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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 3

October 2011

MyFWC.com Ask FWC Buy your license online Hunting Regs Saltwater Fishing Regs Freshwater Fishing Regs Outdoor Recreation Great Florida Birding Trail FishingCapital.com FWC Calendar Legislative Affairs Wildlife Foundation of Florida

Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day is Nov. 5 at Sea World


In an effort to keep unwanted exotic pets out of Floridas native habitats, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and SeaWorld will host Exotic Pet Amnesty Day Nov. 5 at SeaWorld Orlando from 10:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. If you have an exotic pet that you cant keep anymore please bring it to us! We will accept exotic pets (reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates) at no cost. Domestic pets, such as dogs, cats or ferrets, are not accepted. People will not receive penalties or citations for having unlicensed exotic wildlife during this event. The Nonnative Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them. Oneday-only Amnesty Day events are held around the state to provide the opportunity for people to surrender their nonnative pets free of charge with no penalties. Every attempt will be made to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters. Another goal of the program is to foster responsible pet ownership. Current exotic pet owners and anyone interested in acquiring a nonnative

Python surrendered at a Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day event. FWC photo.

pet can come and talk to experts to learn more about that animals needs. Amnesty day events are free and open to the public. Low cost microchipping is offered at many Amnesty Day events. A veterinarian will examine each animal, and every attempt will be made to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters. Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is also a family event. Live animals will be on display. Experts will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets, so people

Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day - continued


who are thinking about purchasing one can learn from credible sources before they buy. This is a chance for people to not only see exotic animals, but get up close and even touch them and learn about the responsibilities of owning a nonnative animal. Pet adopters will be recruited before each Amnesty Day event to give homes to surrendered animals. All adopters must submit an application that will be reviewed by FWC. Inadequate applications will be returned to the applicant for improvement. Applicants that are approved as adopters will receive a letter of acceptance from FWC. The letter of acceptance must be brought to Amnesty Day events- adopters will not be allowed to receive animals without their acceptance letter. Nonnative pet amnesty events help to increase awareness of nonnative species problems. Over 400 nonnative species have been observed in Florida, and more than 130 have reproducing populations. It is illegal to release any animal not native to Florida. If you would like to learn about caring for exotic pets, come talk to our experts and see some exotic animals up close. Amnesty Day is free and open to the public. Drive to the parking toll booths at SeaWorld, and tell the attendant that youre there for Amnesty Day. You will be directed to the parking area for the Pavilions, where Amnesty Day will be held. Participants will not pay the parking fee at SeaWorld or the admittance fee unless they choose to enter into SeaWorlds main theme park. Released pets can survive in Floridas wild areas. Often, pet owners dont understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they dont realize the possible effects releasing a nonnative species can have, said Jenny Novak of FWC said. This event gives pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets or no longer wish to keep them a legal, ethical option. For questions, contact Jenny Novak, 850-926-0128.

Released pets can survive in Floridas wild areas. Often, pet owners dont understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they dont realize the possible effects releasing a nonnative species can have. Jenny Novak, FWC

Give thanks for hunting opportunities

FWC photo

November means the 2011-12 huntin seasons in full swing. In this months column, I cover most everything you need to know about general gun, fall turkey, quail and gray squirrel, snipe and the second phase of mourning and white-winged dove seasons.
The first thing you need to do is pick up a $17 Florida resident hunting license. Nonresidents pay $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months. If you plan to hunt one of Floridas many wildlife management areas (WMAs), youll |also need a $26.50 management area permit, but dont forget to study the brochure for the specific area you plan to hunt because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly from area to area. You can get these brochures at the tax collectors office near each WMA, or you can download them from MyFWC.com/Hunting. You can buy your license and permits by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or online at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com. Have your credit card ready. You also can purchase them from a tax

collectors office and most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies.
The general gun season runs Nov. 5 - Jan. 22 in Zone C; Dec. 3 - Feb. 19 in Zone B; and in Zone A, the second phase of general gun season runs Nov. 19 - Jan. 1. In Zone D, it starts Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) and lasts four days through Nov. 27. Two weeks later, the season reopens Dec. 10 and runs through Feb. 19.

You can buy your license and permits by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or online at www. fl.wildlifelicense.com.

Hunters can take bucks having at least one antler 5 inches or longer, but anyone hunting deer in Florida must have the $5 deer permit. On private lands, the daily bag limit for deer is two, but during some quota hunts on WMAs, the bag limit is only one deer. In some cases, there are antler restrictions, so read the particular WMA brochure before hunting.
On private lands, hunters can take wild hogs year-round with no bag or size limits. On most - but not all WMAs, theres also no bag or size limit on wild hogs, and hunters can take them during any hunting season except spring turkey. Again, check the WMA brochure to be certain.

