State News






 

Wild turkey: A different twist on a Thanksgiving favorite

Links to photos, video and recipes: http://myfwc.com/news/resources/columns/hunting-news/

Wild Turkeys

Photo by Andy Wraithmell

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for all who cherish its traditions involving friends, family and food. Some love preparing dishes from recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Others enjoy experimenting with new flavors. An interesting culinary trend is using organic ingredients, and serving wild turkey for Thanksgiving is a delicious, clean-eating option.

“Florida’s abundant wild turkey populations can provide the ultimate locally-sourced, organic Thanksgiving feast when knowledge, skill and good fortune come together for a successful hunt,” said Chef Justin Timineri, executive chef and culinary ambassador for Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “We’ve developed several mouthwatering wild turkey recipes for the big day and ways to serve leftovers using a variety of Fresh from Florida products.”

Wild turkey is a tasty and versatile protein. Fresh from Florida chefs adapted several recipes to use wild turkey ranging from Tikka Masala, External Website an Indian dish traditionally served with chicken, to wild turkey quesadillas External Website and wild turkey cottage pie External Website (a take on shepherd’s pie). Because wild turkey meat is low in fat, techniques for cooking them differ from domestic birds, and the Fresh from Florida chefs provide recipes and tips External Website on how to prepare tender, juicy meals.

The Sunshine State is home to robust populations of two wild turkey subspecies: the eastern and the Osceola wild turkey. Florida is unique because the Osceola subspecies lives nowhere else in the world but on the state’s peninsula.

“Turkey hunting in Florida is a chance to experience the outdoors in a very special way,” said Roger Shields, wild turkey program coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  “However, wild turkeys are extremely wary and possess sharp eyesight and excellent hearing so hunting them is a challenge.”

The FWC uses scientifically proven wildlife management strategies and professional expertise to meet conservation objectives and perpetuate sustainable turkey hunting opportunities. You can learn more about wild turkeys, including their behavior, habitat needs, and where they live in Florida at MyFWC.com.


Make a difference! Create wildlife habitat in your backyard

SmellingFlowers.jpg

FWC photo

Your backyard can be a gathering place for birds, butterflies, frogs, flying squirrels and more. Attract native species by offering food, water, cover and space for them to raise their young, and your yard will be transformed into a welcoming habitat for wildlife.

Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is introducing Backyards and Beyond, a campaign challenging Floridians to make a difference and have fun by creating a refuge for wildlife in their own backyard.

“Imagine your backyard as a place where butterflies are attracted by flowers, songbirds are gobbling up seeds and berries, and frogs, bats and lizards are eating mosquitoes and other insects,” said Jerrie Lindsey, FWC’s director of Public Access Services. “Your efforts to create wildlife habitat at home will have a positive impact because animals need places to live beyond our wildlife management areas. Backyards and Beyond is also a great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy watching wildlife.”

Five easy ways to become involved in Backyards and Beyond:

  1. Turn your yard into a diverse wildlife habitat by adding native plants. A variety of native trees, shrubs and plants will provide natural food and cover for wildlife. A flowering native plant or shrub, for example, can provide nectar and pollen for butterflies and other beneficial insects, which in turn may be a meal for birds, lizards and frogs.
  2. Attract native wildlife to your yard by providing the four basics: food, water, cover and enough space for raising young. By doing so, we increase the number and variety of species that visit our yards, improving our chances to observe them more closely.
  3. Document wildlife activity in your backyard. Submit photos via iNaturalist to Florida Nature Trackers projects, and even create a species list for your own backyard.
  4. Create a butterfly garden, build a nest box for birds or add a brush pile for small animals like earthworms, birds, toads and lizards in your backyard. Planting a Refuge for Wildlife is an easy-to-understand guide to these projects and other ways that your backyard can support native wildlife. This illustrated publication created by the FWC and Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida can be ordered online at WildlifeFlorida.org.
  5. Go beyond your backyard. Invite family and friends to explore Florida’s outdoors at wildlife management areas, local and state parks, state and national forests, and national wildlife refuges. Use Florida Nature Trackers to document what you see.

