DEC seeks hunter input on 2013 Waterfowl Season

Hunters are invited to submit recommendations to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces for the dates of the fall 2013 duck hunting seasons by April 5, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today said. DEC will evaluate the task force recommendations in setting waterfowl seasons, which must comply with federal rules.“Through Governor Cuomo’s NY’s Open for Hunting & Fishing Initiative, DEC is looking for ways to expand opportunities for both in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and women,” Commissioner Martens said. “The public’s input will help us do that for the waterfowl hunting season in a manner that is most advantageous for sportsmen and women.”New York is divided into five waterfowl hunting zones: Western, Southeastern, Northeastern, Lake Champlain, and Long Island. DEC recently appointed task forces for each zone (except Lake Champlain) to solicit recommendations for the fall 2013 hunting seasons, including opening and closing dates, split seasons and a special hunting weekend for junior hunters (hunters ages 12-15). Each task force includes representatives from the New York State Conservation Council, established waterfowl hunting organizations and individual waterfowl hunters who provide input from diverse points of view.The recommended dates must be within federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For fall 2013, DEC expects the USFWS to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than Sept. 21, 2013, and closing no later than Jan. 26, 2014.Waterfowl hunters can participate in the season-setting process by providing duck season suggestions to any task force member on or before April 5, 2013. Names and contact information for all task force members are listed in alphabetical order on the DEC website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html.Comments can be provided by mail, telephone or e-mail, with e-mail being the preferred method. The task forces will meet in April, and DEC plans to announce tentative duck hunting season dates in June.Input on hunting seasons for other migratory game birds, including Canada geese, snow geese, brant and woodcock, may also be submitted to any member of DEC’s season-setting team (see list on the DEC website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html#Team). However, due to greater uncertainty about federal regulations for those species, decisions and tentative dates will probably not be known until later in the summer.Waterfowl seasons in the Lake Champlain Zone will continue to be set by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Management Board, with input from DEC and waterfowl hunters in New York and Vermont. Although there is no formal task force for this zone, hunters can send their suggestions to any DEC season-setting team member.Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.Descriptions of New York State’s waterfowl hunting zones can be found on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28497.html) and are listed in DEC’s Waterfowl Hunting Seasons and Regulations brochure. The final waterfowl hunting season dates will be posted on the DEC website and announced by news release in late August.

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