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DEC Fish and Wildlife Technician Annie Swanson at a deer check station earlier this hunting season. (Photo courtesy of NYSDEC)
DEC Fish and Wildlife Technician Annie Swanson at a deer check station earlier this hunting season. (Photo courtesy of NYSDEC)

DEC named 2021 Agency of the Year


Thu, Jan 6th 2022 04:50 pm

New York state recognized for Outstanding Leadership in Deer Management

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos on Thursday announced DEC was recognized as Agency of the Year by the National Deer Association (NDA) for the state’s leadership in white-tailed deer management. This national award recognizes DEC’s successful deer management program and efforts to involve New York hunters in the planning and management process.

“Driven by science with public input, DEC has developed a deer management program that benefits deer, deer habitat, and New Yorkers,” Seggos said. “We are constantly exploring new ways to address overabundant deer populations while increasing hunting opportunities. It is an honor to be recognized by the National Deer Association for these ongoing efforts.”

Kip Adams, NDA’s chief conservation officer, said, “A quick comparison to other states shows just how successful and diverse New York’s deer management program is. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has gone the extra mile in the past year to address limitations regarding hunter opportunity, suburban hunting, deer overabundance, and their integration of setting deer population objectives using social and biological science ranks among the highest in the country.”

Agencies that received the NDA's award in the past boast a record of innovative and progressive deer management, initiating positive change through science, regulation and hunter involvement. DEC’s deer management plan, released in June 2021, guides management actions to balance the diverse values of the public with the biological and ecological needs and impacts of deer.

Some significant elements of the plan include: integrating data of deer impacts on forests with public preferences for deer population changes to set deer population trajectory objectives; furthering protections against introduction or spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD); and recommending hunting-related changes to strategically increase antlerless harvest where needed and to provide additional hunter opportunity. DEC’s deer program worked with researchers to develop a simple protocol for landowners to monitor deer vegetation impacts on their property (assessing vegetation impacts from deer – AVID; http://aviddeer.com/), and deer biologists worked with municipalities across the state to implement management programs tailored to their communities.

This past year, DEC worked with the governor and Legislature to reduce the minimum age for deer hunting with a firearm from 14 to 12. DEC also continued the successful “Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow” program, expanded deer hunting hours to 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset, and implemented requirements to wear hunter orange or pink during big-game season to improve hunter safety. DEC continues to work to obtain input from the hunting community and public in administering a deer management program that controls deer populations, optimizes recreational opportunities for New Yorkers, and manages disease risks.

DEC also congratulated Dr. Krysten Schuler for being recognized by the National Deer Association as the Professional Deer Manager of the Year, and her integral work as part of DEC’s wildlife health program. Schuler was recognized for her leadership in managing and slowing the spread of CWD nationally and her substantial contributions to CWD prevention in New York. Schuler is a wildlife disease ecologist, assistant research professor at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Lab. In addition to her work with CWD, Schuler is closely involved with DEC wildlife programs, providing expertise in DEC’s assessment of impacts of lead ammunition, monitoring of mange in black bears, research on juvenile moose health and survival, and contaminants in waterfowl.

“DEC is fortunate to have Dr. Schuler in New York, and we join the NDA in recognizing her contributions to deer management and wildlife health in New York and nationally,” Seggos said. “As this year’s awards demonstrate, New Yorkers are leading the way to ensuring a healthy deer population now and into the future.”

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