People who create a wildlife refuge in their backyards will contribute to conserving Florida’s wildlife and habitats. By documenting animals observed in their backyards, they also generate valuable information. FWC biologists will be able to see the wildlife photos submitted to Florida Nature Trackers and use the data to help direct their efforts to research and manage native species throughout the state.

Remember, wild animals do not need supplemental feeding from people. Naturally-occurring insects and native plants with nectar flowers, edible fruits, nuts and seeds provide nourishment for most butterflies, birds and small animals. Pet food, corn and other supplemental feed can encourage unwanted visitors.

Need help getting started? Explore the Backyards and Beyond website for more information on how you can get involved.

While Backyards and Beyond is a statewide campaign, there is also a local initiative in Leon County and the city of Tallahassee, involving the FWC and partners. You can participate by joining the Backyards of Leon County project.

What if you live in an apartment, townhouse or condominium — and don’t have a backyard? You can still participate. Plant native flowers in containers on your front steps, on a balcony or in a window box. Work with neighbors to add native plant life to shared spaces like playgrounds, parks and other open areas in your development or community. Get children involved by bringing Backyards and Beyond to groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or a school, church or community youth group or homeowners association. No matter where you live, you can make a difference.

Go to FloridaNatureTrackers.com/Backyard for more information.


Look out, slow down for Florida’s migrating manatees

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk8VeJRG%20 External Website

Look out and slow down for manatees in November to help them as they begin migrating to warmer waters.

November is Manatee Awareness Month. Florida has more than 6,600 manatees swimming in rivers, bays and coastal waters. These large aquatic mammals can weigh over 1,000 pounds.

As the weather cools, manatees are on the move, searching for warmer waters to survive the winter. Remember: Disturbing manatees at warm-water sites may cause them to leave those areas at a time when it is critical for them to remain there. 

“Boaters who look out for migrating manatees and follow posted manatee protection zones contribute to the conservation of this threatened species.They are reducing the chance of manatee injuries and disturbance, while enjoying their time on the water,” said Carol Knox, who leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Imperiled Species Management Section.  

Seasonal manatee protection zones also go into effect in the fall, depending on the county. The zones are marked by waterway signs, and maps of local manatee protection zones are available online at MyFWC.com/Manatee by clicking on “Data and Maps.”

How can you help manatees?

  • Wear polarized sunglasses to spot them moving, grazing and resting in the water. Keep a lookout for the circular “footprints” or ripples they leave on the surface of the water.
  • Follow posted manatee zones.
  • Observe manatees from a distance to limit disturbance. Disturbing manatees at their warm-water sites may cause them to leave these areas during the winter.
  • Report injured, entangled, orphaned or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cellphone or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
  • Access and share A boater’s guide to living with Florida manatees and Guidelines for successful manatee watching in Florida that focuses on paddlers.
  • Purchase the manatee decal and license plate, and tell everyone how the decal and license plate External Website support the FWC’s manatee conservation efforts.
  • Contribute to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s Marine Mammal Fund External Website by visiting WildlifeFlorida.org and clicking on “Support Us,” “Funding Priorities” and “Marine Mammal Fund.”

Florida invests over $2 million annually in manatee conservation, with FWC biologists, managers and law enforcement working with partners to research, rescue and manage Florida manatees.

Want to see a manatee? Go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on “Where Can I See Manatees?


FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Little Lake Harris

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on 2,700 acres of Little Lake Harris this week, weather permitting.

Little Lake Harris is in Lake County. It is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes in central Florida.

While there will be no restrictions on fishing and swimming during this treatment for invasive hydrilla, there will be a 14-day restriction on irrigation to turf and landscape ornamentals.

Hydrilla is an exotic aquatic plant spread easily by boats throughout the state's lakes and rivers. It clogs waterways, making recreational activities difficult or impossible, and it chokes out beneficial native plants. Managing and treating it are necessary for the health of Florida's waters and to enable continued recreational boating and other aquatic activities.

