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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 31.

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.



FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes, the tallest of North American birds, stand nearly 5 feet tall. Their wingspan measures between 7 and 8 feet.

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