Give thanks for hunting opportunities - continued


The highly anticipated antlerless deer season, often called doe week, is Nov. 19-25 (Thanksgiving week) in zones A and C, and Dec. 26 - Jan. 1 (Christmas week) in zones B and D. During doe week, the daily bag limit is one buck and one doe, or two bucks. You may not take two does in one day as you can during archery season, and spotted fawns are never legal game. By the way, WMAs do not have an antlerless deer season. If you hunt with deer dogs anywhere in Florida, special rules and registration requirements may apply, so call the FWC for details. Fall turkey season in Zone A is Nov. 19 - Jan. 1. In zones B and C, it runs Dec. 3 - Jan. 29 and Nov. 5 - Jan. 1, respectively. And in Zone D, fall turkey season is Nov. 24-27 and Dec. 10 - Jan. 15, except for Holmes County, where there is no fall turkey season.

muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows and pistols are legal for taking these resident game animals during the general gun, antlerless deer, fall turkey, and quail and gray squirrel seasons.
Florida snipe hunting ranks second in the nation for the number of birds harvested each year. That season runs Nov. 1 - Feb. 15 statewide. The second phase of the mourning and white-winged dove season also comes in this month and runs Nov. 12-27. Shooting hours for migratory game birds are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The bag limit for snipe is eight; for doves, the bag limit is 15. You must get a no-cost migratory bird permit if you plan to hunt snipe, doves or any other migratory game birds. The FWC even provides an online Dove Hunters Hotline that gives up-to-date information on Floridas public dove fields. The address is MyFWC.com/Dove, and its updated every Thursday throughout the dove season. Information includes dove densities, previous weeks harvests and field conditions. Whether small-game hunting with friends and family or hunting solo, going after that monster buck, boar hog or big tom, November brings loads of great hunting opportunities. Heres wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and a successful hunting season.

The FWC even provides an online Dove Hunters Hotline that gives up-to-date information on Floridas public dove fields. The address is MyFWC.com/Dove, and its updated every Thursday throughout the dove season. Information includes dove densities, previous weeks harvests and field conditions.

Only bearded turkeys and gobblers are legal game, and you must have a turkey permit ($10 for residents; $125 for nonresidents) to hunt them. The bag limit is one bird per day, and a total of two during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined.
Quail and gray squirrel season runs statewide Nov. 12 - March 4. Theres a daily bag limit of 12 for each, but shooting fox squirrels is against the law. Shooting hours for deer, turkeys, quail and gray squirrels is a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal rifles, shotguns,

Wildlife Alert: New ways to be the eyes and ears for fish and wildlife
If you are like most Florida anglers and boaters, you enjoy your time on the water; its an opportunity to get close to nature and break the routine of work, school or retirement. The peaceful challenge of trying to find, attract and catch your piscatorial prey is made possible, in part, by the scientific management and conservation laws that sustain sport fish populations. The goal is for everyone to be able to share in the pleasure and to provide a sustainable harvest.
So when you see someone threatening those resources by damaging habitat, polluting the water, harvesting fish illegally (using illegal gear, taking more than their bag limit or keeping undersized fish), you probably wish you could do something. Well you can. The Wildlife Alert Reward Program has helped the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) catch thousands of violators through phone calls people make to 888-404-FWCC (3922) or when they simply dial *FWC or #FWC (depending on service provider). Violations can also be anonymously reported online (MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert). Now, conscientous anglers and boaters can also text: Tip@MyFWC. com (standard usage fees may apply). The text messaging option makes it more convenient for the public, said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWCs Division of Law Enforcement. We also hope it will make Wildlife Alert even more effective in catching poachers and other violators. The highly successful Wildlife Alert Reward Program has been around for more than 30 years. When peoples information results in an arrest, they may become eligible for a reward of

up to $1,000. Many conservationminded people dont even claim the award because having helped get the violators off the water or saved a life by reporting unsafe boaters, including boating under the influence, is award enough.
Being able to do so quickly and efficiently is crucial. Cell phones and now texting help get information to a conservation officer while the potential crime is still ongoing. When submitting information via text message, it is important to include as much information as possible, such as the specific violation and the location. Once a report is initiated, FWC dispatch has the ability to respond via text message to the reporting party to gather additional details. The Wildlife Alert Program is administered by a 13-member committee appointed by the FWCs executive director. The committee meets at least twice a year, oversees the program and determines the reward amounts. There are two members for each of the FWCs five geographic regions, and one member each representing Audubon of Florida, Florida Wildlife Federation and Unified Sportsmen of Florida. Each member serves a two-year term and may be reappointed by the executive director Here is how Wildlife Alert works. When someone knows of, or suspects a violation, they should report it immediately. Information such as the physical descriptions of violators and vehicles, license tag numbers, locations, etc., are important to ensure an officer can respond appropriately. Callers and online reporters may remain anonymous; they do not have to provide their names or email

