ALBANY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the adoption of new regulations governing the public use of Wildlife Management Areas.
The regulations are effective Jan. 1. DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife manages 125 WMAs and several Unique and Multiple Use Areas across the state. Collectively known as the WMA system, these areas comprise nearly 250,000 acres.
“Visitor use and enjoyment of DEC’s wildlife management areas across the state have increased significantly over the years,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “To protect these special places for future generations and sustainably welcome visitors, DEC is updating our rules to ensure the WMA system continues to meet the primary goals of conserving wildlife and providing opportunities to safely hunt, trap and appreciate wildlife.”
There are 27 WMAs in the DEC’s Region 9, which includes Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
DEC adopted the new regulations following a public comment period earlier this year. The full text can be found on the DEC website. New regulations include provisions to:
• Restrict the use of motor vehicles and some motorized equipment, such as chainsaws, in WMAs. Snowmobiles will be allowed on designated routes covered by a minimum of 3 inches of snow or ice and only from the close of the regular big game hunting season until March 31. This measure will help prevent the degradation of trails and habitat, particularly during winter and spring thaws.
• Prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species.
• Restrict the discharge of firearms other than for hunting or trapping to designated areas, where only paper targets will be allowed.
• Restrict the use of boats to electric or non-powered boats. Boats may not be stored or anchored overnight on WMAs.
• Require that dogs be kept on a leash and under control. Exceptions include when dogs are being legally used for hunting, training for hunting on lands designated as dog-training areas during training seasons, or when participating in a DEC-licensed field trial.
The DEC said visitors to WMAs should always be aware of the rules. Each WMA has a webpage that lists featured activities, available facilities, any site-specific restrictions and a map of the area.