Go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Invasive Plants” to find out more about invasive plant management, including “Frequently Asked Questions.”

For more information, contact Nathalie Visscher, FWC invasive plant management regional biologist, at 321-228-3364.


FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Little Lake Harris

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on 2,700 acres of Little Lake Harris this week, weather permitting.

Little Lake Harris is in Lake County. It is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes in central Florida.

While there will be no restrictions on fishing and swimming during this treatment for invasive hydrilla, there will be a 14-day restriction on irrigation to turf and landscape ornamentals.

Hydrilla is an exotic aquatic plant spread easily by boats throughout the state's lakes and rivers. It clogs waterways, making recreational activities difficult or impossible, and it chokes out beneficial native plants. Managing and treating it are necessary for the health of Florida's waters and to enable continued recreational boating and other aquatic activities.

Go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Invasive Plants” to find out more about invasive plant management, including “Frequently Asked Questions.”

For more information, contact Nathalie Visscher, FWC invasive plant management regional biologist, at 321-228-3364.


FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Lake Rousseau

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on Lake Rousseau on Nov. 13 and 14, weather permitting. Lake Rousseau is part of the Withlacoochee River and is in parts of Citrus, Levy and Marion counties west of Dunnellon.

Invasive hydrilla will be treated only in established boat trails on the lake. Boat trails requiring hydrilla treatment to maintain navigation include County Trail B, Shoreline south of County Trail C, Lighthouse Cove and River Retreats Trail.

Biologists anticipate treating approximately 137 acres of hydrilla with herbicides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“There will be no restrictions on recreational activities, such as fishing or swimming, during the treatment period,” said Bruce Jaggers, an FWC invasive plant management biologist.  “Any edible fish caught that are legal to keep may be consumed.”  

There is a seven-day restriction on using water from treated areas for drinking or for animal consumption. However, there are no restrictions for other uses of treated water such as irrigating turf, ornamental plants and crops.

Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant spread easily by boats throughout Florida’s lakes and rivers. While recreational anglers and waterfowl hunters may see some benefits from hydrilla, there are other potential impacts to consider including negative impacts to beneficial native habitat, navigation, flood control, potable and irrigation water supplies, recreation, and the aesthetic qualities of lakes. The FWC strives to balance these needs while managing hydrilla.

Go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Invasive Plants” to find out more about invasive plant management, including “Frequently Asked Questions.”

For more information, contact Bruce Jaggers at 352-726-8622.


Escaped nonnative Asian water monitor lizard captured in Davie

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/gp/myfwcmedia/49d35Z External Website

Captured Lizard

FWC photo by Eric Suarez.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has captured a nonnative Asian water monitor lizard in Davie. This lizard, an escaped pet, was first reported loose in the area in late August. The FWC worked closely with the Davie Police Department and residents to capture the reptile, which measured over 8 feet in length.

On Monday, Nov. 5, the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline received a call from a homeowner who reported that he had frequently seen a large monitor-like lizard on his property around midday. Biologists responded to the property shortly before noon on Tuesday and were able to capture the animal.

The lizard will be returned to its owner, who was issued a criminal citation for the escape under Rule 68A-6.0023 External Website of the Florida Administrative Code. Permits are not required to possess water monitor lizards as personal pets, but owners must meet caging requirements. An inspection was completed to ensure the owner has appropriate caging in place for the animal. 

“In this instance, the pet owner came forward and provided us with tips about the animal’s behavior that ultimately helped our biologists capture it,” said Sarah Funck, FWC’s Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program coordinator. “If you have information about a priority species, such as a monitor lizard or a python that is loose in the wild, it is critical you immediately relay this information to the FWC so we are able to respond as quickly as possible.”

Sightings of nonnative species, like the Asian water monitor lizard, can be reported through the IveGot1 app, at IveGot1.org, External Website or via the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline 1-888-IVE-GOT1 (1-888-483-4681).

It is illegal to release nonnative species in Florida, so remember, “Don’t Let It Loose!” If you have an exotic pet that you can no longer care for or no longer wish to keep, you can surrender it with no penalty through the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program. Once surrendered, healthy animals are made available for adoption to pre-approved adopters.

