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. The permit requirement applies to waterfowl hunting at the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas 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 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 Wildlife Management areas on the duck season’s first Saturday and first Sunday. These days are the only times the special permits are needed. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit during the rest of the season. The permit system has been used successfully at both wildlife management areas in recent years. No special permits are required to hunt other game species at Oak Orchard or Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas.
DEC has announced tentative 2015-2016 duck hunting season dates. Western New York’s tentative opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting are Oct. 24 and 25. This year goose season will be open during the opening weekend of duck season, and goose hunters are also required to obtain the special permit. These dates will not be finalized until the federal regulations are adopted in late summer. Hunters are advised to confirm the final dates before hunting any waterfowl.
Opening weekend waterfowl hunting permits for the two wildlife management areas will be distributed by a random lottery. For each of the two days, DEC will issue 100 permits for Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area and 50 permits for Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. Hunters must choose from four options: Oak Orchard first Saturday; Oak Orchard first Sunday; Tonawanda first Saturday; and Tonawanda first Sunday.
To apply for the lottery, hunters must send in a postcard with their name, address and their first three choices, in order of preference, clearly indicated. Applicants must also have completed a Waterfowl Identification Course, and their course certificate number must be indicated on the postcard.
Applications will be accepted through Sept. 15 and must be mailed to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife, 1101 Casey Road, Box B, Basom, NY 14013. Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger.
Duplicate permits will not be issued to hunters who have already been issued a permit to hunt on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Any cards submitted by hunters who have been selected to hunt on Iroquois on the first Saturday will be excluded from the lottery for that day at both Oak Orchard and Tonawanda.
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 and returning the questionnaire portion of the permit to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife by Nov. 15. If the completed questionnaire is not received by Nov. 15, the permittee will be ineligible for next year's (2016) lottery.
NYSDEC is also currently planning the annual Waterfowl Information meeting, which is held at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Casey Road in Alabama, Genesee County. This year the meeting will take place on the evening of Sept. 2 from 7 – 9 p.m. Wildlife biologists from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and NYSDEC will discuss items of interest to waterfowl hunters in an informational and interactive forum.
Topics to be covered include:
-- Highlights of waterfowl management and research programs at Iroquois NWR, Tonawanda, Oak Orchard and Braddock Bay Wildlife Management areas, including drawdown schedules and hunt program news;
- Regional and statewide waterfowl news and updates, including waterfowl banding results;
- Atlantic Flyway news, including Avian Influenza update, and waterfowl population status surveys; and,
- Tentative NY 2015-16 duck and goose hunting seasons.
From the NYS Thruway, take Exit 48A (Pembroke) and travel north on Route 77 to Alabama Center. Continue north on Route 63 for approximately 1 mile, turn left on Casey Road. The office is about a mile down the road on the right.