To the Editor:
In response to Steve Featherstone’s article, “1 year after NY allowed Christmastime hunting, some CNY lawmakers want to let counties ban it” (Dec. 3, 2022):
Legislation allowing counties the ability to opt out of the holiday hunt was a product of multiple groups, one being NYR’s Against a Longer Deer Season. This group represents sportsmen, deer hunting groups, other outdoor user groups, foresters and landowners negatively affected by extending deer season through the December holiday week.
The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation received over 1,300 comments opposing the holiday hunt regulation from DEC employees, DEC state boards, sportsmen groups, sportsmen, deer hunters and groups, county agencies, New York State Parks, biologists, deer processors, snowmobilers, trappers, houndsmen, small game hunters, environmental conservation officers and landowners, to name some.
No group requested the holiday hunt. DEC’s own deer biologists presented a white paper against the idea when proposed. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos stated “it doesn’t need the additional time to manage deer populations.” The holiday hunt was created by DEC employees in Albany who wanted to hunt on their paid holiday break.
New York state already has one of the longest firearms seasons of all Northern states for deer — 31 days in the southern zone, now 38 days. Deer are extremely vulnerable and food dependent that late in winter and shouldn’t be disturbed. Antlers are being shed. Thick winter coats make identification of adults from fawns and males from females difficult, at best. Post-rut bucks are run down and a poor choice for consumption. This is why many deer hunters are so strongly opposing the holiday hunt. Typically, young hunters have historically been recruited through small game hunting, not deer hunting.
Seggos promised to allow counties the ability to opt out of the holiday hunt. Comments received during the public comment period showed 2 out of every 3 comments in favor of the opt-out.
Kudos to the lawmakers who support their constituency on this matter and it was a bipartisan effort. We are thrilled they all have won their reelections.
Fourteen counties, in whole or part, do not have the holiday hunt, so why not allow more the choice? Other DEC programs are opt in or out, most recently the youth hunt. Closing down the outdoors for the holiday school break to all other user groups is a poor choice for the deer, the kids and everyone that would like to go freely outdoors.
On behalf of NYR’s Against Longer Deer Season