white_tailed_deer1For immediate release: Aug. 10, 2016
Contact: Karen Parker, 386-754-1294
 
Hunter safety internet-completion courses offered in September

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety internet-completion courses in nine counties in September. (List follows.)

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them.

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.


The cities and times are:

  • Alachua
    Sept. 3 (8 a.m. until compete)
    Gainesville
  • Bradford
    Sept. 22 (6 to 9 p.m.) in Starke
    and Sept. 24 (8 a.m. until complete) in Graham
  • Citrus
    Sept. 10 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in Homosassa
    and (2 p.m. until complete) in Brooksville
  • Clay
    Sept. 8 (6 to 9 p.m.) in Middleburg
    and Sept. 10 (8 a.m. until complete) in Graham

    Sept. 15 (6 to 9 p.m.) in Keystone Heights
    and Sept. 17 (8 a.m. until complete) in Graham

  • Columbia
    Sept. 15 (6 to 9 p.m.) and Sept. 17 (8:30 a.m. until complete)
    Lake City
  • Duval
    Sept. 8 (6 to 9 p.m.) and Sept. 10 (8:30 a.m. to noon)
    Jacksonville
  • Levy
    Sept. 17 (9 a.m. until complete)
    Chiefland
  • Suwannee
    Sept. 14 (6 to 9 p.m.) in Wellborn
    and Sept. 17 (8:30 a.m. until complete) in Lake City
  • Taylor
    Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
    Perry

The specific locations for this class will be given to those who register in advance. Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Lake City at 386-758-0525.

eastern-oyster-florida-posterPUNTA GORDA, FL
In a joint announcement today, partners in the creation of new oyster reef habitat in the shallow waters along Trabue Harborwalk are announcing great success — up to 1,400 oysters per square meter have taken residence on sections of the reef! Just nine months after the creation of the habitat along the coastline of Punta Gorda, a community of diverse wildlife has appeared, anchored by the arrival of the new oysters.

At the end of September 2015, The Nature Conservancy Florida, City of Punta Gorda, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves, and a number of community volunteers completed the installation of reef habitat to attract and support new oysters. Once abundant throughout Charlotte Harbor, oyster reefs provide habitat for important fish and shellfish such as mullet and blue crabs. Oysters also improve water quality, and may help to stabilize shorelines by reducing erosion from wave and tide action. One goal of the project is to determine which of three reef building techniques is the most productive and effective for increasing oyster populations and attracting additional species to the area — information critical to the broader goal of expanding oyster restoration throughout Charlotte Harbor to support communities and fisheries.

Oysters require specific water conditions to flourish and hard surfaces on which to settle. The nine newly created oyster reefs are spread over nearly four acres and include three reefs composed of oyster shells affixed to mats, three reefs of fossilized loose shell, and three reefs built from mesh bags containing fossilized shell. Approximately 50 tons of shell were used to build the reefs. Monitoring results indicate that oyster recruitment was excellent for each method. A success criterion for a recent oyster reef restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay area was greater than 50 oyster recruits per square meter –- the Punta Gorda reefs far exceeded this benchmark.

Click here to see a poster about the life cycle, habitat and restoration of the Eastern oyster.

Monitoring began six months after the installation of the reef and data collected was then carefully analyzed. Variables such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, water quality (clarity/turbidity, measured at the reef sites and compared to other local areas), presence of birds, presence of the endangered smalltooth sawfish, and types and quantity of aquatic vegetation were measured. Additional data collected on the invertebrate and macroinvertebrate populations that are now present in and around the reefs is still being analyzed.

Highlights include:

Shell mats attracted, on average, over 300 new oysters per square meter.
Loose shell attracted, on average, nearly 600 new oysters per square meter.
Bagged shells were by far the most successful and attracted, on average, over 1300 oyster recruits per square meter.
The reefs made of oyster shell mats, though less populated than the bagged shells reefs, have larger-sized recruits.
A diverse community of at least 12 species of birds now visits the reef.

