DEC looks for statutory approval of wildlife management methods

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Senate recently passed a bill that would clarify the options municipalities have for controlling wildlife populations.

Under the bill, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would be given clear, statutory authority to permit these wildlife management methods, specifically the controlled killing of animals.

The legislation (S.6853-a/A.8646-a) introduced by Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, and Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter, D-Syracuse, stems from a 2017 internal study by the state Department of Environmental Conservation which found the agency did not have clear, statutory authority to continue wildlife management practices, including controlling the population of deer and birds that have become a nuisance or a danger.

The DEC subsequently released a memo restricting these practices and suggested a change in law to preserve the ability of airports, communities and parks to do so.

DeFrancisco reintroduced the bill after hearing from several communities in his district about the matter. These towns and villages were previously allowed to participate in population control. With massive amounts of deer overpopulating the region, the former practices under the DEC helped control the population.

According to the bill, wildlife management agencies and other professionals depend on these practices to minimize risks to human health and safety at airports and to relieve damage to natural resources, property and agriculture.

DeFrancisco’s bill would amend the Environmental Conservation Law to remove the restrictions and allow the DEC to issue wildlife management permits as they have done in the past.

The bill highlights that wildlife management professionals often depend on established methods to ensure public safety through wildlife management and it is essential for communities, parks and airports to have the ability to continue to implement them.

The bill has the support of the New York State Association of Counties and the Aviation Management Association. It is currently in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

A representative for the DEC said they cannot comment on pending legislation.