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FWC increases hunting opportunities, from new WMA to expanded turkey-hunting hours


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its meeting Feb. 4 in Jacksonville, increased hunting opportunities, beginning with the next hunting season (2015-2016).
It established a new public hunting area in northwest Florida called Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area. The 4,017-acre WMA tract in Santa Rosa County will offer archery, general gun, muzzleloading gun and spring turkey hunts by quota permit, and a walk-in small-game hunting season.

Another new rule passed will extend spring turkey shooting hours beginning with the 2016 spring turkey season on 16 public hunting areas. Those WMAs are Box-R, Joe Budd and L. Kirk Edwards (a Wildlife and Environmental Area) in the FWC’s Northwest Region; Andrews and Big Bend’s Snipe Island Unit in the North Central Region; Caravelle Ranch, Guana River, Half Moon, Salt Lake, Three Lakes Prairie Lakes Unit and Triple N Ranch in the Northeast Region; Chassahowitzka and Hilochee in the Southwest Region; and Dinner Island Ranch, Fisheating Creek and J.W. Corbett in the South Region.

In the past and continuing through this coming (2015) spring turkey season, legal shooting hours on these areas is from a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. But beginning with the 2016 spring turkey season, the shooting hours will be extended to sunset. This change is designed to give FWC staff an opportunity to monitor the effects of longer hunting days and use the information to potentially make future recommendations, if warranted.

Other new rules passed will add more hunting opportunity on 23 WMAs beginning with the 2015-2016 season by adding hunt types, hunting days, making additional species legal to take, increasing methods of take and increasing quota permit numbers.