Hunting and Trapping on NYC Owned Property?! Mayor de Blasio, where are you?

In the brochure of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) it says:

NYC is a watershed landowner with responsibilities for managing nearly 34,000 acres of reservoirs and approximately 150,000 acres of water supply lands.

The DEP allows both big and small game hunting on designated City-owned water supply lands. Designated hunting areas are available for bow, shotgun, rifle, handgun, and muzzleloader hunting where permitted by New York State regulations. Hunters and trappers must possess a valid New York State hunting license.

The DEP has partnered with Putnam County, the Kent Rod and Gun Club, the Putnam County Sportsmen’s Federation and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


The DEP, in fact, is allowing “Quality” Deer Management to take place on their land, and touting it as a way to reduce the deer population.  In fact, they are creating trophy bucks for hunters. The seesaw management practices of “quality” deer management and quantity deer management must end for the sake of the animals and the environment.

The hunting fraternity, as Luke Dommer used to call it, is still  alive and well, and attempting to open up more and more land to hunting. Wildlife Watch was asked to comment in support of keeping hunting out of NYC DEP lands in Woodstock, NY. We wrote the following comments:


The Woodstock Town Board and the Woodstock Environmental Commission (WEC) are charged with protecting Woodstock’s land and water resources.  As part of that responsibility, activities that occur near the water, and take place in the water, must be evaluated.  The evaluation should consider both an actual threat to the environment, wildlife and people, and also the evolving sensibilities of the community.

The discharge of lead into the water and onto lands that would affect the drinking water for Woodstock, New York City, and the wildlife of the area is one of the concerns related to allowing hunting and fishing on DEP lands.  Hunting and fishing are the primary vehicles of lead’s delivery into both land and water, therefore, these activities should not be allowed  Woodstock’s Comprehensive Plan of 2003 states clearly that protecting the water supply, and “cleaning up the green” to disallow commercial enterprises and protect the “natural surroundings,” is of paramount importance.

The Plan lists five key aspects, in planning terms, that define the character of the community, and one is particularly relevant here: “Opportunities for solitude amid a beautiful natural environment.”  The other defining character of Woodstock is its “dynamic cultural and arts institutions.”  This speaks of a community in which killing animals for recreation, loud noise associated with the killing of wildlife, the dumping of lead into the environment with its associated long-term effects on water, wildlife, and humans have no place.

The Comprehensive Plan is required to enhance and sustain Woodstock’s community character, with regard to the key aspects cited above.  It would an extreme stretch to include hunting and fishing — with its lead-based fallout, monofilament lines, etc., and offensive behaviors, i.e. killing wildlife — as melding with the “character” of the Woodstock community.

Throughout the Comprehensive Plan, the activities referred to under the category of the recreational use of lands are “hiking, sledding, biking, and skating.”  In a 125 page document, “hunting” was mentioned only once.  That indicates the low level of recognition hunting has as a socially accepted activity in this progressive community with a tradition of “Artisans, Inventors, and Entrepreneurs.”

The Comprehensive Plan for Woodstock explains that the magnificent environmental features within the Town include watersheds and floodplains.  They define watersheds as land areas that drain to a stream or wetland and explain that “human activities and land uses within a watershed influence the water quality and biological health of the stream.”  They say that in planning to improve the biological health of a stream the entire watershed must be considered.

While the deer population is cited in one part of the Plan as being “overabundant,” anyone familiar with the practices of the hunting interests knows that the numbers are intentionally manipulated by game agencies to allow for hunting, as well as to convince the public that hunting is necessary.  The manipulation of wildlife for the sake of the hunting business and the firearms industry is a topic that is beyond the immediate focus of this appeal to the Woodstock Town Board and Woodstock Environmental Commission, but is one which should be taken up at a later time.

The Comprehensive Plan further lists principles that need to be adhered to.  Principle #6 states that “We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards.  We will inform our employees and the citizens of Woodstock of the environmental impacts of our actions and try to correct unsafe conditions.”  Certainly, lead qualifies as one of the products “that cause environmental damage.”

The Comprehensive Plan concludes that as recreational needs are evolving and that as societies and communities evolve, recreational demands change.  It says, To ensure that the recreational demands of the residents are met, the town should conduct a regular survey of residents to determine their satisfaction with existing recreational facilities and to understand their desires for other options.

We encourage a survey to be done for the many citizens of Woodstock who wish to eliminate hunting and fishing with its concomitant lead contamination, pollution of lands and waters, and the killing of wild animals both directly and indirectly.

Further, a moratorium on hunting and fishing should be implemented until a full Environmental Impact Statement can be completed to determine the grave risk to the environment and whether hunting and fishing are compatible with Woodstock as it has evolved.

We submitted the following article to the board members of the WEC.

In that article, Ted Williams, a well-respected conservationist wrote:

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that as many as 400,000 lead shotgun pellets per acre rain annually on popular hunting fields…

When lead projectiles hit large mammals they shatter, impregnating swaths of soft tissue as wide as three feet with toxic fragments; just one the size of a BB can fatally poison an eagle. The clinic gets two or three animals a week, mostly dead or terminal, that have been poisoned by ingesting lead shotgun pellets or bullet fragments. This eagle had been getting chelation therapy with drugs that bind lead in a form that can be eliminated by the kidneys. An operation later that day, in which the bones were joined with multiple pins, rendered the clinic’s Mark Pokras “cautiously optimistic” about her chances. But infection set in, and three weeks later she had to be euthanized. Pokras is one of the world’s top authorities on plumbism (lead poisoning) in wildlife.

When lead is ingested the body mistakes it for beneficial metals, incorporating it into the brain, eyes, kidneys, liver, and other vital tissues, which it damages. Most humans survive plumbism, albeit with diminished mental and motor function, and victims are prone to violence and crime. Children are especially vulnerable because the growth process requires a heavy intake of metals.

In wildlife, plumbism is rarely survivable or diagnosed. To make it in the wild, all animals require full capacity. So plumbism causes mortality wrongly attributed to predation, starvation, roadkill, or collisions. So far 130 species have been known to ingest lead ammunition. There is no such thing as a “safe” or “normal” blood-lead level.

…Fish-eating water birds ingest lead shot, too. But more frequently they’re poisoned by lead fishing gear still attached to fish that have broken anglers’ lines. Last year Tufts received carcasses of at least 50 loons that had died of plumbism. Pokras showed me X-rays in which lead sinkers can be plainly seen in the birds’ digestive tracts. He then showed me a photo of a pile of lead sinkers a skin diver retrieved in 30 minutes from the bottom of a river in Washington State. If you threw them into a sack, a strong man would have trouble lifting it.

Wildlife Watch urges that no new lands be opened to hunting or fishing.  We further urge the Woodstock Environmental Commission to keep hunting and fishing out of public lands.
The public water supply should not be placed at risk by leaching lead, nor should wildlife be subjected to direct and indirect death by the discharge of lead into the environment, nor be victimized by the unseemly and brutal and anachronistic recreational activity of hunting.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561