Audubon Florida News

Take Action: Speak Up for Florida Scrub-Jays

posted on February 26, 2012 in Birding,Central Florida,Land Conservation,Wildlife

Florida Scrub-Jay

Your voice is needed on Tuesday, February 28, in Brooksville

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will hold a public hearing on February 28 concerning the question of whether, and under what conditions, four of its preserve tracts under environmental land management should be opened to public hunting.

While Audubon Florida does not oppose hunting generally, one of the four tracts is Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve, one of only a few state conservation lands where populations of endangered Florida Scrub-jays have increased in the last decade.

Audubon of Florida is concerned that opening H‏álpata Tastanaki Preserve to the hunting activity and first-time allowance of privately owned vehicles on its internal road system will impose unnecessary disturbance on the Scrub-Jay population and habitat. Further, the eventual management expense of keeping up roads so they can be safely open to private vehicles within the preserve will “compete against” more important uses of the very limited funds of SWFWMD. Money spent to grade roads won’t be available to be spent for controlled burns and other habitat management necessary for the Scrub-Jays.

H‏álpata Tastanaki PreserveFinally, the Preserve has always been closed to private vehicles driven by all other visitors – such as birdwatchers – throughout the year. Is it fair to open roads to one class of users only? We think not. That is not to say we want the roads open to birdwatchers either. Good management requires these roadsremain closed to all but official vehicles.

Every user ought to be treated the same and respect the environment by non-motorized entry only.

If hunting is allowed at all on this 8,146 acre preserve, Audubon Florida recommends it should be restricted to the area west of “Fort Izzard Road”, outside the viable Florida Scrub-Jay habitat. Further, Audubon recommends that private vehicles remain excluded from the fragile system of narrow unpaved roads within the H‏álpata Tastanaki Preserve. Hunting should be conducted on a “walk-in-only” basis, as it is often practiced on other tracts of land in Florida and around the nation, including other SWFWMD properties.

Meeting and Directions

February 28, 9:00 AM

Southwest Florida Water Management District

2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604 (Google map)

For additional info, contact LuAnne Stout, (352) 796-7211, ext. 4605

To learn more about the possible opening of SWFWMD tracts to hunting, please click here.

To send comments to the SWFWMD concerning the hunt proposal, please click here.

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