ALBANY — New statewide big game hunting regulations have been adopted in time for fall seasons.
Proposed in June, rule changes for deer and bear hunting were processed through required public comment periods that closed in mid-August. Following a review of comments, the state Department of Environmental Conservation adopted the regulations as proposed. The DEC announced the adoption on Wednesday, ahead of the first deer and bear seasons opening later this month.
“New York has a long and proud tradition of deer and bear hunting and with these new rules, DEC is building on that tradition by expanding opportunities for hunters, increasing antlerless harvest where needed and improving hunter safety,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.
The new deer and bear regulations include increasing antlerless deer harvests in specific Wildlife Management Areas; extending daily hours for big game hunting to include the entire day’s period of ambient light; simplifying bear hunting regulations in the Adirondacks; and requiring big game firearms hunters to wear safety colors.
State law already required 12- to 15-year-old junior hunters using firearms for deer and bear to wear fluorescent orange or pink “visible from all directions.”
The requirement — either a hat or upper body clothing, solid-colored or at least 50% patterned orange or pink — also extended to anyone accompanying youth hunters. But all other hunters using firearms for deer and bear were only recommended, not required, to wear orange or pink safety colors.
The adopted amendment requires the colors to be worn in the same specifications by all deer and bear firearms hunters, regardless of age.
Mandated hunter orange, or pink in some cases, varies by state. Some states specify by portions of colored clothing or by number of clothing items. Several require colors for junior hunters using firearms and others standardize the practice for all firearms hunters.
In Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, for instance, firearms seasons require the colors for all ages. In Vermont, blaze orange is encouraged but not required.
New York is one of the last states to implement some form of color requirement for all hunters during big game firearms seasons.
The big game changes coincide with the state’s latest deer management plan, adopted earlier this year.
Formally called the Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, 2021-2030, the plan is based on six goals: population management, hunting and recreation, conflict and damage management, education and communication, deer habitat and operational resources.
The 2021-22 printed hunting and fishing guides have already been distributed, but the changes are expected to be incorporated into next year’s materials. More details about the new regulations are posted to the DEC website.