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DEC relaunches in-person, instructor-led hunter safety courses on April 1

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the DEC will resume holding in-person, instructor-led Hunter Education Program courses starting April 1.

They will continue to offer online hunter education courses, as well, which became popular last year.

“To prevent the spread of COVID-19, last year DEC successfully transitioned all of our hunter education courses online,” Commissioner Seggos said. “I’m proud of the way our staff quickly pivoted, working with our contractor to offer online courses for new hunters and bowhunters, and I applaud their efforts to safely allow for resuming in-person instruction again in time for new hunters to pursue turkey this spring.”

COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed in every in-person course, including health screening upon arrival, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, smaller class sizes, and sanitizing hands and equipment.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

In-person courses are free and taught by volunteer HEP instructors. Courses are offered in hunter, bowhunter, trapper, and waterfowl hunter education. Registration is required and all in-person courses require mandatory homework that must be completed prior to participating in the class. For more information, or to register for a HEP course, visit the Hunter Education Program page on DEC’s website.

Although the number of courses offered may be limited this spring, interested participants are encouraged to check back often as new courses may be added. Online courses are also available. The cost of the on-line hunter education course is $19.95. The course can be found on DEC’s hunter-ed website. DEC also continues to offer an on-line bowhunter education course.

Since March 2020, DEC has seen more than a 12 percent increase in hunting and fishing license sales compared to sales from the previous 12-month period. During this time, which roughly coincides with New York State on PAUSE, resident turkey permits have increased more than 13 percent and junior hunting licenses increased by more than 25 percent. Certain types of lifetime licenses also increased by as much as 50 percent. A combination of factors, including the availability of online hunter education for new hunters and more time available to participate in the hunting and other activities as New Yorkers looked for recreational options during the pandemic, likely contributed to the increase.