ALBANY — The state Department of Environmental Conservation in November completed its draft deer management plan, developed to address population management strategies statewide through 2030.
Completed actions from the previous 2012-2016 management plan have been removed, ongoing actions have been modified and new actions recommended, together considering recreation and economic interests, public safety and natural resource protection.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the plan incorporates “innovative steps” toward management that benefit the state’s deer population and New Yorkers.
The 79-page draft, formally called Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, 2021-2030, is based on six goals: population management, hunting and recreation, conflict and damage management, education and communication, deer habitat and operational resources.
The state’s most popular game animal, according to the DEC, white-tailed deer generate millions of dollars for the state economy annually. On average, the plan notes, more than 540,000 New York deer hunters produce 10 million pounds of venison and contribute to $410.9 million in retail sales, $221.4 million in salaries and wages and $61.3 million in state and local taxes every year.
With alternating population growth and decline since Europeans claimed land in the Northeast, white-tailed deer are now populous throughout New York, and “the potential for deer populations to exceed carrying capacity, impact other plant and animal species, conflict with land use practices and affect human health and safety necessitate efficient and effective herd management,” the plan reads.
The plan identifies areas of long-term planning and research — with particular focus on cultural and ecological changes like declining hunter numbers and climate change — as well as immediate actions.
Dividing the state into 23 regions for establishing regional population goals and assessing deer impacts on forest regeneration, the plan involves regular disease monitoring and makes hunting-related recommendations to meet local needs and increase antlerless harvest where a population reduction need has been identified.
The plan does not propose any hunter ammunition material requirement, though voluntary use of non-lead ammunition is encouraged to reduce lead exposure to people and other wildlife.
Adjusted regulatory mechanisms may also be on the horizon to improve the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program and Deer Damage Permit program, which can be implemented on private properties where agricultural damage from deer has been documented or within a municipal area experiencing ongoing deer issues.
Comments on the draft plan should be emailed to email@example.com, with the subject line “Deer Plan,” or mailed to DEC Deer Management Plan, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.
After the comment period closes, the plan may be amended to reflect any feedback before a final version is published. Any proposed changes to state regulations outlined by the plan will require an additional comment period.