The highly successful Wildlife Alert Reward Program has been around for more than 30 years. When peoples information results in an arrest, they may become eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Wildlife Alert: New ways to be the eyes and ears for fish and wildlife - continued
addresses, and they will not be required to testify in court. A confidential code number is required to be eligible for a reward, they are attained by texting, emailing or calling 1-888-404-FWCC. Trained dispatchers handle Wildlife Alert contacts 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Rewards range from $25 for no fishing or hunting license, to $1,000 for commercial trafficking of wildlife or killing an endangered or threatened species. Someone who reports a boater operating a vessel while under the influence could get $250. The real beauty of the program is that violators through court fines are the ones who pay the reward money. When a violator is found guilty, the judge can require a portion of the fine be paid into the Wildlife Alert Reward Fund. That money is then used to pay rewards. So in effect, violators are paying people to turn them in. The Wildlife Alert Reward Program is administered by the Wildlife Alert Reward Association, a non-profit, 501 (C)(3) created in 1979. Association members promote the program and raise private, tax-deductible, charitable donations to supplement the funds received through fines. To donate to the program send a check to: Wildlife Alert Reward Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 S. Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600. There are many other ways that concerned citizens can directly assist the FWC.
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Angler Tag Return Hotline: Call 800-367-4461. Burmese Pythons, or other exotic reptiles: Call 888-483-4681. Fish Kill Hotline: Call 800-636-0511. Horseshoe Crab Nesting Activity: Call 866-252-9326. Manatees: Report sick, dead, injured or tagged manatees by calling Wildlife Alert: Call 888- 404-3922. Marine Turtles: Report dead or injured marine turtles by calling Wildlife Alert: Call 888-404-3922. Nuisance Alligators: Call 866-392-4286. Oil, Fuel or Hazardous Material Spills in Florida Waters: Call 800320-0519. Red Tide Status Line: (Toll-free inside Florida only): Call 866-300-9399. Outside Florida: Call 727-552-2448. Waterway Markers - Missing or Damaged: Call 866-405- 2869.

When a violator is found guilty, the judge can require a portion of the fine be paid into the Wildlife Alert Reward Fund. That money is then used to pay rewards.

For additional listings, and on-line contact forms for many of these reporting activities, visit MyFWC.com and select Contact from the top menu. Protecting fish, wildlife and ourselves is everyones responsibility. Reporting those who misuse our wildlife resources or endanger lives by operating vessels while intoxicated is one way we can all help. Through Wildlife Alert and these other programs, ordinary people become

Wildlife Alert: New ways to be the eyes and ears for fish and wildlife - continued
the eyes and ears of the FWC, keep costs down, help conserve our resources and keep outdoor enthusiasts safe.
Instant licenses are available at MyFWC.com/License or by calling 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling *FWC

or #FWC on your cell, or 1-888-404-3922. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing for more Fish Busters columns.
Text Tip@MyFWC.com to report fishand-wildlife law violators or boating under the influence.

2011 a banner year for 2 Florida sea turtle species

Nest counts are performed each year through Floridas Index Nesting Beach Survey, which was created to measure seasonal sea turtle nesting, and to allow for accurate comparisons of beaches and years.

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling emerges from a nest in St. Lucie County. Photo by Blair Witherington, FWC.

The Florida sea turtle nesting season has come to an end, and there is good news for two of Floridas federally endangered sea turtle species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners documented a record high annual nest count for green turtles in Florida. Leatherback turtles also had a high number of nests, with the count falling just shy of the previous high mark in 2009. Loggerheads, the species that nests most commonly in Florida, did not have an increase in numbers this year. The nest count for this federally threatened

sea turtle was close to average for the previous five years. However, since 1998, the trend in the number of loggerhead nests is a general decline. Were pleased with the green turtle and leatherback nesting totals in 2011, said Dr. Blair Witherington, an FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute scientist. Nesting by both species has been rising dramatically and can be attributed at least in part to major conservation efforts over the past few decades. However, our loggerhead nesting totals have declined or are at best stable, which suggests that this species has a

2011 a banner year for 2 Florida sea turtle species - continued


different, and perhaps more difficult, set of conservation challenges, he said. Nest counts are performed each year through Floridas Index Nesting Beach Survey, which was created to measure seasonal sea turtle nesting, and to allow for accurate comparisons of beaches and years. The standardized index counts take place on 255 miles of selected beaches along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In one of the largest wildlife counts in the nation, hundreds of FWC partners diligently survey Floridas nesting beaches throughout the sea turtle nesting season. We are grateful for the large number of partners and volunteers that make this survey possible, Witherington said. Without them, we couldnt collect nesting data on such a large scale. The FWCs role in coordinating Floridas sea turtle nest counts is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and sales of the states sea turtle license plate. For more information about sea turtle nest counts, visit MyFWC. com/Research, click on Wildlife, then click on Nesting under the Sea Turtle heading. Sick or injured sea turtles can be reported by contacting the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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