FWC looks to expand deer management units, new antler measures to the rest of Florida November 21, 2014

Florida Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

FWC News Release November 21, 2014 Florida

At its meeting in Key Largo on Nov. 21, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved draft rule proposals aimed at managing Florida’s white-tailed deer at a local level by establishing deer management units (DMUs) throughout the state, each with its own set of antler regulations and antlerless deer harvest days.

These proposals will be brought back to Commissioners for a final vote at their next meeting, in February. If passed, the changes would go into effect for the 2015-2016 hunting season. The purpose of the proposals is to manage deer on a more local scale, tailored to habitat quality, characteristics of the local deer herd and preferences of local hunters and other stakeholders.

Two DMUs have already been created in northwest Florida’s Hunting Zone Dand have been in effect during this current hunting season. If these proposals pass, there would be 10 additional DMUs in the rest of the state.

Six of these DMUs would make up Zone C in northeast and much of central Florida. The proposal for five of the six units (C1, C2, C4, C5 and C6), is that legally harvested deer must have at least three antler points (each point having to be at least an inch long) on one side or have a main antler beam length of at least 10 inches. For the C3 unit, antlered deer would have to have at least two antler points (each point at least an inch long) on one side.

Zone B, which makes up much of the Green Swamp Basin, would be a single DMU (B1) with minimum antler requirements of three points on one side or a main antler beam of at least 10 inches. The western boundary of Zone B will be considered for adjustment for the February 2015 Commission meeting; a portion of Zone B would be incorporated into Zone C (DMU C1).

Zone A in south Florida, under the proposal, would be broken into three DMUs with the two southern-most units (A1 and A2) having antler regulations of at least two points on one side for an antlered deer to be legal to harvest. In the remaining DMU (A3), antlered deer would need to have at least three antler points on one side or a main antler beam of at least 10 inches. Commissioners directed staff to move the northern boundary of A2 to include all of Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area.

These rules were proposed because hunters had been asking the FWC to manage deer at a smaller geographic scale, the way many other states do. Many hunters surveyed wanted larger deer populations, more bucks in the population and a better chance to see and harvest heavier and larger-antlered deer.

These new antler regulations would protect most 1.5-year-old bucks and, if passed, would apply to all lands (private property, public land, wildlife management areas) within each DMU. However, youth (15 years old and younger) hunters in all DMUs would be exempt from the increased antler restrictions and would be able to continue to take antlered deer with at least a 5-inch antler.

According to the proposal, antlerless deer season on private lands would be modified in all of the 10 new DMUs. These newly proposed antlerless deer days reflect public input from farmers, landowners and hunters on how they would like to see the deer population managed in their unit.

For more details on these proposed changes and to learn more about deer management units, go to MyFWC.com/Deer

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