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NY hunters asked to help monitor small game species

From New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation

-- New York state hunters are being asked to participate in two surveys for popular game species during this fall's hunting seasons.

Hunters are uniquely positioned to assist wildlife managers by providing data on changing wildlife populations and habitats for New England cottontail rabbits and ruffed grouse and American woodcocks.

The New England Cottontail is the only native cottontail east of the Hudson River in New York; however, its populations are poorly understood. New England cottontails look nearly identical to Eastern cottontails and are only reliably identified by genetic testing or examining skull characteristics.

Those who hunt rabbits in Rensselaer, Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam or Westchester counties, can submit the heads of rabbits harvested to help determine the distribution of New England cottontails.

For information on how to participate in the survey, call (518)402-8870 or request information by email and include the words "NE Cottontail" in the subject line at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

For more information on the New England Cottontail survey, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/67017.html.

Participating hunters will receive instructions and a postage-paid envelope to submit skulls. Hunters will be asked to provide the location and description of the habitat where each rabbit was taken. Results of these efforts will be available after the close of the hunting season.

Ruffed grouse and American woodcock which are widely distributed across New York state, prefer habitats in young forests, shrub lands and old orchards and fields. As New York forests age, these preferred habitats are declining as are grouse and woodcock numbers.

The survey asks hunters to record daily grouse and woodcock hunting activities in a hunting log, noting the number of grouse and woodcock flushed and hours hunted. Because grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, hunter information will assist in monitoring both bird populations.

Download a Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9351.html.

Survey forms can also be obtained by calling (518) 402-8886 or by e-mailing fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us. Use the words ìGrouse Logî in the subject line.

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