DEC Reminds Outside Lovers to Share the Woods Safely this Season

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New Yorkers are encouraged to be safe, responsible, and respectful during the fall and winter hunting season

With the regular Southern Zone big game season beginning Saturday, November 19 across much of southern New York State, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos encourages outdoor enthusiasts to sharing the forest respectfully and using common sense safety precautions this fall and winter.

“Because most public spaces in New York State are open to various forms of recreation, from hiking and nature photography to hunting and trapping, visitors should exercise caution, courtesy, and responsibility when sharing the forest to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.” to guarantee.” said Commissioner Seggos. “DEC encourages all visitors to read the safety guidelines for hunting and forest recreation before setting out and to respectfully share the outdoors with others.”

DEC requires big game hunters who use a firearm to wear hunter orange or pink and encourages non-hunters to wear blaze orange, blaze pink or another bright color during the fall and winter months for easier and more distant viewing will. Additionally, wearing bright colors makes it easier for forest officials, environmental protection officers, and other rescue workers to locate lost, sick, or injured people far away.

Pet owners are also encouraged to dress their dogs in a brightly colored vest or scarf and to keep pets on a leash at all times. Fishing seasons for many species open in the fall and early winter. Although rare, fur-wearing traps like raccoons and coyotes can also catch dogs that are out of control. Trapping is a highly regulated activity and regulations are strictly enforced. Trappers are required to complete a training course before being licensed, and DEC works closely with the trapping community to minimize risk to non-target wild and domestic animals.

Hunting is one of the most popular forms of wildlife recreation in the state, drawing an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers abroad each year. Hunting is safe and economically important as it helps manage wildlife populations and foster family traditions while promoting understanding and respect for the environment. Hikers should be aware that along trails they may encounter hunters carrying firearms or archery gear. Hunters should also be aware that they may encounter hikers and others enjoying the great outdoors. Hunting-related shootings involving non-hunters are extremely rare, and New York’s 2021 hunting season was the safest ever, with the lowest number of incidents on record.

Hunters can minimize the potential for disruption from and to other forms of recreation by following a few tips. Before a season begins, when hunters are scouting for the perfect spot or stand, take the time to see if the proposed location is popular. Avoiding locations that crowd other hunters or that are near a popular hiking area can enhance both the hunting and recreational experience. If a favorite hunting spot is too crowded, find an alternative location in good time.

DEC maintains hiking, biking, skiing and snowmobile trails in many areas of the Forest Preserve areas in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, as well as in State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas and Unique Areas that are open for hunting. DEC created the Love Our New York Lands campaign to encourage visitors to government-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation. The campaign responds to the steady surge in visitor numbers to State Lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade before. Love Our New York Lands supports ongoing government and partner-led efforts to educate the public on how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without degrading natural resources.

Find recreational opportunities by visiting DEC’s Trails Less Traveled or trying the DECinfo Locator. Many hiking trails are accessible to people with disabilities. Check out DEC’s Hiking Basics YouTube playlist for planning and preparing for a hike, and DEC’s Hunter Training playlist for more information on the basic rules of hunter safety.

Hunting in state parks

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation offers many places to hunt including 81 parks, three historic sites, three golf courses and 50 boat launches that provide opportunities to hunt a variety of wildlife including big game, small game, turkey, coat carriers, waterfowl and migratory bird species. In addition to a valid hunting license, all hunters wishing to take advantage of select hunting seasons in state parks must obtain a regional hunting permit for each park. Catching is not allowed in state parks. Visit the New York State Parks website for more information.