The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently 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.
The special permit is required to hunt waterfowl at these wildlife management areas on the duck season’s first Saturday and first Sunday. These two days are the only times the special permits are required. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit during the remainder of the season. The permit system has been used successfully at both wildlife management areas for many years. No special permits are required to hunt other game species at Oak Orchard or Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas.
DEC has announced 2018-2019 duck hunting season dates. Western New York’s opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting are Oct. 27 and 28. 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.
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 typically issues 100 permits for Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, and 50 permits for Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. This year, with the current drought conditions, the number of permits issued may be reduced. The decision regarding how many permits will be issued will be made closer to the date of the lottery, and a news release with an update will be issued at that time.
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. Hunters must choose from four options: Oak Orchard first Saturday; Oak Orchard first Sunday; Tonawanda first Saturday; and Tonawanda first Sunday. Phone numbers are optional on the postcard, but if a phone number is available, applicants can be contacted if there is an issue with their card.
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, 2018, and must be mailed to:
New York State Bureau of Wildlife
1101 Casey Road, Box B
Basom, New York 14013
Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger.
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 November 15, 2018. If the completed questionnaire is not received by November 15, the permittee will be ineligible for next year’s (2019) lottery.