That language authorizes sweeps and transfers of funding from special revenue accounts, and that’s a no-no when it comes to dedicated funds targeted for the Conservation Fund. Those funds are derived from our hunting and fishing licenses and provide required matching funds for these federal programs.
It would be indeed unfortunate if New York loses this funding for failing to make a small technical fix in the language of the budget, but the state has been aware of this for months and has so far failed to do anything about it.
Pirating funds is nothing new in state politics. It happened before when then-Gov. Mario Cuomo decided to eliminate a dedicated ATV development fund and transfer the cash, about $1 million, to the General Fund to help manage a budgetary shortfall. Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his son, wants to do essentially the same thing by painting bulls-eyes on some dedicated funds, including the Conservation Fund.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Fund, in particular, provides resources for our Department of Environmental Conservation to maintain and enhance wildlife management areas and their facilities to allow safe public access for wildlife watching, hunting, fishing and other recreational and tourism-oriented activities. Conversely, the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund support for the DEC is to enhance the state’s economically important sport fishing industry, including wetland habitat restoration and mapping, and research into the health of our fisheries.
The governor and Legislature have known about this issue for months yet it appears they have done nothing to resolve it, at least not yet. Twenty million dollars is a lot of money, especially when DEC and our various outdoor programs are so cash-strapped.
GOOSE & DUCK SEASONS
The DEC has announced the tentative dates of this year’s migratory bird seasons, so let’s get started with the Canada goose seasons first. In the northeast zone, the early season will run Sept. 1-25 and the bag limit will be eight per day. The regular Canada goose season will run from Oct. 27 through Dec. 10 with a bag limit of three per day.
In the east-central zone the early season will also run from Sept. 1-25, but the regular season will be split, with the first portion running from Oct. 27 through Nov. 16 and then from Nov. 24 through Dec. 17. The bag limits will be the same as in the northeast zone. In the Lake Champlain zone the early Canada goose season will run from Sept. 4-25 and the regular Canada goose season will be determined later, since it involves Vermont as well as the federal government and NYS. The early season bag limit will be five per day and the regular season bag limit will be three per day.
The snow goose season in the northeast zone will run from Oct. 1 through April 15 with a bag limit of 25 birds per day.
Now let’s turn to the regular waterfowl season. I’ll limit it to ducks because that’s the quarry most waterfowlers are after. In the northeast zone the duck season will run from Oct. 6-14 and Oct. 27 through Dec. 16. In the southeast zone the duck season will run from Oct. 13-21 and then from Nov. 10 through Dec. 30. Again, duck seasons in the Lake Champlain zone will be determined later.
Remember there’s a difference between the goose hunting and regular waterfowl hunting zones. Acquaint yourselves with those differences so you’ll know when and where to hunt for one species of waterfowl or another. For definitive descriptions of waterfowl zones, dates and other data you can go to the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor and type in the season you’re looking for in the subject box. It’ll bring you right to it.
Don’t forget that in order to legally hunt waterfowl you must have a current migratory bird stamp as well as a Harvest Information Program number. Those numbers are valid from July 1 of each year to June 30 of the following year, so you’ll need a new one for this coming season. There is no charge for a HIP number. You can apply for one by phone by calling 1-888-427-5447 or by going online to www.ny-hip.com.
Woodcock hunting also requires an HIP number, but you need not use non-toxic shot, nor will you need a federal migratory bird stamp. The woodcock season will run from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14.