Deer Hunting Program

2021 Deer Hunting Season on Albany Water Board Lands 

Access by AWD Permit Only

Applications for the 2021 Hunting Season on Reservoir Forestlands is now closed. Permits have been issued to 100 out of 135 eligible applicants via a lottery. For the 2021 season, permits have been restricted to residents of Westerlo and Coeymans, NY, and City of Albany employees. Applicants should have received an email regarding their permit status.

Forest Benefits 

The primary goal of the Deer Hunting Program is to help with Forestland regeneration. Native species such as wildflowers, grasses, tree seedlings, and even buds are preferred food sources for the white-tailed deer. With high herd density over an extended period, this grazing will reduce the forest understory to stunted native seedlings and invasive species. This cripples forest regeneration, and will eventually lead to a sort of ecological desert, in which native animals (including deer) will have little-to-no available food in an area, which will further endanger the native plants that we all rely on. As the Alcove Forestlands surround the Alcove Reservoir, which is the primary drinking water source for the City of Albany and several other localities, AWD needs to keep these lands healthy and regenerating in perpetuity so they may continue acting as an excellent filter and buffer to the Reservoir’s water quality. 

Deer Hunting Program History

After decades without hunting on AWB lands, limited hunting was permitted during 2019 and 2020. Following the repeal of an antiquated NYS Environmental Conservation Law ECL in 2021, AWD will continue to issue Deer Hunting Permits for every hunting season moving forward as needed for forest management. The Deer Hunting Program has been made possible due to a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and NYS DEC.

Additional Benefits of Deer Hunting in Upstate NY

Though hunting deer is often viewed as a “sport”, the hunters and wildlife managers that take part in it are often very conscious of their responsibility to the environment, and to the very animals they are harvesting. Hunters and anglers have historically been on the leading edge of conservation, and even today are a large part of the revenue going towards environmental work. Thanks to decades of decreasing participation in hunting, as well as the expansion of urban and suburban areas, deer have become extremely overpopulated in upstate New York, and throughout the Northeast US in general. This has led to increased interactions between deer and cars, which can be both dangerous and expensive. Reducing the herd of deer in an area will also help the survivors, in that they will have more resources during the winter, and are less likely to starve before the spring thaw. Additionally, hunters often donate excess meat to food shelters, and in fact there are programs to facilitate this process. In all of these ways, deer-hunting is massively beneficial to both humans and deer.