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More NYers get hunting, fishing licenses

With fishing season and turkey hunting season underway, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reports an increase in hunting and fishing licenses, said Lori Severino, a public relations officer for the DEC.

Between March 1 and May 3, resident annual fishing license sales increased 30%, hunting license sales more than doubled, and turkey permits increased 58% compared to the same two-month period in 2019.

That continues the trend the DEC has seen this spring, she said, with increases in:

• Resident fishing license sales, annual and one-day.

• Resident hunting license sales.

• Resident junior hunting license sales for both 12- to 13-year-olds and 14- to 15-year-olds.

• Resident turkey permits.

• Habitat and Access stamp sales.

There could be a number of reasons for the increases.

One reason could be because the course to get a license was done online, eliminating the in-person field requirement normally needed to get a license because the coronavirus pandemic put a pause on in-person classes, said Sheila Morse, a hunter safety instructor and the secretary-treasurer for Blodgett Mills Sportsman Club in Cortlandville.

“They don’t have to go out and do a field course,” she said. “Everybody is home; they have nothing to do; they can jump online.”

However, there have been decreases in:

• Resident senior fishing license sales.

• Non-resident fishing license sales, both annual, one-day and seven-day.

• Non-resident hunting license sales.

• Recreational marine fishing registrations, although they experience a slight boost the week of April 26.

• Sales at municipal and retail agents, although they experienced an increase the week of April 26.

Some of the decreases are consistent with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to have people stay home and avoid travel, especially senior citizens who are more vulnerable to getting coronavirus.

Alex Barber of East Freetown had decided before the virus hit that this year she would hunt turkey, but now with the virus, hunting has given her something to do.

“I used to go with my grandpa and my parents,” she said. “I haven’t gone since I was 16. I’m 27 now. I think now is the right time. I love being outside anyways, so it’s nice.”

Morse urges people new to hunting to go to a outdoor sports shop to practice and learn gun safety before heading out.

“Personally, I think everybody should still have to do an in-field course,” Morse said.

“An online course doesn’t give physical, hands-on instruction on how to safely handle a gun. Please go to the range where it’s safe to shoot; just don’t go out to the state land. That’s not the best place to practice.”

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