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Restricted Hunting Areas

Seeking Input on Revisions to Draft Rule Changes for Restricted Hunting Areas

You’re invited to provide input on revisions to the draft rule amendments for establishing restricted hunting areas (RHAs). These revisions are based on direction and feedback received at the December 2020 Commission meeting. The online commenting tool also provides another opportunity to share your thoughts if you didn’t get a chance to do so last year.

At its August 2021 meeting, the Commission will consider final approval of RHA rule amendments. In response to input and concerns received from various entities, the FWC proposed rule changes to improve the process for requesting and establishing RHAs by providing clear, objective criteria.

Rules for establishing RHAs were created in 1997 to address the needs and concerns of the public and stakeholders. The draft rules being considered for final approval would prohibit a person from taking game with a firearm within 300 feet of a dwelling inside of an established RHA, unless they are the dwelling owner or have written permission from said owner.  

Find more information about the proposed rule changes. You can also check out the presentation and comments at the Florida Channel (starting at 1:29:24) and review the FAQs below. If you have questions or want to provide input, please email Ducks@MyFWC.com

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Restricted Hunting Areas

FAQs About Restricted Hunting Areas

  • Updated rule language is needed to provide clear, objective criteria for establishing restricted hunting areas.
  • These changes are designed to maintain acceptance of hunting at its current level of public support by addressing safety concerns expressed by homeowners. Most migratory bird hunters already voluntarily choose to hunt away from dwellings.
  • The proposed changes would still allow hunting in areas 300 feet or more away from dwellings within a restricted hunting area. It also would allow hunting on properties within the restricted hunting area by the dwelling owner or with the dwelling owner’s permission.
  • Most concerns expressed by the public are related to hunting migratory birds such as ducks. Because shotguns are the primary method of take allowed for this type of hunting, the 300-foot buffer zone is appropriate due to the fact the effective range of birdshot is approximately 40 yards (120 feet).
  • This buffer distance is commonly used by other states as an appropriate space between hunters and homeowners.
  • The 300-foot buffer, depending on the location of the dwelling, can extend onto public waters.  The buffer is meant to address homeowner concerns regarding hunters too close to their homes. 
  • RHAs would not include any FWC or federally owned or managed lands; nor would the 300-foot buffer extend onto these areas.
  • Adding a directional component to the rule would likely not fulfill one of the core purposes of RHAs, which is to maintain acceptance of hunting by providing appropriate spatial separation, where homeowner-hunter conflicts are acute and ongoing.
  • This rule seeks to objectify and simplify both implementation and enforcement of RHAs.

 

  • Dwelling is defined in the proposed rule as a shelter built on land in which people live; a house, apartment, or other land-based place of residence.
  • Docked boats with berths, houseboats, or boathouses on docks are not considered dwellings under the above definition.

The last bird sanctuary was established in 1996 and this designation has been replaced by the restricted hunting area designation, which better balances the needs and concerns of the public, stakeholders, and local governments. Significant concentrations of birds and other wildlife can be protected from human disturbance by establishing critical wildlife areas under other Commission rules.