The e-newsletter for stakeholders of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Mission: Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well being and the benefit of people.

Volume 5, Issue 2

July 2011

MyFWC.com Ask FWC Buy Your License Online Hunting Regs Saltwater Fishing Regs Freshwater Fishing Regs Outdoor Recreation Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail FishingCapital.com FWC Calendar Legislative Affairs Wildlife Foundation of Florida

June Commission meeting overview
FWC wrapped up its two-day meeting Thursday, June 9, in St. Augustine, in which it accepted staff recommendations on statethreatened species; discussed marine fisheries issues of concern to anglers, commercial fishermen and specimen collectors; approved hunting issues for deer and alligators; and dealt with other wildlife-related issues. On Wednesday, June 8, Commissioners elected Kathy Barco of Jacksonville to serve as Chairman and Kenneth Wright of Winter Park as Vice Chairman. Their terms are for one year. Outgoing Chairman Rodney Barreto served six one-year terms as Chairman. “I am honored to be elected to serve in this role and grateful to my predecessor for his example to us all,” Barco said. Commissioners also approved staff’s listing recommendations for 61 species following a presentation on Biological Status Reviews for species currently listed by the state as threatened or species of special concern. Twenty-seven members of the public provided a variety of comments on the listing issue. Forty species will remain listed as threatened, 16 species will be removed from the list, and five species will remain as species of special concern. A change in status of the species will not occur until management plans are

FWC Commissioners, (left to right) Kenneth Wright, Ron Bergeron, Rodney Barreto, Chairman Kathy Barco, Dwight Stephenson, Richard Corbett and Brian Yablonski.

brought back to the Commission for approval. Commissioners approved revisions as part of the FWC’s adaptive management strategy to ensure the most effective gopher tortoise conservation in balance with the needs of Floridians. The revisions reduce monitoring requirements for landowners who receive gopher tortoises on their property and modify the conservation permit to include an on-site relocation option for certain public projects. FWC staff and Commissioners discussed the anchoring and mooring pilot program as well; Commissioners selected the city of Stuart, in partnership with Martin County, as a program site. FWC staff will work with each of the sites involved in the program, including the cities of Sarasota, St. Petersburg and St. Augustine, and Monroe County, to develop ordinances pertaining to anchoring and mooring in each jurisdiction.

June Commission meeting overview - continued
Commissioners also:
n Adopted

a rule change that adds approximately four hours of daylight hunting per day to the state’s recreational alligator hunting season. The change will be in effect for this year’s season: Aug. 15 - Nov. 1.
n Directed

staff to continue evaluating a proposed manatee protection zone in Flagler County.
n Approved

The Commission also approved a rule amendment that will make the recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters consistent with this year’s open season in Gulf federal waters. This open harvest season will occur from June 1 through July 18 this year. Commissioners also directed staff to develop possible rule modifications that would extend state requirements governing the harvest of marine life (aquarium species) into federal waters adjacent to state waters, and to create a commercial quota for octocorals and adopt areas in federal waters currently closed to their harvest. Commissioners also heard a report on the impact of the 2010 snook coldweather kill and decided to reopen the harvest of snook on the Atlantic coast on Sept. 1; however, they decided the Gulf snook fishery should remain catch-and-release only until Aug. 31, 2012, to give the stock additional time to recuperate. The Commission also received updates on various federal fisheries management issues. FWC staff also briefed Commissioners on the status of the contract for the new Recreational License Issuance Services, set to replace the current Total Licensing System in October 2012. After reviewing proposals and negotiating with several companies, the FWC ultimately awarded the contract to Brandt Information Services of Tallahassee. Regarding freshwater fisheries, Commissioners recognized the University of Florida bass-fishing team and approved a Black Bass Management Plan after hearing a report on the final proposed version. The next Commission meeting will be Sept. 7-9 in Naples.

