Message from the Commissioner
New York Hunting
In 2020, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is commemorating 50 years since its inception. I am proud to work with the people at DEC, our partners, and the public to continue the stewardship of New York’s natural resources. The unprecedented crisis we are facing this year during the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the response of all New Yorkers to persevere in the face of adversity is emblematic of what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal.
Prior to the creation of DEC in 1970, its precursor, the New York State Conservation Department, was one of the first state agencies of its kind when it began in 1895. For over 100 years, New York’s hunting and trapping community has taken an active role in conservation efforts and we have a lot of success stories to show for it. Game species like deer and turkeys that were once either greatly reduced in number or were gone from the state entirely are now abundant. Furbearers like otter, fisher, and bobcat that were restricted in their distributions can now be found across upstate New York. In addition to the many success stories for game species, hunter and trapper supported conservation efforts have benefited a multitude of non-game species through protection, habitat improvement, and management. The amount of land with public access for hunting and trapping has steadily increased, now totaling millions of acres across the state including 260,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas.
Whereas the goal of hunters and the Conservation Department was once the restoration and recovery of game populations, our focus now shifts to protecting habitats and providing access to those habitats for wildlife-related recreation and other sustainable uses. In some parts of the state, species like deer are now overabundant, negatively affecting residents in these communities. Hunters, who were advocates for setting hunting seasons and bag limits 100 years ago to foster population recovery are now helping to manage overabundant deer and the impacts they cause on people and habitats. As new challenges emerge which impact at-risk species, our hunters continue to be a strong voice for conservation efforts which protect all of our native wildlife. The role of the hunter-conservationist is as important as it has ever been — protecting and managing habitat, managing species like deer and bear, and preventing the spread of diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, to name but a few important management issues.
As New York’s landscape and the wildlife that inhabit it change, so too does our relationship with the natural world. Engaging with that world during these challenging times is more important now than ever, and hunting and trapping are great ways to do so. In addition, when you head afield this fall you are continuing not only New York’s hunting legacy, but its long legacy of conservation.
I hope to see you out there. Remember to recreate responsibly and safely to protect yourself and others. Good Luck and be safe!
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation