Restricted Hunting Areas - What Florida’s Hunters Need to Know

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

Highlights

  • Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission proposed a Restricted Hunting Area (RHA) rule change.
  • On February 22, 2021, CSF submitted comments on the rule change proposals, including Restricted Hunting Areas, recommending that the FWC modify the RHA rule proposal to implement a direction of fire component that would allow hunting within an RHA, provided hunters do not shoot towards dwellings.
  • After strong pushback from the sportsmen’s community, the FWC tabled the proposal and directed staff to revisit the proposed language.

Why it Matters: Florida is a rapidly growing state, and increased suburbanization impacts hunting opportunities for many of the state’s hunters. This proposed rule change will further limit public access to hunting opportunities, specifically waterfowl hunting.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) worked with in-state and national partners to submit additional comments opposing the original RHA rule change proposal, which would have given municipalities the ability to apply for the creation of an RHA. If approved, a 300-foot buffer zone from a dwelling in which hunting with the use of firearms would not be allowed would be implemented, signage along the entire border of the RHA would be required, and enforcement of RHA rules would be left to local law enforcement, not the FWC.

The sportsmen’s community advocated for the implementation of a direction of fire component away from dwellings to the rule rather than implementing a 300-foot buffer zone, which would quell safety concerns, as well as protect public access to historically important waterfowl hunting areas.

FWC staff drafted a slightly modified proposal for the Commission’s review at their upcoming meeting on August 4. While certain minor modifications were made, the implementation of a 300-foot buffer between a dwelling and where hunting with a firearm is allowed, is still contained in the proposal.

With the ever-increasing rate of suburbanization taking place in Florida, access to publicly owned land and water is important for many of the state’s hunters and is critical for supporting hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts. CSF will continue to work with partners and the FWC to hopefully find a compromise that protects hunting opportunities in Florida.

The comment period is open on the FWC’s website until July 30 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

For additional background on RHAs, please click here.

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