“I am honored to be elected to serve in this role and grateful to my predecessor for his example to us all.” Chairman Kathy Barco

an executive order implementing new deer harvest rules in two areas of the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area in South Florida, in an effort to allow the deer population to rebound. The rules will affect the upcoming 2011-2012 hunting season.
n Recognized

St. Augustine sculptor Capt. Pierre Pierce for his contributions to fish and wildlife conservation through his highly acclaimed artwork. On Thursday, June 9, the Commission approved rule amendments for permit, Florida pompano and African pompano that expand their protection to offshore federal waters beyond Florida state waters, where the fish currently aren’t protected, and created separate conservation-management strategies for these species. Some of the key changes for permit include creating a special South Florida Permit Management Zone that includes a three-month closed season, and adjusting size and bag limits. The new rules also modify certain Florida and African pompano rules. These rule amendments are expected to take effect Aug. 31. In addition, Commissioners approved rules that extend the FWC’s stone crab management to offshore federal waters beyond Florida state waters. These rule amendments are expected to take effect Aug. 31.

2

Facebook photos lead to arrest
The most recent Internet crime arrest came June 17 after FWC investigators received a complaint about photos that had been posted on Facebook. The complaint said that a deer and alligator had been freshly killed and the suspected hunter, Kyle Edwards, 21, was also in the photos. The animals allegedly were killed near Bronson in Levy County on private property north of Otter Creek. FWC Investigator James Smith interviewed Edwards, who stated that on June 10, he and a friend went to the property in Otter Creek to camp and shoot a new AK-47 he had recently purchased. The two men saw an alligator on the dirt road leading to the camp, and Edwards shot and killed it. He explained they cleaned it, ate some of the meat and later gave the rest of the alligator meat to friends. The carcass was disposed of on a nearby dump pile. The next day, Edwards said, he shot and killed the deer. After taking a photograph of the animal, they repeated the process by cleaning the deer, eating some of the meat and giving the rest to friends. That carcass also ended up in the dump pile. Edwards admitted to posting the photographs on his Facebook page and later removing the photos and gave Smith a written statement about the incidents. FWC investigators were able to locate and document the two animal carcasses as evidence in the case. Edwards was issued a citation for taking deer during the closed season, a first-degree misdemeanor, and for the illegal taking of an American alligator, a second-degree misdemeanor. According to Lt. George Wilson, in its first year, the Internet Crimes Unit (ICU) launched 168 investigations, made 177 arrests and issued 92 warnings. Since then it has launched many more investigations, including cases involving photos on Facebook of illegally taken

The Division of Law Enforcement created the ICU to target Internet resource offenders who are utilizing electronic means of communication to unlawfully harvest or commercialize our natural resources.

Facebook photo posted by Kyle Edwards. Edwards was issued a citation for taking deer during the closed season, a first-degree misdemeanor.

deer, videos on YouTube of illegally possessed reptiles and illegally taken snook and ads on Craigslist attempting to illegally sell wildlife and game meat. The Division of Law Enforcement created the ICU to target Internet resource offenders that are utilizing electronic means of communication to unlawfully harvest or commercialize our natural resources. ICU investigators target resource forums, social networking sites and Internet marketing locations. The ICU encourages the public to report suspected violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Reward Program at 1-888-404-3922 or online.

3

FWC, partners survey upper Keys, Biscayne National Park for endangered butterfly

“We’ve never had this many people surveying at one time,” said FWC regional biologist and project coordinator Ricardo Zambrano.

A male Schaus’ swallowtail. The FWC is leading a multiagency and volunteer effort to survey the upper Keys for the endangered butterfly. (Photo courtesy of Jaret C. Daniels, Ph.D., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida)