The FWC hosts Exotic Pet Amnesty Days throughout the state. Exotic pet owners who cannot attend an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day may contact the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681) for year-round assistance in finding their animal a new home.

To learn more about nonnative species in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.


Hunter safety courses offered in 2 counties in November

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety courses in two counties in November (list follows). Hunter safety courses are designed to help students become safe, responsible and knowledgeable hunters and learn about conservation. 

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them. 

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times. 

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces. 

The locations and times are: 

Online-completion course
Liberty County
Nov. 10 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST)
Liberty Correctional Institution
11064 NW Dempsey Barron Road in Bristol 

Traditional course (must complete both days)
Bay County
Nov. 17 & 18 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST)
Bay County Shooting Range
10900 Steelfield Road in Panama City Beach 

Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Panama City at 850-265-3676.


Catch a Florida Memory announces new Triple Threat Club to reward anglers like Katlyn Paul

Florida boasts some of the world’s greatest opportunities for saltwater fishing, so it’s no surprise that hundreds of anglers have qualified for rewards and recognition through the Catch a Florida Memory External Website program. The program has been so successful, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has created a new honor, the Triple Threat Club, External Website for those who participate in all three Catch a Florida Memory programs, including Saltwater Grand Slams, Saltwater Fish Life List and Saltwater Reel Big Fish. To qualify for the club, anglers must have at least one application approved for each program. 

Katlyn Paul, one of the first to reach Triple Threat Club status, is a young angler whose fishing experience has exploded since she started participating in Catch a Florida Memory. 

“Catching the Grand Slam and Reel Big mangrove snapper was a big surprise,” said 11-year-old Katlyn. “I was trying to catch new species and to catch fish to eat. I caught two new species, tripletail and white grunt. Currently, I am up to 24 species on my Life List.”

Katlyn Paul

Katlyn Paul with her Reel Big red porgy. Photo courtesy of Katlyn Paul.

Join the Triple Threat Club soon and you will not only receive a long-sleeved performance fishing shirt custom designed by partner Tony Ivory, External Website you will also have a chance to win an exclusive getaway in beautiful Martin County to be raffled off on Nov. 30.

Triple Threat Club

Triple Threat Club shirt artwork by Tony Ivory.

Boasting the title of Sailfish Capital of the World, Martin County is an ideal destination for those who love to fish and has everything you need to Catch a Florida Memory. The Martin County Office of Tourism External Website and the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina External Website have partnered to provide the perfect escape, including three nights for two at the beautiful 200-acre resort, meals arranged and provided at various local restaurants, and a Martin County welcome bag. On an island bordered by Atlantic Ocean beaches and the Intracoastal Waterway, this unique resort offers an 18-hole executive golf course, tennis courts, a mini spa and a 77-slip marina.

Marriott

 Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina (Marriott photo).

The FWC’s Catch a Florida Memory program encourages anglers to target a variety of species, helping to reduce fishing pressure on the most popular catches. The wide array of saltwater species included in the program leads anglers to try different fishing locations and techniques, expands experiences for avid anglers and cultivates interest in fishing for those new to the sport. 

Anglers of all ages and skill levels can earn prizes when they achieve a Saltwater Grand Slam (three specified fish caught in 24 hours), submit a Saltwater Reel Big Fish (30 different species that meet a minimum qualifying length) or add at least 10 species to their Saltwater Fish Life List (a challenge to catch 70 saltwater fish species in Florida). 

Catch-and-release fishing and responsible fish handling practices are encouraged to help minimize stress on fish, and anglers do not have to harvest their catches to qualify. Photos of the angler with each qualifying fish are required. 

For more information

Learn more about Catch a Florida Memory programs and submit catches today External Website at CatchaFloridaMemory.com. Keep track of who’s catching what on the Catch a Florida Memory Facebook page, External Website Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory. 

