Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get the details about Florida hunting opportunities

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May

FWC’s Hunting Hot Sheet

The latest hunting and conservation news and events from the 
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Spring and summer hog hunting opportunities on public land

See where you can hunt hogs on wildlife management areas this spring and summer. These weekend opportunities start in early May.
Wild pigs occur in all of Florida's 67 counties within a wide variety of habitats, but they prefer oak-cabbage palm hammocks, freshwater marshes and sloughs, pine flatwoods, and more open agricultural areas. They usually travel in small family groups or alone. Wild pigs eat a variety of plants and animals and feed by rooting with their broad snouts. They may disturb the soil and ground cover vegetation and leave the area looking like it has been plowed. Learn more about hogs.
Hog hunting

2017 Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida available now

Alligator guide
The 2017 Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida is now available. The new guide covers alligator hunting rules and regulations and provides tips on how to safely and responsibly hunt them. It also provides information about how to process, store and cook the meat, and preserve the hide.
In addition, those new to alligator hunting will find information about the application process and hunt structure in the guide. The Phase I application period for recreational alligator harvest permits begins May 12 at 10 a.m. and runs through May 22. Hunters can submit their application at license agents or GoOutdoorsFlorida.com to draw one of approximately 6,000 permits that allows the take of two alligators on a designated harvest unit or county.

2017-2018 WMA regulations brochures available now, focus shifts to digital delivery

WMA deer
Brochures outlining the 2017-2018 regulations at Florida’s wildlife management areas are now available online, just in time for the May 15 start of the phase 1 application period for fall quota, special opportunity and national wildlife refuge hunt permits.
In past years, printed WMA regulations brochures were available at tax collector offices, FWC regional and field offices, some WMA cooperators’ offices, and at MyFWC.com. As part of our ongoing mission to reduce waste and improve efficiency, we’re phasing out the mass printing of these brochures. Instead FWC will promote their availability via download at MyFWC.com and the Fish/Hunt FL app.
 This phase-out will begin with FWC discontinuing the distribution of printed 2017-2018 WMA brochures to Florida’s tax collector offices. Printed copies of 2017-2018 WMA brochures will still be provided to FWC’s regional and field offices and WMA cooperator offices they are normally available at.
In 2018-2019 WMA brochures will not be printed. They will only be available at MyFWC.com and the Fish/Hunt FL app, which can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.
Implementing this change enables FWC to reduce waste and make more funds available for priority fish and wildlife conservation projects and outdoor education. In addition, it will allow us to make real time updates to ensure stakeholders have access to the most current WMA regulations information. With the vast majority of Floridians using the Internet, electronic delivery of WMA brochures a responsible option while providing the convenience of immediate access to all the WMA regulations brochures. See these FAQs for more information.

The FWC works to increase small game opportunities

Small game hunting
Hunting small game with any dog
A rule change that takes effect this year allows any dog to be used to hunt small game during the small game season on 60 wildlife management areas where only bird dogs and retrievers were allowed for hunting. These 60 WMAs are in addition to the 31 WMAs where this change was implemented last year. The rule change applies to small game species, which are quail, rabbit, squirrel, and migratory game birds, and only during small game seasons. The rule helps ensure the traditional activity of hunting squirrels and rabbits with dogs is allowed.
Expanding small game opportunity
At its April meetingFWC’s Commission approved other rule amendments to expand small game opportunities to be advertised in the Florida Administrative Register for final action at the July meeting. These rule changes would expand small game seasons on 18 FWC-lead managed areas by increasing the number of days open for hunting. This would add just over 700 days of small game hunting, representing an 86 percent increase in public small game hunting opportunity, on 18 FWC-managed areas.
 Rule changes also would allow northern bobwhite to be released and taken by shotgun during small game season on 9 FWC-lead managed areas. It would make opportunities more broadly available to public land hunters and accommodate bird dog training.
 If approved as final rules in July, all rules would take effect Sept. 1, 2017, in time for the coming hunting season. FWC continues to seek public comment with the proposals remaining available for public comment until the July 2017 Commission meeting.
Small game provides gateway for introducing new hunters
Increasing small game hunting opportunities aligns closely with FWC’s initiatives to expand participation in conservation. Small game hunting is sustainable and provides a gateway to recruit new conservationists. With lower barriers to participation, it allows experienced hunters to pass on the heritage to youth or adults new to hunting.  

Hunters: If you receive a turkey hunting survey, please complete it, even if you don't/didn't hunt

The FWC annually conducts a survey of Florida hunters’ participation in hunting wild turkeys. You may receive a postcard asking you to complete a brief questionnaire about your wild turkey hunting experiences this past spring. Study participants are selected randomly among licensed hunters to maintain a scientifically valid study. If you receive a survey card, please complete and return it to assist us in better understanding hunters’ participation in turkey hunting, hunter success and satisfaction. Please note that it is important that all hunters who receive a survey card respond, even if they did not hunt turkeys this year or do not hunt turkeys in general, as this information helps us better understand how many people actually hunt turkeys and better estimate total harvest.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact wildturkeyprogram@MyFWC.com.

Remove pythons, win prizes

The new Python Pickup Program offers valuable prizes to participants who remove and report Burmese pythons. Starting now, anyone who removes a python will receive a free Python Pickup T-shirt for submitting their first entry (with photographic evidence). For every submission received, participants will be entered into a monthly prize drawing as well as a grand prize drawing to be held next year. Check out the video for more information about the program and receive training to identify and safely remove pythons.
As part of the Python Pickup, people can submit pythons removed from any property in Florida where they have authorization to do so from the property owner or land manager. In addition, a recent Executive Order allows people to remove pythons year-round from 22 public lands with no hunting license or wildlife management area permit required. 
Report sightings of Burmese pythons and other nonnative species to our Exotic Species Reporting Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681), online at IveGot1.org, or by downloading the free “IveGot1” smartphone app.
Python Pick up

Youth Hunter Education Challenge

The Florida Youth Hunter Education Challenge (FLYHEC) is being held Saturday, May 13 at the Ocala Conservation Center in Silver Springs. The program, developed by the National Rifle Association for hunter safety course graduates, offers lessons in leadership and safe, responsible hunting and target shooting. For more information, contact the Ocala Conservation Center at George.Warthen@MyFWC.com or 352-625-2804.

Short Cuts

2017-2018 resident game and furbearer Florida hunting season dates now available!

Phase 1 application period for quota/limited entry hunts begins May 15

The application period for many fall quota hunt, special-opportunity hunt, and National Wildlife Refuge hunt permits begins at 10 a.m. on May 15 and runs through midnight on June 15. Hunters can choose quota/limited entry hunts for deer and hogs as well as hunts for families, youth, people with disabilities, bowhunters and those hunting with muzzleloaders and modern firearms. If you’d like to take part in one or more of these hunts, apply at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, county tax collectors’ offices or most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies. Get more details about fall quota/limited entry hunts.

New web pages for FWC-managed public shooting ranges

Find a wealth of information about FWC-managed public shooting ranges including where ranges are located, what opportunities they offer, hours of operation, updates, and more! Also, check out FWC’s shooting range safety video, too.

Take a hunter safety course

Hunter safety courses cover firearms safety, wildlife conservation, responsible hunting and more. Students can attend a no-cost traditional classroom course. Or they can complete the classroom portion online, and FWC’s website offers several course options. After the online classroom portion is complete, students must sign up and attend a skills day.
Take a bowhunter education course and learn about bowhunting skills, techniques, tackle and safety.



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