Concern over the apparent decline of an endangered butterfly has prompted biologists with the FWC and others to organize intensive field surveys to look for the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly in North Key Largo and Biscayne National Park. Once found in tropical hardwood hammocks from south Miami to the lower Keys, Schaus’ swallowtails (Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus) are now limited to the upper Keys and Biscayne National Park. Adult swallowtails have a very short life span, typically living for only two weeks. FWC biologists are coordinating a multiagency and multiorganization effort to count adult Schaus’ swallowtails. Butterfly enthusiasts and volunteers with the North American Butterfly Association and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory are conducting the majority of the surveys. The National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Florida

are also providing assistance and support. “We’ve never had this many people surveying at one time,” said FWC regional biologist and project coordinator Ricardo Zambrano. “The goal of the survey is to get an estimated count and distribution of the individuals so the FWC and its partners can identify actions needed to conserve the subspecies” of Heraclides aristodemus. Surveyors are walking though trails in swallowtail habitat, counting adult individuals and recording locations of where they are observed. Surveys are occurring several times a week in both locations. The Schaus’ swallowtail is a federally endangered and state-threatened subspecies. A combination of factors, such as habitat loss, pesticide use and illegal collection, are suspected to be responsible for its decline. Weather events, including hurricanes and droughts, also have adversely impacted the population.

4

The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail has a new guidebook
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) has a new guidebook series in progress. The Panhandle section guidebook is the first of four guidebooks to be released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and is available now. The East section guidebook is the next in the series, to be completed by the end of 2011. These thoroughly revised and expanded editions have full color photos, larger maps and GPS coordinates, plus new butterfly and wildlife viewing information. The new guide format builds upon the popular GFBWT guidebook series in which 750,000 copies have been distributed to the public since 2000. The new, 60-page Panhandle guidebook features 78 sites spanning 16 counties, from the Perdido River in Escambia County on the Alabama border to the Aucilla River in Jefferson County. The Panhandle is one of Florida’s least populated regions and it includes some of the state’s most spectacular scenery, from upland hardwoods and slope forests with dramatic bluffs and deep ravines, to stately longleaf pines, vast salt marshes, winding rivers and pristine white sand beaches. Whether you explore by foot, car, bicycle, kayak or horseback, amazing birding and wildlife adventures await you. The GFBWT website www. floridabirdingtrail.com includes downloadable guidebooks plus an interactive, trip-planning tool with Google™ Maps to help you find excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities in the Panhandle. Road signs bearing the Birding Trail’s Swallow-tailed kite logo were installed in the Panhandle in 2008-2009 to help guide visitors to each site’s entrance. The GFBWT is a program of the FWC. At its core is a network of nearly 500 sites throughout

The GFBWT is a program of the FWC. At its core is a network of nearly 500 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent birdwatching, wildlife viewing or educational opportunities.

Florida selected for their excellent birdwatching, wildlife viewing or educational opportunities. This 2,000-mile, self-guided highway trail is designed to conserve and enhance Florida’s wildlife habitats by promoting birdwatching and wildlife viewing activities, conservation education and economic opportunity. For more information about the program, or to obtain the new guidebook, please visit MyFWC.com/ viewing/publications/.

5

Exciting summer hunting opportunities
Summer hog hunts on two management areas are already underway. Alligator hunting season is around the corner and crossbow season has been expanded this year to run concurrent with archery season on private lands. Dove hunting opportunities are in high demand, and these hunts provide the perfect social setting for friends and family to hunt together. Phase II of the FWC’s Dove Club begins Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. This is a first-come, first-served application period and includes leftover permits from Phase I. Interested hunters are encouraged to apply early for the $150 permits (that allow an adult and one youth (under 16) to hunt a designated dove field, up to eight Saturdays), because the most popular fields go fast. Daily dove permits also can be applied for, beginning Aug. 23. They cost $35 and allow one adult and one youth to hunt on just one Saturday. The six special-opportunity dove fields are:
n Allapattah n Caravelle

