Bobcat and snow geese seasons are extended
Bobcat hunting and trapping opportunities are expanding under a set of regulations adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The agency is implementing strategies of the recently adopted Bobcat Management Plan that will provide sustainable harvest opportunities while also maintaining a stable or increasing bobcat population.
In the Northern Zone, changes include an extension of the bobcat trapping season in Wildlife Management units 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6F, 6G, 6H, 6J and 6N to match the hunting season. Similar and commensurate changes will also be made in the Southern Zone, though they are a tad more complicated. I suggest you review them carefully before venturing out for your first trapping foray in that zone.
Complete information on these and other changes can be found under "Furbearer Hunting Regulations" on DEC's website.
LONGER SNOW GOOSE SEASON
In the event you weren't aware of it, the snow goose season will again remain open between Jan. 16 and April 15. Snow goose populations have skyrocketed throughout their range in recent years and the DEC is hoping hunters can reduce that population a bit.
According to the agency, the expanded special season will increase hunter opportunity to harvest snow geese throughout the winter and early spring, when they are most abundant here in New York state. The special season was established in 2008 to help reduce environmental damage caused by the overabundance of snow geese in eastern North America.
Snow geese are an arctic breeding goose species that has reached record high population levels in North America -- from approximately 50,000 birds in the 1960s to more than one million in recent years.
Wildlife agencies, ecologists and environmental organizations have expressed concern about the impacts overabundant snow geese are having on arctic ecosystems, coastal wetlands and agricultural crops. In response to those concerns, federal hunting regulations were liberalized in 2008, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted a conservation order allowing states in the Atlantic Flyway to implement special snow goose harvest programs in addition to its regular hunting seasons. Based on guidance from USFWS, DEC again decided to have one continuous season this year.
Snow geese weren't as plentiful in this area last season as they were the year before, but so much depends upon the weather that you never know from one year to the next exactly when they'll be coming through, and in what numbers. Nonetheless, they do provide a great hunting opportunity.
25 PER DAY
The special, extended season includes a bag limit of 25 snow geese per day, with no possession limit. Hunters are also allowed to use electronic calls and unplugged guns, shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, when no concurrent open season exists for other migratory waterfowl. You must still use non-toxic shot, have a valid federal duck stamp and a current Harvest Information Program number. The special program does not include Long Island, because relatively few snow geese occur in that region of the state during spring.
HIP numbers are valid only from July 1 to June 30 so you'll need a new one for this coming season and you can get one beginning soon. There is no charge for a HIP number and you can apply for one by phone by calling 1-888-427-5447 or by going online to www.ny-hip.com. The entire process takes about five minutes and is about as easy and painless as possible. Just answer a few questions and you'll be given a number. That's all there is to it, but be certain you have that number with you. It's a federal requirement and if you can't produce it when asked by an environmental conservation officer you could face a fine.
Woodcock hunting also requires a HIP number, but you need not use non-toxic shot or obtain a federal migratory bird stamp. The woodcock season will probably run from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14.
The Youth Hunting Days for waterfowl in the northeast zone will be Sept. 21 and 22. In the southwest zone they'll be Sept. 28 and 29.