The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds hikers, bike riders, horseback riders, and all other visitors that, for safety reasons, they must wear solid, daylight fluorescent orange when in state management areas and undeveloped state parks beginning on Saturday, September 12 – the start of deer season. With COVID, more and more people are using state parks, wildlife management areas, and other outdoor spaces. Some may not be aware of the law to wear orange to prevent hunting accidents.
“Whether for hiking, fishing, or fighting cabin fever and getting some fresh air, the COVID pandemic has underlined how much it means to people to get outside and recreate,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Rhode Island’s beautiful management areas and undeveloped state parks are wonderful locales for staying healthy and active while reducing stress and practicing physical distancing. We are informing new users of these outdoor areas, however, that deer season opens September 12 and all visitors to parks and management areas must wear at least 200 square inches of blaze orange to make themselves more visible to hunters also using these spaces. And don’t forget to protect your dog, too!”
Wearing hunter orange saves lives. For complete information on hunting and hunting season laws, regulations, requirements, and exemptions, click here.
From September 12 through February and from April 17 through May, except during the shotgun deer seasons in December when a minimum of 500 square inches is required, hunters and all other users of management areas and designated undeveloped state parks must wear a minimum of 200 square inches of fluorescent orange, such as a hat. During the shotgun deer seasons in December, a minimum of 500 square inches of solid, daylight fluorescent orange clothing – a hat and vest – is required. Waterfowl hunters hunting from a boat or blind, over water or field, and when done in conjunction with decoys are exempt from the orange requirements. Archers are exempt from wearing orange in areas of the state that are limited to hunting by archery-only.
Fall turkey hunters are required to wear 200 square inches of fluorescent orange while traveling during the fall turkey season, which runs from October 1-31. Management area users should avoid wearing certain colors such as white and blue during the wild turkey hunting season. Male turkey heads can appear bright red, caused by blood vessels directly under the skin. When the turkey gets flustered, the blood vessels contract exposing more connective tissue than blood vessels, which can cause the turkey’s skin to appear blue or white. It is important not to wear these colors when in the field in order not to be confused with a turkey by others in the woods.
In addition to wearing blaze orange, wildlife management area visitors must follow social distancing practices, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, and wear a face covering if you are within six feet of another person who is outside your household. If you arrive at an area and find that crowds are forming or the parking lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas.
While enjoying outdoor spaces, residents must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread COVID-19:
- If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
- For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you and wear it in public areas and if you are within six feet of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions to these rules are anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any child under 2 years old.
- Avoid close contact with others outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
- Bring and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
People should maintain distance from others when in places where visitors tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks. DEM also asks that visitors bring a suitable trash bag and leave no trash behind in order to protect park workers and avoid litter.