ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A multiyear state study to guide buck management has found deer hunters in Rockland County and the rest of New York state prefer to harvest older bucks and that further expanding mandatory antler restrictions are not warranted.
Basil Seggos, Department of Environmental Conservation acting commissioner, announced that instead, the state will encourage hunters to voluntarily pass up shots at younger bucks as a management method to best serve the interests of deer hunters across the state.
“Through this study, DEC engaged with the hunting community to determine the best deer herd management practices to benefit both the deer population and our state’s wildlife enthusiasts,” Seggos said. “DEC staff concluded that promoting voluntary restraint was appropriate given the high level of hunter support for increased availability of older bucks. Using a sound scientific approach to wildlife management is an essential strategy to expand hunting opportunities and growing the hunting economy in New York.”
DEC and the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University conducted the study in response to long-standing interests expressed by many hunters for DEC to adopt regulations to reduce the take of yearling bucks, male deer younger than 1.5 years old, to increase the number of older bucks in the population.
Moving forward, DEC intends to work with several leading sportsmen groups across the state to educate hunters on their important role in deer management, the impacts of their harvest choices, and the likely changes in the deer population as more and more hunters voluntarily refrain from taking young bucks.
The study included a statewide survey of 7,000 deer hunters conducted in fall 2013 by the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University, a nationally recognized leader in surveys to assess public opinions and attitudes on wildlife-related issues. DEC considered six alternatives to increase the proportion of older bucks in the population, including mandatory antler restrictions during all or portions of the archery and firearms seasons, shorter firearms seasons, a one-buck per hunter per year rule, promoting voluntary restraint by hunters and a no-change option.
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