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The FWC is moving forward with proposed new rules...

that could take effect next season (2010-11)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is moving forward with proposed new rules that could take effect next season (2010-11).

The proposal affecting the most hunters would modify zone boundaries and season dates for deer hunting.

The proposal would move the boundary separating the current Northwest Hunting Zone from the Central Zone (which currently meanders through Tallahassee) a little farther west.

The proposal also calls for a new hunting zone, made up in part by the Green Swamp Basin. The proposal takes into account hunter suggestions and new biological (conception date) data and aims to increase hunter satisfaction by modifying and better aligning hunting season dates with the rut – a time of peak deer activity.

Current and possible Florida deer season dates by zone can be seen on the following page. If approved by the FWC, changes would take effect for the 2010-11 hunting season (private lands only). Public lands will be considered for realignment during the next rule cycle and would take effect until 2011-12 season.

Other rule proposals would establish public hunting opportunities on new parcels in the state’s wildlife management area (WMA) system. New WMAs include:

• The 1,290-acre Fort White Mitigation Park in Gilchrist County. The proposal calls for the area to have an archery season, small-game season and spring turkey season.

• The Lafayette Forest Wildlife Environmental Area (WEA) is another area comprising 2,148 acres in Lafayette County, slated to have archery, muzzleloading gun, family, wild hog and spring turkey hunts.

• The 9,242-acre Charles H. Bronson WMA in Orange and Seminole counties would feature archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun and spring turkey hunts with hunter quotas, and small game hunts and migratory bird seasons with no quotas.

• The Department of Environmental Protection’s 5,361-acre Marshall Swamp in Marion County, currently a public small-game hunting area, would be established as a full-blown WMA, offering archery, muzzleloader, general gun, small game and spring turkey hunts.

• Watermelon Pond WEA is a 4,231-acre tract in Alachua County that is cooperatively owned by the Division of Forestry and the FWC. It too would feature an archery season and small-game hunts.

New Two-Day Youth Turkey Hunt: Florida’s youth hunters would benefit under another proposal to create a two-day youth turkey hunt the weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season in each hunting zone.

Only those under 16 years old could harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult 18 years of age or older. Those adult supervisors who have the required license and permits would be allowed to do the “calling” and otherwise participate in the hunt, but would not be allowed to harvest a turkey.

The FWC also approved draft rule changes allowing for the taking or removing (transport and release rather than euthanasia) of nuisance wildlife to an off-site location if certain specific conditions are met.

The rule would require trap and snare inspection at least once every 24 hours and: the nuisance wildlife must be a native species; the release site must be within the same county of capture; the release site must be a minimum of 40 contiguous acres; the person releasing the nuisance wildlife must have written permission of the owner of property where the animal is being released; and the transportation of wildlife must not violate any rabies alert or area quarantine issued by a county health department or county animal service.

Commissioners also approved draft rules pertaining to hunting on approximately 150 wildlife management areas, wildlife and environmental areas, mitigation parks and miscellaneous areas.