“Oysters have a unique way of bringing communities together. They are a symbol of our coastal heritage and have been at the core of our culture and communities for centuries,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Marine Conservation Director, Anne Birch. “This project is a wonderful example of how science and the efforts of people can come together to restore oyster reefs in special places like the City of Punta Gorda and the Charlotte Harbor estuary. The Nature Conservancy extends a warm oyster appreciation to the partners and volunteers who have made this project possible.”

City of Punta Gorda Mayor Rachel Keesling commented, “This pilot project is already showing signs of success. The data supporting expanding habitats, stabilizing shorelines, and water quality are exciting. Charlotte Harbor is the cornerstone for our city so its health is critical to our waterfront way of life.”

“The Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves is proud to be a partner of this oyster habitat creation project in the Peace River,” said Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves Manager Heather Stafford. “The success of this pilot project makes it a good model for future oyster restoration work within the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves, and we would like to thank the partners and the many volunteers involved.”

Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program’s Communications Manager Maran Hilgendorf stated, “This effort has been a great example of success in many ways. Diverse interests came together to holistically consider restoration of one species to benefit water quality, habitat for other species, including the endangered sawfish, and stewardship. It proves that partnerships work.”

This project is funded by the generous support of The Mosaic Company Foundation, Sally Mead Hands Foundation, and individual donors. “We are tremendously pleased to see the oyster reef restoration project thriving,” said Mark Kaplan, Mosaic’s Vice President – Phosphate Services and President of The Mosaic Company Foundation. “We value our partnership with The Nature Conservancy and are proud to support their commitment to improving coastal habitat and water quality in Charlotte Harbor.”

The Nature Conservancy continues its commitment to restoring oysters in coastal areas throughout Florida and will use data collected here in the planning of additional habitat restoration in the Gulf of Mexico, including a future project in the Pensacola region.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at http://www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit http://www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

13697060_10154313537343879_4098325344591286398_nAttn. Boaters! Participate in Tampa Bay’s Treasure Hunt:

The 22nd Annual Great Bay Scallop Search is August 20 Tierra Verde, FL – Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteer boats to participate in the Great Bay Scallop Search on Saturday, August 20. The event is a resource  monitoring program where community volunteers snorkel to search for scallops in select areas within Boca Ciega and Lower Tampa Bays. The event has been conducted annually since 1993 with the goal to monitor and document the health and status of the local bay scallop population. Tampa Bay Watch will coordinate 40 volunteer boaters with more than 180 participants to search selected sites for the elusive bay scallops. Volunteers with shallow draft boats are still needed for the event. Go to
tampabaywatch.org for more information.

“We can witness the health of the bay by tracking the number of scallops found each year”, says Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch. “Every year we hope the number of scallops found increases, which means that water quality and habitat are also improving in our estuary.”

Some years, volunteers find many scallops and other years they don’t. Factors that may affect the scallop population include water quality, red tide, high rainfall and storms. An all-time high for the event was 674 scallops, found in 2009. Bay scallops, disappeared from Tampa Bay in the early 1960s when the bay water was highly polluted from dredging operations and industrial and municipal wastes. Tampa Bay’s water quality and seagrass beds have since improved to levels that will once again support the bay scallop population. In fact, a 2014 research by Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program states that Tampa

Bay now supports 40,295 acres of seagrass beds, an equivalent amount of seagrass measured as in Reservations are required for the Great Bay Scallop Search. Registered scallop searchers will meet Saturday, August 20 at 9:00 am at the Fort De Soto Boat Ramp in Tierra Verde to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. At each site, a weighted transect line 50 meters in length is laid along seagrass beds. Snorkelers count scallops along each side of the transect line, within one meter of each side, creating a 100 square meter survey area.

Bay scallops or Argopecten irradians are secretive bivalves in the same family as clams and oysters. They may reach a shell size of three inches, and they spend their short twelve to eighteen month life span hiding in waters with seagrasses like those of Tampa Bay. Scallops are filter feeders, therefore they are highly sensitive to changes in water quality and can be used to measure an ecosystem’s health and signal changes in water quality. Adult bay scallops can pump as much as 15.5 quarts of water per hour, improving water quality that results in long-term growth of seagrass beds. Although bay scallops are edible, it is illegal to harvest scallops in Tampa Bay in order for restoration efforts to

The 2016 Scallop Search is sponsored by the Sea World Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, RBC Blue Water Project and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.


