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DEC encourages safe, responsible hunting

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Courtesy of Department of Environmental Conservation

ALBANY — With several hunting seasons in full swing, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to respectfully share the woods and follow common-sense safety precautions.

“With most public land across New York state open to multiple forms of recreation, from hiking and nature photography to hunting and trapping, visitors should be cautious, courteous, and responsible when sharing the woods to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience,” Seggos said. “DEC encourages all visitors to review the safety guidelines for hunting and recreating in the woods before going afield and respectfully sharing the outdoors with others.”

DEC requires big-game hunters using a firearm to wear hunter orange or pink and encourages non-hunters to wear blaze orange, blaze pink or another bright color during fall and winter months to be seen more easily and from greater distances. In addition, wearing bright colors makes it easier for forest rangers, environmental conservation police officers, and other rescue personnel to find lost, sick or injured people afield.

Pet owners are also encouraged to affix a bright colored vest or scarf on their dogs and keep pets leashed at all times. Trapping seasons for many species are open throughout the fall and early winter. Although rare, traps set for furbearers like raccoons and coyotes can also capture dogs that are not under control.

Trapping is a highly regulated activity and regulations are strongly enforced. Trappers are required to take an educational course before getting a license and DEC works closely with the trapping community to minimize risks to non-target wildlife and domestic animals.

Hunting is among the most popular forms of wildlife recreation in the state, drawing an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers afield each year. Hunting is safe and economically important, helping to manage wildlife populations and promote family traditions, while fostering an understanding and respect for the environment.

Hikers should be aware that they may encounter hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment on trails. Hunters should likewise recognize that they may encounter hikers and others enjoying the outdoors. Hunting-related shooting incidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare and the 2021 hunting seasons in New York were the safest ever, with the lowest number of incidents since record-keeping began.

Hunters can minimize the potential for disturbance by and to other forms of recreation by following a few tips. Before a season opens, when hunters are scouting for the perfect spot or stand location, take the time to check if the planned location is popular. Avoiding locations that crowd other hunters or are near a sought-out hiking spot can improve both the hunting and recreational experience. If a preferred hunting spot is too crowded, identify an alternative location ahead of time.

DEC maintains hiking, biking, skiing and snowmobile trails in many areas of forest preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill parks, as well as in state forests, wildlife management areas, and unique areas open to hunting. DEC launched the “Love Our New York Lands” campaign to encourage visitors to state-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation. The campaign is responsive to the steady increase in the number of visitors to state lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade prior. 

Love Our New York Lands” bolsters ongoing state-and partner-led efforts to educate the public about how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without negatively impacting natural resources.

Find recreation options by visiting DEC’s website at dec.ny.gov.

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