Fishing and Hunting

Fishing and hunting represent important recreational uses of the Angle Fly Preserve property. However, each poses significantly different challenges and requires different kinds of accommodation from other passive recreational uses.

Fishing

Fly fishing has occurred on the Angle Fly Brook from at least the nineteenth century on and will continue to be allowed. However, protecting the population of native brook trout is a major management objective. Studies in coordination with biologists at Mianus River Gorge will be undertaken to determine the health and numbers of brook trout within Angle Fly. Based upon the results of this analysis, rules will be developed concerning numbers of fish taken and other matters. Fishing in all ponds and streams on the property will be governed by the following rules:

  • All applicable NYSDEC regulations apply, e.g. season, catch limits, protected species, permits and licenses
  • Artificial lures only
  • Barbless hooks
  • Angle Fly Preserve is a designated catch and release management area

Hunting

Though explicitly provided for in the DEC conservation easement, recreational hunting can also serve an important purpose as a tool for deer management. NYSDEC itself has concluded that traditional hunting represents an important and cost-effective management tool to reduce overpopulation of white-tailed deer. Additionally, a number of Towns, Pound Ridge for example, as well as nature preserves such as Rockefeller State Park in Pocantico Hills and Mianus River Gorge in Bedford have instituted programs of controlled recreational hunting in order to reduce their deer populations.

The AFP shows every sign of a significant overpopulation of white-tailed deer.  Invasive plant populations have increased alarmingly, which can be directly attributed to an increase in the number of deer. In addition, there is an obvious browse line through the forest with no desirable growth below 4 or 5 feet from ground level.  Areas stripped of native vegetation provide opportunities for invasive plants, which once beyond the early stages of growth, are less attractive to deer. Furthermore, in a self-fulfilling cycle, some invasives, Japanese barberry for example, affect soil conditions in a manner that makes it difficult for native plants to remain or reestablish themselves. Forest regeneration is all-but-absent in most areas of AFP.

The DEC has itself recommended “controlled recreational hunting” as the most suitable and effective of the various means of population control available for coping with the problem. Not only does it reduce numbers in the short term, but as an ongoing recreational activity, if suitably controlled, it offers the potential of keeping numbers within an ideal range over the long haul. Deer reproduce rapidly and can double in size in two years, and without sustained efforts to keep numbers down, populations will quickly rebound. Since the overall purpose of acquiring Angle Fly Preserve was conservation of its biodiversity as well as recreation, hunting will be regulated according to a management strategy aimed at the reestablishment of native vegetation. Therefore, reduction of the overall population will be the goal, and hunters will be asked to take significant numbers of does and abide by other regulations that are designed to further these objectives.

Hunting Impacts

As hunting begins on AFP, a number of consequences may be anticipated. In particular, experience at Mianus has shown that the number of invasive plants may actually increase, at least initially. While deer tend to avoid most invasive plants, as young shoots, some plants such as oriental bittersweet or winged euonymus are enticing to deer. Thus, measures to contain and eliminate invasives must be concurrent with recreational hunting.

Often, hunters have been known to shoot coyotes they encounter. This will be prohibited as coyote is the deer’s only remaining natural predator in the local ecosystem. Coyotes prey on sick, wounded, and young deer, thus not directly competing with hunters while making an important contribution to maintaining a healthy population. They represent another element in an overall effort at deer management.

So far, there is little knowledge as to the exact number of white-tailed deer on the property, nor knowledge as to their movement patterns and interaction with adjoining areas. In order to manage hunting in a responsible manner that protects the natural communities on AFP, it will be important to carry out a sustained program of scientific study. Mianus River Gorge is currently involved in movement studies and has agreed to share its researcher with Somers in a similar study on AFP. Additionally, hunters themselves can be very useful sources of information, not only on the number and location of deer on the property, but also of other wildlife. Efforts to solicit such reports will be encouraged and provide an important management tool. Ultimately, the purpose is to achieve a healthy balance in the numbers of deer on AFP, perhaps on the order of 12-15 deer per square mile, as is commonly recommended.

