FWC to host open house for Blackwater Quail Enhancement Area

September 23, 2009

fwclogo20072Proposals to enhance quail habitat and hunting discussed

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites everyone with an interest in bobwhite quail management on the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties to an open house Oct. 6. The event will take place 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Bear Lake Recreation Area, 2914 Bear Lake Rd., near Munson.

FWC staff will discuss proposals to enhance quail habitat and improve the quality of quail hunting on a portion of Blackwater WMA.  The 16,400-acre area will be known as the Quail Enhancement Area. In addition to changes in habitat management, the area may be subject to different hunting regulations.

“The best available science requires that we limit the quail harvest to less than 15 percent of the pre-hunt fall population if we hope to sustain or allow the population to grow,” said Kurt Hodges, FWC wildlife biologist and assistant small game program coordinator.  “The proposal may initially reduce harvest but still allow for hunting. Our objective is to increase quail numbers by managing both habitat and harvest with the goal of providing a quality hunting experience.”
Hodges said the proposed area is bounded by Bryant Bridge Road on the south, Sandy Forest Road on the west, near Highway 4 on the north and Norman Riley Road on the east.

Under the proposal, bird dog training would be allowed in November and December.  However, hunting would be shifted to a maximum of eight Saturdays in January and February.  A total of eight quota permits would be available for each day of hunting.  A quota permit would allow the permitted hunter and a guest to hunt.  The bag limit would be six birds per quota permit.

For more information go to MyFWC.com/Rules and click on “Proposed Rule Changes.”  Those who would like to comment on the proposals but cannot attend the workshop can e-mail Hodges at Kurt.Hodges@MyFWC.com. The proposal and an overview will be presented at the FWC Commission meeting Dec. 9-10 in Clewiston.