Hunters Support FFWCC sign now

Dear Governor Bush,

It has come to our attention that special interest groups have contacted your office with their concerns regarding FFWCC taking over Tosohatchee State Reserve; more specifically they are concerned about hunting and the men and women who hunt there.
The woods of Tosohatchee have always been shared by Hikers, Bikers, Birdwatchers, and Hunters. We all have shared the land willingly and peacefully without incident. Unfortunately they want to stop sharing the land due to emotions and not facts.
One of the fears of that the special interest groups has is that they dont feel safe during hunting season but let the truth be known that there has only been two reported hunting accidents in the last 22-23 years, both of which were self inflicted. At no time was the general public in danger or targeted.
We understand that Doug Spahr of the Florida Trail Association, among others feel that there should be no hunting allowed out there but since they can not change what has been implemented over the years they are asking that no additional hunting days be allowed. We as hunters would welcome more opportunities to hunt. Having a youth hunt or small game season would be wonderful however we understand why those hunts arent available and we accept that. But reducing the days or amount of land that is accessible to hunters is a great concern to us all.
Every year, 316 days are devoted exclusively to non-hunting activities. Guns are not permitted on any part of the property during this time. Hunting is allowed by permit only and there are rules that we must abide by. Hunters are only allowed to hunt 46 days or less than 14\% of the year compared to their 86\%. The hunts are spread out over a 7 month period. Biologists requested 14 of those days to help reduce the feral hog population which is the number one cause of habitat destruction. It is a great concern of all of ours. On another 9 days hunters must stop hunting by 1300. Hunters must be checked in and checked out by FFWCC employees. All game taken is checked in and documented to help ensure that a proper management plan is being implemented and to make sure that game is not being taken illegally.
Recently the number of days available to hunters was decreased by 4 days. We arent complaining but we also dont think it would be right to have special interest groups who have access to the land 365 days to be able to dictate how hunters use the 46 days as long as the written and unwritten rules are upheld. We dont want another Bull Creek WMA or Three Lakes WMA. Tosohatchee is special because it is different. Wed like to see it stay the way its been just as the other special interest group do.
Another fear that the special interest groups are having is that the hunters will drive where they want which would destroy the Indian mounds and endangered plants that are throughout Tosohatchee. Hunters do not have any additional road access during season(s) and we are not out there searching the mounds for old relics or endangered plants. We are there to hunt.
Hunters also give back to Tosohatchee. The majority of State Park passes are sold to hunters and fishermen. However we are not recognized by DEP as being the largest or one of the largest contributing factors at Tosohatchee.
Non-hunters are not evicted on the days when hunting is allowed. Tosohatchee has numerous areas which are closed year round to hunting yet they are open to the general public year round. Being public land means that everyone is entitled to the same rights. It has been the general public and special interest groups that cant accept it.
It seems as though we are being stereotyped as trigger happy rednecks that have no regard for the land, animals, or for people who frequent this wonderful piece of land. That belief couldnt be further from the truth. The majority of men and women who hunt at Tosohatchee are true sportsmen in every sense of the word.
By allowing hunters to have access to Tosohatchee it allows us to assist the FFWCC with the wildlife management plan. The plan is extremely critical to the wildlife and native-endangered plants. Before hunting was permitted visitors would see deer which were sickly and underweight due to malnutrition and poor management. Now we are seeing many wonderful and healthy animals.
It used to be that seeing a good healthy deer was extremely rare yet now we have some of the best deer in the state. Its because the hunters and FFWCC care.
Please take time to listen to the hunters when it comes to Tosohatchee and support FFWCC as the lead agency. FFWCC knows what it takes to manage the land properly for the animals and user groups alike.
We believe that the FFWCC would continue to do right by all of the user groups.

Thank you for you attention in this matter and for taking time out to hear our voices.

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