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DEC Seeks Hunters to Participate in Bald and Golden Eagle Studies

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking hunters to participate in a multi-year study of non-lead ammunition impacts on the State’s eagle conservation efforts. DEC is partnering with the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, U.S. Geological Survey, and Conservation Science Global on the study to determine the reduction in bald and golden eagle deaths that can be achieved from increased use of non-lead ammunition for deer hunting.

Eagles can ingest lead bullet fragments when scavenging the remains left behind after a hunter field dresses a deer. While the bald eagle population is doing well in New York, research has shown that lead-related mortality has slowed population growth. The golden eagle population in the eastern U.S. is relatively stable, although vulnerable to a potential population decline due to lead poisoning. This study aims to determine whether this source of mortality can be reduced by increasing the proportion of hunters using non-lead ammunition.

To help recruit hunters to participate in the study, DEC’s research partners will be offering rebates of up to $60 for the purchase of certified non-lead ammunition and participation in pre- and post-hunt surveys. Administration of the rebates will be fulfilled by Conservation Science Global. Participation in the rebate program is voluntary and will be available to hunters issued a Deer Management Permit (DMP) in the following¬†Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 3H, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4W, and 6G. These WMUs were selected based on greater abundance of eagles and deer harvest success. Focusing eligibility on these areas will concentrate on the impact of non-lead ammunition use, allowing for a greater ability to estimate the effects on eagle populations.

“Hunters in North America are the backbone of wildlife conservation and often help lead the charge in numerous wildlife management success stories like the restoration of white-tailed deer and wild turkey,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The study announced today to assess the potential benefits of non-lead ammunition to New York’s bald and golden eagle populations is a prime example of how hunters can help conserve wildlife, and I thank the New York deer hunters who volunteer to be part of the project.”

 

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