County officials limited in regulating hunting

County officials limited in regulating hunting
Mottled duck at Neal Preserve - Cindy Lane | Sun

BRADENTON – Manatee County would have to petition the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish “no hunting” zones, according to a memo by County Attorney Mitchell Palmer.

Residents bordering Perico Preserve on Perico Bayou and Neal Preserve on the Intracoastal Waterway are among those who have recently complained to county commissioners that shotgun blasts from hunters disturb them, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

Hunters have countered that they are within their legal rights to hunt in those areas if they abide by the FWC’s hunting regulations.

Commissioners asked Palmer to research the issue last month.

Manatee County no longer has any ordinances in place that restrict or regulate hunting; they were repealed in order to comply with Florida Statute §790.33, which gives the state sole authority to regulate firearms, including the discharge of firearms and the taking or possession of wildlife, according to Palmer’s Feb. 7 memo.

Only the FWC can establish a bird sanctuary, where hunting is prohibited, or a restricted hunting area, where hunting is prohibited unless authorized by an FWC permit, according to the memo.

The county can petition the FWC to establish such areas, and, if successful, would be responsible for posting the boundaries and enforcing the regulations.

FWC considers petitions for bird sanctuaries and restricted hunting areas at its July and January meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for July 17-18.

The repealed county ordinances formerly prohibited hunting – or the use of lights to facilitate hunting – on or from any highway, street or public road in the county, prohibited the discharge of firearms in certain areas west of U.S. 41 and regulated the use of shotguns for hunting in specified areas. Former ordinances also regulated concealed weapons permitting and the use of firearms at target practice ranges, according to the memo.

County ordinances continue to address hunting in Duette Preserve, where hunting is allowed, but any conflicts with the state’s hunting regulations are resolved by state law.

Duck hunting season ended on Jan. 27; hunting season for wood ducks resumes on Sept. 22.

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