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and FreshWater Fish
1984-1985 Annual Report
FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION
Article IV. Section 9. GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION
There shall be a game and fresh water fish commission, composed of five members appointed by the
governor subject to confirmation by the senate for staggered terms of five years. The commission shall
exercise the regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to wild animal life and fresh water
aquatic life, except that all license fees for taking wild animal life and fresh water aquatic life and penalties
for violating regulations of the commission shall be prescribed by specific statute. The legislature may enact
laws in aid of the commission, not inconsistent with this section. The commission's exercise of executive
powers in the area of planning, budgeting, personnel management, and purchasing shall be as provided by
law. Revenue derived from such license fees shall be appropriated to the commission by the legislature for
the purpose of management, protection and conservation of wild animal life and fresh water aquatic life.
2. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
3. DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
4. TOTAL FUNDING FOR OPERATIONS
DIVISION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
DIVISION OF FISHERIES
DIVISION OF WILDLIFE
OFFICE OF INFORMATIONAL SERVICES
ROBERT M. BRANTLY
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
Assistant Executive Director
WILLIAM C. SUMNER, Director
Division of Administrative Services
BRANTLEY GOODSON, Director
Division of Law Enforcement
DR. ALLAN L. EGBERT, Director
Division of Wildlife
SMOKIE HOLCOMB, Director
Division of Fisheries
BRADLEY J. HARTMAN, Director
'DENNIS "DUKE" HAMMOND, Director
WILLIAM G. BOSTICK JR.
MRS. GILBERT W. HUMPHREY
THOMAS L. HIRES SR.
C. TOM RAINEY, D.V.M.
Pen c la
T.L. GARRISON, Director
Route 4, Box 759
Panama City, FL 32405
LARRY MARTIN, Director
Route 7, Box 440
Lake City, FL 32055
ROBERT B. BUTLER, Director
1239 S.W. 10th Street
Ocala, FL 32674
J.O. BROWN, Director
3900 Drane Field Road
Lakeland, FL 33803
O.G. KELLEY, Director
551 North Military Trail
West Palm Beach, FL 33415
This publication was produced at an annual cost of $3,063, or $1.53 per copy, to
inform the public about the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission's
work, public functions and financial summaries for Fiscal Year 1984-85.
ulm u. DUwsCK JT.
Mrs. Gilbert W. Humphrey
Thomas L. Hires Sr.
J. H. Baroco
As the human population of Florida continues to soar, it is the state's wildlife that
bears the cost. Animal habitats disappear, and freshwater resources absorb more
and more of the residue of human progress. But just as human encroachment takes
its toll, human wisdom can yield alternatives among people with the will to protect
Since its creation as a constitutional agency Jan. 1, 1943, the Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission has matured into the role of flagship in the battle to
protect and manage some 1,500 animal species inhabiting Florida. In essence, it is the
Commission's task to manage "natural Florida" wisely.
Five commissioners, each appointed by the governor to serve five-year terms,
draw no salary for their services to the agency. Their duties are to set policies and to
appoint an executive director who is charged with carrying out the commissioners'
The agency's organization includes the Division of Wildlife, Division of Law
Enforcement, Division of Fisheries, Division of Administrative Services, Office of
the Executive Director, Office of Environmental Services and Office of
Informational Services. Aside from the administrative headquarters in Tallahassee,
the Commission maintains regional offices in Panama City, Lake City, Ocala,
Lakeland and West Palm Beach. In addition, the Commission has established fish
hatcheries and field offices throughout the state and operates the Wildlife Research
Laboratory at Gainesville and the Fisheries Research Laboratories at Eustis and Boca
During it's early years, the Commission's responsibilities were primarily those of
gamekeeper, but eventually, the complexities of modern times brought on the need
for the agency to assume new duties. Game wardens were to become highly trained
wildlife officers, and tradition was to give way to science. At the same time, the
importance of public information and education would expand.
In 1973, for the first time, the Florida Legislature set aside general revenue funds
to boost the agency's ability to carry out its overall program. Each year since then,
the Legislature has continued to appropriate funds to the Commission. For 1984-
85, the appropriation was more than $13 million of the Commission's $31 million
annual budget. Sales of hunting and fishing licenses and permits account for roughly
$10 million of the agency's funding.
Nongame wildlife-the 85 percent of wild species that have not been traditionally
hunted or classified as endangered-is the subject of new conservation efforts. Such
creatures are affected by the habitat losses that result from human population
growth, and for that reason, vehicle registration fees from new residents provide
much of the funding for the Commission's new Nongame Wildlife Program. Also,
individuals now have an opportunity to voluntarily contribute $1 to the Nongame
Wildlife Program each time they renew their motor vehicle registration.
The ways and means of wisely managing nature must reflect the ever-changing
condition of nature. In that sense, the task of an agency like the Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission is to adjust to reality rather than mold it. Conservation is a
process; not a stationary target.
Through the use of the latest scientific technology and the most professional staff
available, the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission seeks to lend caution and
intelligence to the domination of humans over nature. This agency's efforts to that
end are summarized in this report.
FY 1984-85 ANNUAL REPORT
As executive director of the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, I serve as the
Commission's chief administrator with the responsibility for all functions of the agency as
well as serving as primary representative on various private, federal and state committees,
councils and boards. The staff of the office of the director consists of the assistant executive
director, senior executive assistant and regional directors. Support functions of this office
consist of legal counsel, internal inspections, internal auditing and agency planning.
We bear the responsibility of keeping the five-member Commission informer'concerning
the current status of agency programs, and our mission is to carry out the Commission's
directives. Office support personnel assist the executive director in formulation of
departmental policies, research on major issues, and legal advice and representation. Also
included in the day-to-day activities of the office is the supervision of regional, division and
office directors. The support staff is responsible for drafting, reviewing and publishing
Commission rules in the Wildlife Code of the State of Florida. In addition, the staff conducts
comprehensive internal audits, and evaluates financial systems to increase the Commission's
internal control and promote economy and efficiency.
Under the direction of this office, the Commission has completed the third year of a three-
year effort to develop and implement a comprehensive planning system. The system consists
of four phases: annual inventory, five-year strategic plan, annual operational plan and annual
During this report period, the first comprehensive Commission operational plan was
completed. The plan consists of a detailed description of work to be done during FY 85-86
for each project in each division or office. The operational plan implements, during a given
year, portions of the five-year strategic plan. The Program Cost Accounting System (PCAS),
developed in FY 83-84, was implemented during this fiscal year. The PCAS captures GFC
costs for use in evaluating Commission project and program accomplishments.
Also during this report period, the duties and responsibilities of the regional directors were
redefined. Previously called regional managers, the five regional directors represent the
executive director and the Commission in the five administrative regions. Beginning in FY 85-
86, the regional directors will shift their emphasis from day-to-day operational duties to the
assessment of programs and performance, and increase their efforts in interacting with other
governmental bodies and the public. This will provide continuous review and ensure
coordination of Commission programs at the regional level.
It is our intention that this annual report will promote a clear understanding of this
agency's accomplishments in service to the State of Florida during fiscal year 1984-85.
Colonel Robert M. Brant
The Division of Administrative Services provides support
services to all Commission program functions. These services
include budgeting, data processing, finance and accounting,
Finance and Accounting
The Bureau of Finance and Accounting Is responsible for
maintain documennitiin of all revenue and disbursement
actitities of the Commission. The.e transactions are processed by
the State Automated Management Accounting S, stem
(SAMAS). SAMAS reports provide the accounting information
for management to control budget; and monitor financial
Commission operating revenue is derived primarnl\ from
license and permit sales, general revenue funding and federal aid
reimbursement. The Nincame \\ildlifF Procram in the Division
of Wildlife is financed by nonresident auto title fees and
donations In addition to operation 'fund-. restricted trust tunds
are maintained for land acquisition, to protect the Florida
panther and to pa\ rewards for the arrest and con iction of
endangered and threatened species lan s violators
The acquisition of additional microcomputers has automated
many functions in the Bureau of Finance and Accounting The
most notable area of change has been the computer:atrion ot
employee travel reimbursement and check printing
The Revenue Section of the bureau has designed a revision ot
the Commission's licen's and permit system. Beginning lune 1,
1986 license and permit stamps adhered to a single identification
card 1ill replace individually printed licenses and permits to
document payment of tees for variouss -porting activities. In
addition to consolidating the number ,f licenses and permits
issued. the new s~y stem %v. ll save more than $25,000 per year in
personnel, property, maintenance, purchasing, and general office
operations such as printing, word processing, central files,
mail room and storeroom.
July 1, 1984 -June 30, 1985
(Preliminary Year-End Amounts)
CASH AVAILABLE ON JULY I. 1984
I Adjusted after certltications $2.105,795
General Revenue Fund (Operations)
General Revenue Fund I F\ed Capital
Licenses and Permits
Charges for Sertices
TOTAL FUNDS AVAILABLE $30,825.640
EXPENDITURES AND COMMITMENTS:
Law Enforcement 12,151,626
\Wildlif Management 4.764.022
Fisheries Management 4,245.565
Informational Ser ices 1,61, 169
Environmental Ser ice, 5o4.413
Fixed Capital Outlay Projects 1,063,794
Non-operating Tranisers 1,373.072
TOTAL EXPENDITURES AND
JUNE 30. 1985
The Personnel Office provides support service for
employment, recruitment, equal employment
opportunity/affirmative action, pay administration,
classification, training, insurance, leave maintenance, retirement
processing, disciplinary and promotional coordination,
counseling, and union contract administration and serves as a
conduit between employees and managers.
The Personnel Office conducted on-site training this year in
areas dealing with collective bargaining and career service
grievance processing, pay administration, discipline
administration, wage/hour law administration, and employment
and interviewing techniques. Plans are to expand into more areas
of training needs.
A new payroll deductible investment/whole life insurance plan
was initiated for Commission employees. This plan was to
augment the term life plans currently available through payroll
deduction. The payroll deductible auto insurance implemented
last year now has more than 150 employee subscribers.
The primary goal of the Purchasing Office is to achieve the
greatest return for the dollar and provide the best equipment in a
timely manner. The office also has the responsibility of
coordinating all fixed capital outlay projects, contracts and leases
for the Commission.
