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Outdoors with Larry DiDonato - DEC Switches to Paper Hunting Tags

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/8/24 | 2/8/24


Plain Paper to Replace Synthetic Valeron Carcass and Back Tags - Print at Home Option Coming Soon

On February 2, the New York State DEC announced that beginning August 1st 2024, the material used for state sporting licenses and carcass tags will change from waterproof, tear resistant, special stock synthetic valeron paper to plain paper. The change is touted as modernizing the process of buying a hunting, trapping, and fishing license by allowing easy access to licenses and tags by allowing at-home license and tag printing options. DEC reports this is especially helpful ”…to the increasing number of hunters, trappers, and anglers who purchase their licenses online.”    

“DEC’s transition to paper tags will provide the sporting community with a streamlined process to go afield,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This cost-effective shift to paper tags will reduce the state’s carbon footprint and ensure our sporting license program is at the forefront of emerging technologies. In recent years, supply chain issues have made it increasingly difficult and more expensive for fish and wildlife agencies to acquire synthetic paper and many have successfully made the switch to plain paper licenses. New York State looks forward to joining our partner states in this transition to modernize our system.” 

They go on to say you can continue to buy licenses at a license issuing agent, online, or over the phone, but will have more flexibility allowing printing at the point-of-sale, or using the newly created print-at-home option. ”Additionally, when hunters and anglers are afield, proof of licensure can be shown electronically through the HuntFishNY mobile app. The app is also a fast and easy way for hunters to report their game harvests. Currently, the only option for backtags and carcass tags will be plain paper.”

The move to paper tags will be effective during the 2024-25 license year and will begin with sales starting August 1st 2024. Lifetime license holders will receive their 2024-25 licenses and tags on plain paper by mail by September 1st 2024. The change to plain paper does not apply to the upcoming 2024 spring turkey season.  

The obvious challenge for hunters is how to keep flimsy paper carcass tags from melting in rain, snow, and muddy conditions. The law still states hunters have to immediately cut or mark the month and day and fill out all fields of deer and turkey carcass tags. Additionally, the tag must remain legible and hunters must attach the paper tag to the deer once you reach motorized transportation. DEC maintains this is the sole responsibility of hunters who harvest game and suggest using ziplock type plastic bags to protect the new, fragile, paper tags.

It remains to be seen how ECOs will deal with potentially mutilated tags, let alone the ease with which extra tags can printed at home by those seeking to illegally exceed harvest limits. 

There are many more questions than answers about how the transition from durable valeron to plain paper tags will play out in the field. DEC has provided a link to begin addressing some of these concerns.  More information on this change is available in a “Q&A” format on the DEC website. Additional details will be forthcoming prior to licenses going on sale on Aug. 1. Customers are encouraged to check DEC’s website and to sign up for DEC Delivers for information and updates regarding this change.   

Happy hunting, fishing, and trapping until next time.

News and Notes

Warning: Ice Conditions remain generally unsafe throughout much of New York State. Many ice fishing tournaments both large and small have been cancelled because of insufficient unsafe ice due to recent warm temperatures. Be sure to follow safe ice guidelines and common sense when considering venturing out.



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