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ANNUAL REPORT

OF THE

Forest, Fish and Game Commission

ALBANY, N. Y., January 5, 1910. To the Honorable, the Legislature:

Herewith is submitted the Fifteenth Annual Report of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission, with suggestions and recommendations.

The law as it now stands, with a few exceptions, is satisfactory to the Commission and, we believe, to the people generally. There are more exceptions than necessary, and if some of them were taken out the law would be improved. It should in all cases be general and apply to all persons and places alike as far as possible. The present fire law was drawn by a committee of men not connected with the Commission or the Legislature, and in relation to the so-called fire towns should have been modified. It takes in one hundred and fifty towns that should not have been covered by it, and for which there is no justification any more than there would be to include the towns of all other counties of the State. State control of fires should only be invoked in localities where there are large State holdings in the sixteen forest preserve counties, and therefore should have been limited to the towns heretofore known as “fire towns.” In this respect the law should be amended.

For several years an effort was made to contract the open season for deer, which finally resulted in an open season from September 16th to October 31st, inclusive. In 1909 the statute was amended extending the season permitting the killing of bucks from November ist to the 15th, inclusive, which in effect extended the open season for all deer fifteen days. That was not the intention of the author of the amendment, but has been the result, as evidenced by the prosecutions for violations under the amended law for illegally killing does during the fifteen days and by the taking of many does by hunters, campers and especially residents of the woods country for which the department has been unable to fix the responsibility and punish the violators. Anyone familiar with hunting and who understands human nature and human frailty must know that many does under such a law will be shot by mistake, many purposely, and used in the camps and in the homes within the deer country. There is only one way; that is to close the season for all deer at one and the same time. It would have been much better to close the season entirely on does allowing only bucks to be taken, than to have extended the season. This year at Long Lake West, in one day, there were twenty-eight deer shipped, only one of which weighed over eighty pounds. The taking of so many small deer is fast exterminating the species. A law for bucks only would help save our deer and in the end be much better. Forty-six days is long enough for an open season in a State with nine millions population and no more deer country than we have. Between those who hunt (and they are legion), and the lumbermen who are rapidly destroying winter cover and winter food for deer, these heautiful, valuable animals are having a hard time of it. If we look to the preservation of this noble game for future use (and we most assuredly should) thirty days is ample for the open season. The amendment of last winter should be stricken out, or an open season for bucks only should be made.

The Long Island duck law relating to brant and the possession of duck after the shooting season should be changed. There may be other and much desired amendments, but unless the necessity for amendment is very plain and conclusive we believe the law should remain as it is. We might better suffer a little from certain ills now experienced under the law, than to be constantly tinkering with it.

Each year we have called your attention to the work accomplished and invited comparison with preceding years. We do so now. The aim of the department is to make substantial improvements in the service and results each succeeding year. We feel that in these respects the year just closed is no exception, and that marked progress has been made. The records show an increased efficiency in the force of protectors; their present organization is better than it has been heretofore; the personnel of the force is higher; the interest of each person in the work, from the head of that branch of the service to the last man, is greater than ever before. I am pleased to report this fact, because it is true and because the men have earned more than honorable mention.

MARINE FISHERIES. The marine fisheries department has made a fine record this year. The titles to many pieces of land under water heretofore leased or alienated by grant, have been recovered to the State on account of nonuse, nonpayment of rentals or other causes; the ownership under leases made during past years, and which have been sold, subdivided and transferred from one person to another, have all been located in the names of present owners. A much larger revenue has been obtained and the work of the department placed on a sound business basis under the revised law of two years ago. To bring this branch of the work from a chaotic condition to a business basis only required a law giving reasonable powers to the Commission, and providing reasonable rules under which the business could be managed. That branch of the service is practically self-sustaining, and in time, with slight amendments to the law will produce a considerable annual revenue over and above the cost of running the department.

The legal department has handled an unusually large number of cases during the year in a successful and satisfactory manner, saving to the State much valuable property, successfully prosecuting offenders, without persecuting them, which has produced a more wholesome respect for the law and its enforcement.

Work everywhere in the department is rapidly increasing; the office force in the main office at Albany is no longer large enough to dispose of the current day's business in a satisfactory manner. We badly need two more stenographers and one more good accountant,

The total of all trespasses, as it should be, is less for 1909 than heretofore. Fewer violations of the law, with greater activity in tie department to detect offenders, indicates a more wholesome respect for the law and a greater desire to conserve and protect our forests, fish and game. We want to see the time when there will be few or no violations and all people will assist in upholding and enforcing the law. Then we will have birds, fish, game and forests enough to supply all our reasonable needs.

This department ought to be self-sustaining; not only that, but it should raise, through its instrumentalities in handling the State's business, enough money (beside that required to defray all expenses) to buy all the additional land the State may need; to care for it; to protect it; to pay the taxes and improve it. In other words, we ought to be able to do just what an individual or business corporation, owning the same property for the same purpose, would do in making it self-sustaining; and at the same time keep, preserve and use it for a forest preserve and playground forever. Why not? The reason for such management and how it should be done will be more fully set forth under the head of “State Forests."

GENERAL STATEMENT. The following tables make a comparison between the years 1904 and 1909 in the receipts, disbursements and work of the department, indicating its present increased efficiency:

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Receipts from fines and

penalties ... Receipts from miscellaneous

sources Number of cases...:

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1, 372

I, 014

358

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The increased expenditure includes $12,000 for the State game bird farm just established and $40,175.41 for a paid fire patrol which are two features distinctly new. The above table will indicate that the income of the department has much more than kept pace with its increased expenditure.

HATCHERIES. This year we produced and distributed 530,000,000 fish, which is about five times as many as were distributed in a single year five years ago.

In this connection I desire to particularly call the attention of the Legislature to the work of Dr. Gaylord, in charge of the State Cancer Laboratory, Buffalo, N. Y., as to the service he has rendered this department in his study of diseases of fish at some of our hatcheries and in the United States hatcheries of various other states. The work accomplished by Dr. Gaylord is of great benefit to the State of New York in relation to diseases of fish and points the way to a better construction and management of fish hatcheries and rearing ponds. Further than that his experiments and discoveries will undoubtedly result in great benefit to the whole people when his work is fully completed and his final report made. More than this it may not be proper to state at this time.

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