Want to learn more about saltwater fishing? View how-to videos External Website at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterFishing. Brush up on your saltwater fish identification skills at MyFWC.com/FishingLines. And learn how anglers’ purchases of fishing equipment, motorboat fuels and fishing licenses contribute to fisheries conservation projects through the Sport Fish Restoration Program by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Sport Fish Restoration.” 

Have questions? Are you a business or organization that would like to partner with Catch a Florida Memory? Email AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554.


#WhoTaughtYou to hunt?

By Tony Young

With much of the Panhandle still coping with the devastation from Hurricane Michael – a recovery that may take months – we continue to be proud of the spirit, perseverance and fortitude of those who were affected. Our responding officers have seen firsthand people lending a hand to neighbors, friends and strangers; contributing essential items to those who lost everything; being more patient; and expressing gratitude. The kindness and compassion has been uplifting.

As Thanksgiving nears, celebrating that powerful sense of community will be top of mind for many. For the hunting community, it’s a wonderful time of year to remember those who introduced us to hunting. And the holiday gives us a great opportunity to pay it forward by taking someone else hunting such as a neighbor, friend, family member or coworker.

There are many people who didn’t grow up hunting but became interested in experiencing it and enjoying the benefits of eating healthy, organic protein as adults.  Denise Helms, the Florida state chapter president of the National Wild Turkey Federation, External Website is a perfect example. She didn’t go on her first hunt until she was 24 years old when a friend invited her to go turkey hunting on public land.

“I’m game for anything, so I went along. I just like being outdoors,” Helms said.

Helms loved the experience of sitting in a homemade palmetto blind, taking in the sunrise through an oak hammock and hearing wild turkeys gobble for the first time.

“Country singer Eric Church said it best with his lyric, ‘Walking barefoot through the mud will knock the rust right off your soul,’” Helms said. “And so does being in the woods.”

However, Helms didn’t immediately catch the hunting bug. She married and moved to Colorado, and it wasn’t until she moved back to the Sunshine State 12 years later that she had the opportunity to go hunting again. In 2008, she harvested her first turkey, deer and wild hog.

By engaging herself in hunting, Helms has gained a whole new family.

“Acquaintances turned into friends who turned into family – people who care about conservation, support me incorporating hunting into my life and help me succeed,” Helms said. “It’s a great feeling having mentors like that who I can learn from.”

Helms admits she’s not a hunting master yet, so she hasn’t personally guided anyone on a hunt. But she’s been doing her part in passing down the hunting tradition by volunteering with her local NWTF chapter and serving on its board since 2011. Helping plan and host a Women in the Outdoors event for other women further ignited her passion for hunting.

“I feel like what I’m doing is making a difference at all levels – and I like that,” Helms said.

General gun season

General gun season runs Nov. 3 – Jan. 20 in Zone C, and Dec. 1 – Feb. 17 in Zone B. In Zone A, the second phase of general gun season is Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. In Zone D, the first phase always starts Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) and lasts four days (until Nov. 25).

During general gun season, only legal-to-take bucks as they are defined in each Deer Management Unit may be harvested. Don’t forget you need to purchase a $5 deer permit first. On private land, the daily bag limit for deer is two. Bag limits and other regulations for deer on WMAs can differ, so before you hunt download the specific WMA brochure ONLY available at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and through the Fish|Hunt FL app. External Website These brochures are no longer being printed.           

You may hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. Similarly, on most public lands there are no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few public hunting areas, specific bag and size limits do apply, so check the online WMA brochure to be certain.

Hunters are allowed to take deer and wild hogs over feeding stations on private land, but that’s not the case on WMAs, no matter the season or game species.

New this year, hunters are allowed to use pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns firing single bullets or arrows to take deer during general gun season on private lands and on WMAs, if the gun is at least .30 caliber.

It’s illegal to take deer using rimfire cartridges or non-expanding, full-metal case ammunition. Shooting a swimming deer also is against the law.

Deer-dog hunting

All free-running dogs used in pursuing or hunting deer must wear a collar or tag displaying the name and address of the dog’s owner. Hunters must contain their dogs to the tract of land they have permission to hunt.

