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Illegal fishing

State environmental conservation officers have been frequently reporting cases of over fishing, such as this incident involving anglers who took too many and undersized pickerel in Schenectady County.

Flagrant over-limit cases of fish and game seem to be a more common arrest in the weekly environmental conservation officer highlights report the state Department of Environmental Conservation publishes. Whether it is trout, bluegills, crappie, perch, ducks, rabbits, deer or turkey, there are fish and game hogs that take all they can get. A recent example occurred on Feb. 11 when ECO Jason DeAngelis observed three men with a large number of undersized pickerel splayed out on the ice on Mariaville Lake in the town of Duanesburg. As DeAngelis headed out onto the lake to check the fishermen’s fishing licenses, they began pushing the fish back down into the ice fishing holes. ECO DeAngelis quickly approached the men and found that they were in possession of 69 pickerel over the daily catch limit, and 31 of them were also shorter than the legal length. DeAngelis charged the three men with multiple violations and released the fish that were still alive back into the lake.

We as sportsmen and women have to help police our own and report these types of crimes immediately. There is a 24-hour, toll free hotline for reporting environmental violations, (844) DEC-ECOs or (800) 332-3267. However, the quickest way to report an ongoing crime to an ECO is to call 911. The 911 center will contact the ECO that is on duty. If there are none available, the center will dispatch the closest law enforcement vehicle who can at least document the crime. If you witness poaching report it immediately; if you hear about it let an ECO know.

DEC ESSAY CONTEST

The DEC wants stories from hunters and trappers about their first memorable experience afield or an experience introducing an individual to hunting or trapping. Winning essays will appear in the 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Regulation Guide and the writers will receive a $50 gift certificate to Cabela’s.

Essays will be in one of three categories:

• Junior youth hunters/trappers, currently in grade 6 through 8.

• Senior youth hunters/trappers, currently in grade 9 through 12

• Adult hunters/trappers, ages 18 or older.

The essays should be non-fiction, 500 words or less, original material (not previously published) and written from a first-person perspective. Essays should be submitted with any accompanying photos and a submission form, electronically (PDF or Word Document) to wildlife@dec.ny.gov, with a subject line of "Essay Contest." Submissions with photos and submission forms can also be submitted in writing to: Game Management, Attn: Essay Contest, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-4754. If possible, include one to two photos of the author and/or subjects of the essay enjoying the theme of the essay. Photos should be high-resolution, at least 1 MB in size. Include the name of the photographer so that individual will receive credit. Individuals under 18 must include a permission form from a parent or legal guardian. Additional information and submission forms are available on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/decessaycontest.pdf or by calling (518) 402-8883. Submissions must be post marked by March 15. If your essay appears in the 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, it will be read by more than 500,000 people.

WATERFOWL HUNTER PUBLIC INPUT

It is that time of the year again for waterfowl hunters to have input in the upcoming waterfowl hunting season. DEC has appointed 2018 task forces for the Western, Southeastern, Northeastern and Long Island waterfowl hunting zones. The names and contact information for current task force members can be found on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/40737.html. Task Force members act as representatives of all duck hunters in each zone, and they will meet this spring to recommend a duck season for 2018-2019 that best satisfies the diverse interests.

There is no task force for the Lake Champlain Zone because seasons there are set by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Management Board, with consultation from DEC and input from hunters in New York and Vermont. Although there is no formal task force for this zone, interested hunters may send their input directly to DEC for consideration.

There are a variety of ways to provide input. One way is contacting one of the task force members. Locally, Dave Erickson of 18 Second Ave., Auburn, is a task force member and can be reached at (315) 224-4494 or at rockyericksoncolbert@yahoo.com. Another way is to complete a waterfowl input form from the DEC website. And third is sending an email to the waterfowl season input mailbox, which will be forwarded to all task force members in the zone.

