Here is my response...
I am writing in response to the above listed proposed changes. As a hunter who hunts much of the big game season in WMU 4W I have a vested interest in these changes.
First, the idea that the data can arbitrarily be "adjusted for non-response bias" is ludicrous. The data actually collected clearly indicates that hunters are not in favor of these changes. It seems that the data is being manipulated to support a change that will be unfavorable to all but a few, and the few would only be the local residents with access to animals that fit the criteria for harvest. Your own statement further admits that these "antler restriction programs do not meet a critical biological or management need."
As a non-resident (I am a NY resident though) of the affected area but one who primarily hunts in WMU 4W I feel this is patently unfair, especially when in recent years the availability of DMP's has particularly scarce. In fact I think you would find that MOST of the hunters in affected WMU's are NY residents who don't live in the WMU but travel to the area from different parts of the state. At this point the question then becomes, "Why bother?" If I can't consistently acquire a DMP and there really aren't that many "qualifying bucks" then I might as well abandon NY hunting and try my luck in Pennsylvania perhaps? If DEC has only surveyed hunters who reside in those WMU's then you have done a staggering number of hunters a great disservice. As a hunter who has hunted in WMU 4W for nearly 30 years I also have to ask, "Where was my survey?" I have never received so much as a questionairre or email on this issue despite being on record all these years as a DMP participant in 4W and prior to the renumbering, Unit 60.
This program will be disastrous for the Catskill WMU's for which it is proposed. Coupled with the looming massive license fee increases including a charge for a DMP that may not even be issued it will result in even less hunter participation at a time when we need more.
DEC seriously needs to rework it's image with hunters in NY. Most of us feel that this agency is NOT responsive to our needs or requests, nor does it take into account any feedback that we the hunters provide. We are simply paid "lip-service" and the DEC will do whatever it feels like regardless of it's impact.
I strongly urge you to reconsider this poorly thought out change.
While I expect nothing more than an impersonal "canned" response, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with a DEC representative.