ALBANY, N.Y. (WENY) -- As part of a multi-year research study designed to improve bald eagle and golden eagle conservation efforts, the DEC is offering rebates to eligible hunters to purchase non-lead ammunition. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos made the announcement on Wednesday, July 12th, as conservation agencies and groups look at ways to reduce the number of eagles that die from lead poisoning in the Empire State.  

“Hunters in North America are the backbone of wildlife conservation and often help lead the charge in numerous wildlife management success stories like the restoration of white-tailed deer and wild turkey,” said Seggos in a prepared statement. 

The study looks to see whether mortality rate of these eagles can be reduced by more usage of non-lead ammunition. To promote participation in the study, the DEC’s partners will offer rebates of up to $60 for non-lead ammunition purchases and survey participation to eligible hunters.

“The study announced today to assess the potential benefits of non-lead ammunition to New York’s bald and golden eagle populations is a prime example of how hunters can help conserve wildlife, and I thank the New York deer hunters who volunteer to be part of the project,” said Seggos.     

When scavenging deer remains following dressings, bald eagles can ingest lead bullet fragments. Research has shown this has stunted eagle population growth in New York State. Partners in the study include the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, U.S. Geological Survey, and Conservation Science Global.

The rebate program is voluntary and available to participating hunters in the following Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 3H, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4W, and 6G. These units were selected due to greater eagle populations and deer harvests. 

The study will be implemented starting with the 2023-24 hunting season. Rebates will continue to be offered through the 2024 and 2025 hunting seasons.