New York hunting licenses surge amid COVID-19 pandemic

New York State has seen a surge in people seeking licenses for trapping and big-game hunting as they find new ways to spend their free time amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation said an online hunter education course has contributed to the consistent spike in the number of people purchasing licenses, as the agency continues to see an increase in licensees, a spokesperson told Fox News in an email Monday.

In September, the DEC reported that sales for its hunting and trapping licenses had tripled on opening day alone compared to the previous year’s opening day sales.

Meanwhile, license sales this year were “more than double on the second day and nearly double the first two weeks,” a September press release states. And so far, interest has not waned, the DEC said Monday.

On this year’s opening day alone, the DEC made $922,444 in sales, while it reported $347,103 in sales on the same day in 2019. And in the first two weeks, sales topped $6.2 million, compared to the estimated $3.5 million during the same time last year, according to the release.

“With New Yorkers looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing tremendous interest in outdoor recreation and in the sports of fishing, hunting, and trapping, including record sales of big game hunting and trapping licenses. New York is home to some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the nation,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in an emailed statement.

Seggos attributed the uptick to the ability for applicants to take safety and education courses and purchase licenses online and from home. As of Tuesday, approximately 500,000 hunters are licensed in New York State, she said.

The DEC urges hunters to use caution and act as if every gun is loaded. It asks that hunters keep their firearms pointed in safe directions, “keep their fingers off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot,” and keep aware of what is beyond the target.

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