Hunting and Fishing Extended on the East End

East Enders are getting a bit more time to bag a prized seven-point buck or huge keeper bass this winter. For different reasons, both deer hunting and sea bass fishing seasons have been extended this month.

Hunting

In an effort to manage the exploding deer population in Suffolk County, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is opening a special deer hunting season starting January 7 and continuing through the month, with the exception of weekends. Firearms are not usually permitted for deer hunting on Long Island, and the regular bow hunting season just concluded on December 31.

The special firearms season reaches beyond previously set boundaries for hunters on the South Fork and only single-slug shotguns and muzzleloaders will be permitted. The legal hunting area now includes all of Suffolk County, though the DEC notes hunters must still follow local discharge ordinances set forth by each particular town. Check with your local town clerk’s office to learn the laws.

Suffolk County’s 2012 deer harvest numbers have not yet been released, but the DEC reported 2,986 deer taken in 2011, just short of the 2,991 bagged in 2010. The DEC notes that Brookhaven and Riverhead had record harvests of adult bucks and total deer in 2011, while all other Suffolk County townships saw a slight decline in total deer take.

Hunters in the state took roughly 230,000 deer in 2010 and 2011, according to the NYS DEC. While the numbers aren’t yet available, the DEC said it anticipates a slightly larger deer harvest in 2012.

To find out more about hunting opportunities on Long Island, visit the DEC’s Long Island hunting opportunity page or call its wildlife information line on Mondays and Thursdays at 631-444-0310.

Fishing

In addition to the special hunting season, New York State has extended its black sea bass season through February 28 to make up for the fishing time lost during Superstorm Sandy. New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the 59-day extension by emergency regulation on December 26.

In consideration of fishermen’s concerns, Cuomo reduced the minimum size limit from 13 inches to 12.5 inches, but the possession limit will remain at 15 fish.

“Whether you are taking advantage of fishing on a charter boat or venturing on your own through the waters off of Long Island, the beginning of the winter months will be more welcome for those of us who enjoy our great natural resources and this recreational activity,” Cuomo said.

Senator Lee M. Zeldin said the extension is a big victory for New York fishermen, adding, “Our fishing community, especially our charter fishing boats and bait and tackle shops, were devastated by the effects of Superstorm Sandy. With the extension of the black sea bass season, some of their economic losses caused by Mother Nature can now start to be recouped.”

The NYS DEC extended the season to coincide with regulations set by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The entities voted in December to open recreational harvest of black sea bass in federal waters in January and February, which hasn’t happened since 2009.

Recreational black sea bass regulations will likely change again in New York prior to the start of the fishing season in the spring/summer of 2013. Anglers are advised to check DEC’s website regularly to stay abreast of any changes made to marine recreational fishing regulations.

The DEC reminds marine anglers to enroll in New York’s free recreational marine fishing registry before fishing. Those registered in 2012 must reregister at the start of 2013.

For additional information about the regulations, contact DEC Marine Resources Division at 631-444-0435.

Black Sea Bass from The Conservation Report

Black Sea Bass, photo, The Conservation Report

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