New York DEC Releases Deer Management Plan

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that a proposed five-year deer management plan is now available for public review and comment. The deer management plan is available on the DEC website and DEC will be accepting public comment on the draft through Thursday, July 28.

The draft plan describes six primary goals that encompass the current priorities for deer management and the values and issues expressed by the public:

  • Manage deer populations at levels that are appropriate for human and ecological concerns;
  • Promote and enhance deer hunting as an important recreational activity, tradition, and population management tool in New York;
  • Reduce negative impacts caused by deer;
  • Foster public understanding and communication about deer ecology, deer management, economic aspects and recreational opportunities;
  • Manage deer to promote healthy and sustainable forests and enhance habitat conservation efforts to benefit deer and other species; and
  • Ensure that the necessary resources are available to support sound management of white-tailed deer in New York.

In 2009, DEC held 20 public meetings across the state that were attended by more than 1,000 people to gain preliminary input regarding the most important issues that should be addressed in the plan. Input obtained during the public meetings and via various hunter surveys in recent years was used by DEC biologists and managers to help develop the recommendations and management actions contained in the draft plan.

The plan includes a number of specific management proposals that have been under discussion with the public for several years.

Among the recommendations included in the plan:

  • Include an index of deer impact on forests when setting deer population objectives;
  • Establish deer management focus areas with liberalized antlerless harvest rules in areas with overabundant deer;
  • Establish a special youth deer hunting weekend in early October for junior hunters to aid in the recruitment of new deer hunters;
  • Open the bowhunting season in the Southern Zone on October 1, rather than the current opening in mid-October; and
  • Continue the mandatory antler restriction program in wildlife management units (WMUs) 3C, 3H, 3J, and 3K, and expand antler restrictions to seven additional wildlife management units (WMUs 3A, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W) in southeastern New York.

DEC strives to provide a deer management program that balances diverse public interests and values with the biological needs and ecological relationships of deer, for the benefit of New York's white-tailed deer herd and the people of New York.

Comments may be submitted in writing through July 28 to DEC Deer Management Plan, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by email to using "Deer plan" in the subject line.


groovy mike's picture

definitely weigh in if you want your voice heard

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Bureau of Wildlife is proposing changes to the hunting regulations which include a youth hunting weekend for teenagers (big game hunting starts at a minimum age of fourteen in New York State) in a proposed plan to guide deer management in New York State for the next five years.  Some interesting tidbits from the plan include the statement that there is a ‘stable population of about a million white-tailed deer in New York state…about 230,000 were killed by hunters and 60,000 to 80,000 were killed on highways” last year.

I was pleased to see that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Bureau of Wildlife’s official position agrees with me that ‘Hunting is the most effective way to manage the deer population’

They assert that the number of hunters is declining, and the average age of hunters has been rising. This is prior to the recent change to reduce the minimum big game hunting age from sixteen down to fourteen years old.  The idea of setting aside a youth only weekend (mentored by experienced adults) is considered an incentive to get the younger hunters in the field.  A youth weekend is already offered for most hunting seasons in New York including those for pheasant, geese, and turkeys so why not deer season as well? 

What raises more controversy is the proposal to ban shooting spike antlered bucks.  The proposal is for a limited area in southeastern New York.  But I think everyone expects it to act as a pilot program for a statewide antler restriction program.  I oppose mandatory restrictions.  But I honor them where land owners request that we leave spike horns.  I think that the restriction should continue to be voluntary, or up to the landowner rather than increasing the ever burdensome mandates of government on the people of New York State – especially for young hunters.  How incredibly frustration it would be for a first year hunter to have to watch a spike buck walk away and ending the season without filling a tag.  FYI, the Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments on the proposed five year herd management plan through July 28, 2011 - so definitely weigh in if you want your voice heard on the plan that will effect us for the next five years!