There are several ways to accomplish that: Equip and monitor dogs with devices that allow remote tracking and behavior correction; only deer-dog hunt on large tracts of land; make sure there are adequate cut-off roads that will enable you to keep in front of the dogs; and don’t turn out more dogs than your hunting party can manage.

Hunters using dogs to take deer on private lands must register that property before doing so. No-cost, statewide deer-dog registration is required during all open deer-hunting and training seasons when taking or running deer with dogs is permitted. However, this registration doesn’t apply to hunters hunting or training with deer dogs on public lands and WMAs.

This mandatory registration may be issued to hunting clubs, landowners or anyone who has permission to hunt deer with dogs on a particular tract of land as long as the required application is completed and approved. Application forms are available at all regional Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offices and online at MyFWC.com/Deer. Applications should include proof of landowner permission or a copy of the written hunting-lease agreement, and a general map of the property showing boundaries and a legal description.

Once you’ve registered External Website with the FWC, you’ll be issued a unique registration number that must be attached to the collars of all dogs used to pursue deer on registered properties during any open deer-hunting or deer-dog training season when taking or running deer with dogs is permitted. Hunters must possess copies of their registration while they’re hunting or training with their dogs.

WMAs that don’t require a quota permit

Florida’s WMAs offer a wide range of hunting opportunities from quota/limited entry hunts, special-opportunity hunts, and public hunting areas where hunters can walk on to hunt. There are 46 WMAs where hunters don’t need a quota permit to hunt some or all of the general gun season. So, if you didn’t apply or get drawn for a quota hunt, don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunity spread throughout the state. You can find those WMAs not requiring a quota permit at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures at the bottom of the webpage.

Private land doe days

Within the general gun season are antlerless deer days, better known to us hunters as “doe days.” These dates differ for each of the state’s 12 DMUs. To learn when these antlerless deer opportunities occur in your DMU, refer to the “2018-2019 Florida Hunting RegulationsExternal Website handbook, which you can pick up at your tax collector’s office, FWC regional office or by downloading it online at MyFWC.com/Hunting.

During these doe days, the daily bag limit is one legal antlered deer and one antlerless deer, or two legal antlered deer. Unlike archery season, you may not take two antlerless deer in one day, unless you have antlerless deer tags issued for the private land you hunt. Also, regardless of the season, deer gender or the number of permits, hunters are never allowed to harvest more than two deer per day under any circumstances. And except for a few, most WMAs do not have antlerless deer days.

Fall turkey

Fall turkey season starts on the same date as general gun season in zones B, C and D but ends a little earlier. It runs from Dec. 1 – Jan. 27 in Zone B; Nov. 3 – Dec. 30 in Zone C; and Nov. 22-25 and Dec. 8 – Jan. 13 in Zone D. In Zone A, the second phase of fall turkey season is the same as the zone’s second phase of general gun: Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. Hunters may only take bearded turkeys and gobblers, and they must have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents) to hunt them.

You may harvest up to two turkeys per day on private land, if you’d like, but that would tag you out for the entire fall season because you’re only allowed to harvest a total of two turkeys during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined. In Holmes County, the harvest of fall turkeys is not allowed at all. And there’s not a fall turkey season on WMAs, however, on a half-dozen areas, turkeys are legal to take during general gun season.

As with deer, PCP air guns are now a legal method of taking turkeys during fall turkey season, but they must be a minimum of .20 caliber or be the type that shoots arrows.

You’re not permitted to hunt turkeys with dogs or with recorded turkey calls, and you’re not permitted to shoot them while they’re on the roost or when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present.

Bobwhite quail

Quail season this year runs Nov. 10 – March 3, and the daily bag limit is 12.

Miscellaneous regulations

Shooting hours for deer, fall turkeys and quail are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, air guns (PCP .30 caliber for deer, .20 caliber for turkeys), bows, crossbows and handguns may be used to take each of these resident game animals during the general gun, fall turkey and quail seasons.