The Purchasing Office issued 4,708 purchase orders, prepared
and processed 102 legal and formal bids, and processed 296
mobile equipment requests.
Three fixed capital outlay projects were completed in FY 84-
85. Budgets of the projects completed and ongoing work totaled
more than $2.7 million.
The functions of the Bureau of Office Operations include
property, records management, word processing/typesetting
center, office services (mail room, supply room and print shop)
and maintenance. The Bureau of Office Operations also
administers the motor pool, switchboard, security and custodial
contracts for the Tallahassee office, and the bureau chief acts as
the coordinator for inter-agency programs such as energy and
The print shop's productivity was increased with the purchase
of a four-station inserter and new paper cutter. The word
processing/typesetting center's productivity was also
substantially increased with the purchase of a new state-of-the-art
NBI shared-logic word processing system.
For a state agency to operate from vear to year, it must be able
to project revenues and expenditures. These projections are con-
solidated into the legislative budget process for both operations
and fixed capital outlay. During FY 84-85, legislative budgets
were prepared for FY S5-86 and FY 86-S7.
FISCAL YEAR 84-85 Total Fur
The 1985-87 legislative budget requests were prepared in
conjunction ith the development of the Commission's strategic
and operational plans. Individual budget requests submitted by
the di isions and offices were approved and included in the
legislative budgets onl w hen a correlation could be established
between the budget requests and goals and objectives outlined in
hiding For Operations 27,827,432
Appropriations by Division
Dwolion Amount ,"f Total
Law Enforcement $13,038,368 46.9".
Fisheries 4.309.237 15 5'.
Executive Director &
Adminiltrative Services 5,034,383 18 I'-
ildlife 5,445,444 19 5%
Appropriations by Catergory
Other Personal Services 881.333
Landowner Payments 413.35S
Salar\ Incentme 216,994
Data Processing 201,880
Pa~ ment of Rewards 5,000
S.Iurc: Amount of Total
General Revenue $12,050,146 43.8..
License & Permit Revenue 10,151.813 36.9'-"
Intergo\ernmental Revenue 3,449,411 12.6%'
Other Revenue 1,837,139 6.7',
The Division of Law Enforcement is charged with protecting
fish and wildlife resources on the state's 37 million acres of land
and fresh water. Protection is accomplished through preventive
patrols of urban, rural and wilderness lands and freshwater areas
and by arrest of persons violating conservation and
environmental laws. The division's responsibilities include the
enforcement of fishing, hunting and littering laws, the regulation
of the commercial wildlife trade, the enforcement of boating
safety regulations, endangered species laws, environmental laws
including pollution, chemical dumping and dredge and fill, the
maintenance of public order during natural disturbances and civil
emergencies, and assisting local and state law enforcement
agencies. Fifty-seven wildlife management areas consisting of
roughly 5 million acres are open to public hunting, hiking,
fishing, camping, birdwatching and picnicking. The division
provides uniformed patrols to ensure that these lands are
adequately protected and maintained for public use. The division
also provides uniformed patrols to ensure the protection of
environmentally endangered lands, and assists other public
agencies concerned with the conservation and enforcement of
Florida's environmental laws.
LAW ENFORCEMENT PATROL
The basis of preventive patrol is the use of uniformed officers
in high visibility patrol vehicles-being seen at the right place and
time-to deter wildlife law violations. Due to wilderness
conditions, officers are equipped to patrol with four-wheel-drive
vehicles, swamp buggies, half-tracks, full-tracks, helicopters,
fixed-wing aircraft, watercraft and other specialized equipment.
This year, officers responded to 10,473 complaints from the
public, issued 8,185 written warnings and made 17,361 arrests.
Wildlife officers worked 576,554 hours while patrolling
6,340,430 miles and checked 635,227 resource users.
Special emphasis is placed on the protection of Florida's
endangered and threatened species of fish and wildlife. During
this fiscal year, 58 citations and warnings were issued for
violation of these laws.
In order to maximize the protection of the Florida panther, an
intensive traffic control program was initiated in order to help
save this critically endangered species. The total population of
In Memory of
Wildlife Officer Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" Park
(Nov. 28, 1958 Dec. 13, 1984)
Wildlife Officer Peggy Park, who died in the line of
duty in Pinellas County, had dedicated her life to
protecting nature. Her untimely death was a tragic loss to
the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and to all
who knew her. Officer Park had earned the respect of
people in her region through her professionalism and
determination. She will be long remembered for her
deep, abiding love for all wildlife. We, her co-workers,
miss her deeply.
panthers is thought to be 30 animals or less and highway strikes,
if not reduced, could lead to the extinction of this magnificent
species. Therefore, portions of Alligator Alley (U.S. 41) between
Naples and Fort Lauderdale and SR 29 between Immokalee and
Everglades City were designated as "panther speed zones" and
wildlife officers were certified as radar operators on these routes.
Environmental law violators are pursued with great vigor. In
one case, a subject who was arrested for dumping hazardous
chemicals into the Everglades was convicted and fined over $4
million dollars by a county civil court.
In the Florida Keys, a construction company was charged with
destroying nests of the endangered Key Largo woodrat. The
company was warned of the presence of the protected species
prior to the destruction. The final court outcome of this case
may affect the Commission's authority to protect the habitat of
During this fiscal year, two wildlife officers were fired upon
while on duty. One officer was fatally wounded. Two men
were arrested and convicted for first- and third-degree murder.
The second officer survived his incident but was forced to kill
the subject. This officer was exonerated by the grand jury which
ruled the officer fired in self-defense and the shooting was
The training staff is charged with coordinating the
Commission's seminars, workshops and in-service training
sessions to update employee knowledge and skills. Training is a
necessity for providing the basic skills required to turn civilians
into effective wildlife officers and for ensuring that field officers
stay abreast of new laws and procedures. Whether it is basic
recruit or specialized skill development, the training goal is the
same: to simplify the complicated, to reduce errors, and to
This year 17 individuals were recruited and enrolled in the
wildlife officer recruit school and assigned to fill wildlife officer
vacancies throughout the state. This class of recruits graduated
with a higher grade point average than any previous class. Upon
assignment to their positions in the field, these new officers
endured eight weeks of rigorous field training in completing the
newly developed Field Training Officer Program.
In order to meet required training standards, all officers
completed survival shooting training. This training consisted of
classroom instruction, slides, video and hands-on
demonstrations, followed by a decision-making shooting course
using remote-controlled friend/foe targets and steel plate targets.
Officers had to demonstrate they could safely handle a handgun
and shotgun while delivering accurate shots on multiple targets at
varying distances. This provided officers first-hand experience in
recognizing the adverse effects of psychological and physical
stress related to shooting skills in a deadly force encounter.
Laser-firing revolvers and laser-target vests were used in this
training. Other in-service training included boating accident and
boating theft investigation, improved methods of field sobriety
testing, firearms qualifications, self defense tactics and officer
survival. Each officer completed more than 40 hours of in-service
training this year.
Special emphasis was placed on career development this year
to enhance supervisory effectiveness. Upper and middle
management supervisors and first-line supervisors completed
specialized fundamental and advanced supervisory/management
skills career development courses.
Wildlife reservists were active in Commission programs during
this period. Our complement of 241 active reservists donated
more than 52,000 hours to various projects which included
working in the areas of fish management, wildlife management,
law enforcement and informational services. Throughout the
_ __ __ ~ __ _
_ __ __ __ __ ____
year, certified reservists participated in in-service training
provided by our training academy and attended self-defense
workshops, firearms training and various other courses.
Wildlife inspectors are responsible for the regulation of
Florida's wildlife trade. The sale, exhibition and propagation of
wildlife and freshwater fish generate revenues exceeding $100
million annually. Wildlife inspectors provide the first line of
defense against the illegal importation and release of non-native
species of fish and wildlife. Inspectors check zoos, game farms,
tropical fish farms, wildlife importers and alligator farms to
ensure that these establishments are complying with state and
federal laws governing the operation of Florida's exotic fish and
Inspectors conducted a total of 3,833 inspections on
commercial and private establishments during this fiscal year.
Included were inspections of 392 wildlife exhibits, 101 taxidermy
shops, 438 personal pet enclosures, 834 pet shops and 100
wildlife rehabilitation centers.
A total of 2,453 illegally imported freshwater fish including
species such as electric eels, piranha, tigerfish and freshwater
stingrays were seized. Two hundred sixty specimens of illegally
possessed wildlife were seized including cobras, bald eagles,
alligators, cougars, bobcats, painted and indigo buntings,
primates and many other species.
During this fiscal year, special emphasis was placed on
obtaining accurate inventories of all alligators held in captivity. It
was determined that there were 35,350 alligators being
maintained by wildlife exhibits and commercial alligator farming
facilities. These counts will assist in protecting the wild alligator
population from exploitation through illegal live capture and sale.
Plain-clothes wildlife officers are stationed in strategic locations
throughout the state. Investigators provide the capability for
undercover investigations and operate in areas where uniformed
officers or high visibility would be disadvantageous. This section
undertakes long-term covert operations and specializes in in-
depth investigations. The investigators are all trained in crime
scene processing and blood analysis.
This year, several cases involving illegal commercialization of
alligators and deer were made. A new type of wildlife crime-
wildlife fraud-was also encountered for the first time. Such
fraud includes illegal scams designed to extort money from
businesses and the public.
One such case resulted in the arrest and conviction of a south
Florida man. The subject posed as an importer and dealer in
reptile and animal hides advertising to foreign firms. When a
foreign hide dealer agreed to buy, the subject forged the
necessary paperwork to complete the transaction. The subject
received payment for hides he never had and could not deliver.
Investigators arrested the subject for grand theft and forgery
which earned him jail time, fines and the possibility of serving a
25-year prison term.
The primary responsibility of the Aviation Unit is to provide
law enforcement surveillance to wilderness areas. This includes
search, surveillance, rescue and patrol missions.
A secondary responsibility is to assist the Division of Wildlife
and Fisheries in conducting environmental surveys and in wildlife
and fisheries management. Aerial surveys provide a means of
collecting data on the Florida panther, black bear, sandhill crane
and other threatened or endangered species.
