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For most New York hunters, the close of the Southern Zone's late muzzlelaoder season on Tuesday ended their deer hunting for the year. While we won't have a final tally of the 2013/14 deer harvests until all of the hunting seasons close (end of January on Long Island) and the data are analyzed, hunter harvest reports give us a preliminary picture of the season.
The first weekend of the Southern Zone (SZ) regular season typically accounts for 25-30% of the total statewide deer take. This year, reported deer take during the opening 2 days of the SZ regular season ran about 9% below reported take during the opening weekend in 2012. Likely this was due to the warm weather and abundant natural foods which may have reduced deer movements. Typically, these opening weekend effects tend to wash out over time as the season progresses. However, the reporting gap widened during the week before Thanksgiving to about 15% fewer reports than 2012. Fortunately, following Thanksgiving, hunters closed the gap and we ended with harvest reports during the SZ season slightly exceeding the 2012 level (up 1%).
The final deer harvest will be calculated from all the harvest reports in combination with a reporting rate - the proportion of harvested deer that are reported. We determine the reporting rate by checking thousands of hunter killed deer across the state each year. Over the past few years, our data indicate that only about 45% of successful hunters report their deer, even though it is a legal requirement.
We were aiming for increased antlerless harvests this year to reduce deer populations in many areas of the state (see 2013 Deer Season Forecast, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37304.htm). We hoped to issue about 18% more Deer Management Permit (DMPs, doe tags) than 2012, though by the end of the SZ seasons, hunters had picked up only about 7% more DMPs. It's too early to know how the harvest was distributed, but it's likely that we will continue to need even higher antlerless harvest in some areas over the coming years to achieve the desired population reductions.
For those hunters that aren't ready to put the gun or bow away yet, opportunities still exist in a few areas. Hunters may continue to take deer with a bow in Suffolk County (WMU 1C) and Westchester County (WMU 3S) until December 31. Then a special firearms season runs in Suffolk County on weekdays January 6-31, 2014 (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/40409.html). Also, hunters registered with the Deer Management Focus Area program in a portion of Tompkins County may participate in the antlerless-only deer hunt from January 11-31, 2014 (see www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/82382.html for details on the DMFA program).
And in case you had not heard, all license sales and game harvest reporting will be suspended onDecember 26, when we make the transition from one license vendor to another. We expect this "blackout" period to extend for one to two weeks, so if you still need to purchase a license, do it now! And if you harvest a deer during the blackout period, please be sure to report it as soon as possible when the system is live again.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that beginning Thursday, December 26, the public will not be able to purchase hunting, fishing or trapping licenses, or secure a recreational marine fishing registration or report their harvested game. The temporary blackout period is due to a transition that DEC will undergo from the current computerized licensing system to a newly developed system and is expected to last approximately one to two weeks.
“In order to transfer the most current data and transition to the new system, we need to completely shut down license sales and game harvest reporting,” said Commissioner Martens. “The ability to purchase a sporting license, associated stamp or permit, register to recreationally fish in New York’s marine waters or report a harvested deer or bear will be temporary and the public will be notified as soon the new system is accessible.”
DEC is in the transition phase to a new system for computerized sporting license issuance and game harvest reporting since the contract with the provider of the current system endsDecember 31, 2013 and that provider will no longer be in sporting license business. DEC’s new sporting license system is part of a larger multi-agency effort in New York State to consolidate licensing systems and facilitate securing licenses in New York.
Hunters, anglers, and trappers need to purchase their licenses, stamps, and permits prior to December 26, 2013 in order to hunt or fish during the blackout period. There will be outreach efforts about the blackout period so that potential anglers, hunters, and trappers are prepared for this closure period. Hunters are encouraged to purchase remaining first-come-first-served deer management permits (DMPs) prior to the December 26 blackout period. Sporting licenses are available at nearly 1,500 locations across New York State, via telephone (1-866-933-2257) and via the internet at https://nyfgisales.appsolgrp.com/fgnyia/html/index.jsp. For a list of license agents, visit DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html.
“If you know of a friend or relative that is planning to hunt, fish, or trap and who may not have already purchased a sporting license, please get the word to them about the black-out period and the need to purchase their license prior to December 26,” Commissioner Martens said. “While another announcement will be made when the new system is functional and licenses are available for purchase, we encourage anglers, hunters, and trappers to periodically check the DEC website (http://www.dec.ny.gov/) for updates.”
Deer and bear season in Westchester County and deer season in Suffolk County will be open during at least a portion of the blackout period. Small game and waterfowl hunting seasons and many fishing seasons also remain open during this time.
Hunters are required, by law, to report deer, bear, and turkey harvested pursuant to a hunting license within seven days of taking the animal. During the blackout period, hunters will not be able to report their harvest; however, they will be given a seven-day grace period to report their harvest once the new system is up and running.


