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Message from the FWC

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: A message of appreciation for hunters

Hunters’ commitment to conservation and the future of hunting is essential, and the FWC’s staff and Commissioners deeply appreciate the many ways they contribute. Their love of the outdoors inspires them to protect our resources whether it’s by hosting clean-up days at a wildlife management area or reporting wildlife violations to Wildlife Alert. They provide critical information about threats to habitat and the status of wildlife populations. For example, last summer, hunters reported sightings of wild turkeys in Florida. We hope even more people report wild turkey sightings this summer, particularly hens and poults, to help the FWC build its knowledge base about nesting success, brood survival, and distribution and abundance of wild turkeys. Learn more at MyFWC.com/Turkey.

Hunters also champion conservation by taking part in the FWC’s rule-making process for hunting and FWC-managed lands. From participating in harvest surveys to attending Commission and stakeholder meetings, Florida hunters show they care about the future. Others expand their level of giving by becoming members and volunteers of one of Florida’s many conservation groups. Another important way hunters give back is by volunteering to teach hunter safety courses and hosting Youth Hunting Program weekends.

We’re particularly thankful about how hunters are joining forces to protect Florida deer by supporting efforts to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading into Florida. CWD is a highly contagious brain and central nervous system disease that is always fatal for deer. It’s believed to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Prions shed into the environment by deer with CWD persist for many years, even when exposed to harsh conditions, and are capable of infecting healthy deer for years. Studies have shown infected deer populations are significantly impacted. CWD deer die at three times the annual rate of deer without the disease. It would be particularly concerning in Florida, where deer populations are already lower due to less fertile soils and lower quality habitat.

CWD has been found in 26 states now, most recently in Mississippi and Tennessee. The good news is the FWC, with help from hunters, has tested over 14,000 deer for CWD since 2002, and the disease has not been detected in Florida. While early detection through active monitoring is critical, disease prevention is a top priority. Understanding CWD is an important first step in reducing the risk to Florida deer. You can play an important role by letting fellow hunters know about the disease and why it’s a concern. Learn more about CWD.

We hope the upcoming hunting seasons give you a chance to listen to the woods wake up, see soft rays of sunlight filtering through the trees, and experience nature as a participant. It’s moments like these that stir hunters to conserve Florida’s wildlife resources and create a future so others can experience the great outdoors. And for that, we salute you!