WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The annual bow hunting season for deer is under way and will continue until Dec. 31.
The program began in Westchester County in 2009 following a task force and report and has since expanded to different parks, according to a 2013 report from the county's Recreation and Parks Department.
This year, Westchester is allowing bow hunting in six of its parks in Northern Westchester: Yorktown's Hilltop Hanover Farm; Somers' Lasdon Park, Arboretum & Veterans Memorial; Somers' Muscoot Farm; Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, which straddles Pound Ridge and Lewisboro; North Salem's Mountain Lakes Park; and John E. Hand Park in Yorktown.
In Putnam County, New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) allows for deer hunting on properties in Kent and Putnam Valley. On its website, it notes that it has a partnership with the Kent Rod and Gun Club, and adds that it has support from the Putnam County Sportsmen's Federation.
John Hand is a new addition for this year in Westchester, according to Peter Tartaglia, a Deputy Commissioner of Westchester County Parks. He added that Hilltop Hanover was added last year.
Last year, according to the county's report, 80 deer were caught and hunters involved volunteered more than 3,200 hours. The report recommends expanding the program for nearby county parks and near places that have non-county deer management programs.
In order to qualify for being a hunter, a proficiency test is required, Tartaglia said.
The county, in its report, cites coordination with others entities. One of them mentioned is the Town of Pound Ridge, whose own program has been given access to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
Pound Ridge's local program has been around since 2005 and has been a success, Police Chief David Ryan said. He said that the town's season is for the same period as the county's.
“It's been very successful so far,” he said. “I know many of our deer management programs mirror ours.”
Ryan notes that the population of deer per square mile has gone down and that plants that deer eat are living longer.
Pound Ridge's 2013 Deer Management Report shows that 52 deer were culled last year, including 35 females and 17 males. Since the program's inception, there have been 489 deer culls in a 2.5-square mile area, the report shows.
Requirements for hunters, Ryan explained including taking proficiency tests and hunting from tree stands. They can also carry identification with them and have vehicle tags. Ryan said that preference is given for town residents to become hunters.
Hunting under the program is allowed on preserves and on private properties if permission from owners is granted, according to Ryan. If a property owner seek hunting, Ryan explained that the town will provide a list of hunters.
Pound Ridge's 2013 report has recommendations that include continuing work with other deer management programs in the region so that data can be collected and shared, along with requiring that hunters report their deer takes to the police department in addition to the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The DEP lists objectives for the Putnam hunting, which include having healthier forests and larger bucks. It also notes the use of Quality Deer Management (QDM) measures. Details on QDM are available on the DEP's website.
A list of the deer hunting season schedule for Putnam, and across the state, is available here.
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