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DEC Announces 2017-18 Waterfowl Season Dates
New York Ag Connection - 05/19/2017

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released information about the upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons, including season dates and updated regulations.

"New York takes great pride in using the best available science and input from hunters to establish the state's annual waterfowl management seasons to provide hunting opportunities across the state from September to April," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "I applaud the work of this team of volunteers and DEC biologists to establish these seasons in order to maximize opportunities for hunters and grow this economically important recreation."

Task force members are charged with developing optimal seasons by balancing the competing interests of hunters pursuing New York's diverse waterfowl species. Season dates and regulations can be viewed in full on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28175.html. Waterfowl hunting zone descriptions and boundaries are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28496.html.

Duck hunting seasons begin with designated "youth waterfowl hunts" across the state. These hunts allow youth hunters to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters and gain necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. Junior hunters (12 to 15 years of age) accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with up-to-date Harvest Information Program registration and a duck stamp may participate. During the youth hunt, the adult hunter may not possess a firearm or shoot any birds unless the respective regular season is open. The daily bag limit for ducks and brant (goose) during youth hunts is the same as during the regular season, with the exception that three geese per day may be taken in all zones. The youth hunts are held on weekends in each zone of the state, as follows:

- Southeastern Zone -- Sept. 16-17

- Northeastern Zone -- Sept. 23-24

- Lake Champlain Zone -- Sept. 23-24

- Western Zone -- Oct. 14-15

- Long Island Zone -- Nov. 11-12

Duck Season opening dates for each zone:

- Northeastern Zone -- Oct. 7

- Southeastern Zone -- Oct. 7

- Lake Champlain Zone -- Oct. 11

- Western Zone -- Oct. 28

- Long Island Zone -- Nov. 23

A complete list of season dates can be found on DEC's website (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28888.html).

The most notable regulation change is the bag limit. After more than 30 years of a one-bird daily bag limit for American black ducks, hunters in New York will have the opportunity to take two birds per day. Improved biological data combined with declining hunter numbers and black duck harvest, suggests black ducks can sustain additional harvest pressure without negatively impacting the overall population. More information on the change and a list of frequently asked questions can be found at: www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/abduregchange.pdf.

A summary of the annual task force meetings and an explanation of the season dates is available at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28513.html.

September Canada goose seasons begin on Sept. 1 throughout upstate New York, and on Sept. 5 for central and eastern Long Island. Hunters can look forward to an additional 50 days or more, area dependent, to pursue these popular game birds again this fall and winter. Resident geese remain abundant in many areas of the state with an estimated population of approximately 240,000 birds statewide. Migratory populations that pass through New York were estimated to be similar to recent years. Hunters are reminded that Canada goose seasons are set for different geographic areas of the state than other waterfowl seasons, and should review maps and season dates carefully at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28496.html. Canada goose season dates and bag limits in most areas are similar to last year.

In addition to the regular hunting seasons in each zone, a special conservation season for snow geese will be open in upstate New York from Jan. 16 to 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. Electronic calls and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells may be used to take snow geese at any time when other waterfowl hunting seasons are closed.

Lastly, the bag limit and season length for Atlantic brant will remain two birds per day and 60 days long.

Hunters or anyone who finds a banded bird can report the band online (ReportBand.gov) or mail information to: Bird Banding Lab, 12100 Beach Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708.

The call center supporting the 1-800-327-BAND toll-free phone number will be discontinued in 2017 due to high rates of dropped calls, issues with inaccurate data recording, and federal budget cuts.

Although this reporting method for the banding program is being discontinued, several studies are being planned to calculate the likely effect of this change on band reporting rates. The value of banding data is only fully realized when banded birds are recovered and band numbers are reported to the National Bird Banding Laboratory. DEC is grateful for, and relies heavily on, ?public participation for this effort.

Seggos reminds 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. More information about avoiding conflicts between waterfowl hunters and waterfront property owners can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/94213.html.

Commissioner Seggos also encourages 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. More information about purchasing a $5 Habitat Stamp is available at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html.

New York's 2017-18 Waterfowl Season and Bag Limit Pocket Guide is available on the DEC website, and hard copies will available from regional offices (www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html) or by e-mailing wildlife@dec.ny.gov later this summer.

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