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FWC Deer Management Program Update

From FWC Press Release

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) would like to provide you with an update on a number of projects we have been working on regarding deer and deer management in Florida. Note: See instructions at the end of this message if you do not want to receive any future emails regarding deer management Florida.

Strategic Plan for Deer Management in Florida – The Strategic Plan for Deer Management (http://myfwc.com/media/464652/DeerManagementPlan2008_2018.pdf) was approved in 2008 and provides details on deer related priorities that we have been working on and will be considering in the years to come. Goals and objectives begin on page 16.

Deer Management Units – Would you like a say in how white-tailed deer populations are managed in Florida? We are developing a process for you to do just that! This framework is based on Deer Management Units (DMUs). DMUs are subdivisions within Florida’s four hunting zones and are based on similar habitat characteristics and deer herd characteristics (e.g. breeding chronology, productivity, body size, and antler development). The purpose of DMUs is to improve our deer management capabilities by doing the following on a more local level:

- Measure and track deer population trends
- Determine public needs and preferences for deer management
- Develop strategies to meet the public’s desires

A survey has been conducted to gather preferences of hunters, farmers and the general public. We will begin with DMUs in Zone D (Florida’s Panhandle) and we will be hosting several public meetings:

- January 29th in Marianna at the Jackson County Agriculture Extension Auditorium
- January 30th in Tallahassee at the Department of Transportation Auditorium
- January 31st in Pensacola at the University of West Florida Commons Building

We have hired Normandeau Associates to facilitate the public input process and all meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM local time. At the meetings we will provide a background on DMUs, share survey results and gather preferences of meeting attendees. Additional information, including a map of draft DMUs, meeting agendas and directions will be posted soon at http://myfwc.com/hunting/by-species/deer/dmu/. When we are finished developing goals and objectives for the Zone D DMUs, we will begin working on other zones.

Deer harvest survey – We have hired a professional natural resource survey company (Responsive Management) to conduct surveys of hunters to estimate deer harvest at the state, zone and DMU level. The survey allows us to monitor harvest at the DMU level including hunter effort information (how many days hunted). These data allow for a measure of the deer population over time within a DMU and allow us to monitor impacts potential regulation changes may have. We have always conducted deer harvest surveys, but the new survey format was first applied to the 2011-2012 season. The survey is conducted after all deer seasons have ended and we encourage anyone asked to do the survey to please do so. You may view the 2011-2012 survey results at: http://myfwc.com/deer.

Private Lands Deer Permit Program – We have been working on a concept to provide additional flexibility to landowners. This program would promote wildlife management on private lands by providing incentives to landowners or hunt clubs that develop and implement wildlife management plans and gather and provide deer population and harvest data. The management plans would include habitat management and/or hunting heritage efforts. Benefits to enrollment in this program would include greater flexibility in deer hunting seasons and deer harvest opportunities to enhance land managers’ ability to reach deer herd management goals and provide recreational hunting opportunities. More information on this project may be found at http://www.myfwc.com/deer.

Harvest data for WMAs – Wildlife Management Area (WMA) harvest reports may now be searched online for areas where harvest data is collected. Everything you need to know about the harvest reports can be found on the web site for the reports at http://myfwc.com/hunting/harvest-reports/. We hope you like it!

That’s all for now. Remember to purchase a Deer Permit to support deer management efforts in Florida.