Photo opportunities:

Media is welcome to join us at the Scallop Search on Saturday, August 20. A boat will be available at the Fort De Soto Park boat ramp, 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715 at 9am to transport media for on-water interviews with scallop search participants in the Boca Ciega Bay
Aquatic Preserve. Contact Rachel Arndt at 727-867- 8166 extension 233 or email at rarndt@tampabaywatch.org for more information or to reserve a spot on a Tampa Bay Watch boat.

Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands on habitat restoration projects. For more information on upcoming events, or to become a volunteer or member, visit http://www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867- 8166.

Hunter safety courses offered

News Release

Monday, July 18, 2016

Media contact: Greg Workman, 352-620-7335

282432_4235775368663_1132307266_nThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety internet-completion courses in central Florida. (List follows.)

“Don’t wait, take your hunter safety course today,” said JoAnne Peagler, Northeast Region hunter safety coordinator.

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them.

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

The locations and times are:

Internet-completion Courses

Brevard
Aug. 13 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Titusville Rifle and Pistol Club, Mims

Aug. 19 (6–10 p.m.) & Aug. 21 (8 a.m.–noon)
Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club, Palm Bay

Sept. 10 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Titusville Rifle and Pistol Club, Mims

Sept. 16 (6–10 p.m.) & Sept. 18 (8 a.m.–noon)
Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club, Palm Bay

Flagler
Aug. 13 (9 a.m.–3 p.m.)
Flagler Gun & Archery Club, Bunnell

Sept. 10 (9 a.m.–3 p.m.)
Flagler Gun & Archery Club, Bunnell

Indian River
Aug. 6 (9 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Indian River County Shooting Range, Sebastian

Sept. 10 (9 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Indian River County Shooting Range, Sebastia

Lake
Aug. 6 (10:30 a.m.–3 p.m.)
The Gun Shop & Gun Range, Leesburg

Aug. 13 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Emerald Island LLC Range, Leesburg

Aug. 20 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Lake Correctional Institution, Clermont

Sept. 10 (10:30 a.m.–3 p.m.)
The Gun Shop & Gun Range, Leesburg

Sept. 17 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Lake Correctional Institution, Clermont

Sept. 24 (8 a.m.–3 p.m.)
Royal Trails Community Park, Eustis

Marion
Aug. 2 and Aug. 4 (6 p.m.–9 p.m.)
Gander Mountain, Ocala

Sept. 10 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Ocala Conservation Center, Silver Springs

Sept. 13 & 15 (6 p.m.–9 p.m.)
Gander Mountain, Ocala

Orange
Aug. 9 & 10 (5:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.)
Instant Replay Shooting Sports, Union Park-Orlando

Aug. 13 (1:30–6 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops, Orlando

Aug. 14 (1:30–6 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops, Orlando

Aug. 20 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Central Florida Rifle & Pistol Club, Orlando

Aug. 20 (1:30–6 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops, Orlando

Aug. 21 (1:30–6 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops, Orlando

Sept. 13 & 14 (5:30–8:30 p.m.)
Instant Replay Shooting Sports, Union Park-Orlando

Sept. 13 & 15 (6–9 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops, Orlando

Sept. 17 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Central Florida Rifle & Pistol Club, Orlando

Osceola
Aug. 27 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Holopaw Community Center, Holopaw

Sept. 18 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Holopaw Community Center, Holopaw

Putnam
Aug. 6 (8 a.m.–3 p.m.)
First Baptist Church, Hollister

Sept. 10 (8 a.m.–3 p.m.)
First Baptist Church, Hollister

Seminole
Aug. 9 & 11 (5:30–8:30 p.m.)
Gander Mountain, Lake Mary

Aug. 20 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Seminole County Gun & Archery Association, Geneva

Aug. 23 & 25 (5:30–8:30 p.m.)
Gander Mountain, Lake Mary

Sept. 13 & 15 (5:30–8:30 p.m.)
Gander Mountain, Lake Mary

Sept. 17 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Seminole County Gun & Archery Association, Geneva

St John
Aug. 13 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, St. Augustine

