NYSTA postion on “holiday” deer season

Jeremy Hurst

Division of Fish and Wildlife NYS DEC,

Deer Hunting Seasons I.D. No. ENV-36-20-00002-P

On behalf of the New York State Trappers Association (NYSTA) we respectfully oppose the proposed regulations to extend the late Big Game Muzzleloader/Archery Season as proposed.

The NYSTA’s first concern is the negative effect this change would have on trapping opportunity. Many properties trappers have permission to trap on are privately owned or leased by hunters who very stipulate that during big game seasons, no trapping is permitted. Deer hunters want trappers to eliminate as many coyotes as possible, but “not until after deer season”. Most times “after deer season” means deep snow and frozen ground – exceedingly difficult conditions for predator trappers to be even marginally effective. Another serious concern to trappers is their ability to take advantage of as much open water trapping as possible before freeze up. The department has been very concerned about how to effectively control the ever-increasing beaver population in New York. If trappers are not allowed on many private until after the close of big game seasons, their efforts to help decrease problematic beaver populations during the regular fur trapping season is greatly hampered. This could lead to higher costs to private landowners, highway departments, railroads, timber companies, etc. If they have to pay nuisance trappers to remove beavers that otherwise could have been harvested by fur trappers, at no cost, during the fur trapping season. Additionally, the school holiday period between Christmas and New Year’s is when school aged trappers can run “their own trapline” or run a trapline with Dad and/or Mom. This proposed season extension, beyond the current Big Game Muzzleloader/Archery season, will seriously interfere with this particularly important time for trappers, arguably one of the very best times for the recruitment of young trappers into our ranks.

Hound hunters are very seriously affected by this proposed season extension and are extremely concerned about their inability to safely hunt with their dogs; something most refuse to do for safety reasons until after the close of all big game hunting seasons.

It is specifically stated on the DEC website that this regulation change would not affect snowmobilers. The NYSTA would like the Department to note that many trails go through private lands.  For the reasons given above it is easy to come to the conclusion that many of the private landowners, or their lessees, may not be willing to allow the opening of the trails on their lands until after the conclusion of big game hunting seasons.

Most trappers also hunt and fish; some also run hounds and many enjoy snowmobiling. However, most hunters, fisherman, dog hunters, and snowmobilers do not trap.

In this proposal the Department has stated its concern about over harvesting bucks because they have shed their antlers.  Bucks in the Western Catskills are already losing their antlers by the end of the current rifle season. I have often witnessed this myself and in early December I have also taken a firm grip on a harvested buck’s antler, to drag the buck to my vehicle, only to have the antler fall off in my hand. This can occur presently with the current season dates. It seems quite apparent that extending the big game seasons could easily have a very detrimental effect on the buck to doe harvest ratio. It is the NYSTA’s opinion, and that of many deer hunters as well, that if the Department wishes to reduce the current deer population and gain more hunter participation, that selling more antlerless deer tags would be a much better solution.

The NYSTA remains deeply concerned over the lack of input from the Whitetail Deer Team in this entire proposal.  It obviously appears as they were left completely out of this decision.

As trappers, the NYSTA would normally support and promote any added opportunities for all sportsmen across the outdoor community, especially when that opportunity is provided for our youth. However, we cannot support increased opportunity for one sportsmen user group when it comes at such a high cost to other sportsmen user groups.  We also believe the change would not result in any positive consequence to youth hunters. The NYSTA must therefore fervently object to this proposal.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the New York State Trappers Association,

David Leibig

Executive Director

New York State Trappers Association