Cornell University Deer Management Program
Cornell University is addressing chronic deer overpopulation on its lands through an Integrated Deer Research and Management Program (IDRM). The program is designed to reduce unacceptable damage to University resources and plant collections, promote the teaching and research mission of the University, and to reduce associated human-health and safety risks such as Lyme disease and deer-vehicle collisions.
To successfully implement the IDRM program, Cornell relies on the assistance of dedicated volunteers, stewards, neighbors, and other conservation partners to participate and support our highly managed hunting program.
We are now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 deer hunting season through October 15, 2017.
Cornell University annually accepts responsible sportsmen and women into the sanctioned hunting program in order to reduce deer populations. This is not only an opportunity to help preserve the integrity of these unique habitats, it is a privilege that is earned and maintained. This year, many Cornell Botanic Gardens Natural Areas and selected near-campus hunting lands are combined into one program, encompasing over 2,400 acres open for deer hunting opportunities. Deer hunting for Arnot Forest is NOT included - see the NEWS section below for more information on those programs.
To apply, after reading through the program website, rules, and regulations, click the on-line test and permit application under the "donate" button on the left sidebar of this page. Hunters must pass this on-line test to demonstrate that they have read and understood program rules, regulations, and expectations. The test is not designed to be difficult and there are no trick questions, but hunters will have to read the rules and regulations carefully. Hunters must pass the test before they can apply for a permit. Applicants will also need a valid, unique email address and hunting license.
Cornell Botanic Gardens is the steward of 44 natural areas in the region, encompassing more than 3,400 acres. We protect and preserve these unique habitats to support teaching and research at Cornell University, and for enjoyment by the general public. The staff in our Natural Areas Program invest a significant amount of time in coordinating the deer hunting program to ensure that all hunters will have a safe and enjoyable experience. Although most people assume that Cornell Botanic Gardens is funded by Cornell University, the fact is that 85% of our annual operating budget comes from memberships, charitable gifts and endowment income. Because we don’t charge admission or a fee to participate in the hunting program, we rely heavily on charitable gifts to support all of our conservation programs. Your support—of any amount—will help us continue to preserve these irreplaceable natural areas and make them available to the public for hunting, hiking, learning and enjoyment of the great outdoors. Click here to make a gift now for the Cornell Botanic Gardens Natural Areas Program. (Note: Give $50 or more and you will automatically become a Cornell Botanic Garden member!)
Natural Area Visitors
Visitors please note that selected Cornell near-campus lands and many Cornell Botanic Gardens Natural Areas with firearm deer hunting programs are closed for public use during the firearm deer seasons from November 18 through December 19, 2017. Additionally, sites with firearm hunting in the Deer Management Focus Area that are listed below are closed to the public from January 13th through January 31, 2018. Unless otherwise noted, all publically accessible areas remain open to the public including those with archery hunting.
Deer Management Focus Area
Hunters that wish to participate in the Deer Management Focus Area Program (DMFA) on Cornell Deer Management Program properties within the DMFA zone must also posess a Cornell Deer Management Program PERMIT. Note that a DEC issued DMFA Permit is NOT a Cornell issued PERMIT. Hunters without a Cornell issued permit will be prosecuted. For more information on the DMFA program, see the News and Updates section below.
All hunters are expected to follow all Cornell and Department of Environmental Conservation rules and regulations and, to conduct themselves in a safe and ethical manner. Hunters that meet these criteria will remain eligible to reapply for permits annually.
- Cornell Hunting Program rules and regulations.
- NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Hunting & Trapping 2016 - 2017 Guide, Laws, and Regulations.
Deer Hunting Areas
Maps to view hunting program areas, the DEC Deer Management Focus Area boundary, other Cornell near campus hunting zones, and some state parks and forests are on the left sidebar above.
Site maps for each hunting area are provided on the reservation pages for each specific site:
7H Wildlife Management Unit
- Edwards Lake Cliffs *
- Monkey Run (A4) * %
- Monkey Run (F2)
7J Wildlife Management Unit
- Eames Bog #
- McLean Bog #
- Salt Road Fen
7R Wildlife Management Unit
- Allen Tract (Cayuta Lake)
- Bald Hill/Caroline Pinnacles
- Carter Creek
- Coy Glen *
- Dunlop Meadow * &
- Frost Ravine *
- Lick Brook *
- Ringwood *
- Polson *
- South Hill Swamp * %
- Tarr Young
- A5 * %
- A16 *
- A17 *
Sites identified with an (*) are located within the Ithaca Deer Management Focus Area (DMFA). For more information, see the first "News and Updates" item below.
Sites identified with an (%)
are restricted to archery and crossbow only hunting. Unless otherwise noted, all
listed sites are open to archery, crossbow, and firearm hunting
Sites identified with a (#) will have free DEC Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) tags for eligible hunters, by request to Cornell Botanic Gardens. These tags are intented to help us meet our deer management program goals of reducing the doe population. Learn more.
Sites identified with a (&) are recommended for non-ambulatory hunters. Additional details are provided on the respective reservation site webpage.
Prospective hunters with questions about hunting at "restricted sites" or "restricted parking areas" such as Eames Bog Lot #1 and Coy Glen Lot #4 should contact Cornell Botanic Gardens from our Contact Information webpage. Note that for this year, McLean Bogs and Edwards Restricted Sites are already full, so are closed to additional enrollment.
For more information on Botanic Garden's preserves, visit our Natural Areas Profiles. For site specific and program information on hunting activity and harvest at each site, visit our deer management program summary for 2008 - 2016 here.
