Hunting and Game Management
Florida is also home to many species of wildlife that have been managed for consumptive uses. Through scientifically proven game-management strategies and effective habitat management by many partners, wild game populations thrive in nearly all of Florida’s terrestrial and aquatic habitats. All hunting activities should adhere to the rules contained in the Florida Wildlife Code, Chapter 68A, Florida Administrative Code.
Hunting can be used as a habitat and wildlife management tool to control the adverse effects of invasive (e.g. feral hogs) species and to assist with controlling population pressure on limited resources in ecologically sensitive areas such as mitigation banks. Hog hunting is allowed on private land year-round with no bag limit. The FWC regulates methods for trapping feral hogs and other nuisance mammals. Plans for hunting or trapping as a means for nuisance control should include explicit procedures and measures of success.
- Hunting in Florida (FWC)
- Hunting Regulations (FWC)
- Game Management Guidelines (UF/IFAS)
- White-tailed Deer Management Program (FWC)
- Wild Turkey Management Program (FWC)
- Waterfowl Hunting (FWC)
- Strategic plan for northern bobwhite restoration in Florida
- Wild Hog (FWC)
- National Wild Turkey Federation
These programs provide private landowners the opportunity to use their land as a “bank” of ecological benefits to profit from the natural resource values on their property. The FDEP, FWC, and USFWS utilize these market-based approaches to encourage private landowners to manage and restore habitats on their properties towards sustaining wildlife species.
Species Conservation Banks
These are areas that are permanently conserved and managed for federally listed species in exchange for USFWS’s approval to sell credits to offset impacts to those species occurring elsewhere from regional development.
Gopher Tortoise Recipient Sites
Properties that are permitted and managed specifically to relocate gopher tortoises onsite from areas slated for development, allowing recipient site owners to receive financial compensation for the long-term protection of tortoises. Recipient sites require active management to ensure that habitat continues to remain suitable for the gopher tortoise. The gopher tortoise permit map provides the location and information about recipient sites throughout Florida.
Wetland Mitigation Banking
The practice by which an environmental enhancement and preservation project is conducted by a private entity so that they can set market-based prices for credits to be sold to wetland impact permittees. The Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) is a standardized tool which evaluates wetland function to determine a development’s compensatory mitigation requirements. UMAM has a significant focus on identifying fish and wildlife utilization of the impacted sites and the proposed compensatory mitigation areas.
- Conservation Banking for Landowners (USFWS) - website with resources for implementing a species conservation bank.
- Recipient Sites (FWC) – website which describes the different types of gopher tortoise mitigation banks.
- Mitigation Banking Rule and Procedure Synopsis (FDEP) – website with a thorough overview and of the wetland mitigation process and helpful resources.
There are various forms of technical and financial assistance available to farmers, ranchers, foresters, business owners, and conservationists, to help manage and sustain their land for the benefit of fish and wildlife. Conservation opportunities on private lands depend on the landowner’s desired objectives and the current habitat conditions of the property. Land management plans provide a starting point to accessing many of the available landowner assistance tools and programs.
- Florida Land Steward Partnership – initiative involving UF IFAS, FFS, FWC, USFWS, NRCS and other natural resource organizations intended as a “one-stop-shop” to deliver consistent and effective information to private landowners. Distributes a bi-weekly email to provide landowners with current workshop and event information as well as a quarterly newsletter with natural resource management topics.
- Landowner Assistance Program (FWC) – provides land use planning and habitat management assistance through technical guidance and education. Also recognizes landowners for their good stewardship practices.
- Landowner Success Stories (FWC) – examples of private landowners who have used assistance programs to improve habitat for diverse native wildlife on their land.
- Forest Stewardship Program (FFS) – addresses the improvement and maintenance of timber for wildlife, soil and water quality, recreation, and aesthetics
- Forestry and Wildlife Cost Share Programs (FFS) - quick reference designed to provide Non-Industrial Private Forest (NIPF) landowners with a brief overview of the primary federal cost-share programs that are available to assist them in implementing forestry and wildlife practices.
- Federal Conservation Programs (NRCS) – several programs are available to financially assist landowners to conduct activities that reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by natural disasters.
- Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (USFWS) – aids with habitat enhancement and restoration projects though funding sources and assistance with the permitting process.
- Landowner Conservation Associations: A New Opportunity for Florida Landowners (FWC) – article discussing the benefits of groups of like-minded landowners working together to protect and improve wildlife habitat in their areas.
