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Florida moves ahead with proposed hunting rules, adding new public hunting lands

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

-- The seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed staff to proceed with advertising new rule proposals for the 2010-11 hunting season.

The proposal affecting the most hunters would modify zone boundaries and season dates for deer hunting.  The proposal would move the boundary (that meanders through Tallahassee) separating the current Northwest Hunting Zone from the Central Zone a little farther west. 

The proposal also calls for an additional hunting zone, made up in part by the Green Swamp Basin.  This proposal takes into account hunter suggestions and new biological data, and it aims to modify and better align hunting season dates with when deer breed, thereby increasing hunter satisfaction.

Other rule proposals would establish public hunting opportunities on new parcels in the state's wildlife management area (WMA) system.  Included in these new areas would be 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.

Florida's youth hunters would benefit under another rule proposal.  This one would 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 they would not be allowed to harvest a turkey. 

The Commission also approved draft rule changes that would allow the transport and release of nuisance wildlife at an off-site location, if certain conditions are met: 

--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 does not violate any rabies alert or area quarantine issued by a county health department or county animal service.

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