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Environmental Conservation Police Q & A


Toll-Free 24 Hour Eco Dispatch Center:

Poaching and illegal commercialization robs the average citizen by stealing our fish & wildlife from legal sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts who follow harvest limits, seasons and other regulations. Report Game Law Violators by calling DEC’s 24-Hour Dispatch Center at 1-877-457-5680.

Question & Answer

Question: How far from a public highway must I be to legally discharge my firearm?

Answer: A hunter must be beyond any maintained portion of a roadway, including the shoulder, roadside ditch and/or mowed area of any highway that is maintained by a state, county, town or other municipality. Regardless of where the discharge takes place it is illegal for the round to cross any portion of the areas outlined above or over the actual highway.

Question: May I use a laser sight when hunting?

Answer: A laser sight (one that emits a light) may be used to hunt all wildlife other than deer and bear. Scopes and sights that use a light that is not projected at the target are lawful for all game species.

Question: May a person convicted of a felony or certain other serious offenses hunt wildlife?

Answer: Yes, the New York State Penal Law restricts persons convicted of a felony or certain serious offenses from possessing a shotgun, rifle, or muzzleloader, not hunting. They may be allowed to possess these implements if they obtain a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, or Good Conduct.

Question: May I borrow and use a deer or bear tag from a friend or family member when hunting?

Answer: Only a deer management permit (DMP) may be transferred to another person. Instructions on how to transfer DMPs are found in the Hunting and Trapping Guide. The use of someone else’s deer or bear tag is against the law.

Question: May I carry my .22 caliber handgun when hunting deer during the regular big game season?

Answer: Any person who possesses a New York State Pistol Permit may carry any caliber handgun when deer hunting during the regular firearm season. No person may take deer with any firearm that uses rimfire ammunition.

Question: May I hunt wildlife with an airgun?

Answer: You may use an airgun to hunt any species that may legally be taken with a .22 caliber rimfire rifle, provided the airgun is no smaller than .17 caliber and produces a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second.

Question: Do I need a hunting license to target shoot in the woods near my home?

Answer: No, a hunting license is required only when you are taking or attempting to take wildlife.

Question: May I hunt deer with a .410 shotgun?

Answer: No, shotguns used for hunting deer or bear must be 20 gauge or larger.

Question: May I take a child younger than 12 years old with me while hunting?

Answer: Yes, a person of any age may accompany a hunter afield as an observant as long as they do not assist in the taking of wildlife unless licensed.

Environmental Conservation Officers

Law Enforcement Toll Free 24-Hour
ECO Dispatch 1-877-457-5680

Wildlife Violators are Stealing From You!

Call 1-800-TIPP-DEC or an officer listed below to report poaching, trespassing, baiting or other wildlife violations.

Wildlife Compact

Effective March 1, 2006, New York State joined the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). The IWVC is a compact under which member states reciprocate regarding the suspension or revocation of licenses and permits resulting from violations concerning the pursuit, possession or taking of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, shellfish and crustaceans. If a person’s license or permit privileges which come under the scope of the IWVC are suspended or revoked in one member state, they are subject to suspension or revocation in all member states. In addition to license and permit suspensions and revocations which result from a conviction for the illegal pursuit, possession or taking of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, shellfish and crustaceans, failing to appear in court or to otherwise answer a ticket or summons issued for such violations will also result in license or permit suspension. IWVC member states also agree to recognize convictions for violations within the scope of the IWVC which occur in all other member states and to apply them toward license and permit suspension and revocations in the state in which the person resides.

There are now 38 member states. Other states and Canadian provinces are expected to join the IWVC in the near future. For a complete list of IWVC member states, please call DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement at 518-402-8816.


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Purple text indicates an important note.

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