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Environmental News and Events for Chemung, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates counties (Region 8)

In this issue:

  • Get Outdoors and Get Together Day
  • Volunteer Opportunity for Finger Lakes Anglers
  • Public Meetings About Lake Ontario
  • Spring into Nature: Region 8 Outreach
  • Forest Rangers in Review
  • Arbor Day at the Avon Office
  • Living with Black Bears
  • If You Care, Leave It There
  • "Clean. Drain. Dry." Your Watercraft to Protect Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Take an In-Person DEC Course
  • NEW - Next Step Courses
  • Happy National Wetlands Month!
  • Lights Out for Bird Migration Season

 Get Outdoors and Get Together Day

Join DEC, NY State Parks & Historic SitesNew York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and New York State Department of Veterans' Services on Saturday, June 10, to celebrate Get Outdoors and Get Together Day -- a day of inclusion for all people at New York's accessible parks and DEC lands! New Yorkers of all ages and abilities can discover new skills and try out a range of introductory outdoor activities, such as fishing, paddling, hiking, biking, bird watching, archery, nature photography, camping, and more. Adaptive equipment and opportunities will be available at some locations.

Each location will have its own array of special activities. Visit DEC's website for all event details, including schedules and any registration requirements.

Volunteer Opportunity for Finger Lakes Anglers

Ethan Haley and Dominic Bianchi with their catch of the day. Fish were caught at the same time on Conesus Lake. A quick photo was taken, and the fish were released. These smallmouths were pre-spawn just cruising the shallows during the rapidly warming waters. 

Are you interested in the management and quality of New York’s unmatched Finger Lakes fisheries? Consider helping DEC evaluate fisheries management actions on the Finger Lakes and their tributaries by joining our Volunteer Angler Diary Cooperator Program

You can help DEC continue to provide anglers like yourself with some of the best quality fishing around! Through the Angler Diary Cooperator Program, volunteer anglers keep a diary in which they record information about their fishing trips throughout the year, including lakes fished, number of anglers participating, species targeted, hours fished, length and number of species caught, fin clips (if present), and whether fish were kept or released.

DEC analyzes information from all volunteers and a summary of results is sent to each cooperator along with their original diary. This angler-collected data is vital to DEC’s management of the Finger Lakes fisheries. View the 2022 diary summary reports on DEC’s website.

New volunteer cooperators are always welcome and encouraged!

Anglers fishing Canadice, Canandaigua, Hemlock, Keuka, Seneca, Conesus, or Honeoye Lake, contact Region 8 Fisheries at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 585-226-5343 to become a cooperator.

Anglers fishing Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles, or Otisco Lake should contact Region 7 Fisheries at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 607-753-3095, ext. 213.

 Public Meetings About Lake Ontario

Meetings Scheduled for June 6 in Rochester, June 21 in Mexico

DEC Bureau of Fisheries Chief, Lake Ontario Unit Leader, and respective regional fisheries managers will be on-hand at two upcoming public meetings hosted by DEC partners in Rochester and Mexico. DEC experts will talk about the current state of Lake Ontario sport fisheries and take questions on a wide array of management actions and research taking place on the lake and tributaries. At the meetings, interested anglers will have the opportunity to speak directly with staff after a brief presentation.

The Lake Ontario Charter Boat Association is hosting the first public meeting in DEC's Region 8.

What: Lake Ontario Sport Fishery Public Meeting

When: June 6, beginning at 7 p.m.

Where: Irondequoit Fish and Game Club, 658 Bay Front S. Rochester, NY 14609

For more information contact Chris Legard, Lake Ontario Unit Leader, at 315-654-2147 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lake Ontario anglers, and all fishing enthusiasts are encouraged to check out DEC's 'Tackle Box' feature in the HuntFishNY App, which provides anglers one-stop shopping for waterbody-specific information on fishing regulations, stocking, and fishing/boating access sites.

Spring into Nature: Region 8 Outreach

Region 8 Division of Fish and Wildlife staff recently tabled an event at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Spring into Nature annual event.

Forest Rangers in Review

Forest Rangers Miller and Lieutenant Wickens participated in the DEC’s own “Bring Your Kid to Work” event hosted at the Avon Office in Region 8. Forest Rangers, along with other program staff, conducted demonstrations, Q&As, and educational stations for the children of DEC personnel to enjoy. There was a K-9 demonstration, tree planting, two-way radio communications, and much more! The event allowed for children to be exposed to numerous environmental careers and it helped all DEC personnel gain an understanding about the work of other programs.

Ranger Miller and Lt. Wickens at Take Your Child to Work Day

child uses radio in Ranger vehicle as Ranger sits in passenger seat
Ranger Miller at Take Your Child to Work Day

Town of Livonia
Livingston County
Public Outreach:
 On April 27, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Ranger Raffaldi helped Brownie Troop 51084 earn hiking badges at Chip Holt Nature Center in Vitale Park. In addition to hiking safety, Rangers explained how to appropriately build, contain, and extinguish a campfire. The Rangers also showed the brownies how to make the best campfire s'mores.

