What is Florida's Wildlife Management Area
Florida's Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system is
managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC) to sustain the widest possible range of native wildlife in
their natural habitats. These lands are more rugged than parks,
with fewer developed amenities.
This system includes more than 5.8 million acres of land
established as WMAs or Wildlife and Environmental Areas
Cooperative Areas - On the
majority of these lands (about 4.4 million acres), FWC is a
cooperating manager working with other governmental or private
landowners to conserve wildlife and provide public use
Areas - On the remaining lands (about 1.4 million
acres), FWC is the landowner or "lead" managing agency responsible
for land stewardship and providing quality wildlife conservation
and recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, wildlife
viewing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, scenic
driving, and camping.
You can find out more about
these lead, cooperative, and mitigation areas through our alphabetical
listing, or by clicking on our regional map.
Why do we have to "manage" wildlife and wildlife habitat?
Doesn't nature take care of itself?
Few Floridians-indeed few
Americans-realize how much wildlife we have lost on this continent
during the last few centuries. Spreading human settlement and
demand for wild meat, plumes and pelts pushed many species into
jeopardy, some into extinction, i.e. Carolina parakeet and
passenger pigeon. By early in the 20th century, even white-tailed
deer and wild turkey were reduced to fractions of their original
Yet against this backdrop of loss is another great, untold
story-100 years of wildlife conservation and recovery, as
conservationists, sportsmen, and law enforcement lobbied for
legislation to reverse wildlife declines.
Game and fish populations began to rebound as hunting and fishing
harvests became better regulated, and refuges were created. Many
states initiated wildlife management area programs similar to
Florida's, where habitat could be actively managed, and wildlife
populations restored. As a result, in our state, white-tailed deer,
American alligators and wild turkey now thrive.
What are some of the ways biologists manage wildlife
Some of the many tools biologists use to help wildlife thrive (and
keep WMA users satisfied) include:
- species restoration
- habitat management and restoration
- survey and monitoring
- setting regulations and seasons for hunting and fishing
- outreach and education
How big is Florida's land management area
More than 5 million acres are managed as Wildlife
Management Areas for both recreational and conservation
Who uses Wildlife Management
The wildlife management area system provides excellent sporting
opportunities and are favored by some of the 3.1 million anglers
who fish in Florida and our 226,000 hunters. Wildlife viewers,
cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers and other nature lovers also
find wild places to pursue their interests.