The most controversial topic up for consideration during March’s FWC Commission meeting is likely going to be establishing a goliath grouper season after a 32-year closure. And while I’d love to share my thoughts and feelings and recipes on the matter, this is a hunting column, and there are significant topics to address in that field, too.
24-Hour Alligator Hunting — To improve the statewide alligator hunt, staff is proposing to authorize alligator hunting 24 hours a day during the Statewide Alligator Harvest Season. By approving all-day hunting, this proposal would provide those with permits seven more hours a day of hunting opportunity and allow for more flexibility when scheduling hunting trips. While sweating in the heat of the midday August sun isn’t my cup of tea, those gator permits are valuable, and folks should be afforded as much of a chance to fill them as possible, in my opinion.
Turkey Harvest Reporting — Similar to what was implemented for deer harvests two seasons ago, this proposal will require hunters to report all wild turkeys taken during spring and fall seasons through FWC’s current telephone or internet-based harvest reporting system. Hunters will have 24 hours within the time of the kill to report the bird, though a hunter must record this on a paper log prior to moving the animal, if electronics do not provide a signal in the woods. This rule would be effective with the 2022 fall turkey season, and I fully support it. This is a simple task for charting crucial biological data.
WMA Updates — As is the case each year in their efforts to increase public land hunting opportunities, FWC is proposing rules changes to 37 hunting areas to add hunts, days, methods of take or species to existing hunts, or remove quota requirements. This year, they will also establish the St. James Island Unit — Tate's Hell WMA, a new wildlife management area (~8,182 acres) in Franklin County. The suite of hunts will include an archery season; muzzle-loading gun season; family hunt; general gun season; small game season; youth turkey hunt; and a spring turkey season.
This is just a cherry-picked list from a range of topics, and FWC encourages public input. Advance comments on any of these issues should be submitted no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25. Those comments can be submitted using an online comment form or via mail at: FWC Commissioner, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399.
This hearing is open to the public, and the Commission will also welcome input using the speaker registration process. It will be held March 2-3 beginning at 8:30 a.m. on both days. Tampa is the host city, this time, and you can find the action taking place at the Tampa Convention Center, Ballroom D, 333 S. Franklin Street Tampa, Florida 33602.
To find more information about this meeting, including an online version of the agenda and all of the proposals, please visit myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: FWC meeting will include alligator hunting, turkey harvest reporting