The installation of Long-Range Navigation (LORAN) radios in
Commission aircraft provided the capability to pinpoint
locations, for both law enforcement and surveys, to an accuracy
of approximately 20 yards anywhere within the state. When
violations are observed on the ground, the location is determined
using the LORAN, and wildlife officers on the ground are rapidly
and accurately directed to the area.
During the past fiscal year, Commission pilots flew 3,149.7
hours. The pilots observed 10,779 resource users and assisted
wildlife officers in making 347 arrests and issuing 144 warnings.
The Communications Section provides the lifeline for wildlife
officers patrolling Florida's wilderness areas with teletype and
two-way radio communications. The system operates around the
clock with duty officers available to handle incoming toll-free
telephone calls as citizens report violations and wildlife-related
problems. Wildlife crime reports and other information are
relayed quickly by radio to officers on patrol.
Nine dispatch centers were consolidated into five regional
centers to enhance efficiency and operational reliability. This
change placed all dispatch functions adjacent to the regional
command, permitting a faster and more accurate message flow to
officers in the field. Telephone circuits were used to control
radio stations formerly controlled from field offices, and
extensive equipment redesign and modifications were necessary.
The work related to consolidation was performed by
Commission technicians, producing a substantial dollar savings.
As a result of consolidation, the division now operates the 24-
hour statewide dispatch function with 10 less employees than
were previously required.
During this year, communications personnel became actively
involved in the Multiagency Communications Task Force. The
task force is determining the feasibility of a "trunked" radio
communications system for use by state law enforcement entities.
Field tests were conducted to provide the necessary technical data
needed for the system design. The task force determined a pilot
project should be implemented to make a final determination of
operational and technical feasibility of the system. If funds are
released by the Legislature, the pilot program will be
This year, the division purchased programmable, lightweight
radios for boats and off-road vehicles. The new radios are less
expensive than the radios they replaced and results have been
The goal of the Office of Environmental Services (OES) is to
ensure that adequate fish and wildlife habitat is maintained in
Florida in the face of increased urbanization and unprecedented
population growth. By working with other governmental agencies
and developers, OES personnel attempt to inject a concern for
fish and wildlife resources into the regulating and planning of
development projects and into land management decisions, to
ensure that habitat upon which fish and wildlife depend is not
unnecessarily destroyed. Only by incorporating habitat consider-
ations into development planning can fish and wildlife resources
be protected and our fish and wildlife heritage be preserved.
In order to determine
impacts of proposed projects
on fish and wildlife habitat,
field inspections of project
sites often are conducted by
OES biologists. Projects
approval through the
Development of Regional
Impact review process and
dredge and fill projects
requiring permits from the
Florida Department of
(DER) and the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers are
inspected by OES biologists.
In addition, federally funded
projects coordinated through
the Interagency Review Process
require OES evaluation prior
This year, OES provided comments to the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers on 43 projects requiring federal permits and
involving potentially significant impacts to fish and wildlife
resources, and reviewed approximately 375 Intergovernmental
Review projects, 140 new Developments of Regional Impact
(DRIs), and 158 standard form dredge and fill projects received
from DER. In addition, OES biologists participated in the review
of a proposal by Florida Power Corp. for a new 500-kilovolt
transmission line to be constructed between the Lake Tarpon
substation in Pinellas County and the Kathleen substation in Polk
County, as provided by the Transmission Line Siting Act.
OES continued its emphasis on DRI reviews this year in an
effort to protect valuable upland habitats important to regional
fish and wildlife populations. Considerable time was devoted to
the Fort George Island DRI near Jacksonville in reviewing the
development order for the project and analyzing biological
reports prepared by the developer's consultants. OES personnel
prepared habitat assessments for several new DRIs in Nassau
County which would impact the densely forested coastal
hammock community important for migratory songbirds and
other wildlife through the construction of condominium
developments. Habitat mitigation plans were negotiated for these
developments that call for the preservation of significant areas of
hammock vegetation connected by habitat corridors.
Habitat assessments also were provided to the Treasure Coast
Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and were instrumental in
the preservation of unique xeric scrub habitats. For an industrial
park in the last remaining portion of the Yamato scrub near Boca
Raton, the TCRPC directed the developer to set aside 115 acres
for intensive environmental studies pursuant to development of a
management plan which would maintain the ecological integrity
of this unique habitat. In
Y addition, closely following the
recommendations of OES, the
TCRPC approved a severely
stipulated expansion plan for
Florida Power and Light Co.'s
(FP&L) Juno Beach office. In
addition to wetlands
preservation and creation of
retention pond littoral zones,
the Council asked FP&L to
preserve 75 percent of the
xeric scrub habitat on the site
which is inhabited by scrub
Sj~ jays, Florida mice and gopher
OES biologists participated
in an interagency project with
representatives of the U.S.
SFish and Wildlife Service,
DER and the Southwest
Florida Water Management
District at the request of the
Federal Interstate Commerce Commission to review proposed
alignments for a 26-mile railroad segment to be built by Beker
Phosphate Corp. in Manatee County. The industry-preferred
alignment was surveyed and rejected since it would generate
significant environmental impact as the right-of-way crossed the
north fork of the Manatee River and its major tributaries a total
of five times, and transversed a significant area of sandpine scrub
and mature floodplain forest along the Little Manatee River.
During the review process a new alignment was identified which
avoided these effects.
This program was initiated in the belief that problems can be
avoided through proper planning. OES works with developers
and land planners to incorporate fish and wildlife considerations
into development of land management plans before they become
finalized so impacts on wildlife populations are prevented or
minimized. Technical assistance is provided to other state
agencies, developers, consultants, regional planning councils,
county commissions, water management districts, zoning boards
and others concerning such topics as the impact of certain land
uses on wildlife, techniques to mitigate habitat losses, or project
designs which would avoid or minimize adverse effects on fish
and wildlife resources. OES also represents the Commission on
or participates in a number of decision-making or land use
OES provided technical assistance this year to several Chapter
380 resource planning and management committees (RPMCs). In
addition to continuing work on the Northwest Florida Coast
RPMC and the East Everglades-Everglades National Park RPMC,
OES personnel represented the Commission on the newly
formed Escambia-Santa Rosa Coast RPMC which was formed in
recognition of the critical need to protect and manage sensitive
environmental resources of the coastal areas in Escambia and
Santa Rosa counties in the face of projected growth.
Technical assistance was provided to water management
districts in the formulation of rules governing their handling of
dredge and fill permitting of agricultural and silvicultural
activities, which was delegated to them by the Wetlands Act of
1984. OES biologists promoted the use of streamside
management zones in areas where silviculture, agriculture, or
development is taking place to provide a remnant of stable
habitat along streams and rivers.
OES continued to be active in providing fish and wildlife
technical assistance in the area of phosphate reclamation. More
than 50 land reclamation plans were reviewed in association with
the Reclamation Advisory Committee. Technical assistance to
companies also was expanded in designing regional drainage
systems and developing multiple land use options for lands
reclaimed following phosphate mining.
Considerable time was spent this year providing input to the
Governor's Habitat Protection Committee for North Key Largo
in an attempt to negotiate an agreement between wildlife
agencies, conservation organizations, and developers on how to
protect important habitats, particularly endangered species
habitats. OES personnel worked on a Commission rule to
provide detailed guidance to local governments in the passage of
development ordinances and plans that prohibit any significant
disturbance of established habitats for documented resident
populations of endangered species.
Other technical assistance activities included conducting an
inventory of natural areas of regional significance for the North
Central Regional Planning Council and reviewing management
plans for state lands pursuant to the Land Management Advisory
Committee. Also, responsibilities included reviewing 93
Conservation and Recreation Lands projects and 19 Save Our
Coasts projects with regard to the Commission's membership on
the Land Acquisition Selection Committee. Input was provided to
the Governor's Working Group for Mosquito Control and
expert testimony provided in federal court at the request of the
Attorney General concerning litigation between the State of
Florida and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
over FDIC's sale of property at Grayton Dunes in Walton
ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND
This program evolved directly from the technical assistance
program to satisfy the need for up-to-date information in several
areas where the Commission was becoming increasingly involved.
Through the application of continuing practical research, past
land use problems affecting fish and wildilfe resources can be
corrected and future problems can be avoided.
Efforts were continued this year in phosphate reclamation
research. A report titled "Habitat Reclamation Guidelines: A
Series of Recommendations for Fish and Wildlife Habitat
Enhancement on Phosphate Mined Land and Other Disturbed
Sites" was completed and published. Work continued on
developing field procedures and methodologies for assessing
instream habitats to develop improved designs for the
reclamation of streams disturbed by mining. The feasibility of
erecting nesting platforms to provide both alternative nesting
habitats in historical nesting areas and to establish nesting
opportunities on reclaimed land was tested.
OES developed a Commission proposal which was supported
by the Governor and Cabinet to remove man-made structures
from the state-owned Lower Apalachicola River Environmentally
Endangered Lands Tract. The proposal consisted of removal
procedures and included eight-year special-use permits for struc-
tures claimed to have been owned prior to state purchase of the
property. Removal of man-made structures was part of a manage-
ment concept developed by the state during the initial phases of
buying the tract. Management of the tract also was transferred to
the Division of Wildlife at the end of the fiscal year.
Following the ground-breaking ceremony by Governor
Graham to initiate a test project in a section of the Kissimmee
River designed to evaluate various potential restoration measures,
the Kissimmee River Investigation Section of OES began a
monitoring program on this and other phases of the restoration.
By comparing changes from the restoration project with the
benchmark conditions documented in past years, the success of
the restoration of fish and wildlife values will be evaluated.
NONGAME FISH AND WILDLIFE
The Habitat Protection and Restoration Section of the
Nongame Wildlife Program (NWP) was added to OES this year.
The major goal of the section is to achieve and maintain the
natural diversity, abundance, and distribution of nongame fish
and wildlife resources in Florida through habitat protection and
restoration efforts. The section plans to accomplish this by
developing an information base on the habitat protection needs
of nongame species and providing that information to
developers, permitting agencies, land acquisition agents,
development review biologists, and the public. In addition, the
section is assisting the NWP in the selection process for nongame
wildlife research contracts and grants.
