firearms other than for hunting or trapping to designated areas. Only paper targets will be allowed;
  • Restrict the use of boats to electric or non-powered boats. Boats may not be stored or anchored overnight on WMAs; and
  • Require that dogs be kept on a leash and under control. Exceptions include when dogs are being legally used for hunting, training for hunting on lands designated as dog-training areas during training seasons, or when participating in a DEC-licensed field trial.

Visitors to New York State's WMAs should always be aware of the rules governing the WMA. Each WMA has a webpage that lists featured activities, available facilities, any site-specific restrictions, and a map of the area. For more information, go to DEC's website.

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