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South Region                                                For immediate release

NEWS RELEASE

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

8535 Northlake Blvd * West Palm Beach, FL 33412 * 561-625-5122 * Fax  561-625-5129

November 15, 2002  
CONTACT:  Steve Coughlin (561) 625-5133 

EXPERIMENTAL DUCK SEASON SET FOR EVERGLADES STORM WATER TREATMENT AREA-5   STARTING NOVEMBER 24

          WEST PALM BEACH—Florida waterfowl hunters will begin hunting Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA-5) in Palm Beach County starting Nov. 24 as part of an agreement between the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

          STA-5, a 5,280-acre wetland in southwest Palm Beach County, is one of six projected storm water treatment areas (STAs) included in the complex long-range Everglades restoration effort. This natural filter will reduce phosphorus loading in the nearby Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and northern Everglades.

         
Up to 50 hunters will be issued free hunt permits for each of ten Sunday hunts, said B. J. Kattel, an FWC wildlife biological supervisor based in West Palm Beach. Permits will be issued by telephone from 5 until 6 p.m. on the Monday previous to each hunt. The reservation number is:  (561) 625-5133.
          Call-in dates include: Nov. 18 to hunt Nov. 24; Nov. 25 to hunt Dec. 1; Dec. 2 to hunt Dec. 8; Dec. 9 to hunt Dec. 15; Dec. 16 to hunt Dec. 22; Dec. 23 to hunt Dec. 29, Dec. 30 to hunt Jan. 5; Jan. 6 to hunt Jan. 12; Jan. 13 to hunt Jan. 19; Jan. 20 to hunt Jan. 26.
            Twenty-five daily use permits will be issued with a maximum of two hunters per permit, Kattel said. Permits will only be issued for the next Sunday hunt. Callers must provide a valid Florida hunting license number for each participant and a telephone contact numbers.

            Hunters must register at the check-station on site beginning at 5 a.m. Any unclaimed permits will be issued to stand-by hunters on a first-come, first-served basis, Kattel said. Each party of two hunters will be assigned a shooting station. Shooting hours run one half-hour before sunrise until noon.

            STA-5 is located in Hendry County bordering southwest Palm Beach County, abutting the northwest corner of the Rotenberger WMA. This area may be reached by going north from South Bay on U. S. 27 for 13.5 miles, then south on County Road 835 for 9.5 miles, and continuing south on Blumberg Road for another 11.1 miles.

            Regulations forbid gas or electric powered boats or construction of permanent duck stands. Hunters may use canoes or other man-powered craft to reach their shooting station, or they may walk-in. But Kattel said the area is usually covered with at least two feet of water.   Participants must possess a valid Florida hunting license, a Florida duck stamp, a federal duck stamp, and HIP check-off. Only shotguns using steel-shot shells are permitted on the area. The use of retriever dogs is highly encouraged. Airboats, powered boats, ATVs, or any other motorized vehicle is prohibited. The current state waterfowl regulation applies with a maximum of six ducks per day with species restrictions.

          A map and regulation guide for the STA-5 Public Small Game Hunting Area is available free by contacting the FWC South Region Office, 8535 Northlake Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL  33412. Tel. (561) 625-5122. This information is also available on the FWC Home Page on the Internet:  www.floridaconservation.org

          Kattel said the hunt is being conducted on an experimental basis to determine if hunting and other recreational activities are compatible with the important environmental mission of the STAs. STAs might be described as “giant kidneys” cleansing water moving from the northern agricultural areas. Plant life in these cleansing marshes will consume phosphorus as they grow, eventually depositing much of the nutrient in the soil.

            Phosphorus from fertilizers and organic soils carried south by storm runoff over the last sixty years has degraded and changed the natural Everglades habitat with negative consequences for native plant and animal life.

            “This nutrient dumping stimulates the growth of cattails, reduces the natural sawgrass vegetation and constricting or eliminating open water sloughs so important to waterfowl,” Kattel said. “Cattails don’t meet the habitat requirements of fish and wildlife found in the Everglades.”

