Stay safe, be responsible on public lands
Monday, October 28, 2013
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-410-6585
Across the nearly 6 million acres in Florida’s wildlife management area (WMA) system, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) can be found atop buggies, operating all-terrain vehicles, in patrol trucks and on foot. One part of their job is to patrol public lands.
This time of year, many hunters are also in the woods too, scouting or enjoying archery season, and other nature-lovers are taking advantage of the cooler weather.
Through state, federal and private partnerships, Florida boasts many diverse and exciting public hunting opportunities. The FWC encourages adults and children to get out and enjoy all the state has to offer, and its officers make sure that people do so safely and responsibly.
“We want people to be safe outdoors and the resources to be around for generations to come,” said the FWC’s Lt. Albert Wass de Czege, a field supervisor in northwest Florida.
Safety while hunting is of paramount importance, which is why hunter safety courses are required for most hunters. FWC officers make sure all bag and size limits are followed, appropriate methods and equipment are used, and that hunters are hunting during the right hours and possess the necessary license and permits.
“We also check that all users, not just hunters, are being safe and responsible in our WMAs,” Wass de Czege said. “They should be operating on open roads or trails, staying off closed roads, following speed limits and showing courtesy to others.”
As more people hit the woods this fall, FWC officers may set up surveillance and plain-clothes details and use radar devices to accomplish this. Also, they are just a phone call away if people find themselves in need of assistance.
Violations involving licenses and permits could warrant a $50 fine plus the cost of the license. Penalties can escalate for people with recent previous violations. Some hunting and other violations can lead to more serious consequences, including higher fines and even jail time.
“If you follow all posted information and treat others and the resources with respect, you will be setting yourself up for a great time in the outdoors,” Wass de Czege said.
All safety precautions and resource laws are of vital importance, on both public and private lands. Those hunting on public lands just need to remember a few extra things:
- Do not consume alcohol or use illegal drugs.
- Pick up all belongings; don’t litter; preserve paradise.
- Only build fires of appropriate materials at recognized campsites and thoroughly extinguish flames and embers before leaving.
Be sure of the specific rules for the area in which you plan to visit. You can go to MyFWC.com/Hunting and click on “WMA Brochures” for more information.
Remember to report any suspected fish, wildlife or boating violations by calling 888-404-3922, texting Tip@MyFWC.com or going online to MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.