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FWC Looks to Increase Hunting Opportunity, from a New WMA to Expanded Turkey-Hunting Hours

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at its meeting Nov. 21 in Key Largo, advanced rule-amendment proposals increasing hunting opportunities by directing staff to advertise them in the Florida Administrative Register. These proposals will then be considered for final adoption and voted on at the Commission's February meeting in Jacksonville. If passed, they would take effect during next (2015-2016) hunting season.

One proposal would establish a new public hunting area in northwest Florida called Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The 4,017-acre tract in Santa Rosa County would offer archery, general gun, muzzleloading gun and spring turkey hunts by quota permit, and a walk-in small-game hunting season.

Another proposal would extend shooting hours during spring turkey season on 16 public hunting areas. Those areas are Box-R, Joe Budd and L. Kirk Edwards in the FWC's Northwest Region; Andrews and Big Bend's Snipe Island Unit in the North Central Region; Caravelle Ranch, Guana River, Half Moon, Salt Lake, Three Lakes Prairie Lakes Unit and Triple N Ranch in the Northeast Region; Chassahowitzka and Hilochee in the Southwest Region; and Dinner Island Ranch, Fisheating Creek and J.W. Corbett in the South Region.

Currently, legal spring turkey shooting hours on these areas are from a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. If passed, the shooting hours would be extended to sunset. This proposed change is designed to give FWC staff an opportunity to monitor the effects of longer hunting days and use the information to potentially make future recommendations, if warranted.

Other proposals would add more hunting opportunity to 23 WMAs by adding hunt types, hunting days, making additional species legal to take, increasing methods of take and increasing quota permit numbers.

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