FWC Reaches Out to Disabled Hunters

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a series of new rules today to make hunting opportunities more accessible to physically disabled sportsmen.

New rules, which will take effect in about three weeks, clarify FWC procedures for issuing permits to allow physically disabled hunters to use crossbows during archery- hunting season and use street-legal vehicles on certain wildlife management area roads that are not open to other hunters.

Also, hunters who are severely mobility-impaired (wheelchair-bound) can qualify for permits to use all-terrain vehicles in certain wildlife management areas where other hunters are not permitted to use them. To qualify for such permits, hunters will need to furnish documentation of their severe disabilities via an original certificate from a licensed physician.

Another provision of the new rules establishes a process for physically disabled individuals who do not meet specific criteria for the permits to request accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Gary Rudoloph, of Deltona, is national director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He said the new rules are a giant step forward for mobility-impaired hunters.

“In the past, there has been a lot of abuse of the permit system for mobility impaired hunters,” he said. “These new rules will go a long way to eliminate that.”

Another mobility-impaired hunter, Buddy Faison, of Ocala, praised the FWC’s efforts to open opportunities for hunters who are confined to wheelchairs. “If it weren’t for them, we couldn’t hunt,” he said.