Overall Hunting Regulations

The following regulations are those that will be in effect for the first year. A committee established by the Town of Somers to monitor recreation on AFP will review and may suggest modifications as deemed appropriate. These may include the ratio of does to bucks taken, the use of shotguns for small-game hunting, safety issues, the number of hunters permitted, and overall success at meeting the objectives set forth in the AFP Management Plan.

  1. Hunting will be permitted in designated areas of the preserve by NYS licensed hunters.  All NYS and Westchester County laws regulating the practice of hunting apply except that there will be no shot guns used on the preserve for the taking of any wild life. Hunting will be restricted to deer and turkey except for falconers holding a valid NYSDEC falconry license pursuing small game in the appropriate season. Hunters will be restricted to the use of a bow for turkey.
  2. Bow hunters will be proficiency tested through an evaluation of their archery skills prior to hunting on AFP. Skill evaluation will be offered on several different days prior to each year’s hunting seasons. Hunters need qualify only once.
  3. Hunters will have access to 12 designated parking spaces—8 in the central section and 4 in eastern section of the property. Yearly placards will be issued by the Somers Police Department upon determination that the hunter holds a valid NYSDEC hunting license for the appropriate game and has passed the proficiency test. The number of hunters at any one time cannot exceed the capacity of the parking area designated for hunters with the exception of local residents accessing the AFP on foot.
  4. Hunting on the Angle Fly Preserve will commence on the first day of the regulated hunting seasons for turkey (spring and fall) and the fall deer season.  Turkey hunting will be permitted between one-half hours before sunrise until 12 noon on each day of the regulated turkey hunting season. Angle Fly Preserve will be open to hunters from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset for the fall hunting season, and from one hour before sunrise until 12:30 PM during the spring turkey season.
  5. Before each deer season, an appropriate ratio of bucks to does will be established consonant with overall deer management objectives on the preserve. For the first hunting season, each hunter will be permitted to take one buck for each doe.  Hunters will be responsible for verifying their doe and buck kills to the Somers Police Department or official designee. Additionally, each hunter will be asked to complete “observation sheets” to report any wild life observed while hunting on the Angle Fly Preserve.
  6. Enforcement of the signed agreements and adherence to hunting regulations will be the responsibility of the Somers Police Department or their designee.  Hunters failing to follow these regulations will have their hunting privileges revoked.
  7. All DEC general hunting regulations must be followed by each hunter accessing the preserve.

Defintions:

Bow – includes long (stick), compound, or recurved bow.

To hunt – means to pursue, shoot, kill or capture (other than trap) wildlife and includes all lesser acts that disturb or worry wildlife whether or not they result in taking.  Hunting also includes all acts to assist another person in taking wildlife.

Manner of Taking:

It is illegal to take or hurt wildlife:

  • while in or on a motor vehicle (except by the holder of a Non Ambulatory Hunter Permit)
  • with the aid of a vehicles lights
  • on or from any public road
  • with any firearm (defined as a gun)
  • with a spear
  • with a bow equipped with any mechanical device which is attached to the bow (other than bowstring) for drawing, holding or releasing the bowstring except for a physically disabled person in possession of a Handicapped Archer Permit (compound bows are legal)
  • with a spear gun or crossbow except for a physically disabled person in possession of a Modified Crossbow Permit
  • with an arrow with an explosive head or shaft
  • with any device designed or intended to deliver drugs to an animal

Baiting:

It is illegal to hunt with the aid of bait, or over any area when hunting big game, upland game birds, turkey or waterfowl.

Discharge of Bows:

It is illegal to discharge a bow:

  • so that the arrow passes over any part of a public highway
  • within 500 feet of any school, playground, or occupied church
  • within 500 feet of a dwelling, farm building or structure in occupation
  • You may hunt waterfowl, over water, within 500 feet of a dwelling or public structure as long as neither is within 500 feet in the direction you are shooting

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