Ranger and girl scouts roast marshmallows over fire
Lt. Wickens makes s'mores with Brownie Troop 51084

Rangers and girl scouts pose for a group photo eating s'mores
Ranger Raffaldi and Lt. Wickens with Brownie Troop 51084

Town of Gates
Monroe County
Public Outreach:
 On April 29, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Ranger Miller participated in the Boy Scouts of America Camporee Fire Badge Day at First Responder Park in Gates. The multi-day event provides attendees with an opportunity to earn a fire badge by learning from Rangers, Barnard Fire, Chili Fire, Gates Fire, and Spencerport Fire Departments. Rangers hosted a station that focused on wildland fires, how wildland fire suppression is different from structure firefighting, seasonal wildfire risk, and the tools used during wildland fires and prescribed burns.

Rangers and participants take large group photo with emergency vehicles
Camporee Fire Badge Day

Ranger talks to scouts at Fire Badge Day event
Ranger Miller at Camporee Fire Badge Day

Town of Groveland
Livingston County
Law Enforcement:
 On April 30 while on patrol in Livingston County, Ranger Cordell followed up on a tip that a lock was missing from one of the gates at Sonyea State Forest. Ranger Cordell proceeded to secure the gate and noticed five Jeep Wranglers traveling together. Sonyea State Forest has a history of illegal, offroad motor vehicle use on the property so Ranger Cordell continued investigating. The Ranger watched from a distance and the Jeeps eventually made their way to a trail that is off limits to motor vehicles. Ranger Cordell blocked their exit point and issued five tickets for illegal motor vehicle use on State Forest lands.

tire tracks in the mud where Jeeps illegally drove through
Illegal motor vehicle use at Sonyea State Forest

Jeep illegally in the woods
Illegal motor vehicle use at Sonyea State Forest

Town of Prattsburgh
Steuben County
Public Outreach:
 On May 10, Forest Ranger Miller participated in Environmental Education Day at Franklin Academy in the Prattsburgh Central School District. Ranger Miller gave a brief overview of the job duties and responsibilities of a Forest Ranger to approximately 90 students. In addition to talking about search and rescues and wildland fire suppression, Ranger Miller showed the students some of the tools Rangers use on a daily basis. The Ranger also relayed the importance of education and how various school subjects relate to a Forest Ranger career.

Kids with hands raised ask Ranger questions about environmental education
Ranger Miller at environmental education day at Franklin Academy

City of Geneva
Seneca County
Public Outreach:
 On May 10, Forest Rangers Raffaldi-Smith and Roberts participated in Outdoor Education Field Day hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. The event welcomed approximately 300 sixth graders from area schools who rotated through multiple interactive stations. Rangers explained what their job entails and talked about outdoor recreation safety, preparedness, and Leave No TraceTM principles. The Rangers also discussed habitat requirements needed to support healthy wildlife populations, utilizing an interactive game called 'Oh My Deer' to illustrate the concepts.

Ranger speaking to kids during outreach event
Ranger Roberts at outdoor education field day

For more Forest Rangers in Review and Environmental Conservation Officers on Patrol Stories, please visit the press release page on DEC's website.

Arbor Day at the Avon Office

Region 8 recognized Arbor Day with a tree planting at the Avon office. Kids who were there for “take your child to work day” also had an opportunity to participate.

Living with Black Bears

Dozens of people turned out to hear a presentation at the Big Flats Community Center on how to avoid conflicts with Black Bears. DEC Wildlife Biologists were on hand to educate people on “living with black bears” and offer proven ways to remove attractants to bears from their properties.

If You Care, Leave It There

During spring months, animal sightings and encounters are common. Young wildlife quickly venture into the world on wobbly legs or are unable to fly on their own. While most young wildlife learn survival skills from one or both parents, some receive little or no care. Often, wild animals stay away from their young, especially when people or pets are present. For these young animals, the perils of survival are a natural part of life in the wild. Unfortunately, well-intentioned individuals may attempt to care for young wild animals they believe to be abandoned or in need of assistance. These human interactions typically do more harm than good.

Appreciate wildlife from a safe distance and resist the urge to touch or pick them up
Human contact with wildlife can result in unintended consequences detrimental to the animals people intend to help.

If they appear to be sick or behaving abnormally, contact your DEC regional wildlife office
Remember that young wildlife are not pets. Keeping wildlife in captivity is illegal and harmful to the animal. Wild animals are not well-suited for life in captivity and may carry diseases that can be transferred to humans.

If they are obviously injured or orphaned, call a wildlife rehabilitator
Wildlife rehabilitators are trained volunteers licensed by DEC. They are the only people legally allowed to receive and treat distressed wildlife. They have the experience, expertise, and facilities to successfully treat and release wild animals.

Keep pets indoors when young animals are present
Many fledgling birds cannot fly when they first leave the nest and are easy prey for a house cat.

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about young wildlife, visit DEC's website.

