FWC Okays New Deer-Dog Hunting Rules

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) adopted an amended rule proposal Wednesday in an effort to ease friction between landowners and hunters who pursue deer with dogs. The rule will apply only in the Northwest Region, which includes all counties from Jefferson west to Escambia.

The new rule requires landowners or individuals to register lands where they hunt deer with dogs. The FWC will register dog-hunting lands, at no charge, for landowners or any individual designated in a hunting lease or written permission from the landowner.

The FWC withdrew provisions that would have required a permit for private lands and the landowner’s signature on a permit application. The permit would have provided for two-year revocation of dog-hunting permits for sites where dogs repeatedly strayed off the area.

The new rule provides it will be a second-degree misdemeanor to dog-hunt on unregistered land or to allow deer dogs to stray off the registered land. Violations are punishable by a maximum of a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

Landowners have complained that deer-hunting dogs sometimes stray from hunting lands and cause a nuisance on adjoining properties. FWC officials worked out the new rule in a series of meetings and public hearings with landowners and dog-hunters.

Although the new rule applies only on private lands in the Northwest Region, Commissioners may consider adopting it statewide next year. Registration would not be required of hunters who use deer dogs on wildlife management areas.

The FWC’s three-day meeting agenda consisted of staff reports regarding the agency’s finances and legislative matters Thursday and Friday.

The next FWC meeting is tentatively set for Sept. 22-24 at St. Petersburg.