After gathering and reviewing more than 3,000 comments, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to go ahead with plans for an extended deer hunting season this year.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos on Wednesday announced the adoption of a new regulation establishing a “Holiday Deer Hunt” to extend the late bow and muzzleloading season from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

The regulation only affects the Southern Zone, which includes all of Western New York and the Southern Tier.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to capitalize on the growing interest in hunting, we’re excited to announce that beginning this December, the Holiday Deer Hunt will provide new opportunities for New Yorkers and visiting hunters to venture afield during a time when families and friends are gathered together for the holidays and students are home on school break,” Seggos said. “The extended season is also a great time for younger hunters to go afield with experienced mentors and nurture their knowledge and skills as responsible members of the hunting community.”

The extra seven days of hunting allows hunters to use all deer carcass tags that were not filled during the earlier seasons. Hunters, as usual, are required to have bow and muzzleloading privileges on their licenses.

The new regulation does not include the Northern Zone, Seggos said. Deer are more likely to move into wintering areas in late December in the zone, which could result in overharvest.

DEC officials will monitor the new season and whether it has any effects on other outdoor activities, such as snowmobiling or any impacts on deer population.

The idea was proposed last year and more than 3,000 comments were sent to DEC. The new regulations, along with the comments, will be posted on the Feb. 17 issues of the New York State Register.

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