Meetings set to discuss draft rule proposal related to CWD
March “Outta’ the Woods”
By Tony Young
Where to hunt spring turkeys without a quota permit
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a series of public meetings across the state about chronic wasting disease and steps the FWC is taking to reduce the risk of it coming into Florida. Meeting attendees will be invited to comment on a draft rule amendment, which if passed would prohibit importing or possessing whole and parts of carcasses of all members of the deer family originating from outside of Florida, except for de-boned meat; finished taxidermy mounts; antlers; and hides, skulls, skull caps, and teeth if all soft tissue has been removed. In addition, white-tailed deer harvested from properties in Georgia or Alabama if such property is bisected by the Florida state line and is under the same ownership would be exempt.
CWD, which has not been detected in Florida, is a contagious disease that damages the brains of affected deer, elk, moose, caribou and other members of the deer family and always causes them to die. Moving infected carcasses is one of the known risks for introducing CWD prions to new areas. CWD can be spread when deer ingest prions from soil contaminated with CWD infected carcasses, carcass parts, saliva, urine, feces and blood. Leaving CWD infected carcasses or carcass parts on the land can contaminate the soil as they decay, and the CWD prions can remain infective for years.
These open house meetings, which will be held in cities with a large number of Florida residents who hunt deer out of state, and taxidermists and meat processors, will be held from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. local time at the following:
March 2 – Palm Beach Gardens
Embassy Suites, 4350 PGA Blvd. 33410
March 3 – Winter Haven
Polk State College Center for Public Safety, CPS Rm. 269
1251 Jim Keene Blvd. 33880
March 4 – Melbourne
Brevard Zoo Lodge, 8225 N. Wickham Rd. 32940
March 9 – Orange Park
Hampton Inn, 141 Park Ave. 32073
March 10 – Ocala
Hilton, 3600 S.W. 36th Ave. 34474
March 23 – Milton
Milton Community Center, 5629 Byrom St. 32570
March 24 – Panama City
Hilton Garden Inn, 1101 U.S. Hwy. 231 32405
March 25 – Tallahassee
Bryant Bldg. Rm. 272, 620 S. Meridian St. 32399
“In addition to listening to comments and responding to questions at the meetings, we’ll provide stakeholders a link so they can review the draft proposal and provide their feedback online,” said Cory Morea, FWC’s Deer Management Program coordinator.
Learn more about the draft rule amendment and provide your comments using the online commenting tool. Stakeholder comments will be accepted through May 10. If you don’t receive FWC’s email updates about hunting, conservation, regulations and more, sign up now at MyFWC.com/News.
Many hunters look forward to the opportunity to fool an old gobbler during spring turkey season. Florida’s youth turkey hunt weekends also make it a great time to take a young person hunting.
Youth Turkey Hunt Weekends
Florida has two Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends: Feb. 29 – March 1 south of State Road 70, and March 14-15 north of State Road 70. These Saturday-Sunday hunts occur on many wildlife management areas and other lands.
While many WMAs offering the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends require a quota permit, several do not. Learn more about where you can hunt during Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends. And, be sure to check the WMA regulations brochure for the area you’re interested in hunting before going afield.
During Youth Turkey Hunt Weekend, no license or permit is required of the supervising adult, unless the adult plans to help call a bird or otherwise participate in the hunt. In that case, the adult will need a hunting license and turkey permit, and if on a WMA, they will also need a management area permit.
Spring turkey season
On lands outside the wildlife management area system, spring turkey season runs March 7 through April 12 south of State Road 70 and March 21 through April 26 in the rest of the state. The FWC offers 43 WMAs where hunters do not need a quota permit to hunt during some or all of the spring turkey season.
Bag limits and regulations
Hunters may take bearded turkeys and gobblers only, and the daily bag limit is two on lands outside of the WMA system. On WMAs, you may only take one bird a day. The season and possession limit on turkeys is two, except in Holmes County, where it is one.
On lands outside of the WMA system and most WMAs, shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. There are seven WMAs where you can’t shoot past 1 p.m., so check the WMA regulations brochure for the area you wish to hunt.
You’re never allowed to bait on a WMA. When hunting turkeys on private lands where you are allowed to use feeders, you must be more than 100 yards away from a game-feeding station when feed is present.
License and permit requirements
In addition, to a hunting license, you’ll need to buy a turkey permit. If you plan to hunt on a WMA, you also must purchase a management area permit. These licenses and permits can be purchased with a credit card at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356). They can also be purchased in Florida at county tax collectors’ offices and at most retail outlets that sell hunting/fishing supplies.