The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that it has adopted a five-year deer management plan. The final plan, which has been revised based on public comment on a previously released draft version, is now available at New York's Deer Management Program - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
"White-tailed deer are an important and valued natural resource for New Yorkers," Commissioner Joe Martens said. "DEC's new deer management plan provides strategic direction for our staff over the next five years and will help us focus our efforts where they can best meet the biological and social demands associated with deer. This plan emphasizes the importance of hunting for deer management, and we are particularly excited to create new opportunities for young deer hunters," Martens said. "We are also cognizant of the significant ecological impacts associated with deer, and we are eager to more fully bring our knowledge of these impacts into the population management process."
The 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.
Public comment on the draft deer management plan was carefully reviewed by the Department, and several notable changes were made in the adopted plan, including:
• Changing to a 5-year cycle for evaluating deer population objectives;
• DEC removed the proposal to completely discontinue either-sex and antlerless-only tags;
• DEC is committing to implementing a youth deer hunting opportunity. Details related to timing and structure of a youth hunt have been removed from the plan so as to allow continued discussion to identify the most appropriate option; and
• DEC clarified that a special antlerless-only season for muzzleloader hunters will only occur as the 3rd phase of a multi-phase process, and only in WMUs where additional doe harvest is needed.
DEC intends to begin implementing strategies of the deer plan immediately. While many strategies will take several years to develop, DEC expects to begin rulemaking to implement a number of hunting-related aspects of this plan prior to the 2012-13 hunting seasons, including:
• Establishing a youth deer hunt; • Starting the Southern Zone bow season October 1st;
• Allowing DMPs to be used during the bow and early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone; and
• Expanding mandatory antler restrictions into 7 WMUs 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.