Florida FWC Laws Have New Teeth

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioners (FWC) approved a measure to join 23 other states in a pact to suspend hunting and fishing license privileges for anyone committing a conservation law violation that costs him his license in any other participating state.

If no one requests a hearing during the next 21 days, the new rule will take effect 20 days after that deadline.

The rule honors license suspensions for like-violations in other participating states. In cases, such as trespassing, however, in which other states may suspend hunting licenses, Florida will not suspend the violator's license privileges in this state because laws do not provide for license suspension for the same violation here.

FWC Law Enforcement Capt. Curtis Brown said the rule will make FWC officers more efficient by allowing more time for enforcement duties rather than processing procedures.

"It will make violators more accountable for their illegal activities," Brown said.

"Wildlife lawbreakers no longer will be able to escape consequences just by crossing a state line."

Other participating states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

There's more bad news for repeat violators: jail time and mandatory fines grow stiffer with each violation under new enhanced-penalties laws already in effect in Florida.

For instance, a violation that carries a nominal fine for a first offense has not changed, but the same violation will carry a minimum mandatory fine of $250 for a second offense within three years and a minimum mandatory fine of $500 and a one-year suspension of all recreational licenses for a third offense within five years.

More details are available at www.MyFWC.com/commission/2006/Sept/index.html.