Department of Environmental Conservation seeks waterfoul input

RAY BROOK-New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today invited hunters to submit recommendations to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces for the dates of the fall 2011 duck hunting seasons. DEC will evaluate the task force recommendations in setting waterfowl seasons, which must comply with federal rules.

New York is divided into five waterfowl hunting zones: Western, Southeastern, Northeastern, Lake Champlain, and Long Island. DEC recently appointed task forces for each zone (except Lake Champlain, see link below) to solicit recommendations for the fall 2011 hunting seasons, including opening and closing dates, split seasons and a special hunting weekend for youths. Each task force includes representatives from the New York State Conservation Council, established waterfowl hunting organizations and individual waterfowl hunters who were chosen to provide input from diverse points of view.

The recommended dates must be within federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For fall 2011, DEC expects the USFWS to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than Sept. 24, 2011, and closing no later than Jan. 29, 2012.

Waterfowl hunters can participate by providing duck season suggestions to any task force member on or before April 15, 2011. Names and contact information for all task force members are listed in alphabetical order on the DEC website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html.

Comments can be provided by mail, telephone or e-mail. The comment due date is important because the task forces will provide their recommendations in late April and DEC plans to announce tentative duck hunting season dates in June.

Input on hunting seasons for other migratory game birds, including Canada geese, snow geese, brant and woodcock, may be submitted also to any member of DEC's season-setting team. However, due to greater uncertainty about federal regulations for those species, decisions and tentative dates will probably not be known until later in the summer.

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