New deer seasons benefit sportsmen
As I See It
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Media contact: Chairman Rodney Barreto
I'm happy to report that the future of hunting in
Florida looks bright. In my home woods of South Florida, I
have heard many great reports from Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) staff that hunters down here have
told them they are very happy with this year's change of hunting
zones and season dates.
In South Florida, the zone didn't change, but it
has a new name. We call it Zone A instead of the South Hunting
Zone. The boundary line is still State Road 70. But,
what has changed, and from what we're hearing for the better, is
that the hunting season in South Florida is a month and a half
earlier than previously scheduled. Archery season started on July
Deer in our state have wide-ranging rutting
periods. As many hunters know, the rut happens as early as July and
August in the extreme southern portion of the state. That's
why South Florida hunters wanted the FWC to move the season up - so
they could have the opportunity to hunt this early rut. Based
on what we're hearing, many hunters saw more bucks in the woods
chasing does than they ever have before.
That's great news to hear.
I'd like to clear up a little confusion that some
hunters might be having. The FWC has gotten a lot of phone
calls asking if the hunting dates on wildlife management area (WMA)
brochures were wrong, because they didn't line up with the dates
for the new zonal seasons.
There are no mistakes. Hunting dates in these WMA
brochures are correct, even though they are not aligned with the
zonal season dates on private lands. However, this situation
is only temporary.
The FWC planned to make a two-step adjustment to
hunting season dates throughout the state over a two-year period.
Last year, FWC staff worked with many of our hunting stakeholders,
held several public meetings and incorporated public comments to
adjust zones and zonal seasons on private lands. We also
worked with other public agencies. As a result, I think you will
find that the 2011-2012 deer hunting seasons on WMAs will more
closely match the dates of the new statewide zones. We hope
that hunters will be equally pleased throughout the state as those
in South Florida have been.
Another important thing I'd like to mention is the
reason behind a new $5 deer permit some hunters must obtain. The
funds generated by this new permit support deer management and deer
research. Funding from this permit will help us establish
deer management units, so deer can be managed at more of a local
level. We also have plans to implement a harvest-reporting
system, which is something many hunters have told us they wanted,
so that we will know how many deer hunters harvest each year, in
what counties, by what method of take, during which season, the
ratio of bucks to does, etc.
Revenues also will be used to support the agency's
ongoing efforts to monitor Florida's deer herd for chronic wasting
disease, which, so far, has not made it into our state.
So it is with confidence that I can wish Floridians
happy hunting this year. You can read about our deer management
plan, or find more information on hunting regulations and licenses
and permits at MyFWC.com/Hunting.