Vila: DEC announces record-breaking sales of hunting, trapping licenses

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Categories: Sports

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced Wednesday that DEC is experiencing record-breaking sales of hunting and trapping licenses for upcoming seasons. Sales for big game hunting and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) were nearly triple prior years’ sales on opening day of sales, more than double on the second day and nearly double the first two weeks.

DEC also announced that in-person Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education and Trapper Education courses have resumed with appropriate social distancing and other precautions to limit the community spread of COVID-19. DEC transformed the Hunter Ed program at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer online certification, resulting in a dramatic 105% increase in participants completing the course compared to the traditional in-person courses offered in 2019.

“With New Yorkers looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing tremendous interest in outdoor recreation and in the sports of fishing, hunting, and trapping, including record sales of big game hunting and trapping licenses,” Seggos said in a news release. “New York is home to some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the nation. DEC’s efforts to make sure hunters and anglers are able to purchase fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses and take hunter safety courses from the comfort of their homes, are making the outdoors even more accessible and we will continue to offer our new online courses as we transition back to offering in-person courses.”

DEC launched the State’s new automated system (operated by Kilkomey) for selling fishing, hunting and trapping licenses in July, and on Aug. 10, the system went live for big game license sales and DMPs. The new DEC Automated Licensing System (DECALS) includes user-friendly information to help locate vendors, receive instant copies of a license, enter and view harvest information, and more. On the first day of big-game sales this year, DEC reported $922,444 in sales, compared to $347,103 in 2019. Over the first two weeks of license sales, sales have generated more than $6.2 million dollars compared to approximately $3.5 million for the first two weeks in 2019.

Purchasing a hunting or trapping license helps to support DEC conservation projects and ensures natural resources are protected for generations to come. Through the purchase of New York sporting licenses, hunters and anglers help generate an estimated $75 million to help conserve fish and wildlife, enhance habitat and protect natural resources. Hunting and fishing build a sense of stewardship of fish and wildlife resources and habitats, provide an opportunity for experienced hunters and anglers to share their knowledge with others, and promote participation in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting through the mentoring of young hunters and anglers. New York’s hunters and anglers contribute an estimated $4.9 billion to the economy in spending, which supports more than 56,000 jobs and $623 million in state and local taxes.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at any one of DEC’s license-issuing agents, online, or by telephone at 866-933-2257. The new hunting and trapping licenses are valid from September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021. While annual fishing licenses are valid for 365 days (one year) from date of purchase. DMPs are also available at all license-issuing outlets, by phone, or online through Oct. 1.

DMPs are used to manage the deer herd and are issued through an instant random selection process at the point of sale. The 2020 chances of selection for a DMP in each Wildlife Management Unit are available online, through license issuing agents, or by calling the DMP Information Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. DEC reminds hunters that lifetime license tag sets for the 2020-21 license year are currently being mailed. Hunters do not need tags in hand to apply for DMPs or to purchase additional privileges. Lifetime license information is stored in the DECALS database.

The new Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, an easy-to-read compendium of pertinent rules and regulations, is available on the DEC Hunting Regulations webpage. A summary of hunting and trapping regulations is currently available at license issuing agents, and copies of the full hunting and trapping regulations guide are available at license issuing agents.

Hunter Education

With the cancellation of in-person courses earlier this year during the state’s response to COVID-19, DEC quickly innovated to help prospective hunters planning to take cancelled in-person hunter safety courses and created a new online Hunter Education course. The results were dramatic, more than doubling certifications from 2019, with more than 76,800 people registered for the online Hunter Ed course and 40,278 completions. Nearly 70% of those completing the online course are 21 or over, and almost 40% of participants are women. The new online Bowhunter Ed course has seen more than 20,980 registered participants and 10,934 have completed the course. Both courses can be accessed from DEC’s website. The online courses have been extended indefinitely.