A coordinator for habitat protection and the NWP selection
committee for research contracts and grants ensures that habitat
protection information needs receive adequate consideration
during the selection process. All research proposals received by
the program were reviewed and evaluated for funding by the
Computer hardware and software were purchased and installed
to facilitate management of the data base to be developed by the
section. Information on the effects of development on nongame
fish and wildlife resources was provided to OES biologists,
Regional Planning Council staffs, consultants, state foresters and
water quality permitting agencies. Efforts were initiated to
determine whether the program should fund a project to
inventory and map Florida habitats using Landsat remote sensing
technology. The section coordinator also served as liaison to the
Nongame Wildlife Advisory Council and to program staff
concerning protection and restoration matters.
The Division of Fisheries is pursuing a goal of providing
optimum sustainable use of aquatic organisms for Florida's
citizens and visitors. This goal is intentionally broad in scope to
reflect the division's holistic approach. Florida's 3 million acres
of freshwater lakes and 12,000 miles of streams and rivers
provide some of the world's best fishing and outdoor recreation.
Over 2 million sportfishermen annually generate in excess of $1
billion in cash flow. In addition, dockside commercial harvest
from fresh water exceeds $10 million annually and cultured fish
contribute another $30 million to the state's economy.
REGIONAL FISH MANAGEMENT
The five regional fish management teams provide technical
assistance to private pond and lake owners, stock fish in public
waters, and perform pollution, fish kill and environmental
degradation investigations. In addition, speeches are given
frequently to citizens' and sportsmen's groups, and special
projects involving strategies for improving sportfishing are
The Jacksonville Urban Fishing Program studies habitat
management and evaluates new intensive fish management
techniques. For instance, the cost-effectiveness of feeding
commercial fish food to enhance growth and congregate sport
fish is being evaluated. Creel surveys are being used to determine
which techniques are most successful for maintaining quality
fisheries amid the intense angling pressure in urban ponds.
A new study in the upper Suwannee River documented the
importance of tributary streams to sport fish spawning.
Triploid grass carp are used to manage excessive growth of
aquatic plants in selected waters of the state. These fish, although
exotic, are readily controlled because their triploid condition
renders them sterile. By carefully adjusting the stocking rate,
undesirable excesses of aquatic vegetation can be controlled in a
cost-efficient manner, reducing the need for hazardous
Lake Apopka is one of the most highly polluted lakes in the
state, and has not had a viable native sport fishery since the
1950s. Lake Apopka was stocked with 585,000 sunshine bass in
1984 and 1985. To determine the success of the stocking, a creel
census is being conducted during the peak fishing season.
An age analysis of largemouth bass from Conservation Area III
demonstrated the 1982 year-class was the strongest in recent
years, and represented 48 percent of the bass population. This
strong year-class partially resulted from a natural drawdown
caused by a 1981 drought followed by high water in 1982. These
conditions enhanced largemouth bass spawning, survival and
Webb Lake, in Charlotte County, was opened to public fishing
with a "no harvest regulation" on largemouth bass. Anglers,
however, have continued to fish the lake, mostly for redear
In the upper Peace River degraded water quality has negatively
affected the sport fishery. However, further downstream where
water conditions were improved, the sport fish population was
Oklawaha Basin Fisheries Investigations
A drawdown of Lake Griffin (9,100 acres) was conducted in
1984 to consolidate organic sediments, promote growth of
aquatic vegetation and improve the fishery. Because of discharge
restrictions and heavy rain, the goal of lowering the lake seven
feet and exposing 40 percent of the bottom was not met. Some
bottom exposure and consolidation was accomplished, however,
on 30 percent of the bottom. Refilling to low pool level was
accomplished in September 1984. Approximately 2,700 acres of
exposed bottom grew aquatic and terrestrial vegetation.
Dominant plant species produced on the exposed mud areas were
spikerush, arrowhead, sedges, pigweed, willow, primrose willow,
pickerelweed, cattails, duck potato and great bulrush. Although
some uprooting of vegetation from unconsolidated sediments
occurred and many species were in water too deep to survive,
aquatic vegetation in September 1985 exceeded the 76 acres of
vegetation in Griffin prior to drawdown five-fold.
In spring and summer of 1985 the reestablishment and rapid
expansion of pepper grass and naiad was noted. It was also noted
that hydrilla had become widely established, particularly in the
area of Yale Canal. Submerged vegetation will provide valuable
habitat for largemouth bass and other game species in open-water
areas of Lake Griffin where no vegetation previously existed.
Blocknet samples taken in 1984, following refill, indicated that
strong year-classes of redear and bluegill were produced during
the drawdown. Spring 1985 electrofishing samples showed a
catch rate of young-of-the-year largemouth bass four times that
of spring 1983. Water quality declined during the drawdown
but recovered after refill. Fishing surveys indicated no reduction
in fish harvest or fishing effort in the 48-week period
immediately following refill. Harvest and success estimates for
largemouth bass and crappie in this period were similar to those
of recent pre-drawdown years.
Harvest and effort estimates for Lake Harris crappie were the
highest on record since 1966, while bream harvest and success
estimates fell to a record low. A 12-week creel survey on Lake
Yale (February April 1985) produced a total estimate of 35,737
man/hours, 69 percent of which was for largemouth bass.
Largemouth bass harvest on Lake Yale was 5,297 in 12 weeks, 37
percent of which were 18 inches or larger. These results were
similar to those in 1984. The excellent bass fishery the past two
years on Lake Yale followed the expansion of hydrilla in
Lake Talquin Ochlockonee River
Positive effects of an extreme dewatering of Lake Talquin, in
fall 1983, on sport fish populations in the reservoir have been
documented. Cove rotenone samples taken in fall 1984 indicated
eight- and 12-fold increases, respectively, in populations of
young-of-the-year largemouth bass and black crappie. Shoreline
electroshocking in spring 1985 produced 8.5 times as many one-
year-old largemouth bass as pre-drawdown samples. Creel census
surveys conducted in spring 1985 resulted in an estimated record
harvest of bream species of slightly over 120,000 fish.
An evaluation of three groups of striped bass in Lake Talquin
was initiated in fall 1984. Striped bass belonging to the alleged
Atlantic and Gulf races as well as a third population produced by
crossing the two races were marked and released into Lake
Talquin to test their suitability for various Florida waters.
Peak-season creel surveys on the tailwaters of Jackson Bluff
Dam were completed in spring 1985 and documented a positive
correlation between amount of water released through the dam's
floodgates and angler success.
Popularity of the Tenoroc Reserve Fish Management Area
continues to remain high among fishermen. Nine previously
mined phosphate pits are used as research sites to evaluate effects
of harvest regulations on largemouth bass. Extensive background
population data on bass, along with constant monitoring of creel
results and changes in population structure, are used to
determine effects of "regulation management." Since the opening
of six lakes for public use, fishing has remained fairly constant or
increased in most pits. Total fishing pressure of 48,000 hours
annually represents over 110 hours per acre and nearly 50 hours
per acre specifically for bass.
Initial findings indicate that restrictive bass harvest regulations
at Tenoroc have resulted in improved population characteristics
in lakes with catch-and-release or slot limit provisions. Positive
responses include expanded population size, increased average
bass size and indications that a large percentage of released bass
can survive. Without protective regulations, bass populations in
these relatively small lakes would have been severely impacted.
A survey of fishermen who fished this area indicated more
than 98 percent would fish Tenoroc again. Roughly 90 percent
approved of more stringent regulations pertaining to largemouth
bass harvest, and almost 80 percent favored no-kill bass fishing.
Objectives of the Non-Native Fish Research Project are to
document occurrences, population sizes and effects of exotic
fishes in Florida, and to develop plans for their wise utilization.
More exotic fishes (17) are established in Florida than in any
other state, and some are highly successful in terms of abundance
and range extensions. To date, 70 exotic species have been
collected at least once from Florida waters.
Two comprehensive five-year studies of southeast Florida canal
fish populations were completed; one concentrated on a single
canal system and the other involved more than 50 canal
locations. These studies indicated: (1) exotic fishes dominate
many canal fish communities, especially in Dade County; (2)
more fish exist in these canals than previously thought; (3) many
canals have too many forage fishes relative to the number of
predator species; and (4) properly managed, these systems could
provide excellent urban fishing opportunities.
Canal studies, a comprehensive literature review, extensive
communications with recognized experts and several years of
controlled research in Florida, revealed that introduction of
peacock basses (Cichia spp.) into southeast Florida canals would
be beneficial. Peacock bass, obtained as fingerlings from four
origins (Guyana, Peru, Brazil and Texas), were grown and
subsequently reproduced in hatchery ponds. In October 1984,
about 1,100 peacock bass were released in canals. These fish
reproduced in 1985, indicating they adapted well and could
provide sportfishing opportunities within five years.
Fish Culture Research And Development
The Fish Culture Research and Development Section worked
extensively with triploid grass carp, producing approximately
25,000 fish for stocking this year. The triploid grass carp is now
stocked for research in 22 lakes and has been successful as an
aquatic plant control agent in each instance. Stocking rates as low
as eight per acre, after herbicide treatment, have been successful.
Currently, lower stocking rates are being studied to determine
the most cost-effective rate for plant control.
Sport Fish Enhancement Project
significantly better. Another 250,000 sunshine bass were stocked
in the Peace River, and a creel census was instituted to document
angler effort and success.
Applications of liquid fertilizer to Lakes Stone and Karick have
resulted in impressive fish production increases, compared to
similar unfertilized lakes. Creel survey data showed fishermen
harvested almost three times as many largemouth bass and nine
times as many panfish per acre from fertilized Lakes Stone and
Karick compared to unfertilized Hurricane Lake. Moreover, the
liquid fertilizer costs about one-third as much as standard
granular fertilizer. The liquid fertilizer program is being expanded
to include additional nutrient-poor lakes in northwest Florida.
During 1984-85, Lake Okeechobee sportfishermen enjoyed
some of the highest sustained fishing success rates in Florida for
largemouth bass, bream and black crappie. Liberalized
commercial use of a portion of the lake's estimated 44 million
pounds of harvestable-sized fish was allowed.