          “STA-5 is a $37 million District (SFWMD) project,” Kattel said. “Understandably, the District staff is justifiably wary of just opening the barn door and allowing unrestricted public access into an area containing sensitive and expensive monitoring equipment and water control structures.

           “After this season’s hunt concludes, the FWC staff and the SFWMD staff will review all aspects of the program and determine whether it will continue or if can be applied in the other STAs,” Kattel said. “I see it as fine-tuning the program.”

           “Our goal is to document to the SFWMD that limited supervised hunting may be allowed in these areas without seriously detracting from their purpose,” he said. “This could be the first step in dramatically increasing waterfowl opportunities here in south Florida.”

            The experimental hunt was the result of a series of intensive meetings between staff of both agencies, according to Kattel. He said there was from the beginning a consensus that working together they could provide opportunities for waterfowl hunters without negative impacts to the wetland. “But after a long period of consultation and information exchange, I think the SFWMD staff is very comfortable with the experimental hunt,” he said. “Staff from both agencies brought a constructive attitude to the meetings and willingness to compromise that made this experimental hunt possible.”

            Kattel said that he and other FWC wildlife biologists are optimistic that these kinds of controlled supervised hunts will be initiated in the other five STAs in the next few years. The creation of the STAs was mandated as part of the Everglades Forever Act.

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 South Region                                                For immediate release

NEWS RELEASE

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

8535 Northlake Blvd * West Palm Beach, FL 33412 * 561-625-5122 * Fax  561-625-5129

                                                                                                    November 15, 2002

                                                                     CONTACT:  Jim Huffstodt (561) 625-5122

Season opens Nov. 23:

 DUCK NUMBERS DOWN SECOND YEAR RUNNING, BUT

LOTS OF PLACES TO HUNT IN SOUTH FLORIDA

          WEST PALM BEACH—Another dry year in the northern breeding grounds of western Canada and the United States triggered a 14 percent drop overall in  waterfowl reproduction.

            As always, the key factor for south Florida’s waterfowl hunters will be the weather up north in the mid-Atlantic states and upper south, said Steve Coughlin, south region wildlife biological supervisor, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), based in West Palm Beach.

            “An early cold wave up north will spur the migration south,” he said. “On the other hand, a mild winter is bad news for Florida duck hunters. That usually means the ducks will loiter up north and few will make it down here in time for the season.”

            The first phase of the regular waterfowl and coot season runs from Nov. 23 through Dec. 1. The second phase runs from Dec. 7 until Jan. 26. Canvasbacks may not be taken. Pintails may be taken only during the periods, Nov. 23 through Dec. 1 and from Dec. 7 through Dec. 27. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

          The daily bag limit is six ducks with a possession limit of 12 with species restrictions, reference the 2002-2003 Florida Migratory Game Bird Regulations Waterfowl and Coot Seasons brochure.   Coughlin said that the Florida (mottled duck) will be found in good numbers along with wood ducks.  Mallards had a pretty good year with only a five percent drop from last year. Canvasback numbers dove 16 percent and may not be harvested this year, he added. Blue-winged teal numbers dropped by 27 percent; northern pintails by 46 percent; green-winged teal by seven percent; redheads by 21 percent; northern shovelers by 30 percent; gadwalls by 17 percent; and wigeon by six percent, Coughlin reported.

         Of course, ducks will be harvested and the shooting will be good on certain areas on certain days. And, there are a number of public waterfowl hunters convenient to south Floridians, including a brand new site in Palm Beach County:

            STA-5 PUBLIC SMALL GAME HUNTING AREA: This 5,280 acre wetland in southwest Palm Beach County, is one of six projected storm water treatment areas designed to reduce phosphorus loading in the nearby Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and northern Everglades. STAs are only one component in the complex long-range Everglades restoration effort.

            Coughlin said that this is the first STA opened to waterfowl hunting thanks to a cooperative agreement between the FWC and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). The success of this first experimental hunt will determine whether similar duck hunts will be allowed in the future on the other STAs, he said.

