New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today reported that DEC is experiencing record-breaking sales of hunting and trapping licenses for upcoming seasons. Sales for big game hunting and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) were nearly triple prior years’ sales on opening day, more than double on the second day and nearly double the first two weeks. DEC also announced that in-person Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, and Trapper Education courses have resumed with appropriate social distancing and other precautions to limit the community spread of COVID-19. DEC transformed the Hunter Ed program at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer online certification, resulting in a dramatic 105-percent increase in participants completing the course compared to the traditional in-person courses offered in 2019.
“With New Yorkers looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing tremendous interest in outdoor recreation and in the sports of fishing, hunting, and trapping, including record sales of big game hunting and trapping licenses,” said Commissioner Seggos. “New York is home to some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the nation. DEC’s efforts to make sure hunters and anglers are able to purchase fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses and take hunter safety courses from the comfort of their homes, are making the outdoors even more accessible and we will continue to offer our new online courses as we transition back to offering in-person courses.”
DEC launched the State’s new automated system for selling fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses in July, and on Aug. 10, the system was activated for big game license sales and DMPs. The new DEC Automated Licensing System (DECALS) includes user-friendly information to help locate vendors, receive instant copies of a license, enter and view harvest information, and more. On the first day of big game sales this year, DEC reported $922,444 in sales, compared to $347,103 in 2019. Over the first two weeks of license sales, sales have reached more than $6.2 million compared to approximately $3.5 million for the first two weeks in 2019.
Purchasing a hunting or trapping license helps to support DEC conservation projects and ensures natural resources are protected for generations to come. Through the purchase of New York sporting licenses, hunters and anglers help generate an estimated $75 million to help conserve fish and wildlife, enhance habitat, and protect natural resources. Hunting and fishing build a sense of stewardship of fish and wildlife resources and habitats, provide an opportunity for experienced hunters and anglers to share their knowledge with others, and promote participation in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting through the mentoring of young hunters and anglers. New York’s hunters and anglers contribute an estimated $4.9 billion to the economy in spending, which supports more than 56,000 jobs and $623 million in state and local taxes.
Licenses and permits can be purchased at any one of DEC’s license-issuing agents, online, or by telephone at 866-933-2257. The new hunting and trapping licenses are valid from Sept. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021, while annual fishing licenses are valid for 365 days from date of purchase. DMPs are also available at all license-issuing outlets, by phone, or online through Oct. 1, 2020.
DMPs are used to manage the deer herd and are issued through an instant random selection process at the point of sale. The 2020 chances of selection for a DMP in each Wildlife Management Unit are available online, through license issuing agents, or by calling the DMP Information Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Detailed information on Deer Management Permits and this fall’s Deer Season Forecast is available on DEC’s website. DEC reminds hunters that lifetime license tag sets for the 2020-21 license year are currently being mailed and should be received by all hunters by Sept. 1. Hunters do not need tags in hand to apply for DMPs or to purchase additional privileges. Lifetime information is stored in the DECALS database.
The new Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, an easy-to-read compendium of pertinent rules and regulations, is available on the DEC Hunting Regulations webpage. A summary of hunting and trapping regulations is currently available at license issuing agents, and copies of the full hunting and trapping regulations guide are available at license issuing agents.
With the cancellation of in-person courses earlier this year during the State’s response to COVID-19, DEC quickly innovated to help prospective hunters planning to take cancelled in-person hunter safety courses and created a new online Hunter Education course. The results were dramatic, more than doubling certifications from 2019, with more than 76,800 people registered for the online Hunter Ed course and 40,278 completions. Nearly 70 percent of those completing the online course are 21 or over, and almost 40 percent of participants are women. The new online Bowhunter Ed course has seen more than 20,980 registered participants and 10,934 have completed the course. Both courses can be accessed at DEC’s website. The online courses have been extended indefinitely.
As all of New York has now entered Phase 4 of reopening, in-person Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, and Trapper Education courses are resuming. While the popularity of the online Hunter Ed and Bowhunter Ed courses has been unprecedented, some potential new hunters want to take the traditional course, which offers a field day component. Social distancing, health and safety, and disinfectant protocols have been put in place to ensure courses are conducted in a way that minimizes risk to participants. The online courses will remain available for those who prefer an online course. For more information about taking atraditional field-based course, visit DEC’s website.
DEC also encourages outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat & Access Stamp each year. Support for the Habitat Stamp has also skyrocketed this year, with a nearly 300 percent increase-7,337 in 2020 compared to 2,559 in 2019-in sales over the first two weeks of big game license sales. Funds from the $5 Habitat & Access Stamp support projects to conserve habitat and improve public access for fish- and wildlife-related activities. This year’s Habitat & Access Stamp features a northern leopard frog. Last year’s stamp featured a bull moose and was the most popular stamp in DEC history, with more than 25,000 sold.
Through initiatives like NY Open for Hunting and Fishing and Adventure NY, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active, outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. Read more about Adventure NY on DEC’s website.