Blackwater wildlife management areas in northwest Florida, the FWC is encouraging hog hunters to take part in two management hog hunts going on now in an effort to reduce the number of hogs. The dates for these hunts MyFWC. com/hunting/by-species/wild-hog/ are available online. Quota permits will not be required for any of the hunts. Hunters need only a hunting license and a management area permit. Both still hunting and dog hunting will be allowed during the day. Hog dogs also will be legal to use at night as well. There will be no size or bag limits on hogs. Live hogs may not be removed from the area. Hog hunting has been allowed on both areas for several years during other hunting seasons. Because of the large population of wild hogs on both areas, the FWC has established these management hunts, giving hunters more hog-hunting opportunity. At its meeting in St. Augustine on June 8, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted a rule change that provides approximately four additional hours of daylight hunting to the alligator hunting season. The change will be in effect this year and establishes the legal hunting hours from 5 p.m. until 10 a.m. during the annual 11-week season, which runs Aug. 15 – Nov. 1. For crossbow lovers, the season has been extended on private lands. The FWC passed a new rule during the September 2010 Commission meeting that extends zonal crossbow seasons by a month, thereby running concurrently with archery season, beginning July 2011.

Hunters need only a hunting license and a management area permit.

Flats WMA (Martin County)

Ranch WMA (Putnam

County)
n Koon

Farm PSGHA (Lafayette County) WMA (Lake County) Newberry PSGHA (Alachua

n Hilochee n North

County)
n Frog

Pond PSGHA (Miami-Dade County)

6

Also, due to an abundance of wild hogs on portions of Aucilla and

Summer hunting - continued
The new rule adds 30 days to the crossbow season in zones A, B and C, and it adds 33 days in Zone D, thereby making it coincide with the archery season. Starting with the 2011-2012 hunting season, any hunter with a hunting license, deer permit and crossbow permit will be able to get in the woods a month early on private lands and use a crossbow (or a bow) to take deer of either sex. This rule is intended to give hunters more opportunities and enable youths and others who have difficulty using a vertical bow to have more hunting days, thereby helping to recruit and retain more people into the tradition of hunting. Happy hunting!

FWC approves Black Bass Management Plan
The FWC approved the long-term Black Bass Management Plan at its meeting in St. Augustine June 9. Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, said the integrated plan will focus on expanding new opportunities, in addition to refining traditional conservation approaches dealing with habitat and fish management practices that take into consideration human needs. Implementation of the plan will create significant ecological, economic and social benefits for Florida. More than 7,500 anglers provided input, as did a technical assistance group representing a variety of fishingrelated businesses, university experts, professional anglers, outdoor media and fishing guides. The overall goal is to ensure Florida is the Black Bass Fishing Capital of the World by: 1. Insuring healthy lakes and rivers to benefit many species of fish and wildlife, as well as trophy bass fisheries. 2. Strengthening local economies by documenting and increasing the economic impacts derived from bass fishing, which already provides more than 14 million days of quality outdoor recreation for bass anglers and generates an economic impact of $1.25 billion. 3. Attracting events such as national professional bass fishing tournaments, which have huge economic impacts, to smaller towns and cities as a result of Florida’s enhanced reputation. Encouraging youth and families to get outside and enjoy fishing improves health by reducing the potential for obesity and enhancing social interactions as well as a respect for nature. Consequently, the FWC will integrate the plan with the agency’s Creating the Next Generation that Cares initiative (MyFWC.com/Youth). The final Florida Black Bass Management Plan MyFWC.com/ fishing/freshwater/black-bass/ can be reviewed online.

More than 7,500 anglers provided input, as did a technical assistance group representing a variety of fishingrelated businesses, university experts, professional anglers, outdoor media and fishing guides.

7

FWC again allowing campfires in managed areas
FWC in cooperation with the Florida Division of Forestry rescinded an executive order issued in June that prohibited campfires in wildlife management areas, wildlife and environmental areas and all other lands it manages. In its executive order, the FWC noted that Florida experienced inordinately dry conditions and as a result DOF and FWC fought multiple wildfires within wildlife management areas, wildlife and environmental areas and other lands. Recent rains improved dry conditions across the state. Campfires are again allowed in designated areas. For rules and regulations MyFWC.com/hunting/wma-brochures pertaining to individual wildlife management areas, please visit MyFWC.com/Hunting and click on “WMA Brochures.” While the campfires are allowed, the FWC reminds everyone how important it is to properly manage any campfire to ensure it is under control and completely extinguished when done.

FWC joins Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Scribd

8

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