At its meeting in Destin, the seven members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted in favor of proposed recommended changes to its Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Quota Hunt Permit Program. An amendment to the new rules provides that the changes will no longer be in effect after 2012, unless the Commission reauthorizes these changes or approves an extension.
For more than a year, a Quota Hunt Stakeholder Working Group, consisting of FWC staff and members of the hunting public, worked on developing a new set of rules to improve the state’s regulation of hunting on WMAs. Public meetings also were held throughout the state and much input was received on how to make the quota permit system better.
The changes are needed to improve hunter recruitment and retention and more fairly distribute public hunting opportunities.
Under these new rules, which become effective for the 2009-10 hunting season, all quota permits will now be nontransferable, including those for mobility-impaired hunters. The only exceptions are on Holton Creek WMA and deer dog hunts on Blackwater WMA, where there will be no changes.
Florida was the only state in the country that previously allowed its big-game quota permits to be transferred from one person to another.
“It is time to improve the system and become consistent with other states,” said Chairman Rodney Barreto. “We are looking forward to working with our stakeholders on continued improvements of our system.”
Besides making quota permits nontransferable, the rules give hunters more choices for more types of public hunts. For hunters who like to use bows and muzzleloaders, they will now be able to put in for five archery hunts and five muzzleloading gun hunts, as opposed to only five archery or muzzleloading gun hunts. And with the increase in people wanting to hunt wild hogs, the rules allow hunters five choices for hog hunts, and they still have the ability to apply for five general gun hunts (for deer and wild hogs) as well.
The rules also establish a new guest permit, whereby a quota permit holder can take someone hunting with him, if that person applies under the quota permit holder’s customer ID number.
Stipulations of the guest permit require that the quota permit holder and his guest enter and exit the WMA together, share the same vehicle and share a single bag limit. In addition, the quota permit holder must be on the area when the guest is hunting, and in cases where a WMA has zone tags, both people must hunt in the same zone.
Because of the current number of hunters permitted on certain hunts and to allow for the addition of the new guest permit, the rules reduce some of the established quotas on only eight of the 105 WMAs with quotas. Those WMAs are Croom, KICCO, Hickory Hammock, Upper Hillsborough River, Andrews, Twin Rivers, Joe Budd and Dexter/Mary Farms.