The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that special permits will be issued for the opening weekend of duck season to hunt waterfowl at two popular state-managed locations in Western New York. The permit requirement applies to waterfowl hunting at the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) located primarily in Genesee and Niagara counties (with small portions in Orleans and Erie counties). The intent of the special permits is to promote hunter safety, reduce hunter conflicts, and increase the quality of hunting on days when the areas receive the greatest use.
A special permit is required to hunt waterfowl at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs on the duck season’s first Saturday and first Sunday of the Western Zone Duck Season. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit any other days of the open duck season. The permit system has been used successfully at both WMAs for many years. Special permits are not required to hunt other game species in these WMAs.
DEC has announced 2020-2021 duck hunting season dates. Western New York’s opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting are Oct. 17 and 18. Goose season is not open during the opening weekend of duck season in 2020. No special permit is needed for goose season this year.
Opening weekend waterfowl hunting permits for the two WMAs will be distributed by a random lottery. For each of the two days, DEC anticipates issuing 100 permits for the Tonawanda WMA and 50 permits for Oak Orchard WMA.
How to Apply:
*New for 2020* – To apply for the lottery, hunters will fill out an online form (leaves DEC’s website). This link can also be found on the DEC webpage for Tonawanda and Oak Orchard WMAs. Hunters must enter their name, email address, zip code, and waterfowl ID number (applicants must have taken a waterfowl identification course to enter the lottery). Hunters also need to indicate their choices of hunt day (Saturday or Sunday) and area (Oak Orchard or Tonawanda) in order of preference. There is also an option to request email updates regarding habitat conditions (helpful information when planning your trip) and restoration projects at these WMAs.
For general questions, or for those unable to access the survey online, please call DEC’s regional wildlife office at 585-948-5182. Callers may need to leave a message and all messages will be returned as soon as possible.
Online applications will be accepted through midnight Sept. 15, 2020. Anyone unable to complete the online survey should contact the office before Sept. 15.
Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger. Issued permits are nontransferable and are not valid for companion(s) unless the permittee is present and hunting within 50 yards. The permittee is responsible for completing an online harvest report (a link will be provided with your permit) by Nov. 15, 2020; even if the hunter did not go hunting, they must report. If the completed questionnaire is not received by Nov. 15, the permittee will be ineligible for the 2021 lottery.