Florida Closes Stairsteps Unit to Deer Hunting for 2010-11 Season

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has issued an executive order, which will close zones 3 and 4 of the Stairsteps Unit of the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area to the harvest of deer for the 2010-2011 hunting season. The order will be effective prior to the archery season and will remain in place for one year.

The FWC, in cooperation with the National Park Service (NPS), continues to monitor the deer population in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Biologists from both agencies have observed a dramatic decline in the number of deer in zones 3 and 4 of the Stairsteps Unit (south and west of Loop Road).

During recent surveys, when biologists flew over the area to count deer, very few were observed. This trend also has been reported by hunters using the area. The reason for the decline is unknown, but a joint task force is investigating potential causes such as disease, predation, hydrological changes and other changes in habitat.

Access to all areas will remain open, subject to NPS regulations, and all other hunting will be permitted.

The FWC and NPS are committed to addressing the decline of deer in this area and ask that hunters bring live-weight-harvested deer from zones 1 and 2 of the Stairsteps Unit and adjacent units to a FWC check station so they may be examined. Hunters may call the FWC's Naples Field office at 239-417-6352 for directions and information on check stations.