The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted new regulations to address deer populations in portions of the state with too many or too few deer, DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman announced today. Additionally, DEC adopted several modifications to its Deer Management Assistance Program designed to ease the application process for landowners while providing greater flexibility for DEC to administer the program.
“Deer are a keystone game species in New York, and responsible management requires periodic adjustment of hunting rules to ensure that deer populations are compatible with local socio-economic interests as well as maintaining a balanced ecosystem,” Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said. “DEC considered all public input in developing these regulations, and took into consideration the numerous negative impacts associated with deer overpopulation, including impairments to forest habitat regeneration, increased deer-vehicle collisions and increased incidences of tick-borne diseases.”
To achieve the desired deer population levels, the allowable harvest of antlerless deer is being increased in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1C, 3M, 3S, 4J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8N, 9A, and 9F. These units include all or portions of Suffolk, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Westchester, Albany, Niagara, Erie, Wyoming, Orleans, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston, Steuben, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Seneca and Cayuga counties. In these WMUs, overabundant deer populations are negatively impacting forest regeneration, creating excessive agricultural damage, causing increased deer-vehicle collisions, and increasing damage to landscape plantings. In several of these areas, tick-borne diseases are of greater concern and high deer populations have been linked to increases in ticks and associated tick-borne diseases. There is an urgent need to address over-population of deer in these areas.
Management objectives are not being met in these units despite having a surplus of antlerless deer tags available for hunters. In making the first 15 days of the early bow season and all of the late bow and muzzleloader seasons valid for antlerless deer only in these units, DEC is asking hunters for greater cooperation in meeting the management needs by focusing their hunting effort on antlerless deer during these periods.
Throughout most of New York State, deer population levels can be managed with hunters using deer management permits. However, in these 10 management areas, the effectiveness of the deer management program has been reduced because the number of permits available in these areas exceeds the hunter demand for these permits and management objectives are not being met.
In contrast, the harvest of antlerless deer is being curtailed in WMU 6A to achieve the desired deer population in that unit. WMU 6A includes portions of Jefferson, St. Lawrence, and Franklin counties. In this unit, DEC has not issued Deer Management Permits for antlerless deer since 2011, and the antlerless harvest has only occurred during the early and late bow and muzzleloader seasons.
With the adoption of these new rules, hunters will not be allowed to take any antlerless deer during the early muzzleloader season in this unit until the deer population rebounds. In recent years, about half of the antlerless harvest in this unit has occurred during the early muzzleloader season.
DEC has revised its hunting season maps at dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28605.html to reflect these changes in antlerless harvest rules.
Deer Management Assistance Program Refined
The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) enables DEC biologists to help landowners and resource managers implement property-specific deer management on their lands. Adopted modifications will improve the program for applicants and DEC.
DMAP application changes
The application deadline will be changed from September 1 to August 1, beginning in 2016.
DMAP permit durations will be extended from one year to three years, while retaining annual reporting requirements for permittees and hunters.
DMAP use changes
DMAP permits will now be allowed to be used during the September portion of the early bow season in the Northern Zone and hunters will now be allowed to use up to four DMAP tags per permit where needed.
The full list of changes to the DMAP rules, including application forms, can be found at: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/33973.html.