            Up to 50 hunters will be issued free hunt permits for each of ten Sunday hunts, said B. J. Kattel, an FWC wildlife biological supervisor based in West Palm Beach. Permits will be issued by telephone from 5 until 6 p.m. on the Monday previous to each hunt. The reservation number is: (561) 625-5133.

            Call-in dates include: Nov. 18 to hunt Nov. 24; Nov. 25 to hunt Dec. 1; Dec. 2 to hunt Dec. 8; Dec. 9 to hunt Dec. 15; Dec. 16 to hunt Dec. 22; Dec. 23 to hunt Dec. 29; Dec. 30 to hunt Jan. 5; Jan. 6 to hunt Jan. 12; Jan. 13 to hunt Jan. 19; Jan. 20 to hunt Jan. 26.

            Twenty-five daily use permits will be issued with a maximum of two hunters per permit, Kattel said. Permits will only be issued for the next Sunday hunt. Callers must provide a valid Florida hunting license number for each participant and a telephone contact number.

            Hunters must register at the check-station on site beginning at 5 a.m. Any unclaimed permits will be issued to stand-by hunters of a first-come, first-served basis, Kattel said. Each party of two hunters will be assigned a shooting station with shooting hours running one half-hour before sunrise until noon.

            STA-5 is located approximately 12 miles west of U. S. 27 in southern Palm Beach County. The area abuts the northwest corner of the Rotenberger WMA. Kattel said access is off U. S. 27 on the first hard road south of South Bay. The area can also be reached from the south by going west on the L-5 Levee which parallels the border between Palm Beach and Broward counties.

 

          LAKE HARBOR PUBLIC SMALL GAME HUNTING AREA:  This 300-acre site is located on the west side of the Miami Canal approximately 6.5 miles south of U. S. 27 on the south end of Lake Okeechobee near the village of Lake Harbor. Gas-powered boats, electric powered boats, camping and fishing are prohibited. Hunters are assigned marked shooting stations on site.

            Thirteen daily use permits, with a maximum of three hunters per permit, will be issued for each of 19 hunt dates. Reservations will be taken over the telephone from 5 until 6 p.m. on a specified call-in date approximately one week prior to each hunt. The number is: 561/625-5133. The caller must provide a valid Florida hunting license number for each person in the party. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon.

            Nov. 18 is the call-in date to hunt Nov. 23 and 26. Nov. 25 is the call-in for Nov. 30. Dec. 2 is the call-in for Dec. 7 and 10. Dec. 9 is the call-in for Dec. 14 and 17. Dec. 16 is the call-in for Dec. 21 and 24. Dec. 23 is the call-in for Dec. 28 and 31. Dec. 30 is the call-in for Jan. 4 and 7. Jan. 13 is the call-in for Jan. 18 and 21.Jan. 20 is the call-in to hunt Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 (Youth Hunt Day).

T.M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area, including the Broadmoor Marsh Unit:      This 6,270-acre wetland is located on lands owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District (District) north of Fellsmere in Brevard County.  The T.M. Goodwin unit (3,870-acres) is a Ducks Unlimited (DU) MARSH project, developed in cooperation with the District, DU, FWC, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.  The Broadmoor Marsh unit (2,400-acres) is a Wetlands Reserve Program project, developed in cooperation with the District, DU, FWC, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

            Permits will be issued through a first-call, first-served telephone reservation system for 19 hunt dates.  Sixteen permits (maximum of 4 hunters per permit) will be issued for the T.M. Goodwin unit and 14 permits (maximum of 4 hunters per permit) will be issued for the Broadmoor Marsh unit.  Calls will be taken between 9 and 10:30 a.m. on specified call-in dates.  The number to reserve a permit is: (321) 953-5033.  Callers must provide valid Florida hunting license numbers, names and a contact telephone number for the group.  For questions concerning regulations specific to the T.M. Goodwin WMA, please call (321) 726-2862.  