From July 1, 1984 through June 30, 1985, commercial
fishermen harvested 6.2 million pounds of fish from Lake
Okeechobee. Catfish represented 62 percent of this harvest by
weight. Bluegill/redear sunfish and shad/gar/mullet represented
24 and 14 percent of the harvest, respectively. Trotlines were the
major producing gear type, harvesting 3.1 million pounds of fish.
The 10 haul seines permitted to operate on Lake Okeechobee
harvested 2.8 million pounds of fish. Haul seine harvest was
comprised of 1.5 million pounds of bluegill/redear sunfish,
888,000 pounds of shad/gar/mullet and 400,000 pounds of
Largemouth bass were tagged and released into Lake
Okeechobee in both open-water and near-shore locations. Of
778 largemouth bass tagged in open water between July 1, 1984
and June 30, 1985, only 3 percent were reported recaptured by
anglers. Average distance moved by fish tagged in open water was
nearly eight miles. On the other hand, in shoreline areas, 1,401
largemouth bass were tagged during fall 1984. As of June 30,
1985, 7 percent had been reported taken by anglers. Average
distance traveled by largemouth bass tagged in near-shore areas
was only one mile. Distance traveled by largemouth bass was not
found to be related to fish size, but rather to the time interval
between tagging and recapture. Directional movement of
largemouth bass tagged in open-water and shoreline areas was
toward the southern and western areas of the lake. No tagged fish
were reported along the eastern shore of the lake.
Analysis of age and growth data indicated rapid growth of
largemouth bass in Lake Okeechobee. Average lengths of males
at ages 1-4 were 6, 11, 14 and 17 inches, respectively. Average
lengths of females at ages 1-4 were 6, 12, 17 and 20 inches,
respectively. The oldest male was eight years old, 18 inches long
and weighed 3.2 pounds. In contrast, the oldest female collected
was nine years old, 25 inches long and weighed 8.4 pounds.
Creel survey results for Nov. 30, 1984 to May 29, 1985
indicated Lake Okeechobee afforded excellent sportfishing.
During the creel survey, 12,086 anglers were interviewed.
Anglers expended 780,000 hours fishing and harvested 1.3
million fish. During the 1984-85 winter-spring season, new
records were established for harvest of black crappie and bream,
as well as hours spent fishing for bass, black crappie and bream.
Bass fishermen logged 264,000 hours of fishing effort and caught
102,000 bass. Black crappie fishermen harvested 954,000
crappie in 430,000 hours of fishing. This was a harvest increase
of 34 percent over the previous record harvest and fishing effort
increase of 43 percent over the previous record. Average size of
black crappie caught by sportfishermen during the 1984-85
season was 10.3 inches. Bream fishermen spent 92,000 hours
fishing and caught 290,000 bream, a harvest increase of 58
percent over the previous record harvest and a fishing effort
increase of 76 percent over the previous record.
As part of the creel survey, economic data were collected to
provide estimates of expenses incurred by Lake Okeechobee
sportfishermen. The estimated average cost of a fishing trip on
Lake Okeechobee was $13.44. Sportfishermen made
approximately 131,138 fishing trips on Lake Okeechobee during
the 1984-85 winter-spring season, making the economic value of
these trips $1.7 million. Bass fishermen incurred the highest per
trip expenses at $22.21. Bream and crappie fishermen spent
$15.35 and $7.11 per trip, respectively.
Studies of black crappie in Lake Okeechobee indicated two
year-classes comprised 69 percent of the population. The 1983
year-class continued its dominance, representing 51 percent of all
fish sampled. The 1984 year-class comprised 18 percent of the
black crappie population.
ST. JOHNS RIVER COMMERCIAL FISHERIES
Information on the scope and trends in commercial fisheries of
the St. Johns River is being collected to better manage its
From July 1984 through June 1985, commercial fishermen
harvested nearly 6 million pounds of fish valued at $2.3 million
from the St. Johns River. Catfish were the most important
freshwater species harvested at 2.9 million pounds and $1.4
million. Of the catfish species sampled at commercial fish houses,
white catfish comprised 78 percent by number; channel catfish,
19 percent; and bullheads, 3 percent. This reflects a 42 percent
increase in channel catfish since 1983-84.
In 1984-85, 209 trawl samples were taken between
Jacksonville and Lake Harney to determine distribution,
abundance and species composition of St. Johns River fish
stocks. These trawls indicated the 1984 year-class of black
crappie was not as strong as the 1983 year-class, and only 1.6
black crappie were caught per minute trawled. However, black
crappie average weight has doubled since the previous reporting
period. Catfish catch rates in trawls declined 43 percent by
number in 1984-85 compared to the previous year.
Since a tagging study was started in 1983, 7,215 catfish have
been tagged and approximately 14 percent have been recaptured.
Commercial fishermen recaptured 95 percent while anglers
recaptured only 5 percent by hook and line.
In 113 hoop net observations north of Memorial Bridge on the
St. Johns River, commercially important species comprised 99
percent of the catch, while game fish comprised less than 1
percent. Only one game fish was harvested every nine net/days.
This low game fish catch rate is corroborated by game fish
catches observed in otter trawls from the same general locations.
The Aquaculture Project primarily studied sunshine bass
culture. Technical information and assistance related to fish
culture problems were provided to the aquaculture industry and
the general public.
Project personnel responded to 392 requests for aquacultural
assistance during the year. Of these requests, 90 percent were
from the general public, and the remainder were received from
the commercial sector, university personnel or other agencies. A
fish disease workshop featuring Department of Interior fish
disease specialists was co-sponsored for Commission fisheries
biologists and private aquaculturists.
In response to requests to possess and culture restricted non-
native fishes, 14 facilities were inspected of which 12 involved
tilapia species. Another request was for a permit to import and
A two-phase study of sunshine bass culture in ponds was
begun at Richloam Fish Hatchery. In the first phase, sunshine
bass fry were stocked at 14,000 to 28,000 fish per acre and
cultured from April 1983 through November 1984. No
significant difference was observed in growth of fish stocked at
these rates, and fish reached an average length of seven inches.
In the second phase, sunshine bass from phase one were
restocked at 1,000 or 2,000 fish per acre and grown from
December 1984 through June 1985. Once again, no significant
difference was observed in fish growth at these rates, and fish
reached an average weight of 1.5 pounds.
A small number of fish were test marketed through a Lakeland
fish market at $2.99 per pound. Preliminary results indicated
that sunshine bass offer potential as a commercial aquaculture
species in Florida.
The Fisheries Restoration Section was designed to expand
knowledge of lake management and extend the productive
recreational and aesthetic life span of selected lakes.
Lake Hunter, a 100-acre urban lake in Lakeland, underwent
restoration in 1984-85. As a result of improved habitat and
sport fisheries present in the lake, fishing pressure increased
three-fold. Stocked largemouth bass have subsequently
reproduced, and large numbers of young bass were present this
year. Sunshine bass were also stocked to take advantage of now
abundant populations of small forage fish.
Lake Kissimmee is still showing positive effects from the 1977
drawdown. This year more than 3,200 bass, 20 inches or longer,
were caught by bass anglers. This compares to a catch of 1,200 in
1983. Over 10 percent of the lake's harvestable-sized bass were
from 1978 spawns; these fish are now reaching "trophy" size.
In addition to active involvement in restoration programs,
project biologists continue to work in other areas to protect
fishery resources. Issues involving dredge and fill projects,
pollution abatement, and state ownership of submerged lands are
all priority items.
STATE FISH HATCHERIES
Richloam and Blackwater fish hatcheries are used to produce
various species of fish from fingerlings to harvestable-size for
stocking new lakes and restocking or supplementing fish
populations in existing fisheries.
Hatchery personnel stocked approximately 3.3 million juvenile
fishes into 388 ponds, lakes and streams in 54 counties
throughout the state. The Welaka Fish Hatchery, operated by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cultured 40 percent of the
stocked fingerlings to aid the Commission.
Sunshine bass were the main fish stocked by the hatcheries.
Statewide, 70 lakes and rivers were stocked with 2.3 million
sunshine bass. New areas which were stocked with sunshine bass
included the Peace River (250,000), Lake Jackson at Sebring
(34,000), Orange-Lochloosa (200,000). Earlier stockings
were repeated in Lakes Newnan, Wauberg, Ocean Pond, Sampson,
Santa Fe, Kingsley, Oklawaha Chain, Apopka, Monroe, Jessup,
Tenoroc Pond D, Winter Haven Chain, Lake Osborne, and the
Choctawhatchee, Ochlockonee and Escambia rivers.
Lake Talquin received 111,000 striped bass this year. Other
fishes cultured and stocked included 105,000 largemouth bass,
435,000 bluegill and shellcracker, 193,000 redbreast sunfish,
32,000 channel catfish and 25,000 triploid grass carp. Redbreast
sunfish were stocked into the Yellow River near Crestview to
supplement previous introductions. Catfish and triploid grass
carp were stocked into a number of fish management areas
including Bear Lake, Watertown Lake, eight Jacksonville urban
ponds, Koon Lake, Suwannee Lake and Webb Lake. Other
public lakes receiving triploid grass carp for plant control were
Lakes Conway, Fairview, Sybelia, Williamson, Fairy and Hunter.
All triploid grass carp shipments which were stocked into private
ponds were inspected by Commission personnel to ensure they
were all sterile triploids.
Walleye and sauger hybrid research was ended at Richloam
after limited survival was documented in several Florida lakes.
Experiments to induce triploidy in grass carp, thus making them
sterile, were conducted successfully by fishery biologists working
at Richloam where 25,000 triploid fingerlings were produced and
raised to a size large enough to avoid bass predation. These fish
were stocked in public lakes to control excessive aquatic
The Academy of Natural Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were provided with
striped bass embryos for research related to restoring the striped
bass fishery on the Atlantic Coast.
AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT
The Aquatic Plant Management Section reviews and comments
on chemical permit applications received by the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) for aquatic plant control operations in
Class I and Class III waters. The section also approves or
disapproves requests for use of herbivorous fishes as biological
control agents for aquatic vegetation.