Proposed Regulations Would Prohibit Hunting or Trapping of Wild Boars in New York

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner (DEC) Joe Martens today announced the proposal of new regulations that would prohibit hunting or trapping of free-ranging Eurasian boars in New York. The proposal is designed to ensure maximum effectiveness of DEC’s statewide eradication efforts. Public comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until January 25, 2014.
“Eurasian boars are a great threat to natural resources, agricultural interests, private property and public safety wherever they occur,” Commissioner Martens said. “It’s important that we do all in our power to ensure that this invasive species does not become established in the wild anywhere in New York State.”
Eurasian boars were brought to North America centuries ago and wild populations numbering in the millions now occur across much of the southern U.S. In recent years, wild boar populations have been appearing in more northern states too, often as a result of escapes from enclosed shooting facilities that offer “wild boar hunts.”
Governor Cuomo signed legislation on October 21, 2013 which immediately prohibited the importation, breeding or introduction to the wild of any Eurasian boars. Furthermore, the law prohibits possession, sale, transport or marketing of live Eurasian boars as of September 1, 2015. The new law was an essential step in the state’s efforts to prevent Eurasian boars from becoming established in the wild.
However, there are already small numbers of Eurasian boars on the landscape in New York. Since 2000, wild boars have been reported in many counties across the state, and breeding in the wild has been confirmed in at least six counties (Tioga, Cortland, Onondaga, Clinton, Sullivan and Delaware) in recent years. DEC is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to remove any Eurasian boars that are reported in New York, and to date more than 150 animals have been captured and destroyed. However, eradication is expensive, time consuming and requires a great deal of manpower.
“Many hunters have offered to assist our efforts by hunting for boars wherever they occur, but experience has shown this to be counter-productive,” Martens said. “As long as swine may be pursued by hunters, there is a potential conflict with our swine eradication efforts. Eurasian boars often join together to form a ‘sounder’, the name for a group of pigs sometimes numbering 20 or more individuals. Shooting individual boars as opportunities arise is ineffective as an eradication method, and this often causes the remaining animals to disperse and be more difficult to remove.”
Hunters pursuing wild boars in locations where baited traps have been established by DEC or USDA can also undermine these costly and labor-intensive capture efforts. Shooting may remove one or two animals but the rest of the sounder scatters and rarely comes back together as a group, thereby hampering eradication efforts. In addition to prohibiting take of free-ranging swine by hunters, the proposed regulation would prohibit anyone from disturbing traps set for wild boars or otherwise interfering with Eurasian boar eradication activities. Hunting wild boar can be done at hunting preserves until 2015.
The proposed regulations provide necessary exceptions for state and federal wildlife agencies, law enforcement agencies, and others who are authorized by DEC to take Eurasian boar to alleviate nuisance, property damage, or threats to public health or welfare.
Commissioner Martens encouraged anyone who observes a Eurasian boar (dead or alive) in the wild in New York to report it as soon as possible to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office.
Since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot belly pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all feral swine is encouraged. Please report the number of animals seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark, etc.). Photographs of feral swine are greatly appreciated, so please try and get a picture and include it with your report.

Under Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that the 2013 regular deer and bear hunting seasons open at sunrise on Saturday, November 16, in New York's Southern Zone. These big game seasons close at sunset onSunday, December 8.
“New York’s deer and bear populations are great resources for the state, and hunting is an important part of New York's outdoor heritage,” said Commissioner Martens. “I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”
The Southern Zone Regular Season is New York’s most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and 30-60 percent of the statewide bear harvest. With the October 1 start to the bow season in the Southern Zone and a special Youth Firearms Deer Hunt over Columbus Day Weekend, many big game hunters have already enjoyed fruitful hunts.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will open at sunrise on December 9 and close at sunset on December 17. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened October 26 and will close at sunset on December 8. This zone generally includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain and the Champlain and St. Lawrence Valleys. A late archery and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone fromDecember 9 to December 15.
Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.
Hunters should be aware of several important programs and recent changes when they go afield for the 2013 regular hunting season.
· Rifles authorized for Ontario and Wayne counties: New legislation allows the use of rifles for big game hunting in Ontario and Wayne counties, until October 1, 2015. See “Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas” at (1-866-426-3778).
[*]Black Bear Tooth Collection: Successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth of their bear so DEC can age the bear and monitor bear population dynamics. See Bear Tooth Collection at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/45598.html for instructions.
[*]Venison Donation: Hunters are encouraged to participate in the Venison Donation program (http://www.venisondonation.com/). By obtaining permits and donating ones deer, hunters help accomplish the needed deer management and can feed less fortunate families.

Although safety-conscious hunters have significantly reduced the number of firearms-related injuries, studies show that individuals wearing hunter orange clothing are seven times less likely to be injured than hunters who do not wear the bright fluorescent color. Hunters are encouraged to review hunting safety tips available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9186.html and pay careful attention to basic firearm safety rules that can prevent hunting related shooting incidents including:
Point your gun in a safe direction.
Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
Be sure of your target and beyond.
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Remember to wear Hunter Orange.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide

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