Sept. 10 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, St. Augustine

Sumter
Aug. 13 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Sumter Correctional Institution, Bushnell

Sept. 17 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Sumter Correctional Institution, Bushnell

Volusia
Aug. 6 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Volusia County Agricultural Center, DeLand

Sept. 10 (8 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Volusia County Agricultural Center, DeLand


Traditional Courses

Brevard
Aug. 19 (6–9 p.m.), Aug. 20 (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) & Aug. 21 (8 a.m.–noon)
Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club, Palm Bay

Sept. 16 (6–9 p.m.), Sept. 17 (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) & Sept. 18 (8 a.m.–noon)
Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club, Palm Bay

Marion
Aug. 13 (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) & Aug. 14 (8 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Ocala Conservation Center, Silver Springs

Volusia
Sept. 17 & 18 (8 a.m.–5 p.m.)
DeBary Hall, DeBary

The specific locations for these classes will be given to those who register in advance. Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Ocala at 352-625-2804.

FWC’s Hunting Hot Sheet

The latest hunting and conservation news from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

hunt-florida-banner4g_crop


6 Ways to Prep for Deer Season
Many of you are planning for upcoming archery and crossbow seasons (Zone A’s archery and crossbow seasons open July 30). Hanging tree stands and tuning bows are important parts of preseason prep. However, there several other important ways to ready yourself.
Take an inventory of your hunting gear, clothes and boots. Repair or replace as needed
Sharpen your hunting knives
Mark season openers on your calendar http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates
Review the 2016-2017 Florida Hunting Regulations http://myfwc.com/hunting/regulations/ or regulations for the WMA you plan to hunt http://myfwc.com/hunting/wma-brochures/
If you’re introducing someone to hunting, make sure they take a hunter safety course http://myfwc.com/hunting/safety-education/courses/
Buy your hunting license, deer permit and WMA permit (if you’re planning to hunt WMAs) http://www.GoOutdoorsFlorida.com


Become a Member of the Dove Club
Experience dove hunting on the state’s best public dove fields and share that tradition with a young person through the Special-Opportunity Dove Club Program. Dove Club permits are issued by random drawing and enable you to hunt all scheduled dates for the dove field of your choice. Plus, the permit allows you to take one youth (age 15 or younger), and the adult and youth may each take their own bag limit. That application period for Dove Club permits began July 18 and runs through July 28.

Learn more about this opportunity here http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2016/july/06/dove-club/


2016 Statewide Alligator Harvest Training and Orientation Schedule
If you’ve received an opportunity to participate in Florida’s alligator harvest program, don’t miss FWC’s FREE training. While it’s not mandatory, it’s a great way for hunters to get up to speed on rules and regulations, equipment, and information about processing. No need to register, just show up at one of the classes listed here: http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/harvest/training-classes/


2016-2017 Hunting Regulations Now Include Migratory Bird Hunting Season Information
The 2016-2017 Florida Hunting Regulations are now available, and for the first time, they include season information for waterfowl, doves and other migratory birds. Thanks to a change in the process the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses for setting migratory bird hunting seasons, federal frameworks are finalized no later than April. What that means is migratory bird hunters can make their plans now by picking up a copy of the new hunting regs at license vendors across the state or check them out here http://www.myfwc.com/hunting/regulations/birds/


Don’t Forget Your Migratory Bird Permit
If you plan to hunt migratory game birds this season, make sure to get a migratory bird permit. This free federal permit is required to take migratory birds. When you sign up for the permit, you will be asked about your migratory bird hunting experiences during last year’s season. The answers you provide are used to identify what types of migratory birds you usually hunt. This allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to mail follow-up surveys to the appropriate hunters to generate estimates of hunting activity and the number of migratory game birds harvested. This information is used by biologists to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits, and population management. For more information, see http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/hunting/federal-duck-stamp/


Show Your Hunting Pride on Your Ride
Uphold Florida’s hunting traditions by buying the only DMV plate that helps fund public hunting, wildlife habitat improvements, and efforts to promote conservation. Since launching last May, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida has sold more than 9,000 plates and funded over $188,000 in hunting grants!

