New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today encouraged hunters to participate in two surveys for popular game species during this fall’s hunting seasons.

“Each fall New York’s dedicated small game hunters spend thousands of hours afield exploring the state’s landscapes in pursuit of game,” said Commissioner Martens. “They’re uniquely positioned to assist DEC’s wildlife managers by providing data on changing wildlife populations and habitats. Citizen science efforts such as these are a great way for hunters to partner with DEC while enjoying their hunting heritage.”
New England Cottontail Survey - The only native cottontail east of the Hudson River in New York is the New England cottontail; however, its populations are poorly understood. New England cottontails look nearly identical to Eastern cottontails and are only reliably identified by genetic testing or examining skull characteristics.

Those that hunt rabbits in Rensselaer, Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, or Westchester counties, can submit the heads of rabbits harvested to help determine the distribution of New England cottontails. Those interested in participating, or for more information, please contact DEC by phone at 518-402-8870 or by e-mail at (please type “NE Cottontail” in the subject line).
Participating hunters will receive instructions and a postage-paid envelope they can use to submit skulls. Hunters will be asked to provide the location and description of the habitat where each rabbit was taken. Results of these efforts will be available after the close of the hunting season.

Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock Hunting Log - Ruffed grouse and American woodcock are widely distributed across New York State. These species prefer habitats in an early stage of succession such as young forests, shrublands, and old orchards and fields. As New York’s forests grow older, these preferred habitats are waning, resulting in a decline in grouse and woodcock numbers since the 1960s.
This survey asks hunters to record their daily grouse and woodcock hunting activities in a “hunting log”, including the number of grouse and woodcock flushed and the number of hours hunted. Grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, so the information provided will help monitor populations of both of these great game birds as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.
Those interested in participating can download a hunting log from the DEC website. Detailed instructions can be found with the form. Survey forms can also be obtained by calling (518) 402-8886 or by e-mailing (please type “Grouse Log” in the subject line).

Additional information that can be found on the DEC website includes:
New England Cottontail Survey: Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log: Citizen Science Initiatives: