Deer Management Proposal

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Wednesday withdrew a proposal to change the way the agency manages Florida’s deer herds.

The proposal to manage deer to produce larger antlers and larger animals drew favorable reviews from half the state’s hunters. Half isn’t enough to constitute a clear mandate, however, so the FWC decided withdraw the statewide proposal.

FWC biologists say they could manage the state’s deer to produce higher-quality animals by reducing the daily bag limit from two to one deer per day and by establishing a three-point antler restriction for antlered deer.

The FWC conducted workshops and hunter surveys across the state to explain the proposal and seek public input. Hunters were divided almost 50-50 on the issue.

In the absence of a clear mandate from hunters to adopt or reject the new strategy statewide, Commissioners directed staff not to put the proposal into effect. However, they told the agency’s deer managers to consider trying out the management strategy on a few wildlife management areas where it might produce results that will add to their knowledge about how well the new approach will work in Florida.

Florida’s hunters harvest 120,000 to 140,000 deer in a typical year.