As all of New York has now entered Phase 4 of reopening, in-person Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education and Trapper Education courses are resuming. While the popularity of the online Hunter Ed and Bowhunter Ed courses has been unprecedented, some potential new hunters want to take the traditional course, which offers a field day component. Social distancing, health and safety and disinfectant protocols have been put in place to ensure courses are conducted in a way that minimizes risk to participants. The online courses will remain available for those who prefer an online course. For more information about taking a traditional field-based course, visit DEC’s website.

DEC also encourages outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat & Access Stamp each year. Support for the Habitat Stamp has also skyrocketed this year, with a nearly 300 percent increase — 7,337 in 2020 compared to 2,559 in 2019 — in sales over the first two weeks of big game license sales. Funds from the $5 Habitat & Access Stamp support projects to conserve habitat and improve public access for fish- and wildlife-related activities. This year’s Habitat & Access Stamp features a northern leopard frog. Last year’s stamp featured a bull moose and was the most popular stamp in DEC history, with more than 25,000 sold.

Date Set For Youth Pheasant Hunt

Despite th pandemic, the Montgomery County Republican Club in association with the Capital Region Pheasants Forever chapter will still be hosting its 11th annual Youth Pheasant hunt Sunday, Sept. 27 at the Dykeman Farm on Ingersol Road in Fultonville. The event will start  at 7 a.m. There will be a safety refresher talk prior to the hunt. After the hunt, refreshments and brunch will follow. There will also be dogs and dog handlers assisting with the event. All participating youth hunters must be in possession of a 2020 small game hunting license, be accompanied by an adult and wear hunter orange. For more information or to sign up, please contact Tom Georgia at 518-258-9448 or email [email protected]

EHD Outbreak

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has recently confirmed that several white-tailed deer in the towns of Nelsonville and Cold Spring in Putnam County and near Goshen in Orange County died after contracting Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. EHD is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that cannot be contracted by humans.

Approximately six or seven years ago, Illinois and the Midwest had an EHD outbreak of massive proportion in the area we hunt. Walking and scouting most every property were allowed permission is was nothing to find a dozen dead deer in a rather small property. It was sad to say the very least. Does, yearlings, massive bucks, the disease did not discriminate. It took years for the mature buck population to bounce back from that year of epic EHD. Lets hope here in New York it doesn’t ever get that out of control.

EHD virus is carried by biting midges, small bugs often referred to as “no-see-ums.” Once infected with EHD, deer usually die within 36 hours. The disease does not spread from deer to deer or from deer to humans.

DEC wildlife biologists collected half a dozen deer carcasses in Putnam County and submitted the carcasses to the Wildlife Health Unit for necropsy. Tissue samples were sent to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University where the preliminary diagnosis of EHD was confirmed. DEC also sent samples from four deer from Orange County where the preliminary diagnosis of EHD was confirmed.

The EHD virus was first confirmed in New York in 2007 in Albany, Rensselaer and Niagara counties, and in Rockland County in 2011. EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when midges are abundant. EHD symptoms include fever, hemorrhage in muscle or organs, swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips. A deer infected with EHD may appear lame or dehydrated. Frequently, infected deer will seek out water sources and many succumb near a water source. There is no treatment for nor means to prevent EHD. Also the dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals.

EHD outbreaks do not have a significant long-term impact on deer populations. EHD is endemic in the southern states where there are annual outbreaks, so some southern deer have developed immunity. Generally, in the northeast, EHD outbreaks occur sporadically and deer in New York have no immunity to this virus. Consequently, most EHD-infected deer in New York are expected to die. In the north, the first hard frost kills the midges that transmit the disease, ending the EHD outbreak.

Hunters should not handle or eat any deer that appears sick or acts strangely. DEC will continue to monitor the situation. Sightings of sick or dying deer should be reported to the nearest DEC Regional Office or to an Environmental Conservation Police Officer. In addition, the Department of Agriculture and Markets has alerted deer farmers and veterinarians throughout the state to be aware of the disease and to report suspicious cases.

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