The 2007 regular deer hunting season opens at sunrise Saturday in the region.
Regular bear hunting in the Catskill Bear Region also begins Saturday. The regular season ends Dec. 9.
It is the first time in 29 years the Catskill bear season will begin on the same day as deer season. Previously, there had been a lag.
The date change is to increase the bear harvest in the Catskills to limit population growth and range expansion.
"Deer and bear hunting is a long-standing tradition and an important part of New York's outdoor heritage," state Department of Environmental Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a media statement. "Hunters also provide a valuable public service by keeping deer and bear populations in check with regulated hunting.''
Immediately after the regular season, late archery and muzzleloading seasons for deer and bear in the Southern Zone open, starting at sunrise Dec. 10 and closing at sunset Dec. 18.
Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
During the late special seasons, hunters may use either of their bowhunting and muzzleloading tags, and they may also take a deer of either sex with an unused regular season deer tag. Unused Deer Management Permits may also be used in the late seasons for antlerless deer.
Grannis said the state's deer management program strives to maintain deer herds at levels compatible with human interests, while minimizing negative impacts and providing high-quality hunting opportunities and other recreational benefits.
To aid in determining desired deer population sizes, local Citizen Task Forces are convened by DEC to represent a broad range of public interests and are charged with developing a desired deer population objective for the area in which they live.
DEC uses regulated deer hunting to achieve the desired deer population level in most wildlife management units across the state. Deer management permits function as the cornerstone of DEC's management, as DMPs are valid for antlerless deer only and are issued for specific units.
Since mid-August, DEC has issued more than 500,000 DMPs through the DEC Automated License System. DMPs allow hunters to take one or more antlerless deer in addition to the deer allowed by the regular, bowhunting and muzzleloading licenses.
For hunting tips, hunters may visit the DEC webpage "Hunting Safety." For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2007-08 hunting and trapping regulations guide.
The guide is published annually and is available free from DEC regional wildlife offices, license-issuing agents and at www.dec.ny.gov.
Hunters are urged to review regulations and safety tips contained in the guide, according to the DEC release.