NY DEC REPORTS: JR. Hunters Top 15,000 in First Year
Deer Harvest Matches 2007; Bear Harvest Likely to Set Records in Catskill, Allegany Regions
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released preliminary results that show more than 15,000 junior hunters took advantage of a new law signed by Governor David A. Paterson to create a “junior big-game” hunting license and expand outdoor opportunities.
DEC also released preliminary results that indicate the 2008 deer hunting harvest will match the previous year’s totals, though it will be less than expected. Meanwhile, bear harvest totals ran high – with a new record set in the Allegany range and likely in the Catskill range.
Final, official harvest numbers will be available in February after deer hunting concludes in Westchester and Suffolk counties, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said.
Governor Paterson this year signed a new law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt big game for the first time. Records indicate 15,651 junior hunters took advantage of the new opportunity – harvesting about 3,679 deer.
“The junior big-game license has proven extremely popular,” Commissioner Grannis said. “We were very excited to see so many young hunters afield and we have received many letters and e-mails from parents and enthusiastic hunters about their experiences this year.”
DEC calculates that hunters have taken more than 217,400 deer in 2008; and likely will end up very close to the 219,141 taken in 2007 once the totals are finalized. (More details in charts below.)
Pre-season harvest predictions were for a 5-10 percent increase in deer harvest, due primarily to the continual rise in deer population. However, a wet, windy and, in some areas, snowy opening week of the season in the Southern Zone made for difficult hunting conditions — the majority of the state’s deer harvest typically occurs during the first week in the Southern Zone. In contrast, warmer-than-expected weather in the Northern Zone tamped down early muzzleloader harvest totals.
While opening week reports showed harvest down almost 30 percent compared to the first week of the 2007 season, conditions improved through the season and harvest totals climbed. The 2008 harvest is a significant increase over 2006, when 189,108 deer were taken.
For 2008, calculations indicate that harvest in the Southern Zone totaled 182,423, compared to 185,185 in 2007. In the Northern Zone, estimates show 33,477 deer taken, compared to 31,797 in 2007. (Note: Northern and Southern zone totals do not, at this point, equal statewide estimates because Suffolk and Westchester seasons are still open.)
Bowhunting harvest showed a slight increase, despite a shorter season.
Hunters had a banner year for bears in the Catskill and Allegany regions – especially the latter, where the previous record was obliterated.
In Allegany, hunters reported taking 200 bears – a 67 percent increase over the previous record of 120, set just a year earlier.
In the Catskills, preliminary totals show the harvest currently at 493 bears – just one shy of the record set in 2005. In both ranges, hunters were aided by snow on the hilltops which provided good tracking conditions throughout most of the season.
In the Adirondack region, warm weather made for a slow start to the season. Early results are that 455 bears were taken, compared to 544 in 2007.
Also, hunters reported taking 18 bears in the 13 Wildlife Management Units that were opened for bear hunting this year in central and western New York.