DEC: Changes in deer regs not 2010 plan

Albany – It’s a virtual certainty there will be no major changes
in New York’s deer hunting regulations and seasons this fall.

While rumors swirled of potential changes, DEC officials said
last month that there were no plans to restructure deer seasons for
the 2010 season.

And at this point, it would impossible to go through the
regulatory process – which includes a public comment period – in
time to have the changes printed in the 2010 regulations guide.

“We aren’t really looking at doing anything for this year’s deer
season,”_DEC_Assistant Director of Fish,_Wildlife and Marine
Resources Doug Stang said. “We’re doing the survey now, we’ve had
the outreach meetings to get a better feel for what hunters’ needs
and desires are.”

On the heels of a series of statewide “deer meetings”_last year,
sportsmen speculated that DEC would overhaul its deer hunting
regulations in a variety of ways.

But officials said another step – the Cornell-directed survey of
deer hunters – was needed to get a clearer picture of what changes
may be broadly supported by sportsmen. Last year’s deer meetings
showed hunter opinions varied widely on a number of issues on the
state’s deer management efforts and whitetail hunting
regulations.

DEC_officials said previously the survey will “assess hunter
preferences” on several issues, including crossbow hunting
opportunities, buck harvest management and deer season
structures.

That trio of issues seemed to rise to the top of most deer
meetings last year, although opinions varied on all three.

Support for crossbow use appears to be growing in New York, or
opposition – with the exception of that from New York Bowhunters,
Inc. – softening. But disagreement remains on which season to allow
crossbows for deer hunting.

Antler restrictions – whether mandatory or voluntary – remains
perhaps the hottest deer hunting topic in the state, with strong
support in many areas. DEC has stopped short of expanding “three
points on one side” regulations in southeastern New York despite
majority support, citing strong opposition by some and no
biological need for antler restrictions.

Modifying the deer season structure could mean many things;
bowhunters have pushed for an earlier opener, and there remains a
faction of Southern Zone hunters who would like to return to the
Monday regular season opener instead of the Saturday kickoff
enacted several years ago.

Indications are, too, there has been strong support among
hunters for a special youth season, similar to those in place for
turkeys, pheasants and waterfowl. But when that season would be
held and whether it would be a doe-only season or bucks could be
taken brings a little less consensus among hunters.

DEC_officials have said that any changes would need to be
“compatible with the goals of our deer management team.”

Separate from the deer regulations, DEC officials have already
indicated they will alter the state’s Deer Management Assistance
Program and nuisance permit program in an effort to streamline them
to reduce costs amid the state’s budget crisis. While there were
initial reports that the DMAP would be scrapped entirely, DEC
officials have since said a modified program will remain in
place.

The DMAP and nuisance permit programs allow for the reduction of
deer numbers in areas where crop and other damage is occurring.
Often criticized by hunters, nearly 10,000 whitetails – mostly
antlerless – were taken under the DMAP last year.

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