DEC improving communications with outdoor media [video]

Communications with this state’s outdoor press has been a difficult proposition to say the least the last couple of years for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Press folks, when we needed information, had to contact Albany to arrange for interviews – even if we needed general information on something as mundane as stocking numbers or catch rates in Lake Ontario. Quite often, timing was critical. We didn’t have the luxury of weeks to plan. As a result, that information simply didn’t get included. It appears that some of those attitudes may be changing.

This month (November), the outdoor press participated in the first-ever conference call with DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. While the focus was on safety and opening day of the Southern Zone regular big-game season, it was a step in the right direction to open up communications channels again. Based on some of the information that was shared during that conference call, one takeaway is that there was a breakdown in getting information to the grassroots sportsmen. As a result, DEC realized that it can’t do it alone. It needs the outdoor press to reinforce its message. A couple of cases in point:

  • “Take It, Tag It, Report It” efforts to improve game harvest reporting can use some help. The current compliance rate is only at 40 percent statewide. There are three ways to report your deer or bear kill now – calling in at 1-866-GAME RPT, going through DEC’s online reporting system or by using DEC’s mobile app “NY Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife” by Pocket Ranger. It’s a violation of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law if you don’t report it. It’s time to start pushing it hard … and connecting this with law enforcement.
  • The number one hunting-related accident point involves the use of treestands. In an effort to promote treestand safety, DEC has come out with a new short video to help hunters become aware of the safety concerns association with the use of treestands. The video appears below.

  • Hunter safety education is critical for safety and for recruitment of new hunters. There are more than 2,200 volunteer instructors across the state, and this past year there were some 1,400 classes. More than 45,000 students took those classes, up from the last couple of years. We need some new blood in the volunteer ranks of instructors. The current ranks are getting older. And this corresponds directly with this state’s hunter safety record, one of the best in the nation. We need to be working together.

Commissioner Seggos promised to make these calls more regularly with the members of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, a group that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Let’s hope he continues on this path moving forward. We should all be working together for many of the messages.

On a side note, the DEC’s Region 9 point people for press relations have been outstanding. They truly recognize the importance of outdoor press and quite often reach out to press for possible story opportunities. That’s the way it should be. It is very much appreciated.

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