- Prescribed Burn Associations – scholarly article reviewing the implementation steps and suggested guidelines for landowner-led organizations intended to increase the application of prescribed fire.
- Private Land (US Forest Service) – list of available program tools to help private forest landowners combat threats to their land and maintain their land as working forests.
Habitat management is necessary to maintain or improve the natural environment for wildlife and ecosystem function. It involves setting specific, measurable goals for a defined area, applying appropriate management strategies to accomplish these goals, and monitoring the area to evaluate progress and outcomes to the community. Habitat management is a tool that can be used to conserve and restore native species populations by increasing the amount of area which supports the habitat requirements of those species. Management considerations for most habitat types can be found under the linked FNAI types in the habitat section.
An effective management plan helps landowners and land managers document:
- a baseline measurement of existing natural resources, land uses, wildlife, and habitat;
- long-term goals and objectives,
- proposed management activities to achieve the objectives and,
- how and when to complete the management activities. In addition to this Guide, the USFWS) and the FWC have resources available to help landowners develop management plans tailored to their property, enabling them to make decisions on management techniques and assistance options.
Some of the most widely used management techniques to improve land for wildlife in Florida are prescribed fire, chemical vegetation enhancement, mechanical vegetation enhancement, native vegetation establishment, and tree/shrub restoration. A combination of management practices is often necessary depending upon the habitat management objective.
- Sample Habitat Management Plan - template of the information that can be included in a habitat management plan.
- Natural Resource Management Plan Guidance (UF/IFAS) – detailed explanation of the various parts of a natural resource management plan.
- Prescribed Fire in Florida (FDACS) - prime source of information and resources for the approval and implementation of prescribed fire in Florida.
- Pine Ecosystem Conservation Handbook for the Gopher Tortoise (DeBerry and Pashley) – handbook which describes and recommends management options to restore and conserve southern pine habitats for wildlife.
- Objective Based Vegetation Monitoring (FWC) – webpage describing a science-based land management practice which provides FWC with decision support and accountability for land management decisions.
- Reference Natural Communities (FNAI) – Information on sites which can be useful in developing habitat restoration and management plans by using them to predict and evaluate measurable progress towards habitat management objectives.
- Land Management (SFWMD) – webpage describing the importance of land management for water supply and quality in Florida and contains the land management plans for SFWMD conservation lands in South Florida, including the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.
- Management Strategies for Florida’s Ephemeral Pond and Pond-Breeding Amphibians (FWC) – report which synthesizes existing information and stakeholder input to develop ephemeral pond management strategies for 5 amphibian Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
- Management of Florida Scrub for Threatened and Endangered Species (USACE) – report which provides available information about scrub communities on DOD installations in Florida and management recommendations within an ecosystem based, adaptive management context.
Wildlife best management practices (WBMPs) are effective actions that can be taken by landowners, producers, recreational users, and others to minimize the loss of imperiled species. These practices help to strike a balance between natural resource uses and natural resource conservation.
Agricultural and Forestry WBMPs
Rural working lands and are often important areas to the conservation of imperiled species and their habitats. Enrollment and adherence to WBMP programs in some instances allows landowners to forego obtaining permits for the incidental take of state imperiled species occurring due to their land use changes and agricultural operations.
- Silviculture Best Management BMPs (FDACS) – incorporated into 5I-6.002, F.A.C., this extensive manual covers activities necessary for protecting and maintaining water quality and wildlife habitat value during forestry activities. Those conducting silvicultural activities, not in compliance with this manual may be required to seek a permit from local, state, and/or the federal government prior to conducting the operation.
- Florida Forestry Wildlife BMPs (FWC and FFS) and Agriculture Wildlife BMPs (FWC and FDACS) – parallel manuals which provide landowners and operators guidance on practices which can benefit a multitude of aquatic and terrestrial species that use silvicultural and agricultural lands. Landowners can enroll in these BMP practices through the submittal of a Notice of Intent to Implement.
Popular recreational spots are often important areas for the essential behaviors of imperiled species. BMPs have been developed for some scenarios where recreation activities may have a direct or indirect impact on these essential behaviors.
- BMPs for Operating Vehicles on the Beach (FWC) – resource which provides guidelines for minimizing the impacts caused by driving vehicles on the beach to threatened and endangered species and beach nesting species.
- Off-road vehicle best management practices for forestlands (Journal of Conservation Planning) - A review of scientific literature and guidance for managers