DEC announces 2013-14 Waterfowl Dates

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that information is now available about the upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons, including season dates and updated regulations. “New York’s unique configuration of waterfowl management zones provides hunters with open seasons in various parts of the state from September to April,” said Commissioner Martens. “This year’s season selections were developed by a team of statewide DEC biologists, with input from waterfowl hunters. DEC has looked to task forces to help select waterfowl hunting season dates for more than a decade and appreciates all the help they have offered to help make these selections.”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.The season dates and regulations can be viewed in full detail on the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28503.html. Waterfowl hunting zone descriptions and boundaries are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28497.html.Duck Season Overview:Most duck season dates are similar to last year, and most bag limits are unchanged. The exceptions are that no more than two scaup may be taken as part of the total daily bag limit of six ducks (the scaup limit was four/day last year), and possession limits for all ducks (and most other migratory game birds) have increased to three times the daily bag limit.Duck hunting seasons begin with designated “youth waterfowl hunts” in each zone of the state. These youth hunts are for junior hunters (12 to 15 years of age) accompanied by a licensed adult hunter (including current HIP registration and duck stamp – see below). The adult should not possess a firearm while accompanying a youth who is hunting ducks on any of these days. The youth hunts are held on weekends in each zone of the state, as follows:Northeastern Zone – September 21-22Lake Champlain Zone – September 28-29Southeastern Zone – September 28-29Western Zone – October 12-13Long Island Zone – November 9-10Goose Season Overview:September Canada goose seasons (announced previously) are already underway, but hunters can look forward to another 45 days or more (depending on area) to pursue these popular game birds again this fall and winter. Hunters are reminded that Canada goose seasons are set for different geographic areas of the state than other waterfowl seasons, so be sure to review the maps closely at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28496.html. Canada goose season dates in most areas are similar to last year’s season dates, and there are no changes to bag limits except for the increase in possession limits to three times the daily bag limit.A special season for snow geese, in addition to the regular seasons in each zone, will be open in all of upstate New York from January 16 through April 15. These birds have become so abundant that they are causing harm to wetland habitats throughout their range. Special seasons have been established in many eastern states and provinces to increase hunter harvest and help reduce this population. The daily limit for snow geese is 25 per day, and there is no possession limit. Electronic calls and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells may be used to take snow geese at any time when all other waterfowl hunting seasons are closed.Federal Duck Stamp and State Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program:Hunters 16 or older must have a 2013 federal duck stamp to hunt during any of the 2013-2014 seasons. Federal duck stamps cost $15 and are available at most post offices and some sporting goods stores. They are also available by calling toll-free 1-800-852-4897 or at www.duckstamp.com. Stamps must be signed across the face by the hunter before they become valid, but they do not have to be attached to the hunting license.All migratory game bird (waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rails and gallinules) hunters, including junior hunters (age 12-15), must register with New York’s Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) prior to hunting in any of the 2013-2014 seasons. Hunters must register every year and for each state in which they plan to hunt migratory game birds, and also must carry proof of compliance whenever going afield. To register in HIP, call toll-free 1-888-427-5447 (1-888-4 ASK HIP) or visit www.NY-HIP.com.Hunting Safety:Commissioner Martens reminded hunters to follow simple safety guidelines and to use good judgment when choosing a time and place to hunt. Being considerate of other people enjoying the outdoors or who live nearby can help avoid potential conflicts and ensure a safe and enjoyable season. As coastal areas become more populated, new landowners unfamiliar with the safety, ethics and traditions of waterfowl hunting sometimes respond by seeking to limit hunter access to popular waterfowl hunting areas. Hunters should be considerate and try to minimize disturbance of local residents whenever possible.Waterfowl Consumption AdvisoryThe New York State Department of Health (DOH) evaluates data on chemicals in wild waterfowl to assess the possible effects of those chemicals on human health. The current advisory states that “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat up to two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking, and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.”Recent data indicate that waterfowl residing in the Hudson River between Hudson Falls and Troy have higher PCB levels than waterfowl from other portions of the Hudson River and are likely to have higher PCB levels than waterfowl from other areas of the state. To help reduce PCB exposures, you may want to harvest your waterfowl from other locations on the Hudson River or in other areas of New York State, particularly during the early season when many of the available birds are likely to be resident waterfowl (i.e., non-migratory). Because PCBs may have a greater effect on young children or the unborn child, it is particularly important for women under 50 and children under 15 to minimize their PCB exposures.For the latest DOH advice on consumption of waterfowl or other game, please visit the Department of Health website at: www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/health_advisories/advice_on_eating_game.htm.Habitat Stamp:Commissioner Martens also encouraged all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. Buying a $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York’s fabulous wildlife heritage. More information about purchasing a Habitat Stamp is available at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html.For More InformationNew York’s 2013-2014 Waterfowl Hunting Seasons and Regulations brochure is available on the DEC website and from most license-issuing agents and DEC regional offices.For more information about waterfowl hunting in New York, including public hunting areas around the state, go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28175.html or contact any DEC wildlife office. Contact information for all regional offices can be found on the DEC website www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html.

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