DEC adopts new Wildlife Management Area regulations

NYSDEC
DEC Region 8 Wildlife Management Areas.

FINGER LAKES —The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted amendments to the regulations governing Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) following a public comment period earlier this year.

The regulations become effective Jan. 1, 2022, and will protect natural resources, promote public safety, and help ensure the multiple uses of New York’s WMAs remain compatible as public demand for outdoor recreation increases. These changes update and clarify existing regulations — defining the allowable activities and uses of WMAs. Some changes help bring consistency with existing rules for state forests, campgrounds, and other DEC lands, while others continue the prioritization of hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife viewing opportunities that WMAs prioritize.

New regulations include provisions to:

Restrict the use of motor vehicles and some motorized equipment, such as chainsaws, in WMAs. Snowmobiles will be allowed on designated routes covered by a minimum of three inches of snow or ice and only from the close of the regular big game hunting season until March 31. This measure will help prevent the degradation of trails and habitat, particularly during winter and spring thaws;

Prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species;

Restrict the discharge of firearms other than for hunting or trapping to designated areas. Only paper targets will be allowed;

Restrict the use of boats to electric or non-powered boats. Boats may not be stored or anchored overnight on WMAs; and

Require that dogs be kept on a leash and under control. Exceptions include when dogs are being legally used for hunting, training for hunting on lands designated as dog-training areas during training seasons, or when participating in a DEC-licensed field trial.

DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife manages 125 WMAs and several Unique and Multiple Use Areas. These properties (known as the WMA System) are scattered across the state for your use and enjoyment. Together, these areas contain around 250,000 acres. Visitors to New York State's WMAs should always be aware of the rules governing the WMA. Each WMA has a webpage that lists featured activities, available facilities, any site-specific restrictions, and a map of the area. 

Visitors to New York State's WMAs should always be aware of the rules governing the WMA. Each WMA has a webpage that lists featured activities, available facilities, any site-specific restrictions, and a map of the area. For more information, go to DEC's website.