It’s ironic that in someplace as vast as the great outdoors, folks still manage to find ways to get in one another’s way.
As the state acquires more land and boundaries shift, two groups that find solace in nature are coming into contact more often: hikers and hunters.
These are two groups that should really be in harmony — both find recreation in nature, after all. But as our Saratoga County reporter Marci Revette found out on a recent assignment, it is the opposite that is (sadly) often the case, when she spoke with the owner of Nugget, the Jack Russell terrier who got stuck in a trap off a Wilton hiking trail.
Hunters and hikers are two groups that just don’t tend to mix, for whatever reason, even though they’re the primary users of the vast tracts of American wilderness. The thing is, it really should not be that way.
There’s a lot of hunting taking place in New York in the fall. Last year, hunters took nearly 230,000 deer in New York, according to Department of Environmental Conservation data. That is a whole lot more than the 40,000 taken back in 1950 (though record keeping probably wasn’t quite as complete then as it is today). While the population of the state has increased more than 30 percent over that time period, the number of deer hunted has increased nearly six times over. People like to hunt, for reasons as varied as why people like to hike.
And no matter what you think of hunting and fishing, that means money. New York state sold more than $56 million worth of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses over the 2009-10 season. Not only does this licensing program help the DEC keep tabs on and control wildlife populations, but a lot of the revenues go to fund the DEC or into trust funds for support conservation efforts. That is something hikers (who often enjoy trails, lean-tos and campgrounds established by the DEC gratis) should keep in mind.