Section personnel reviewed 483 permit applications for
chemical, mechanical and lake drawdown operations. Lake Okee-
chobee and the Kissimmee chain of lakes are monitored by U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, DNR and Commission personnel to
measure effectiveness of water hyacinth and water lettuce control
by water management districts.
Applications to import, possess and stock herbivorous fish are
reviewed and processed by the Aquatic Plant Management
Section. Only eight permit requests were disapproved, and 295
permits to possess herbivorous fish were issued during this fiscal
year. A total of 73,129 triploid grass carp was stocked in 158
Investigations are continuing to determine effectiveness and
impact of herbivorous fish used alone or in conjunction with
other methods of aquatic plant control. Commission biologists
surveyed 54 ponds stocked with triploid grass carp by private
pond owners and noted that target plants were adequately
controlled at all but 13 sites. These failures were due to
insufficient stocking rates, fish kills or predation on the grass
carp. Successful stocking rates ranged from 11 to 100 grass carp
per surface acre.
Aquatic vegetation control permits were issued for 5,442 acres
of water in 1984, of which half the acreage was stocked with
triploids. The average site stocked in 1984 was 20 acres; 39
percent of the sites were less than five acres; 37 percent ranged
between five and 100 acres; and 3 percent were larger than 100
The six plant species controlled most often in the survey of 54
ponds were naiad, hydrilla, muskgrass, filamentous algae,
spikerush and duckweed.
The Bureau of Fisheries Research maintains 12 independent
research teams, stationed near major fisheries. Program direction
is guided by resource needs and public input with highest priority
given to quality public lakes and streams. Research emphasis is
on native sport fish biology and restoration, and habitat
enhancement followed by peacock bass and snook studies, and
development of new scientific methodology. Major laboratories
are at Boca Raton, Eustis, Richloam and Blackwater Fish
Hatchery with additional field research stations at DeLeon
Springs, Melbourne, Kissimmee, Lakeland and Tallahassee.
Largemouth bass populations from Lakes Griffin, Yale and
Seminole, Par Pond and Tenoroc Lake-5 were sampled during
1984-85 to determine age and growth characteristics of these
populations. Relative year-class strengths indicated a strong year-
class was produced in 1982 in Lake Yale and Tenoroc Lake-5.
Mean back-calculated lengths indicated age 1 bass were largest in
Lake Griffin and Par Pond. Although smaller initially, Lake Yale
bass growth rate from age 1 to 6 ranked highest.
An experimental slot size limit regulation is in effect on Starke
Lake. This regulation requires anglers to release all 14 to 20-inch
bass. After two years of this regulation, the harvestable bass
population remains around 3,500 fish (15/acre). To date, no
significant changes have occurred in the size distribution of the
bass population, and the most abundant size is 12 to 13 inches.
Moreover, anglers still catch a bass every 3.5 to 4 hours.
In addition, techniques for removing triploid grass carp, after
the desired plant control is achieved, are being explored.
The certification procedure, in which individual grass carp are
inspected to ensure triploidy, has been transferred to the Bureau
of Fisheries Management.
Histochemical staining of gonad sections from two-year-old
triploid grass carp (the oldest available since these fish were first
produced in 1983) supported the belief that these fish will be
functionally sterile like all previous induced-triploid fishes.
Isoelectric focusing techniques were developed to quickly and
positively identify hybrid striped bass. This process was used to
verify the new Florida state record hybrid (16 pounds, 3 ounces)
and to disallow a striped bass from being listed as the new
Georgia state record hybrid.
Data collected on aquatic habitat and associated fauna over a
four-year period indicated extensive loss of riverine habitat
resulting from dredged material being disposed within-banks by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during their navigational
maintenance. Newly spoiled areas showed a 75 percent loss of
game fish, with a 50 percent loss seen on older sites (5-10 years).
Dredged material was the most unproductive near shore substrate
in the river. Effects of within-banks disposal can be expected to
last more than 10 years. Information supplied by the Corps
indicated an increase of approximately 25 miles (a 100 percent
increase) of sand shoreline in the 106-mile Apalachicola River
since 1947. A report to the Corps recommended: (1) taking
dredged material from the river to areas where the public could
obtain it for fill; (2) no additional natural bank areas be
designated as within-banks disposal sites; (3) avoiding placing
spoil material on snags; (4) relocating snags hazardous to
navigation to sites not frequently spoiled; and (5) the Corps
provide a plan to mitigate losses of natural habitat and game fish,
which result from dredging activities.
All state permits have been issued to the Northwest Florida
Water Management District for removal of the Dead Lakes Dam,
and only the Corps' permit is required to proceed. Adequate
water chemistry and fisheries data have been collected to evaluate
the fishery response after dam removal.
Assistance was provided to the Departments of Health and
Rehabilitative Services, and Environmental Regulation by
collecting fish at Chipola River sites for heavy metal assessment.
A state record sunshine bass weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces
was caught in Lake Seminole on May 9, 1985. Lake Seminole
exerts a major influence on the Apalachicola River fishery, and
invertebrate drift data are being collected to help quantify the
lake's value as a source of fish food organisms.
A cooperative evaluation project by Florida, Georgia and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed a lack of appreciable
native striped bass reproduction and recruitment in the Apalachi-
cola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. Cooperative plans have
been formulated to evaluate future stocking of stripers and
Upper St. Johns River
The Upper St. Johns River Study added a new dimension to its
emphasis on effects of environmental factors on fishermen
success. How fish population growth, age and size distributions,
and male/female game fish ratios respond to water level
fluctuations became the major portion of the study. Fish were
sampled using various methods, including blocknetting and
electrofishing, along established river transects at selected times
of the year. In the lakes, 18 one-acre samples were taken and four
river transects also were sampled during the year. Sample data
will be used to assess the impact of very low and very high water
levels on fish.
Information from fish population and fishermen success
studies is related to investigations of water quality changes.
Degraded water quality, in turn, is related to human activities
which often result in fish kills. Constant monitoring of water
quality and the biotelemetry study of bass in the upper basin has
shed light on fish response to degraded water quality during
sudden rises in water levels. Over the past several years, bass
have been observed fleeing slugs of degraded water. This year,
two radio-tagged bass could not outswim a sudden inflow of
degraded water. However, they traveled six miles downstream
before dying with 12,000 other fish. Biotelemetry data is also
being related to fish population and creel studies to produce a
better picture of the system and its potential.
Lower St. Johns River
The Lower St. Johns River Project, headquartered at DeLeon
Springs, recently completed the first year of a three-year study on
distribution, movements, age structure, growth and food habits
of major sport fishes in the river. Approximately 1,000
largemouth bass, 1,628 crappie, 775 striped bass and 406
sunshine bass have been tagged to enable scientists to observe the
fish's behavior. Preliminary data from angler catches of tagged
fish indicated largemouth bass tended to remain near where they
were tagged. Though return rates for black crappie were low, this
species exhibited a tendency for long distance movements, some
having traveled 30 miles. Striped bass and sunshine bass had
made many notable movements with travels in excess of 60
Analyses of striped bass stomach contents revealed that fish,
primarily shad, were the major food source and occurred in 52
percent of the stomachs comprising 69 percent by weight and 63
percent by number of their diet. Sunshine bass also consumed
aquatic invertebrates such as mysid shrimp which comprise 66
percent by number and 4 percent by weight of their diet. No
sport fish were found in the stomachs of striped bass or sunshine
bass. The diet of largemouth bass consists of a wide array of fish
species and aquatic invertebrates. Largemouth bass are
opportunistic feeders, and at times, even cannibalistic. Young-of-
the-year largemouth bass occurred as 5 percent of the diet by
A year-long creel survey in the Lake Crescent section of the
river revealed that anglers caught an estimated 72,272 black
crappie, 21,371 bream and 4,526 largemouth bass. Average
success rates while fishing for these species were 0.92, 1.46 and
0.22 fish per hour, respectively. A total of 128,434 hours of
effort was expended for all species. The south Lake
George/Lake Dexter to DeLand section of the St. Johns River was
surveyed from January to July 1985. Anglers in south Lake
George caught 6,495 bass at a success rate of 0.24 fish per hour.
Effort for and harvest of black crappie during this period
increased substantially over earlier surveys. Anglers spent 6,801
man/hours harvesting 18,619 crappie with success rates, at
times, exceeding 3.5 fish per hour. These increases indicated a
strong year-class produced in 1983. Estimates of effort, harvest
and successful striped bass fishing also were at record levels due
to successful stockings in 1982 and 1983, and increased public
awareness of this fishery.
Anglers in the Lake Dexter to DeLand section of the river
devoted 37,886 hours of effort to catching 11,249 largemouth
bass at a success rate of 0.30 fish per hour. Black crappie and
bream also were harvested in large numbers, 26,854 and 72,088,
respectively. Overall, a total of 101,796 hours of effort were
expended for all species.
Knowledge gleaned from this research is crucial to developing
planning strategies and making sound management decisions
regarding one of Florida's largest sport fishery resources.
North Florida Streams Research Project
Personnel of the North Florida Streams Research Project
continued fishery studies on the lower Escambia River and its
delta marsh and worked on the statewide river monitoring
program. Quarterly samples taken from eight sites in the
Escambia River and marsh indicated the marsh and lower river
habitats were more productive in terms of numbers of
largemouth bass and redear sunfish than other areas. Bluegill
were more abundant in backwater habitats. Crabs made up the
bulk of the diet of largemouth bass, while redear sunfish most
frequently consumed mollusks. The mean size of harvested
largemouth bass was 11.5 inches. Growth studies indicated fish
of this size and in this area would most likely be three years old,
which demonstrates significantly poorer growth than for bass in
Monitoring of fingerling and tagged, advanced-fingerling
sunshine bass stocked in the Escambia River was continued.
Creel surveys from June 1984 through May 1985 indicated an
estimated annual harvest of 4,295 sunshine bass of which the
1983 year-class made up 83 percent. Of 264 sunshine bass
collected in monthly gillnet samples, the 1983 and 1984 year-
classes made up 54 and 44 percent, respectively. Return rates for
3,997 advanced fingerlings stocked in 1983 and 3,333 stocked in
1984 were 7 percent each year.
