Hunters are being asked to recommend dates for the fall duck hunting season, the state Department of Conservation said Tuesday.
The agency recently appointed task forces for four of the state's five waterfowl hunting zones -- except Lake Champlain -- to solicit dates for the fall seasons, including opening and closing dates, split seasons and a special hunting weekend for junior hunters (ages 12 to 15).
Each task force includes representatives from the New York State Conservation Council, established waterfowl hunting organizations and individual waterfowl hunters, according to a news release from the agency.
Waterfowl hunters can participate by providing duck season suggestions to any task force member on or before April 4. Names and contact information for all task force members are listed in alphabetical order on the DEC's website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html.
The recommended dates must meet federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For fall 2014, DEC expects the federal agency to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than Sept. 27 and closing no later than Jan. 25, 2015.
Waterfowl seasons in the Lake Champlain zone will continue to be set by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Management Board, with input from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and waterfowl hunters in New York and Vermont, the news release said.
Hunters can send their suggestions regarding specific zones to any DEC season-setting team member.
Comments can be sent to DEC's Bureau of Wildlife by mail, telephone or email, with email being the preferred method at email@example.com. The task forces will meet in April, and the DEC plans to announce tentative duck hunting season dates in June.
Input on hunting seasons for other migratory game birds also may be submitted to any member of DEC's season-setting team. With greater uncertainty about federal regulations for those species, decisions and tentative dates will probably not be known until summer, the release said.
The recommendations are part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's NY's Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost state tourism opportunities.
The initiative also includes a proposal to create 50 new land access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have been previously untapped.
New York's state waterfowl hunting zones are listed at the DEC website www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28497.html and in the DEC's waterfowl hunting seasons and regulations brochure.
The final waterfowl hunting season dates will be posted on the DEC website and announced in August.