Help make sure that hunting always has a future in Florida by ordering your deer tag today. Visit http://www.floridadeertag.com/ or your local tax collector’s office.


Federal Duck Stamp on Sale Now
Sales for the 2016-2017 Federal Duck Stamp began June 24. This year’s Federal stamp features trumpeter swans and is the work of Joe Hautman.

A stamp purchase is required annually for all waterfowl hunters 16 and older, and grants the bearer free entrance into national wildlife refuges. The new stamps can be purchased through the FWC’s Licensing System, the United States Postal Service, and anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Visit http://www.GoOutdoorsFlorida.com to get yours.

Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp has provided more than $850 million, conserving over 5.7 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories.

For more info, visit http://flyways.us/content/2016-17-federal-and-junior-duck-stamps-now-sale


Are You in Turkey Country?
You can get that answer by checking out FWC’s new interactive map of predicted wild turkey occupancy across the state. Biologists have provided data about wild turkey distribution in Florida using a web-based mapping application. The resulting dataset, which is updated every 10 years, has just been made available as an online interactive map. Not only will it give you a large scale view of where turkeys are in Florida, it’s valuable information for FWC. Biologists use this information, along with habitat suitability data, to identify and direct future wild turkey management efforts.

See the Florida wild turkey distribution map here: http://www.myfwc.com/hunting/by-species/turkey/distribution/

wrecked boat1New at-risk vessel law helps FWC, officials manage Florida waterways

A new Florida law, approved by the Legislature and Governor during the 2016 Session, will enable county and local authorities along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to more effectively manage the state’s waterways. The new law (F.S. 327.4107) allows law enforcement officers to issue non-criminal citations to owners who allow their boats to become “at risk” of becoming derelict.

“This law allows officers to take action before a vessel crosses that line between at-risk and derelict, and hopefully prompts the owner to rectify any issues with the vessel before it reaches a state of disrepair,” said Phil Horning, FWC’s derelict vessel program administrator. “Prior to this law being enacted, officers had to wait until a vessel met the legal criteria for a derelict vessel before beginning any sort of official interaction with the owner.”

Under the new law, a vessel is deemed to be “at-risk” if any of the following conditions is observed:
The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
The vessel is left or stored aground unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk.
If an officer observes a vessel with one or more of these criteria, a non-criminal citation may be issued that requires the owner to correct the problem or face stronger penalties after 30 days have passed. If problems are not fixed, non-compliant vessel owners can face additional fines issued every 30 days until they are.

Officials expect that this new law will decrease the number of vessels becoming derelict, a problem which continues to burden the state’s public waterways.

“Our goal is to keep Florida’s waterways safe and protect their environmental stability,” said Horning. “We are committed to protecting this valuable resource for the people of Florida and its visitors.”

Vessel owners are also reminded to sell their vessels properly.

“Many owners don’t realize that not only is the buyer required to get the vessel retitled in their name, but the seller is also required to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 30 days that they have sold their vessel,” said Horning.

Failure to do so is a violation and may cause the prior owner of record legal troubles should the vessel become derelict at a later date. The FWC will be assisting state and local governments with derelict vessel removal grants that will be available soon. The grant funding was also approved by the Legislature and Governor during the 2016 Session. Interested applicants may contact the FWC Derelict Vessel Program office at 850-617-9540 or email DVGrant@MyFWC.com for more information.

Help monitor for CWD

August 2, 2016

17-CWD-Mike-Hopper,-Kansas-Dept.-of-Wildlife,-Parks-and-TourismCMYK_0Help monitor for CWD; Floridians hunting out of state need to be aware of what they can bring back

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is looking to hunters to help monitor the state’s deer herd this coming season for chronic wasting disease, or CWD as it’s more commonly called. And any Florida hunter planning to hunt deer, moose or elk out of state this year needs to be aware of certain laws and regulations aimed at preventing CWD from entering our state.
What is CWD?

CWD belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Scientists still have much to learn about CWD, which appears to occur only in the deer family, but is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion.

Fatal CWD attacks the brains of infected cervids (mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose and elk), causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and lose control of bodily functions.