Illegal firearms and ammunition are defined as centerfire, semiautomatic rifles having magazine capacities of more than five rounds, and fully automatic firearms. Other prohibited methods for taking game include shooting from a moving vehicle and herding or driving game with a vehicle.

License and permit requirements

The first thing you’ll need to participate in one or more of these hunting opportunities is a Florida hunting license. Residents pay just $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.

If you want to hunt on a WMA, you also must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. And don’t forget to obtain the brochure about the WMA you’re going to hunt because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly for each area. These are available only online at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and through the Fish|Hunt FL app.

All necessary licenses and permits are available at your tax collector’s office, retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing gear, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356) or by going online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. External Website

Being thankful

November is a time to be thankful, especially now, knowing that so many Floridians will be recovering from Hurricane Michael for many months ahead. For those who can give their time or resources to help, please do so however you can. Resources are available through the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida External Website and the Volunteer Florida External Website organizations.  


FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Lake Okeechobee

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is conducting aquatic plant control on Lake Okeechobee from Nov. 5-9, weather permitting.

There will be an aerial treatment of up to 5,000 acres of invasive water lettuce in the southeastern portion of the lake, including Coot Bay, East Wall, South Bay and Ritta, Torrey and Kreamer Islands. The purpose of this treatment is to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

The treatment will be conducted using herbicides approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There will be no restrictions on recreational activities on Lake Okeechobee, but the FWC is asking the public to avoid these areas of the lake during the days they are undergoing treatment.

Go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Invasive Plants” to find out more about invasive plant management, including “Frequently Asked Questions.”

For more information, contact Mariah McInnis at 352-601-1367.


PHOTO RELEASE: FWC, partners discuss enhanced support for continued red tide response

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmsByBQj External Website

Red Tide Media Event

Red tide media event at FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute headquarters.

Today, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection leadership highlighted continued red tide response, including enhanced testing efforts, technology and equipment to support impacted communities, at a media availability at the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Gov. Rick Scott announced today that DEP committed an additional $3 million to Pinellas County through DEP’s red tide emergency funding, bringing the total for Pinellas County to $6.3 million. In addition to this funding, Gov. Scott is allocating another $3 million to DEP’s red tide emergency funding to ensure other communities have access to the resources they need to combat the impacts of this naturally-occurring phenomenon.

This grant funding is in addition to $765,000 that Gov. Scott yesterday allocated to fund additional FWC scientists and field and laboratory equipment to support efforts to mitigate the impacts of naturally-occurring red tide.

Additionally, this week DEP announced that it had committed nearly $1.3 million in grant funding for cleanup on the Atlantic coast. FWC and DEP leadership met yesterday with local partners on the east coast to discuss the enhanced efforts. To date, DEP has awarded more than $13.4 million in funding to support efforts to battle red tide, not including the additional $3 million in grant funding now available.

Support from Gov. Scott and teamwork among partners have been critical in responding to this event to protect public health, support communities, and conserve fish, wildlife and their habitats.

Gil Mcrae Drew Bartlett

Gil McRae, FWRI Director, at the podium with Drew Bartlett, DEP Deputy Secretary of Ecosystem Restoration, beside him. FWC photos by Carol Davis.


PHOTO RELEASE: FWC, partners discuss enhanced support for continued red tide response

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmsByBQj External Website

FWC-Executive -Director -Eric -Sutton

FWC Executive Director, Eric Sutton.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection leadership met with county partners to discuss continued red tide response, including enhanced testing efforts, technology and equipment to support impacted communities.

Gov. Rick Scott announced today that $765,000 will go toward funding additional FWC scientists and field and laboratory equipment to support efforts to mitigate the impacts of naturally-occurring red tide.

Gov. Scott also announced today that DEP has committed nearly $1.3 million in grant funding to Atlantic coast communities to support efforts to mitigate the impacts of red tide. This includes a commitment of more than $522,000 to Indian River, $500,000 to Palm Beach, $100,000 to St. Lucie, almost $75,000 to Brevard and $100,000 to Miami-Dade counties.

