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Holiday Hunt May Be Muzzled

A state lawmaker wants to allow counties to opt out of an expanded holiday hunting season authorized earlier this year by the state DEC.

In February, the DEC announced adoption of a seven-day Holiday Deer Hunt from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 in New York’s Southern Zone, which includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

Basil Seggos, state DEC commissioner, said the new season will include bows and muzzleloaders. Hunters must purchase a bowhunting or muzzleloading privilege to participate in the late bow or muzzleloader seasons and may use all deer carcass tags valid during those seasons.

While DEC officials said they reviewed all of the 3,000 comments received on the proposal, Sen. John Mannion, D-Syracuse, said he has heard many criticisms of the Holiday Hunt that prompted him to introduce legislation in the state Senate on Tuesday.

“The well intended purpose of this extended season was to promote hunting, economic activity and participation with young hunters who are in school,” Mannion wrote in his legislative justification. “This measure has received significant opposition from not only hunters themselves, but New Yorkers who wish to spend the holiday season partaking in other outdoor activities.

In the register, the DEC acknowledges that there may be a reduction in snowmobile trail availability, and an increase in restrictions for small game hunting and trapping by private landowners.”

DEC biologists anticipate many families may take advantage of the new hunting opportunity and, given the requirement for use of primitive weapons, biologists do not anticipate a significant effect on deer harvest or local deer populations.

Mannion, however, said counties should be able to determine if the expanded hunting season makes sense on a case-by-case basis. The period from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 can have many outdoor activities happening depending on the weather, including hiking, showshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and trapping.

The anticipated and recorded snowfall in these areas vary greatly and impact whether or not additional winter activities will take place,” Mannion wrote. “While beneficial for the few deer hunters who choose to partake in this hunt, it will likely harm other sportsmen and outdoor winter activities. It is critically important to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and promote winter economic growth by authorizing counties to make independent decisions to authorize a “holiday hunt.”

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