Warning signs of CWD hunters can look out for while in the field include deer that are extremely thin or appear sick, or those exhibiting odd behavior such as excessive salivating or urinating, staggering, walking in circles, standing with a wide stance, head tremors, or deer found dead from unknown causes. If you see a deer that fits this description, call 866-CWD-WATCH (293-9282).

Transmission of CWD occurs by direct contact with bodily fluids (feces, urine or saliva) or through contact with a contaminated environment. In this second scenario, the prion stays in the environment, and may remain infectious for years.

The good news is, there’s no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans or livestock, and it’s not yet been found in Florida or any other southeastern state. But it’s going to take the help of all hunters and the FWC to keep it that way.

Currently the only practical method for diagnosing CWD is through analysis of brain-stem tissue or lymph nodes from dead deer. Therefore Florida’s more than 200,000 hunters can play an extremely important role in CWD surveillance by providing samples from harvested deer for testing.

How you can help

The goal of the FWC is to collect these samples throughout Florida, and it’s asking private landowners and hunting clubs to participate in this surveillance effort. Since 2002, the FWC has tested nearly 9,000 hunter-killed, road-killed and sick/diseased deer for CWD.

If you’d like to help, contact the FWC by calling the toll-free CWD Hotline at 866-CWD-WATCH (293-9282) for further information and to coordinate collection and pick-up of deer samples.

To date, CWD has been found in mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose and elk in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It also has been detected in Canada (Saskatchewan and Alberta), Norway and in South Korea.

The primary objective of CWD management is to prevent it from entering our state, so we have adopted laws regulating the transport of harvested deer into Florida.

What is legal to bring back when hunting out of state
It’s illegal for hunters to bring into Florida whole carcasses of any harvested cervid from any of the affected states or countries. From these areas, hunters can bring back only deboned meat and finished taxidermy mounts, hides, skulls, antlers and teeth, as long as all soft tissue has been removed. And citizens are encouraged to report to the FWC any illegal importation of cervids from affected areas by calling its Wildlife Alert Hotline, toll-free, 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Should a CWD outbreak occur in Florida, the keys to effective management will be detecting it early and taking swift action to limit its spread. Because of this, the FWC has a CWD action team made up of veterinarians, biologists, law enforcement officers and media folks, in place and ready to respond along with other government agencies, such as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What’s the number to call?

This season, if you come across or harvest a deer that appears sick or emaciated, or one that has died from unknown causes, don’t handle it. Instead, contact the FWC, 24/7 on its toll-free hotline at 866-CWD-WATCH (293-9282).

It’s important to call as soon as possible so the carcass can be collected and tested while it is still fresh.

We all can help keep CWD out of Florida’s deer herd by staying well-informed, taking precautions and acting quickly when necessary.

If you’d like to learn more about CWD, including links to several state and federal government websites containing more in-depth information on this serious disease, visit MyFWC.com/CWD.

Roland+Martin+Lake+Trafford*(Legendary fisherman and TV host Roland Martin shows off a nice bass caught on a recent trip to Lake Trafford.)

The little lake that could

Lake Trafford receives national recognition
By Amber Nabors

Lake Trafford in Collier County recently received national recognition for its resurging bass fishery, made possible by ongoing restoration projects. Highlighted in the July/August issue of Bassmaster magazine, 1,500-acre Lake Trafford has overcome a history ridden with devastating fish kills and unhealthy habitat to boast quality populations of black crappie (speckled perch) and largemouth bass—all thanks to a partnership between the determined citizens of Collier County, the South Florida Water Management District – Big Cypress Basin and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

“Lake Trafford is an important resource for boating, fishing and wildlife viewing,” said Barron Moody, regional administrator for the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “One of the FWC’s primary goals in the restoration of Lake Trafford was to create healthy habitat for Florida’s fish and wildlife resources, which in turn has generated more recreational opportunities for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.”
Historically, Lake Trafford suffered from excessive algal blooms and frequent fish kills. These detrimental algal blooms were fueled by a thick layer of muck created from a buildup of detritus, or dead plant material, at the bottom of the lake. The SFWMD and the FWC provided $15 million to dredge millions of yards of muck from the lake, which allowed beneficial plants to expand, improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

Following dredging, the FWC stocked the lake with more than 500,000 largemouth bass fingerlings produced at the Florida Bass Conservation Center at the Richloam Hatchery, and planted approximately 75,000 bulrush plants to provide healthy habitat for the fingerlings. Future plans for supporting the long-term health of Lake Trafford include reestablishing native submerged aquatic vegetation, controlling nutrient runoff, managing the growth of exotic vegetation and monitoring the continued recovery of the lake’s fish and wildlife populations.

