"It will happen -- either from fees or General Fund money," said State Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, referring to budget items necessary to further Department of Environmental Conservation fish and wildlife programs.
"We have to get the budget process going so we can get a fee increase through committees and have an increase in place in the current budget," Volker said last week as budget meetings continued in Albany. He has received positive support for sporting license fee increases from every major sporting group -- clubs and federations -- in the Western New York area he represents.
"The only opposition I've seen lately has been from individuals that oppose any fee increase for anything," he said.
"If we're not careful, hunters and angler programs could suffer," he said, pointing to possible loss of funding for DEC programs. "At the same time, we have to make sure that fee increases imposed upon sportsmen go to fishing and hunting projects," he said.
Volker sees budget resolution continuing possibly until August, but DEC officials need time to print license forms and have them ready prior to the fall fishing and hunting seasons.
Contacting state Senate and Assembly members always helps, and letter-writing has the greatest impact, Volker noted. To learn more about license-fee increase issues, plan to attend Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs' meeting Thursday evening at Glen-Coe Conservation Club. For details, call 655-4056.
Waterfowl seasons have been tentatively set for New York State, pending approval from federal season setters.
Early (nuisance) goose season remains at its Sept. 1-25 slot for Western Zone hunters, but officials anticipate a traditional fall Canada Goose season will be expanded this year, with a possible 30-day, two-bag limit season set sometime after the last week in October.
Duck, coot and merganser seasons in Western New York are tentatively set for Oct. 20-Dec. 7 and Dec. 27-Jan. 6, 2002. Two Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days will be held in each zone statewide. Western Zone youths can hunt with an accompanying adult Oct. 6 and 7.
Department of Environmental Conservation established two Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces to adopt Western Zone dates. Final season dates will be determined when federal regulations are finalized sometime in September. Those dates will be posted on the DEC Web site: www.dec.state.ny.us.
Also, DEC plans to mail a copy of the 2001-2002 regulations to all New York State hunters who registered in this state's Harvest Information Program. Hunters must register each season for a new HIP number by calling (888) 427-5447.
Ann Marie Gajewski and Mary Stefano, both of Amherst, joined 51 other women from 21 states to complete a Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop June 5-10 at Granite Creek Ranch near Jackson, Wyo. This Safari Club International BOW event can be viewed at: www.safariclubfoundation.org/awlsbow2001. For more details about SCI-BOW, call (877) 877-3265.