Getting after the geese

Bill HiltsA press release came out late last month out of Albany announcing some changes to the early nuisance goose season throughout the state. Here in Western New York, the season will once again be held from Sept. 1-25, which means it started on Labor Day weekend. We all figured the dates would remain the same and everything else would be status quo. Imagine my surprise when it was announced that the state was really relaxing several of its regulations on hunting these September birds!

The state will be liberalizing four important regulations going into the early season that's being used to help control resident bird populations. At the top of the list is an increase of the daily bag limit to 15 birds per person, per day, up from the previous eight-bird limit. Other changes include: shooting hours being extended to one-half hour after sunset; electronic calling devices now being allowed; and shotguns capable of holding up to seven shells will now be allowed. The only time that the latter three regulations will not be allowed in the state is in the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone during the Sept. 21-22 youth hunt.

This is pretty big news for waterfowl hunters who chase Canada geese. We couldn’t receive notification any earlier from the powers that be? It’s still amazing to me that as a member of the state’s press corps, the only way I can glean information about hunting and fishing through the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is through the press office in Albany. No longer can I just pick up the phone and talk to a biologist or regional manager. More importantly, they can’t pick up the phone can call me – which was a frequent occurrence over the years. Apparently the state does not trust the professionalism of its employees, which makes for a very difficult work environment.

It’s one thing if they were in control of highly classified government secrets or some other proprietary information, but we’re talking about hunting and fishing issues. And we’re talking about things that we pay for through our license dollars. Whatever happened to DEC being an open public agency? And as our hands are tied from collecting information, the big losers will be the sportsmen and women of New York. Promotion of the resource is being affected, which means that fewer people will buy hunting and fishing licenses in the long run. Why can’t anyone see that?

This will certainly be the subject of future blogs because the agency is slowly eroding away to a shell of what we’ve come to know and work with other the years. It’s common knowledge that biologists who have been with the agency for three decades or more are not being replaced when they retire, leaving behind a workload that is becoming too much to be effective for those who remain. Employees are being spread too thin and to add any kind of a task or responsibility will result in something else being dropped. Unless some changes are made, the future doesn’t appear bright. Bleak would be a better word.

One final note on the early goose season: Remember that you still need to be using your 2012-13 hunting license in September, and you do need a new Federal Migratory Bird Stamp, as well as be registered in the 2013-14 Harvest Information Program (HIP). To register in HIP, call (888) 4-ASK HIP. Federal duck stamps are available at most U.S. post offices. The new 2013-14 waterfowl hunting brochure is now available on the DEC website at

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr, NewBlogs, Social Media

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