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For Release: Thursday, November 17, 2022

DEC Announces 'Operation Safe Harvest' Enforcement Initiative During Big Game Hunting Season

ECOs to Patrol Southern Zone to Ensure Hunters Follow Hunting Laws and Safety Guidelines

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) are advancing 'Operation Safe Harvest' this big game hunting season as part of a statewide initiative to ensure all hunters are following the State's hunting laws and safety guidelines while afield. ECOs will be patrolling and conducting a variety of field operations to help ensure a safe and enjoyable big game hunting season.

"New York is fortunate to have a large population of hunters and trappers who abide by the State's hunting laws and respect their fellow hunters and others enjoying the outdoors," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC's ECOs will be out in force this season to ensure compliance, engage with new and experienced hunters, and continue their important work promoting public safety in our communities and protecting our natural resources."

DEC's Director of the Division of Law Enforcement Karen Przyklek said, "Many of our ECOs are avid hunters themselves and participate in New York's cherished big game hunting seasons. Unfortunately, not everyone respects the laws and safety guidelines that come with this storied tradition. In response, I've directed my Officers to be on the lookout this season for the night hunters, poachers, and baiters who blatantly disregard the State's stringent hunting laws."

This statewide enforcement initiative began on Oct. 22 when the regular deer and bear season opened in the Northern Zone. So far, ECOs have written nearly 150 tickets, including 50 misdemeanor level charges. The upcoming regular firearms season for deer and bear in the Southern Zone, which draws hundreds of thousands of hunters to New York each year, gets underway on Nov. 19.

In addition to statewide enforcement, Officers educate hunters on New York's hunting laws and safety guidelines, both in the field and as instructors for the New York State Hunter Education Program. New York State continues to prioritize hunter safety year-round and the 2021 hunting seasons in New York were the safest ever, with the lowest number of incidents since record-keeping began.

DEC Law Enforcement is also reminding hunters they are key partners in protecting New York deer from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Chronic Wasting Disease continues to spread in other states, and hunters are key to preventing CWD introduction to New York. CWD is always fatal to deer. If introduced, it could spread rapidly and be practically impossible to eliminate once established. Hunters can help protect New York's deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

  • If hunting any type of deer, elk, moose, or caribou outside of New York, it must be deboned before bringing it back. See CWD Regulations for Hunters. DEC will confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts, including whole deer and deer heads;
  • Do not use deer urine-based lures or attractant scents, as these could contain infectious material;
  • Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not just on the landscape;
  • Report any deer that appears sick or is acting abnormally; and
  • Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.

The regular firearms season for deer and bear in the Southern Zone runs through Sunday, Dec. 11, and includes participation from approximately 85 percent of New York's 550,000 licensed hunters. For a breakdown of New York's hunting seasons visit DEC's website.

NOTE: Video on Operation Safe Harvest and CWD (leaves DEC website) can be found on DEC's YouTube page.

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