'Clean. Drain. Dry.' Your Watercraft to Protect Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species

DEC reminded boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats and trailers and disinfect their fishing gear before recreating in New York's waters to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS). Watercraft inspection stewards (boat stewards) are deploying across the state to educate and assist the public in cleaning equipment this season to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native plants and animals in New York waterbodies.
Boat stewards will be stationed at more than 200 boat launches and decontamination stations throughout the state by Memorial Day weekend. Identified by their blue vests, boat stewards can provide a refresher on how to inspect your boat and gear and offer information on AIS in New York.

Last year, DEC's boat stewards inspected more than 220,000 boats and intercepted more than 8,000 AIS, including hydrilla, which led to the discovery of a new infestation in the Niagara River. Efforts are currently underway to control the invasive plant and prevent it from negatively impacting the native ecosystem, as well as water recreation. DEC is collaborating with local stakeholders and Federal partners to keep the infestation contained and prevent further spread.

All water recreationists should follow these steps to make sure their equipment isn't harboring AIS:

  1. Clean mud, plants, and animals off boating and fishing equipment (trailer bunks, axles, rollers, lights, transducers, license plates, motor props, tackle, waders, etc.), and discard the material in a trash can or at a disposal station;
  2. Drain all water-holding compartments, including ballast tanks, live wells, and bilge areas, before leaving an access site; and
  3. Dry everything thoroughly before using boats or equipment in another waterbody. Drying times can vary but a minimum of five to seven days in dry, warm conditions is recommended. Note: When there's no time to dry between uses, disinfect things with hot water that is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or visit a decontamination site.

All New York residents and visitors have a role to play in protecting state waters from invasive species. Visit DEC's website for more tips on how to clean, drain, and dry watercraft, fishing gear, and other equipment and for more information about New York's Watercraft Inspection Steward Program.

Take an In-Person DEC Course

In-person, instructor-led certification courses for hunter education, bowhunter education, and trapper education are now being offered throughout NYS. These free courses are a must for all first-time hunters and trappers planning to go afield this year, but anyone who has an interest in hunting or trapping can take a course as well. Courses fill quickly, so do not delay in registering for a course. Visit DEC's website to locate a course near you. 

NEW – Next Step Courses

Next Step courses are for those who have completed a hunter education, bowhunter education, or trapper education certification course and want more instruction and hands-on experience in shooting and trapping. These 4-hour courses are taught by certified DEC instructors. There is no certification offered with these courses. Please NOTE: You must be certified in the discipline of the Next Step Course you wish to attend. Certificate number is required for registration. Upcoming Events - New York Next Step (

Happy National Wetlands Month!

The Environmental Protection Agency declared May as National Wetlands Month in 1991 to raise awareness of the ecological, social, and economic importance of wetlands across the nation. Almost one-third of our country’s endangered species live in wetlands.

Spring Peeper – X Marks the Spot
Calling may be winding down in many parts of the state, but hearing the sleigh bell-like sound of hundreds of these wetland-loving frogs is a sure sign that spring has sprung. The spring peeper (pseudacris crucifer) is easy to identify with an “X” on its back, and their color ranges from dark to light brown. Being only about an inch in size, it’s amazing their chorus can carry for a quarter of a mile. That is why finding a peeper at night with a flashlight is not an easy challenge, even when nearby and peeping quite loudly!

But why do peepers peep? Each male is calling for females and defending its tiny territory. The familiar single but repeated peep is his announcement to the females. If a male territory is invaded by a rival male, he will make a short trilling aggressive call. To make their calls, peepers close their nostrils and mouths and squeeze their lungs, which causes the vocal sac (pictured) in the throat to inflate like a balloon. The peeping sound happens as air leaves the lungs, passes over the vocal cords, and into the vocal sac.

Peepers can survive being frozen! As temperatures dip below 32 degrees, these frogs start producing their own “antifreeze” to help preserve the most essential organs. Up to 70% of the frog’s body can freeze and the heart stops pumping. Scientists still aren’t sure how frozen frogs can wake up again.

Photo of spring peeper by John Lehmann.

Lights Out for Bird Migration Season

Looking for an easy way to take care of your bird friends this migration season? Did you know each year during spring migration many birds that are navigating the night sky become disoriented from artificial building lighting? Not only does city lighting deter the navigational abilities of migrating birds, it also leads to an increase in fatal building collisions, killing an estimated 1 billion birds annually.

Play a part in helping birds survive and thrive this season by:

  • Making your windows safer by installing screens and breaking up reflections.
  • Dimming or turning off nonessential lights. Exterior security lighting is more bird friendly when directed downward rather than into the sky.
  • Enjoying birds while helping science and conservation. Your observations will provide valuable information to show where birds are thriving or declining. Take part in the Third Breeding Bird Atlas.

New York State is also committed to helping a variety of bird species during the busy migration season to reduce bird collisions. To do our part, state-owned and operated buildings will participate in the Lights Out Initiative and turn off all non-essential lighting from 11:00 p.m. to dawn during peak bird migrations in the spring and fall.

Photo of gray catbird by Jeffrey Werner.