The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently unveiled new rules regarding deer and bear hunting. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on Aug. 4 new regulations that provide more opportunities for junior hunters to take bears, remove antlerless only rules that were established in 2015 in parts of southeastern New York and the Lake Plains, clarify when special season tags can be used by bow and muzzleloader hunters, and reduce antlerless harvests in two management units in the western Adirondacks.
Commissioner Seggos gave reasons for the changes.
“We rely on hunters to help us meet our science-based population management goals, and these new regulations will help us explore alternative season structures that will advance improved population management.”
The DEC says that junior hunters will have more access to bear hunting due to a lifting of a restriction on bear hunting during the Youth Firearms Hunt on Columbus Day weekend. That event used to only allow deer hunting. Other regulations have been adjusted based on deer population fluctuations per area, and the perceived effectiveness of previous rules designed to keep deer populations optimal.
The DEC says that 2015 regulations that restricted taking antlered deer during portions of the bow and muzzleloader seasons in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1C, 3M, 3S, 4J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8N, 9A, and 9F have been lifted.
In WMUs 6F and 6J, because of declining populations, harvesting of antlerless deer is now prohibited early in the muzzleloader season. The DEC says that the mild past winter season kept the population lower in these areas. This change is expected to be temporary as populations rise.
The DEC has also clarified that hunters with both bow and muzzleloader licenses can use bow/muzzleloader deer tags for either-sex and antlerless only in either season or in the same season.
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