NEW YORK STATE — State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the department is seeking hunters to participate in a multi-year study of non-lead …
NEW YORK STATE — State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the department is seeking hunters to participate in a multi-year study of non-lead ammunition impacts on the State’s eagle conservation efforts.
DEC is partnering with the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Conservation Science Global on the study to determine the reduction in bald and golden eagle deaths that can be achieved from increased use of non-lead ammunition for deer hunting.
“Hunters in North America are the backbone of wildlife conservation and often help lead the charge in numerous wildlife management success stories like the restoration of white-tailed deer and wild turkey,” said Seggos. “The study [assesses] the potential benefits of non-lead ammunition to New York’s bald and golden eagle populations. It is a prime example of how hunters can help conserve wildlife, and I thank the New York deer hunters who volunteer to be part of the project.”
Eagles can ingest lead bullet fragments when scavenging the remains left behind after a hunter field dresses a deer. While the bald eagle population is doing well in New York, research has shown that lead-related mortality has slowed population growth.
The golden eagle population in the eastern U.S. is relatively stable, although vulnerable to a potential population decline due to lead poisoning. This study aims to determine whether this source of mortality can be reduced by increasing the proportion of hunters using non-lead ammunition.
To help recruit hunters to participate in the study, DEC’s research partners will be offering rebates of up to $60 for the purchase of certified non-lead ammunition and participation in pre- and post-hunt surveys.
Administration of the rebates will be fulfilled by Conservation Science Global. Participation in the rebate program is voluntary and will be available to hunters issued a Deer Management Permit (DMP) in the following Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 3H, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4W, and 6G.
These WMUs were selected based on a greater abundance of eagles and deer harvest success. Focusing eligibility to these areas will concentrate the impact of non-lead ammunition use, allowing for a greater ability to estimate the effects on eagle populations.
The first year of the study will be implemented during the 2023-24 hunting season. DEC expects to continue offering rebates during the 2024 and 2025 hunting seasons.
For more information and where eligible hunters can participate, visit huntersforeagleconservation.org/new-york/.
This research was identified as a high priority in DEC’s report, “Minimizing Risks to Wildlife and People from Lead Hunting Ammunition.” Since the release of this report in April 2022, DEC and partners have taken several steps to implement recommendations in the plan towards minimizing the risks associated with lead ammunition for hunting. For more information, visit DEC’s website.
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