Support from Gov. Scott and teamwork among partners has been critical in responding to this event to protect public health, support communities, and conserve fish, wildlife and their habitats.

FWC-and -DEP-leaders -discussing -red -tide -response

FWC and DEP leadership discussing red tide response.


Hogfish recreational season closes Nov. 1 in Keys/east Florida state waters

Hogfish recreational harvest will close in state and federal waters off Florida’s Atlantic and southern Gulf coasts Nov. 1. This closure includes all state waters south of Cape Sable, which is on the Gulf side of Florida, and up the Atlantic coast. The Keys/east Florida hogfish season runs from May 1 through Oct. 31.

Recreational harvest remains open in state and federal waters north of Cape Sable in the Gulf. 

Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Hogfish” for more.

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Greater amberjack closes Nov. 1 in Gulf state and federal waters

The recreational harvest of greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters closes Nov. 1 and will remain closed through April 30, 2019.

Seasonal harvest closures help conserve Florida’s valuable greater amberjack population and improve this fishery for the future.

Learn more about recreational fishing at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing” and “Recreational Regulations.”


Help plan the future of Andrews Wildlife Management Area

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmrNwFJV External Website

A 10-year plan for Andrews Wildlife Management Area will be presented at a public hearing in Levy County on Thursday, Nov. 1. People are invited to the 7 p.m. public hearing at the Levy County Courthouse, 355 S. Court St., Bronson.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land management plan for the FWC-managed Andrews WMA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial” then “Management Plans (WMA).”

Andrews WMA is along the east bank of the Suwannee River south of Fanning Springs. It offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including canoeing and kayaking launches, 10 miles of nature trails for hiking and biking, a Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail site, External Website plus hunting, fishing and scenic roadways.

The little blue heron, osprey, gopher tortoise, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and American alligator are among the native species living here. Old-growth hardwoods and floodplain swamp provide quality habitat for numerous species of wildlife.

“Andrews WMA was purchased to ensure the conservation of the Suwannee River, fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish- and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Lance Jacobson, FWC land conservation planner. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”

All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase. Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.

To obtain a copy of the land management prospectus for Andrews WMA, contact Lance Jacobson at 850-487-9767 or Lance.Jacobson@MyFWC.com

For more information and background on management plans and their goals, visit MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial” then “Management Plans (WMA).”

For more on Andrews WMA, go to MyFWC.com and select “Wildlife Viewing” then “Wildlife Management Areas.”


FWC restores aquatic habitat on Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic habitat restoration on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes during this month and early November.

About 744 acres of cattail, pickerelweed, water lily and water primrose will be treated on lakes Tohopekaliga (Toho), Kissimmee, Cypress, Hatchineha, Jackson and Marian, using herbicides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The treatment will restore habitat for many fish and wildlife species, including the endangered Everglade snail kite, which nests here.

This aquatic restoration also will benefit people who use the lakes for fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife watching.

This treatment plan was provided to the FWC Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Working Group and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for comment, and then presented at a public meeting to give the public an opportunity for input.

For more information about this project, contact Kevin McDaniel, FWC project manager, at 407-846-5276.


FWC restores aquatic habitat on Lake Kissimmee

Lake Kissimmee Before Restoration

Lake Kissimmee before restoration. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will begin restoring aquatic habitat on Lake Kissimmee in Osceola County this month.

Approximately 52 acres of aquatic plants on the lake’s eastern shoreline will be removed. Water lilies and other invasive aquatic plant species have increased substantially there, shading out native grasses, impeding navigation and decreasing angler opportunities. 

Mechanical harvesting will be used to remove the dense monocultures of floating pads and tussocks to attain desirable aquatic plant densities. This will enhance the lake’s shallow-water habitat for many fish and wildlife species, including the Everglade snail kite.

The plants targeted for removal include spatterdock, fragrant water lily, primrose and burhead sedge. The project is scheduled to last from late October through the end of the year.

For more information, contact Adriene Landrum, an FWC aquatic habitat project manager, at 407-846-5269.