Assessment of the ecological well-being of fish communities
and sport fish populations in streams was continued with nine
rivers sampled during 1984-85. Fish from 99 species were
collected from these rivers. In general, there was a statewide
increase in numbers of sport and commercial fishes, centrarchid
sport fishes (bass and bream combined), and in largemouth bass
over last year. In all rivers monitored, an increase was observed
in the weights of all species combined, sport/commercial fishes,
centrarchid sport fish and largemouth bass.
Fisheries Data Analysis
Most Commission fisheries research facilities are now
equipped with microcomputer systems which include data
analysis, graphics, word processing and communications
capabilities. Field offices routinely transmit data and reports
electronically to the central office and to other projects. A
statewide data base of creel survey information has been
developed and includes fishery statistics from water bodies dating
back to 1974 in some cases.
Fisheries Chemistry Laboratory
Chemical research to support freshwater fisheries projects is
the prime function of the chemistry section. Areas of concern
include quantification of municipal, industrial, urban and
agricultural pollutants, and relationships between fish, plants and
their chemical environment.
The modern analytical laboratory processed nearly 20,000
samples of water, soil and tissue during 1984-85. Major efforts
included the large river basins of the St. Johns, Kissimmee,
Escambia, Blackwater and Apalachicola. Preliminary research was
conducted on potential problems associated with heavy metals
and acid rain.
The Division of Wildlife develops and implements
management practices to ensure the perpetuation of Florida's
wildlife. Degradation and loss of habitat, and increasing demand
for access to wildlife resources dictate that the division undertake
its responsibilities with a firm base of scientific facts. Inventories
of wildlife populations, basic and applied wildlife research, and
monitoring of wildlife harvests are some of the means employed.
The division administers the largest system of state public
hunting areas in the United States with 17 percent of the land in
the state available for wildlife oriented recreational opportunities.
WILDLIFE LAND MANAGEMENT
In a continuing effort to provide public hunting, the Division
of Wildlife administers Type I and Type II wildlife management
areas. In FY 84-85 the Type I program comprised 4,461,245
acres in 57 areas. A permit is required to use these areas. Funds
from the sale of these permits are used for habitat management
and other maintenance activities.
The division cooperates with seven landowners in the
1,813,806-acre Type II system, designed to encourage
landowners to open their lands to public hunting with minor
involvement by the Commission. These lands belong to Buckeye
Cellulose Corp., Southwest Forest Industries Inc., Gilman Paper
Co., Champion International Corp., St. Johns River Water
Management District, Northwest Florida Water Management
District, Jennings Family Liquidating Trust, and the U.S. Air
Force. These landowners require permits for hunting; the
Commission offers law enforcement and technical assistance.
During the 1984-85 season, hunters spent 1,457,027
man/days hunting on the Type I system. A total of $500,000
was distributed to 16 private landowners participating in the
program. More than one-third of the Type I land is in private
ownership, with the remainder being state and federal lands.
More than 50,000 hunters purchased permits from private
landowners to hunt on Type II wildlife management areas.
Habitat management completed this year on wildlife
management areas included control burning 99,977 acres and
planting 152,00 mast-producing tree seedlings and 549 acres of
wildlife food plots. The Hickory Mound Impoundment at the
Aucilla Wildlife Management Area was maintained and managed
for public hunting and fishing. The Occidental and IMC wildlife
management areas (comprising 3,320 acres) were managed for
public waterfowl hunting in Hamilton and Polk counties. A total
of 255 quail feeders were maintained. Some 170 wood duck
nesting boxes were maintained and checked for productivity, and
31 new nesting boxes were constructed.
Bird dog field trials were conducted on Cecil M. Webb, Citrus
and Blackwater wildlife management areas as part of a
continuing program to provide field trial facilities around the
In 1984-85, the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area
(10,000 acres) in Orange County, the Guana River Wildlife
Management Area (8,700 acres) in St. Johns County, and the
Arbuckle Wildlife Management Area (7,000 acres) in Polk
County were opened to hunting. Also, the Andrews Wildlife
Management Area (3,800 acres) in Levy County and the
Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area (15,000 acres) in
Hernando County were added to the wildlife management area
program but will not be open for recreational use until the 1986-
87 fiscal year.
The Santa Fe Swamp Wildlife and Environmental Area (5,800
acres) in Clay County was secured by agreement with the
Suwannee River Water Management District to be opened for
hunting in 1985-86.
The MK Ranch Public Waterfowl Area (approximately 7,000
acres) in Gulf County was open to public waterfowl, dove and
snipe hunting in 1984-85.
The Type I and Type II wildlife management area programs
offer the largest public hunting area program in the United
States. Approximately 17 percent of the land in Florida currently
is committed to providing public hunting opportunities.
During 1984-85, there were 56,750 nine-day and 11,255
special hunt permits available to the public. All special hunt
permits and 54,387 (96 percent) of the nine-day permits were
Twenty-one hundred antlerless deer permits were issued as
part of the 1984-85 quota hunt program.
The method in which quota permits were issued remained a
combination of random drawing during the June 1-10 period and
first-come, first-served thereafter.
Two mail surveys were conducted during FY 84-85. The
statewide mail survey involved a 5 percent random sample of the
hunting public and provided estimates on hunt pressure and
wildlife harvest on a statewide basis. The management area mail
survey involved a 25 percent random sample of hunters
purchasing management area stamps.
Everglades Recreation Project
Everglades Recreation Project personnel assisted with the
operation of managed hunts on the Everglades WMA by
manning check stations to collect biological data from harvested
deer. A total of 50,000 acres of sawgrass marsh in the Everglades
WMA was prescribe burned during 1984-85. Considerable time
was spent conducting aerial surveys from fixed-wing aircraft and
a helicopter to determine deer population levels and antlered-to-
antlerless ratios in the Everglades WMA.
NONGAME WILDLIFE PROGRAM
Legislation formally acknowledging the need for greater
nongame wildlife management and protection in Florida was
passed in 1983. This legislation, known as the Florida Nongame
Wildlife Act, created the Nongame Wildlife Advisory Council
and the Nongame Wildlife Trust Fund.
The 1984 Legislature accepted the Operational Plan for the
NGWP and passed into law the program's funding sources which
include a $4 increase in used car original title fees and an
opportunity for Florida citizens to voluntarily contribute $1 each
time they pay their annual vehicle registration fees.
The definition of nongame species that could receive attention
under this new program includes all species and populations of
indigenous wild vertebrates, invertebrates and plants in Florida
that are not classified as game species by state law.
This group of wildlife includes a broad range of species such as
song and wading birds, hawks, owls, turtles, salamanders, bats,
butterflies and many others.
Research and Survey
One of the NGWP's first tasks was to fund nongame wildlife
research studies that would develop management information
and techniques for nongame wildlife. A nongame wildlife grants
program was established to incorporate the research expertise of
non-Commission biologists and institutions into the NGWP. A
process to solicit, review and select nongame wildlife research
proposals was developed and implemented. For FY 1984-85, 33
proposals were received, and 14 were funded at a cost of
A partial review of existing and ongoing nongame wildlife
surveys in Florida was conducted to assess their suitability for
inclusion in the program's monitoring activities. Several data sets,
such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Breeding Bird
Surveys and the Audubon Society's Christmas bird counts, were
obtained and analyzed for selected parameters that could serve as
early warning systems to population declines.
Planning and Evaluation
Primary functions of this program element are to develop
strategic and operational plans for the NGWP, coordinate other
agency involvement in the program, and evaluate the program's
overall effectiveness. Operational plans for FY 1984-85 and FY
85-86 were developed and NGWP goals and objectives were
incorporated into those of the Commission. An interagency
agreement with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
provided $15,000 to develop a plan for a companion NGWP
within the DNR. A public opinion survey to determine attitudes,
interests and desires of Floridians concerning nongame was
designed and conducted. Results of this survey will serve to guide
An agreement was negotiated for a cooperative urban wildlife
management program between the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida and the
Commission. The Commission will provide IFAS with funds for
three urban wildlife specialists, and IFAS will use the technology-
transfer capabilities of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service
to enhance nongame wildlife conservation and appreciation in
Florida's ever-growing urban areas.
NGWP staff provided technical assistance to the public and
other agencies on a wide variety of topics including attracting and
feeding birds, backyard habitat management, and nuisance animals.
Recognizing that no conservation program can be successful
without the understanding and support of the public, all NGWP
staff spend a significant portion of their time pursuing
conservation education projects. The first two issues of The
Skimmer, a newsletter of Florida's nongame and endangered
wildlife, were designed, produced and circulated to
approximately 6,000 persons. A short brochure providing an
overview of the NGWP and a fact sheet on butterfly gardening
also were produced and distributed. NGWP staff made 103
presentations concerning the NGWP, specific nongame animals
and habitat management recommendations to conservation and
outdoor recreation groups.
ENDANGERED SPECIES COORDINATION
Research on various endangered species continued and is
reflected in the "Wildlife Research" section of this report.
Technical assistance concerning endangered wildlife was
provided for state, federal and local agencies, private consulting
firms, conservation groups and the general public. An
endangered species report was prepared and presented to the
Wildlife research addresses problems associated with manage-
ment of Florida wildlife, with emphasis on life history studies.
The research provides knowledge essential for the development
of effective management practices. Bureau of Wildlife Research
staff at the Wildlife Research Laboratory in Gainesville, the
Fisheating Creek Field Research Station and the Big Cypress
Wildlife Field Office study alligators and other reptiles,
waterfowl, feral hogs, black bears, Florida panthers, wood storks
and other wildlife. Although many studies are long-term and
complex, it is the goal of the bureau to provide current research
information to management operations of the agency.
Of five known crocodile nests on Key Largo in 1984, four
successfully produced young. A total of 56 hatchlings were
tagged, a figure second only to the 63 hatchlings tagged in 1983.
Eggs collected from the single unsuccessful nest were
radiographed; these eggs showed no sign of development and
were presumably infertile. Nest surveys in 1985 disclosed four
completed nests on Key Largo. Animals originally tagged as
hatchlings in 1979 (one), 1980 (three), 1982 (four) and 1983
(13) were recaptured during 1984-85. Twenty-three tagged 1984
hatchlings were recaptured a total of 36 times. Three road-killed
crocodiles were reported on U.S. 1 in Monroe County; two
specimens were salvaged. A single injured adult crocodile was
collected in Collier County, rehabilitated and ultimately released.