Specific suggestions for opening and closing dates, including "split seasons" that divide the season into two periods, would be most useful to the task force. The recommended dates should be within the federal guidelines expected for the coming year, which is a 60-day duck season in each zone, split into no more than two segments per zone and opening no earlier than the Saturday nearest Sept. 24 and closing no later than the last Sunday in January.

Input on hunting seasons for other migratory game birds, including Canada geese, snow geese, brant, woodcock, snipe, rails and crows, can also be provided by via email.

OSWEGO COUNTY FISHING BLOG

As part of its ongoing program to inform visitors about Oswego County, the county tourism office has launched a new fishing blog, "Hotline to Oswego County Fishing." This is a new fishing blog authored by Captain Andy Bliss. The blog will cover Oswego County's excellent variety of year-round angling opportunities with tips for beginners to experts. Bliss has worked with many local charter captains and will draw on his experience to share information about fishing Lake Ontario, its tributary streams and nearby waters.

Bliss began guiding customers in 2002 while he was a student attending SUNY Oswego and has developed his skills and passion for fishing into a full-time career as a guide. For questions on fishing Lake Ontario and its tributary streams, email Bliss at chasintailadv@yahoo.com. The first post covers winter steelhead activity on the Oswego and Salmon rivers.

For Oswego County fishing conditions and visitor information, go to visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN (4386).

CAMPGROUND AMBASSADORS PROGRAM

DEC has launched a new program for individuals who are passionate about the outdoors to help introduce new campers to DEC facilities and other outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. Ambassadors will also aid in connecting campers and day users to nature via environmentally themed activities and programming as well as assisting DEC campground staff in welcoming and assisting the millions of visitors who vacation in the Adirondack and Catskill parks.

Ambassadors will serve a minimum of two, and a maximum of four weeks, between July 1 and Labor Day. In consideration for services provided, a campsite will be provided for the duration of their stay at Kenneth L. Wilson Campground or North South Lake Campground in the Catskills. Or, the Cranberry Lake Campground, Fish Creek Pond/Rollins Pond Campgrounds, Lewey Lake Campground, Moffitt Beach Campground, Nicks Lake Campground or Rogers Rock Campground in the Adirondacks.

To view the full details of the program, including the application, visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/112550.html or call (518) 457-2500 ext. 1. Applications must be received by March 30.

For more information on DEC-operated campgrounds, including a list of campgrounds and schedules, visit DEC's website and go to the "Camping" link under the "Outdoor Recreation" section, or call DEC's Bureau of Recreation at (518) 457-2500. To make reservations at any of these camping facilities, call ReserveAmerica at 1-800-456-CAMP (2267) or visit ReserveAmerica's website.

DEC LICENSE EXAMS

The deadline for applying to take exams to obtain licenses to practice the sport of falconry, become a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, or use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or injured big game animals is March 6. The exams are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon April 13 at most of the DEC regional offices across the state.

A list of DEC regional offices can be found on DEC’s website: www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html and the exam registration forms can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/359.html.

FREE SEEDLINGS FOR SCHOOLS

Schools across New York are eligible to receive free seedlings for spring planting through the DEC School Seedling Program, which provides 50 tree seedlings or a mixed packet of 30 wildlife shrubs to any public or private school that would like to participate. The seedlings can be planted on school grounds or other community spaces, and offer teachers a great resource to enhance environmental lessons.

Applications to participate are available at DEC's School Seedling Program website atwww.dec.ny.gov/animals/9395.html, or by contacting the Saratoga Tree Nursery at (518) 581-1439.

Interested schools can also contact the nearest DEC regional forestry office to request a "School Seedlings" brochure, which contains all the information necessary to place an order. Applications must be received at the nursery by March 31.

Wayne Brewer is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. His outdoor column is published the first Sunday of each month in The Citizen and at auburnpub.com. Please send any information about scheduled events and meetings at least one month in advance to brewersoutdoorcolumn@gmail.com.

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