Bassmaster magazine is published by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the nation’s largest bass fishing organization, and annually lists its top “100 Best Bass Lakes” in the United States. Bassmaster staff review data provided by fish and wildlife agencies, results from bass tournaments, opinions from professional anglers and other data to determine their ranking.

Florida had the second most lakes on the“100 Best Bass Lakes” list with Lake Okeechobee, Lake Tohopekaliga, Rodman Reservoir, St. Johns River, Lake Istokpoga, Lake Rousseau and north Florida’s Lake Seminole. For the second year, Bassmaster staff also used the FWC’s TrophyCatch database for their evaluation. TrophyCatch is a partnership between biologists, anglers and fishing industry giants such as Bass Pro Shops used to document the catch-and-release of bass weighing 8 pounds or more in Florida. In order to be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos of their catch, showing its weight on a scale, before releasing the fish back into the water. The FWC’s biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, better management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch-and-release of trophy bass.

During the Bassmaster’s top “100 Best Bass Lakes” selection process, Lake Trafford received significant consideration and Bassmaster staff were impressed when they learned the story of the lake’s rebirth and how it gained its reputation as an excellent bass fishery. While not included in the top 100 list, Bassmaster published an editorial that praised citizen-driven restoration efforts and crowned Trafford as the “101st best bass lake.”

“I am so very proud that Bassmaster highlighted the dedicated efforts of our local citizens to raise support for Lake Trafford,” said Liesa Priddy, Collier County resident and FWC Commissioner. “The grassroots effort made by Collier County community members is what brought us to this pivotal moment for the health of Lake Trafford and the creation of this vibrant fishery.”

Priddy credits concerned and motivated citizens like Ski Olesky, owner of Lake Trafford Marina. “The movement to build support for Trafford restoration would not have happened if not for Ski and his late wife Annie,” said Priddy.

Today, Olesky runs airboat tours on the lake, educating visitors about the lake’s abundant fish and wildlife species with a powerful message that conservation is everyone’s responsibility and that ordinary citizens can make a huge impact.

“Fishing at Lake Trafford is great—and improving every year,” said Olesky. “I’m looking forward to the lake being back to one of the very best bass fishing spots in the state, thanks to the good work done by the FWC, SFWMD and Collier County residents. This lake’s success has truly been a partnership effort.”

For more information about the Lake Trafford restoration, email Amber Nabors at Amber.Nabors@MyFWC.com.

*(Photo courtesy of Capt. Larry McGuire)

Greater amberjack reopens to recreational harvest in Gulf waters Aug. 1

The recreational harvest of greater amberjack will reopen in Gulf state waters Aug. 1. It will remain closed in Gulf federal waters through Dec. 31, 2016.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will consider a similar closure in state waters at its September meeting in St. Augustine.

Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles.

The minimum size limit is 34 inches fork length and the daily bag limit is one fish per person for greater amberjack in Gulf waters.

To learn more about greater amberjack regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Amberjack.”

Tiny house getaway!

July 7, 2016

Tiny house 1RUSTIC RETREAT

*(Courtesy of Back Country Containers)

Built in a single 20 foot container, the Rustic Retreat is designed as a self-contained remote camping/hunting retreat. This design sleeps up to 3 people, allowing space for a convertible couch/full bed and fold down twin bed (optional). The Rustic Retreat is equipped with a kitchenette that includes a sink and mini fridge and a full bathroom with a stall shower. The interior door is “pocket” style to further optimize space saving attributes. A large sliding glass door and 4 windows (1 3’x5′, 2 3’x3′, & 1 2’x2′) allow the space to fully embrace its beautiful surroundings!
*(Click gallery images to enlarge)

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