SPRINGVILLE — Under Governor Cuomo’s New York Open for Hunting and Fishing, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced that a statewide deer hunter survey is underway, in an effort to provide improved deer hunting experiences across the state. The survey is being conducted for DEC by the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University.
During the development of the 2012-2016 deer management plan for New York, some hunters expressed interest in modifying hunting rules and regulations to allow more bucks to live to older ages and develop heavier bodies with larger antlers. As a result, one of the objectives in DEC’s current deer management plan is to “Encourage various strategies to reduce harvest of young [1.5 year-old] bucks in accordance with hunter desires.”
In addition to hunters voluntarily deciding not to shoot young bucks, managers could enact a variety of rules and regulations to reduce harvest of young bucks, all of which involve trade-offs for hunters. The DEC needs current information on hunters’ views to understand how different buck harvest strategies may affect hunter satisfactions. This fall, DEC is sponsoring a statewide survey of hunters to provide that information.
In mid-October, Cornell University staff mailed questionnaires to a statewide random sample of 7,000 big game license holders with an invitation to participate in the survey. By gathering information on the relative importance hunters place on different types of deer hunting and harvest opportunities, the survey will help wildlife managers identify which buck management strategy best balances hunter opinions, in various regions of the state.
DEC asked all hunters who receive a questionnaire to complete and return it promptly. DEC requests to hear from every hunter in the sample, regardless of whether they went afield or took a deer last year. To maintain scientific integrity and preserve the random sampling survey design, DEC will not accept requests to participate in the survey.
Results of the survey will be used during 2014 to help evaluate a variety of buck harvest strategies. The basic elements of this approach were discussed in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping guides, and are covered further on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27663.html
. The DEC staff will consider survey results, along with deer population management needs across various regions of the state, as a basis for possible regulation changes for fall 2015.