DEC seeks public comment on feeding and hunting proposals

ALBANY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing changes to current deer feeding and bear hunting regulations.

Public comments will be accepted until Sept. 1 on proposals related to feeding wild deer and moose, including the permitting of 4-Poster devices, and expansion of early bear hunting to reduce population growth in parts of Delaware and Sullivan counties.

“Responsible and responsive wildlife management decisions include sound science and informed public input,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC encourages public input on these proposals as we continue to work to balance the needs of our communities and wildlife across the state.”

DEC’s proposal on feeding wild deer and moose and the use of 4-Poster devices is needed to strengthen and clarify the existing prohibitions on the intentional feeding of wild deer and moose. Prohibiting the feeding of wild deer and moose is a best management approach to reduce risks associated with communicable wildlife diseases like chronic wasting disease, minimize conflicts with deer, and protect wildlife habitats.

The proposal requires that products packaged to be sold as a food or attractant for deer or moose carry a clear label stating that such use is illegal in New York. It would continue to provide appropriate exceptions for wildlife plantings, agricultural practices, livestock husbandry, and research and nuisance abatement actions permitted by DEC. The proposed rule also clarifies that incidental feeding, such as the attraction of deer or moose to a birdfeeder, would only be considered a violation if DEC has previously issued a written warning about incidental feeding. This would allow DEC to respond to specific nuisance situations without limiting bird feeding in general.

Additionally, this rulemaking proposes to define the application procedures and conditions for issuance of a permit for the use of a 4-Poster Tickicide, including the requirement that automated feeding devices used with a 4-Poster be used only in the context of a comprehensive management approach that also addresses local deer abundance.

The bear-hunting proposal would expand bear hunting opportunities in DEC Wildlife Management Unit 4W. This rulemaking is necessary to reduce bear population growth in WMU 4W, which includes parts of Delaware and Sullivan counties. The current bear management objective for WMU 4W, as identified in DEC’s 2014-2024 Black Bear Management Plan for New York State, is to maintain a moderate bear population density. However, current harvest levels are not adequate to achieve that objective and the bear population in 4W is greater than desired and growing. Although bear hunting is currently allowed in WMU 4W during the regular season, 4W is not open to early bear hunting. Opening WMU 4W to early bear season is expected to yield the modest increase in bear harvest necessary to reduce population growth. As drafted, the proposed change would take effect in fall 2020.

The regulatory proposals are available on the DEC website or in the July 3 New York state Register. Comments on these regulatory proposals should be submitted via e-mail to wildliferegs@dec.ny.gov or via mail to Game Management Section, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. Comments will be accepted through Sept. 1.

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