Just came across this article on the management of deer and zones in our state.
PANAMA CITY— The Panhandle’s deer management zone likely will be split into separate units, north and south, starting with the 2014-15 hunting season, allowing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to tailor limits and restrictions for each section, an agency official said.
FWC held three public meetings last month soliciting input on the plan, which would divide the Panhandle’s deer management Zone D. The state has four such zones. The Panhandle’s runs west from Tallahassee to the Alabama state line and would be split by Interstate 10.
But, FWC will let public input guide the decision, said Cory Morea, FWC’s deer management program coordinator. The proposal drew a favorable response at the meetings, which were held in Marianna, Pensacola and Tallahassee. A total of about 250 people attended.
“It’s all about getting the public more involved in the process of managing white-tailed deer in Florida,” he said.
If and when the split occurs, FWC likely would manage the deer populations differently in each unit, Morea said. The big-picture plan is to subdivide each zone in the state, offering more precision control over the state’s deer population.
But Zone D will be the guinea pig.
Morea said the meetings gave the public, particularly hunters and landowners, the chance to voice their concerns and preferences. He said talk centered on “harvest formats,” the amount of deer hunters can kill.
Largely the consensus at the meetings was hunters should be able to take more “antler-less” deer, but fewer bucks.
“To get more bucks on the landscape, you would certainly have to, at least initially, reduce the buck take in some manner, either through antler-point restrictions or buck-bag limits or some combination of the two,” he said.
During the season, two bucks can be taken per day, with no season limit, Morea said.
Morea said the antler-less deer are fair game for about 40 days, which includes an archery and crossbow season of 33 days and a general gun season of a week.
In archery and crossbow season, the antler-less deer limit is two, and in gun season, it’s one, Morea said.
“You can never shoot more than two deer in one day,” he said.
Morea said changes could include altering the antler-less deer season and implementing a buck bag limit or antler restrictions; these could vary between the two units.
“They’re all on the table for consideration,” he said.
Morea also said the meetings offered a “second wave” of feedback. The first came from an FWC survey of Florida residents, hunters and farmers.
Steve Glenn, 67, a hunter, attended the meeting in Marianna. He said he doesn’t have a problem with splitting the Panhandle along I-10, but he needs more information before he can offer a proper opinion.
The Mariannaresident said FWC appears receptive to hunters and landowners’ input. Pointing to the study, he said it looks like FWC has gone beyond the science associated with deer management and is including the public’s ideas. He said in the past the agency leaned on science and wasn’t interested in anything else.
Glenn also volunteered to be part of a smaller group of hunters, landowners and scientists, which will meet and develop goals and objectives for the two deer management units.
Glenn said one way the units may differ is that bucks tend to be bigger on the north side of I-10, and those are the ones hunters are after.
“They’re wanting to kill deer with big horns — big antlers,” he said.
So, there may be stricter limits placed on bucks north of I-10 compared to those to the south.
Overall Glenn hoped FWC’s plan will be what’s best for the region.
“I don’t know if they have a real agenda; they just know that they need to do something,” he said, “and this is the vehicle which they’ve chosen to use.”