St. Vincent wraps up primitive weapons hunts

The final public hunt of the 2012-13 season at the St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge as held Jan. 24-26. A total of 118 hunters participated in the hunts this season, 73 based at Indian Pass hunt camp and 45 at West Pass.

They harvested 28 white-tailed deer, including 11 bucks and 17 does. The largest deer taken was a two-point buck that dressed out at 110 pounds. Estimated age of the deer was four to five years.

Hunters harvested seven feral hogs including five boars and two sows. The largest dressed out at 132 pounds.


Bay scallop season opens

Recreational bay scallop season opened June 29 in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to nine nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando County Line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.

The bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half gallon of meat.

Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.



Recreational license requirement for lionfish removed

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has waived the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear and excluded lionfish from the commercial and recreational bag limits, allowing people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can.

Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.

Specific gear that can be used to target lionfish without the requirement of a recreational license includes hand-held nets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or any other spearing devices designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.

An identical executive order was put into place in August 2012 and is set to expire Aug. 3. The newly adopted rule will take effect before the executive order expires, so there will be no lapse in the expanded permissions.

Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that negatively impact Florida’s native saltwater fish and wildlife. Currently, the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters is by spearing or using a hand-held net. Removing the license requirements and bag limits will increase lionfish harvest opportunities.

Use caution when handling this fish. The spines of this species deliver a venomous sting that can last for days and cause extreme pain, sweating, respiratory distress, and even paralysis. If you are stung by a lionfish, seek medical attention immediately complications can be fatal.

Immediate first aid measures include immersing the wound for 30 to 90 minutes in water as hot as the poisoned person can tolerate (but not scalding) because the poisons are heat-sensitive. A chemical heat pack can also be applied. Repeat as necessary to control pain. Use tweezers to remove any spines in the wound using caution to not squeeze venom glands that may have broken off in the wound with the spine. Wear gloves to avoid self-inoculation during spine removal. Scrub the wound with soap and water. Then flush the affected area with fresh water.

Do not apply tape to close the wound as this may increase the risk of infection.


Florida Wild Mammal Association flight pen update

 Do you feel a sense of awe when you look up and see an eagle, an osprey or a hawk flying gracefully and free? Do you get a thrill when you find an owl watching you from its perch in a tree?

 If your answer is yes, then the Florida Wild Mammal Association (FWMA) needs your help. Their flight cage was damaged a year ago during Tropical Storm Debby. This is the cage where they rehabilitate birds of prey (eagles, osprey, owls, hawks, etc.) so that after they have recovered from their illnesses and injuries, they can get much-needed flight conditioning as the last step to prepare them for release back into the wild and a second chance at life.

 Volunteer Rob Olin has taken the initiative to make this project happen. He enlisted the help of friends for labor, and worked out a deal with Taylor's Building Supply in Eastpoint, who generously agreed to donate half of the supplies needed to replace the roof of our flight cage. The total cost of supplies needed is $2,700; the balance due is about $1350.

 Unfortunately, as a non-profit organization with no county, state or federal funding, FWMA has no funds to pay for the balance for this project. They desperately need sponsors to help cover the balance of the supply cost. If you or your business would like to be a sponsor on this important project, please contact Chris Beatty (FWMA's director) Sponsors of $500 or more will be listed and thanked on our website, and a plaque in their honor will be placed on the newly refurbished flight cage.

FWMA is totally funded by grants and donations from people like you.

Understand that, while they receive injured wildlife from US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission FWMA receives no government compensation.

One in five animals that come to the shelter is from Franklin County.

 You can send a tax-deductible donation to Florida Wild Mammal Association, 198 Edgar Poole Road, Crawfordville, Florida 32327. If you find an injured animal, do not call. Please bring it to 198 Edgar Poole Road off of US 319 near Crawfordville..