Hunting forecasts released

DEC takes public comments on chronic wasting disease plan

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is taking public comments on proposed changes to the way it protects moose and deer from chronic wasting disease, and also announced that this year’s deer hunting forecasts are now available.

Deer season forecasts

The DEC announced earlier this month that its annual deer hunting season forecasts for each wildlife management unit (WMU) in the state are now available on the DEC website.

According to the forecast for DEC Region 5, which covers the eastern Adirondacks and Champlain Valley north to the Canadian border, hunters should expect a similar or slightly lower deer take compared to last year’s.

“Much of the land here is steep and remote with few roads and trails. The deer population is low, but the unit offers classic Adirondack wilderness hunting for those who are willing to hike or ride horses into the back county,” says the forecast for WMU 5F, which covers the High Peaks. “Bucks inhabiting areas that are remote and difficult to access often live longer, affording hunters the opportunity to harvest mature animals with larger antlers. The deer population in this unit is mainly controlled by winter weather, with the buck take consistently ranging from 0.4 to 0.6 bucks per square mile. A similar buck take can be expected for the 2019 hunting season.”

Of the nine WMUs in Region 5, 5A, 5G, and 5J are expected to have a similar or slightly increased deer harvest while the rest of the units are predicted to be similar or slightly down from last year. Some of the WMUs — such as 5S, in Saratoga County — have limited public access for hunting due to development. The DEC also said in a press release that it will issue more deer management permits statewide this year.

The forecasts, divided by DEC region, are at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37304.html.

Chronic wasting disease

Chronic wasting disease is a nervous system disease that attacks moose, elk and deer. It is fatal and untreatable.

CWD was first detected in New York in Oneida County in 2005, but it has not been detected since. Signs of CWD in moose, deer and captive elk include emaciation, disorientation, extreme thirst and loss of bodily functions.

The DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets “recently finalized the New York State Interagency Chronic Wasting Disease Risk Minimization Plan, which includes recommendations to strengthen protection of New York’s wild white-tailed deer and moose populations, as well as captive cervids (deer and elk) held at enclosed breeding and shooting facilities,” a press release said.

With the release of the updated plan, the departments are taking public comments until Oct. 6 on the proposed changes. These include banning the importation of carcasses and carcass parts of CWD-susceptible animals, increasing environmental conservation officers’ ability to enforce DAM regulations, and clarifying the rules for taxidermists who handle CWD-susceptible animals.

The changes would also clarify “that the only parts of CWD-susceptible animals that may be imported into New York are deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products,” the release said.

The full plan can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7191.html. Comments can be emailed to WildlifeRegs@dec.ny.gov, or sent via mail Jeremy Hurst, NYSDEC, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

St. Lawrence youth hunt

The DEC and ECOs in St. Lawrence County are partnering with the Massena Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation to host a youth waterfowl and pheasant hunt over three days in September.

The hunt, for kids age 12 to 15, will take place at the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, beginning with the classroom safety portion on Saturday, Sept. 14. Hunting will take place the following two Saturdays, Sept. 21 and 28.

The youth hunt is free and equipment can be provided, but each participant must have a small-game hunting license. The hunt is sponsored by the New York Conservation Officers Association, the NWTF and the St. Lawrence County Sportsmen’s Federation.

For more information or to sign up for the event, please contact Lt. Troy Basford at 315-265-2757 or ECO Ian Helmer at 315-559-8503.