            The call-in date to hunt the site Nov. 23 and 26 is Nov. 20.  The call-in date to hunt Nov. 30 is Nov. 27.  The call-in date to hunt Dec. 7 and 10 is Dec. 4.  The call-in date to hunt Dec. 14 and 17 is Dec. 11.  The call-in date to hunt Dec. 21 and 24 is Dec. 18.  The call-in date to hunt Dec. 28 and 31 is Dec. 26.  The call-in date to hunt Jan. 4 and 7 is Jan. 2.  The call-in date to hunt Jan. 11 and 14 is Jan. 8.  The call-in date to hunt Jan. 18 and 21 is Jan. 15.  The call-in date to hunt Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 (Youth Hunt) is Jan. 22.

 

     EVERGLADES AND FRANCIS S. TAYLOR WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (WMA): This area is essentially the remnant of the northern Everglades and encompasses 671,831 acres of sawgrass marsh and hammocks laced with levees and dotted with water control structures. It includes portions of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and administered as water conservation areas by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

            Ducks and coots may be hunted within the area during the regular waterfowl season. Hunters are reminded, however, that in addition to a state hunting license, state duck stamp, federal duck stamp and HIP migratory bird permit, they must also have in their possession a $25 Wildlife Management Area Stamp.

            Hunters may establish temporary blinds and use motor boats or airboats in the canals. An airboat may be used in the interior marsh but only if the operator equips the vessel with an orange safety flag at least 10 inches wide by 12 inches long and flown at least 10 feet from the bottom of the vessel.

            The northern section of the area is easily accessible from the Sawgrass Fish Camp on the east side of U. S. 27  and north of Interstate-75 (Alligator Alley). The sections south may be easily accessed via Everglades Holiday Park Camp, a few miles south of the intersection of I-75 (Alligator Alley) and U. S. 27, and west of U. S. 27 near Glades Road.

 

            HOLEY LAND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (WMA): This 35,350 acre portion of the northern Everglades just north of the L-5 Levee six miles west of U. S. 27 right on the Broward and Palm Beach county border. Ducks and coots may be hunted during the regular waterfowl season. Retriever dogs and airboats are allowed. Hunters are reminded that they must have in possession a state wildlife management area stamp in addition to a valid state hunting license, state and federal duck stamps, and federal migratory bird permit.

            ROTENBERGER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA: This 28,760-acre area is located just north of the L-5 Levee and west of the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area. The Miami Canal acts as the border between these areas. The eastern edge of Rotenberger is 15.5 miles west of U. S. 27 on the border between southern Palm Beach and Broward counties. Ducks and coots may be taken during the regular waterfowl season. Retrievers are allowed. Airboats are allowed, but operators must display the requisite orange safety flag.

            Coughlin strongly urges hunters to obtain the specific regulation brochure for the areas they plan to hunt. These may be obtained by contacting: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission South Region Office, 8535 Northlake Blvd., West Palm Beach, Fl. 33412. Tel. 561/625-5122. These brochures, the current Florida waterfowl regulation booklet, and other pertinent information regarding the waterfowl season may also be accessed on the FWC Internet Home Page: www.floridaconservation.org

            LAKE OKEECHOBEE—Although not the duck hunter’s paradise it once was, the 700-mile-square lake still attracts thousands of ducks ever year. Hunters will usually find many different dabbler duck species and abundant ring-necked ducks. Most will be found in the lake’s western marshes from the village of Okeechobee south to Moore Haven. Unfortunately, the hunter pressure is extremely high and good places are at a premium. Huge rafts of scaup, sometimes numbering up to 90,000, will concentrate in open water around the lake’s center. Successfully hunting them, however, is challenging. State waterfowl regulations apply. Access points and other pertinent information may be obtained from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Clewiston office: Tel. (941) 983-8101.

Other south Florida waterfowl hunting opportunities are provided by the U. S. Department of the Interior, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These include the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge near Naples, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge near Boynton Beach, and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville.

            Information on hunting these federal sites may be obtained by contacting:

            --TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 3860 Tollgate Blvd., Suite 300, Naples,  Fl. 34114. Tel. (239) 353-8442.

            --ARTHUR MARSHALL LOXAHATCHEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, Fl. 33437-4796. Tel. (561) 734-8303.

            --MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, P. O. Box 6504, Titusville, Fl. 32782. Tel. (321) 861-0667; or (321) 867-2412.

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