The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed several regulatory changes to turkey and deer hunting seasons in response to the declining populations of hunting game in the state.

The agency officials are currently accepting public comments on the proposals until June 29, Monday.

Once accepted, the proposed regulations could be implemented beginning this fall.

Wild Turkey Hunting

The DEC is looking to limit to two weeks the hunting season for wild turkey and impose a one-bird bag limit involving both genders of turkey this season.

According to the agency, the number of wild turkey in the state has significantly decreased as measured in the previous spring harvest and the fall survey of the Bowhunter Sighting Log.

The department believes several reasons could have potentially caused the decline in turkey population, including failure in bird reproduction, an increase in predator populations in the area and the loss of the wild turkey's habitat diversity.

The proposed adjustments are designed to ensure the sustainability of wild turkey harvests in fall.

Deer Hunting

The department has also proposed restrictions to deer hunting in order to allow local deer populations to recover. The regulations deal with the hunting of antlerless deer in areas such as Long Island and southeastern and western New York.

Despite the dwindling number of antlerless deer, the DEC said hunters continued to harvest the animal, especially during bow and muzzleloader hunting seasons.

The agency has tried to implement a modified muzzleloader season in the past 25 years to allow people to hunt only antlerless deer or antlered deer in different seasons, depending on the management objectives of the department.

For this muzzleloader season, however, the DEC plans to limit the hunting to antlered deer only until the populations of both genders have fully recovered. The agency will then decide whether to allow hunting of both antlered and antlerless again.

Fisher Trapping

Regulations on fisher trapping will also be changed, according to the DEC's proposals. The agency wants to establish a new nine-day trapping season in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) in western and central New York.

These WMUs were selected based on their ability to sustain a limited harvest opportunity. Fisher population data and estimates of trapping pressure have also been analyzed.

A restriction on the fisher season in Adirondack WMUs has also been proposed from 46 days to 22 days. The department made the suggestion based on scientific evidence that harvest rates in these units continue to exceed the 20 percent threshold established by the DEC for sustainable harvest.

Photo: Sander van der Wel | Flickr 

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