News and Updates for 2017
- Deer Hunting Program Funding: Despite multiple donation appeals for hunters to voluntarily help fund the Deer Management Program, we had exceptionally low rates of participation. Given that we invest a signifcant amount of human and financial resources into running a free, safe, and enjoyable hunting experience in some of the most exceptional hunting areas in the Finger Lakes, this result was a significant disappointment. The lack of voluntary donations, coupled with budget cuts for the program by the University, has resulted in the decision to signficantly scale back the program. Unless otherwise noted, all areas previously in the Deer Management Program that are NOT listed above will be posted and closed to hunting. Individuals trespassing or illegally hunting on these properties will be prosecuted.
- Arnot Hunting Program: The deer hunting program for Arnot Forest is being managed separately. For information and to apply to that program, please visit their website here.
- On-line Deer Management System: Approximately 2-3 weeks after passing the test and completing the permit application, you will be notified of your approval for the Cornell Deer Management Program via email. You then will be required to create an on-line account for our Deer Management System in order to print out your permit, maps, manage all hunting reservations, and report hunting and harvest activity. Hunters must make reservations for specifics sites and days through the Deer Management System in order to hunt. Reservations must also be removed if hunters are not able to hunt on the reserved day. Repeated failure to remove unused reservations will result in the hunting permit being revoked.
- Rewards and incentives: Continuing this year, we are providing a reward and incentive component to our deer program through how our reservation system works. Returning, veteran hunters that have harvested an antlerless deer in the prior year will be allowed to make reservations for 7 days in advance the day's date. All other hunters will be allowed to make reservations for 3 days in advance of the day's date.
- Hunting Activity and Harvest Reporting: All hunters must report harvest and hunting activity within three days after hunting for each reservation. You will not be able to make additional reservations until reporting activity is completed. Completing hunting activity and harvest reports for unfilled/non-hunted reservations is also required.
- Deer Management Focus Areas: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the continuation of the Deer Management Focus Area (DMFA) for 60,000 acres surrounding Ithaca. This program was established in central Tompkins County to intensify use of hunting to assist communities with the burden of overabundant deer populations. The DMFA program is established to reduce total deer populations within the focus area by providing more time and more tags to hunters who can gain access to huntable land. Hunters who register to participate in the focus area program may legally harvest two antlerless deer per day during the regular season and during a special January 13 through January 31, 2018 DMFA season. Click here to REGISTER for the Deer Management Focus Area.
- Small Game Hunting: Small game hunting is not allowed under your Cornell Deer Management Program Permit. In order to request a small game permit and locate areas that are open to small game hunting on University property, please visit the Arnot Forest website here.
- Youth Firearm Hunt: Cornell Botanic Gardens is NOT participating in this year's youth firearm hunt. Youth firearm hunting during this season is prohibited.
- Blaze Orange Requirement: Hunters are required to wear 250 square inches of solid or patterned blaze orange or fluorescent pink hat and/or vest at all times while deer hunting during firearms seasons in areas where firearms are permitted. Archery only areas are exempt from this rule.
- Crossbows: It is now legal to hunt with crossbows in New York State. Crossbows may be used during the last two weeks of the archery season and during all respective firearm and DMFA seasons. Crossbows are allowed in designated crossbow and firarm areas.
- Setback distances: Discharge restrictions for archery and crossbow equipment were legally changed in 2014. Archery discharge restriction is now 150' from an inhabited dwelling; Crossbow discharge restriction is 250'. Shotgun and muzzleloader distances remain unchanged at 500'. It is the hunter's obligation to know the setback restrictions and locations of neighboring residences.
- Collared or Ear-tagged Deer: If a hunter takes a collared or ear-tagged deer, the collar and tags should be dropped off at the Resource Ecology and Management Lab (REM) on Judd Falls Road (driveway entrance is just south [uphill] of the old railway bridge). Drive past the first building and the concrete block portion of the building marked 139 Ecology Drive. There will be a labeled drop-box in the corner just past the block portion of Building 139 where hunters can place the collars and tags. Also, please send an e-mail to Mike Ashdown (firstname.lastname@example.org) stating the date and location where the tagged deer was harvested.
- Cayuta Lake: Note that access for hunting the area south of the Cayuta Lake Inlet (Parking Area #2) is now restricted to canoe access only, via the DEC's Cayuta Lake Boat Launch, off Lock Heid Road.
Information on venison processing
Note: Cornell Botanic Gardens is providing the following information for the benefit of our hunters, and makes no claim of responsibility for the quality or reliability of services by third parties.
If you are interested in donating venison to those in need, local Venison Donation Coalition Butchers are:
Country Harvest, Groton, NY (607-218-8766)
Mountainside Outdoor Supply, Homer, NY (607-749-5714)
Jon’s Custom Meats, Moravia, NY (315-497-0849)
Ty's Deer & Custom Meat Processing, Scipio Center, NY (315-364-8266)
Other nearby non-VDC Butchers are:
Tim & Beth Ceurter, Richford, NY (607-657-8007)
Contact information for local DEC Environmental Conservation Officers
Osman Eisenberg (607) 564-9458
T. Machnica (607) 227-8742
Local Dog Tracking Services
For private (not Cornell affiliated) tracking services, please text 607-280-6240 between the hours of 9:00AM and 9:00 PM. Messages will be answered on a first come, first served basis. Tracks will be taken depending on the details of the shot. Suggested donation of $50 to cover fuel and dog care costs.
Support for Educational Partners
Primitive Pursuits, a local non-profit, is looking for donations of raw deerskins to support adult and youth hide tanning classes. If you are interested in supporting this effort, you can donate your hide to Primitive Pursuits by emailing their staff here for more information.