From New York Department of Environmental Conservation
-- A major change to expand big-game hunting to 14- and 15-year-olds highlights the upcoming opening of the 2008 Southern Zone regular deer and the Catskill and Allegany bear seasons, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis recently announced.
Earlier this year, Gov. David A. Paterson signed into law a bill that created a special "junior hunter" mentoring program which will allow persons aged 14 and 15 to hunt big game with a firearm while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter (http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/press_0724082.html).
Prior to that, New York was the only state in the nation where 14-year-olds could not hunt big game with a firearm. (See www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html for program requirements and to download the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form.)
Besides the expansion of the junior hunters' license, hunters are reminded that several changes have occurred for the 2008 hunting seasons:
-- New areas are open for black bear hunting. DEC has adopted new regulations that expand bear hunting to 13 additional Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in central and western New York. The regulations are in effect immediately and will allow hunters to pursue bears in these areas during the bowhunting, regular, and muzzleloading bear hunting seasons in the Southern Zone. The expansion is a continuation of efforts to manage bear population growth and range expansion. See http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28602.html for a map of the areas opening to bear hunting.
-- Rifles are approved for big-game hunting in Madison County. This law was approved by the State Legislature for just one year and will expire in 2009.
-- Rifles are approved for big-game hunting in Chemung, Steuben, and Yates Counties. This law was set to expire in 2008 but was extended until 2011.
-- DEC now offers Online Game Harvest Reporting. Successful hunters are required to report their deer, bear and turkey harvests. Hunters may report via the Department's new online reporting system (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html) or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).
DEC will continue implementation of the statewide Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance program, testing deer tissue for the presence of the disease in New York. More than 24,000 wild deer, including more than 5,500 from the CWD Containment Area, were tested for CWD in New York since the discovery of CWD in several wild and captive deer in April 2005.
DEC also invites hunters to join New York Big Game, DEC's e-mail outlet for information on black bear and white-tailed deer in the state. Subscribers to this e-mail list will periodically receive information from DEC about bear and deer biology, management, research, regulations and hunting. To subscribe to New York Big Game, visit DEC's website at http://lists.dec.state.ny.us/mailman/listinfo/nybiggame .