State park snowmobiling

A snowmobiler rides in Allegany State Park.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing a regulation that, if adopted, would allow counties to opt out of a new end-of-year deer hunt, slated to occur annually between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

The so-called “holiday hunt” is an extension of the late bow and muzzleloader deer season in New York’s Southern Zone.

“DEC adopted the holiday deer hunt earlier this year, providing hunters with new opportunities to venture afield when families and friends are gathered for the holidays and students are home on school break,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “(The) proposed regulation addresses concerns expressed by some local leaders about a holiday hunt interfering with snowmobiling opportunities in their communities.”

Seggos said snowmobiling and small-game hunting have safely coexisted for decades, and he encouraged all interested stakeholders to share comments on the proposed regulation that would let counties opt out of the holiday hunt before the deadline on Nov. 14.

DEC encourages counties to work with snowmobile organizations, landowners and hunters to “share the snow.” The proposed regulation was designed to address concerns raised in some communities that landowners might choose to prevent snowmobile access to trail networks that cross private land during the late deer hunt, limiting snowmobiling access during the last week of December.

Historically, snow cover deep enough to support snowmobiling in Western New York is present only occasionally — and in certain locations — in the Southern Zone during the holiday period.

If the proposed regulation is adopted, Southern Zone counties that choose to block the late hunt must annually adopt a local law specifying exclusion from the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 portion of the late bow and muzzleloader season.

For this year, counties that pass such a local law will need to send a copy of their adopted law to DEC before Dec. 25. In future years, counties that withdraw must send a copy of their adopted law to DEC by May 1 of each year to allow publication in DEC’s annual hunting and trapping regulations booklet.

Counties that do not wish to opt out need not take such action. Details of the proposal are published in the Sept. 15 issue of the NYS Register and on DEC’s website.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in both Cattaraugus and Allegany counties approved a pilot law that allows 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt for deer and bear under the supervision of experienced hunters, but concerns about the late-season deer hunt were not raised.

Public comment on the proposal to opt out of the late hunt may be submitted by email to WildlifeRegs@dec.ny.gov or in writing to: Wildlife Regulations, NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

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