DEC adopts new rules for deer and bear hunting

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NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation adopted new rules for deer and bear hunting in New York on September 1. The rule changes include extending hunting hours and modifying dress code requirements to improve hunter safety. 

The proposed changes were announced in June of 2021, after adopting the updated New York State Deer Management Plan. After careful review of the public’s comments on the proposed changes, DEC adopted the rules as they were proposed.

The new changes established a nine-day season for antlerless deer hunting from September 11 to September 19. Hunters will now be allowed to use firearms and bowhunting equipment in specific Wildlife Management Units during this time. Hunters can only use Deer Management Permits and Deer Management Assistance Permit tags during this season. The antlerless harvest will also be restored during the early muzzleloader season in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6F, and 6J.

The objective of the changes in these units are to decrease the deer population or maintain a stable population and are based on public input and assessments of deer and their impact on forests.

Hunting hours for deer and bear will also be adjusted to include the full period of ambient light from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. This change conforms to the national standard for big game hunting, as all other states allow deer hunting to begin a half hour before sunrise or earlier, and 46 out of 50 states allow hunting until around a half-hour after sunset.

The changes will require anyone hunting big game with a firearm, or accompanying someone hunting big game with a firearm to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat, vest, or jacket.

Bear hunting season in the Adirondack region will be simplified by the new regulations by extending regular season to cover the entire hunting period. To further simplify things, outdated language related to deer tag use during the September portion of the early bowhunting season will be removed.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said he is confident that the changes will benefit hunters in New York in multiple ways.

“New York has a long and proud tradition of deer and bear hunting and with these new rules, DEC is building on that tradition by expanding opportunities for hunters, increasing antlerless harvest where needed, and improving hunter safety,” Seggos said. “I am confident that the rule changes announced today will provide hunters with a better all-around experience while ensuring their safety. In addition, these actions bring New York in line with the common practices of states and provinces across North America.” 

The full documentation of the regulations can be found on the DEC website.

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