Barbour's Map Turtle
Basking turtle surveys were conducted along 18 miles of the
Chipola River. An average of 6.28 Barbour's map turtles were
seen for every mile of river surveyed. Barbour's map turtles
comprised 36.7 percent of basking turtles identified. Although
adult and subadult females comprised only 6 percent of basking
map turtles, adult females were found to be more common on
the bottom in deeper water. Females apparently bask less
frequently than males do. Four Barbour's map turtles were
collected for heavy metal analysis. Residues of arsenic, lead and
mercury were less than 0.5 ppm (parts per million, the level of
heavy metals considered potentially harmful to aquatic
organisms), but selenium levels averaged 1.0 ppm in livers from
the two females and 4.8 ppm in livers from the two males.
Adults of Barbour's map turtles are strongly sexually dimorphic.
Females feed almost exclusively on snails and clams, whereas
males feed principally on insect larvae. The very different levels
of selenium residues probably reflect the different food habits of
A total of 252 feather and 19 liver tissue samples were
collected at 11 colonies during the 1985 breeding season for later
electrophoretic analysis. A single radio-instrumented adult wood
stork monitored at the Dee Dot colony exhibited a varied
movement pattern but concentrated its feeding activities on the
estuarine region of the intercoastal marshes to the south of the
colony. Four colonies monitored last year did not initiate
breeding in 1985 due to low water levels associated with colony
sites. The January 1985 hard freeze killed most of the mangroves
at Moore Creek and Brazilian pepper at Grant Farm Island down
to ground level. Six of 14 wood stork colonies monitored in
past years either failed or were inactive in 1985. In general, mean
clutch sizes and fledging success during the drought year of 1985
were lower than the wet breeding seasons of 1983-1984, but
similar to the dry years of 1981-1982.
The total of 668 snail kites observed during the 1984 survey
represents a 52.9 percent increase over the number of kites seen
during the 1983 census. Significant increases in kite numbers
were detected in Lake Okeechobee and Conservation Area 2B.
Conservation Area 3A continues to exhibit the most kites with
69.2 percent of the state's population.
Gopher tortoise status surveys during FY 84-85 revealed
continuing destruction of Florida's coastal scrub habitat. Heavy
human predation, lack of prescribed burning and conversion of
sandhill habitat to dense sand pine plantations have severely
affected tortoises in the Panhandle. Many west Florida tortoise
hunters now travel to southwest Georgia or the Florida Peninsula
to hunt tortoises. Amendments to the Commission's tortoise
harvest regulations included reductions in the possession limit
(from five to two) and season (from six to three months). In
addition, a portion of the peninsula (south of a line extending
along SR 72 to Arcadia and SR 70 to Fort Pierce) was closed to
tortoise harvest. Data from status surveys, interviews with gopher
pullers, tortoise radio-telemetry and mark-recapture studies will
be used to update a computer population model, evaluate harvest
regulations and develop future management strategies for the
Six radio-instrumented black bears captured between May
1983 and June 1984 in Osceola National Forest provided
opportunities to study annual and seasonal habitat use. Home
ranges averaged 110.1 square-kilometers with a range of 49.2 to
215.1 square-kilometers. Adult males had the largest annual
home ranges. Forested wetlands were the most important habitat
type in the study area. Flatwoods were used regularly during
summer but much less frequently overall.
Bobcat carcasses collected over a six-year period were analyzed
to study reproduction, mortality and food habits. Births in
Florida bobcats occur from March through September with
peaks occurring in April-May and July. The first peak probably
constitutes the first wave of birthing, and the second peak may be
associated with late-cycling first-time breeders. Some bobcats
cycle during their first year but do not give birth until their
second year. The mean litter size is 2.5.
The male-to-female ratio was 1.5:1. Ages ranged from two
months to 19 years, and the age composition shows similarities
with lightly exploited populations rather than heavily exploited
ones. Life table analysis showed a 26 percent per year mortality
rate. Finite rate of increase analysis revealed that the sampled
population could sustain a 78 percent juvenile mortality and
As part of a continuing study (since 1981) an experimental
alligator harvest was conducted on Orange, Lochloosa and
Newnans lakes. A harvest of 11 percent of the population over
four feet long yielded 271 alligators. This produced 2,101 feet of
hides valued at $46,145 and 12,000 pounds of meat with an
estimated market value of $48,000. Average hide price increased
from $15.83 per foot in 1983-84 to $21.96 per foot in 1984-85.
As a result, 20 hunters who participated in this year's harvest had
an average income of $4,015. Various population parameters
were monitored on these lakes as well as on two control areas
(Lake Woodruff and Paynes Prairie) to determine the feasibility
of a controlled alligator harvest. Management recommendations
will be based on this information.
In conjunction with the experimental harvest, an alligator
population model (a simplified abstraction of a real population)
was developed. Simulations of various harvest regimes were run
to determine the optimum harvest strategy. A 20 percent harvest
of all males produced optimum sustained yield. Improved data
for model parameters were collected, and other factors were
identified to sharpen the model's effectiveness.
Additional information concerning experimental alligator
harvests in other areas is included in the "Alligator Management"
section of this report.
During the 1985 nesting season, a total of 387 active territories
were located. Of these, 280 successfully fledged 435 young at a
rate of 1.12 young per active territory and 1.55 young per
successful nest-rates representative of a healthy population.
The bald eagle project is continuing as planned but the need
for expansion continues. Florida is being looked upon as the
source to supply eagle young to other southern states for re-
establishment of the species elsewhere in its former range. There
is some question as to differential productivity within the state,
and the question of philopatry (homing) in first-time breeders
has not been addressed. Without these answers, it is not possible
to relocate a significant number of young with confidence that
local or regional subpopulations within Florida are not
During the 1985 breeding season, 29 brown pelican nesting
colonies were surveyed and contained from 10 to 1,175 nests. A
total of 9,078 breeding pairs was estimated for Florida during
that season. Six colonies that were active during the 1983 season
(this survey is conducted biennially) were not active this year.
Two colonies moved totally or in significant numbers to new
This year's survey produced the largest estimated nesting
population since the surveys began in 1968. Although the survey
was not conducted in 1984, estimates from National Audubon
personnel in Tampa Bay and an inspection of some East Coast
locations suggest that 1984, in addition to having a late nesting
season, was a high production year.
Sandhill Crane/Whooping Crane
During the year, 90 cranes were trapped for the first time and
color-marked as individuals-21 juveniles (less than one year
old), 39 subadults (one to three years) and 30 adults (three years
and older). Also, 31 previously banded cranes were retrapped,
30 of which had been banded during this study. One was banded
in Wisconsin by personnel of the Wisconsin Department of
Ten pairs of adult Florida sandhill cranes were monitored
during the 1985 nesting season. Nine pairs nested, and laying
dates were determined for eight of these. Laying dates for first
clutches ranged between Feb. 21 and March 16 with an average
laying date of March 7. All nine clutches were disrupted. Five
pairs renested, and four greater sandhill crane eggs were
transferred into three nests to evaluate migrational tendencies.
The Florida Panther Record Clearinghouse received,
categorized and filed 295 panther reports this year. The total
number of reports filed since the inception of the clearinghouse
is 2,015. Thirty-seven of this year's reports were investigated
either by evidence submitted to the clearinghouse or by field
investigation. This brings the total number of reports investigated
to 285. Of these, 52 (18 percent) provided conclusive evidence
Monitoring of five radio-instrumented panthers has continued
at the rate of two locations per week. During the past year, radio-
instrumented panthers were monitored 322 times during the day
and eight times during the night. These animals were found
frequenting remote swamp areas as well as areas bordering busy
highways and ongoing agricultural operations.
During January to March of 1984 and 1985, four Florida
panthers were immobilized in the Fakahatchee Strand for radio-
collaring and collection of biomedical information. During
immobilization, physical and reproductive conditions were
evaluated, and samples of blood, feces, urine, ectoparasites and
skin biopsies were collected and subsequently processed. The
most relevant findings were: (1) moderate to poor physical
condition and anemia in females, (2) depressed serum iron levels,
(3) gastrointestinal infection with nematodes, cestodes and
trematodes, (4) acariasis, (5) microfilaremia and (6)
hyperproteinemia, and the prevalence of antibody titers to
parvovirus and calicivirus.
The Bureau of Wildlife Resources provides an array of public
Technical assistance was provided to landowners seeking infor-
mation and guidance on wildlife management practices. Animal
damage complaints and alligator control were responsibilities of
regional bureau staff representatives. The bureau performed
routine monitoring and population surveys of game, nongame
and endangered species.
Wildlife Extension Services
White-tailed deer are the most popular big game animal in
Florida. The division assists private landowners and lease holders
by providing guidelines on sound deer management.
Approximately 522 private landowners controlling 11,002,100
acres were issued 10,240 tags for antlerless deer. A total of 7,680
antlerless deer were reported harvested. Proper management of a
growing deer population requires the reduction of female deer to
maintain a herd within habitat carrying capacity.
The total deer harvest for Florida in 1984-85, on both private
property and public hunting areas, was estimated at 73,895.
Florida Buck Registry
The Florida Buck Registry was established in the fall of 1982
to provide a meaningful and understandable record of the
number and quality of white-tailed deer taken in Florida. The
scoring procedure uses the system developed by the Boone and
Crockett Club. To date, 591 bucks have been scored. Of those,
512 have scored 100 or more points and qualified for the
registry. The largest scored thus far is 168-Vs points, and it was
taken in Gadsden County in 1977.
Nusiance Wildlife Control
Bureau of Wildlife Resources biologists investigated numerous
requests from farmers and citrus grove owners regarding damages
inflicted by white-tailed deer. Division staff also handled a
constant flow of requests and complaints from the public
concerning blackbirds, treefrog choruses, woodpeckers on
houses, snakes, raccoons, foxes and other wildlife. The majority
of the complaints originated from people in the Everglades and
South regions. Biologists also received many contacts from
farmers and grove owners in the Northwest, Northeast and
Central regions concerning crop damage by deer. Some problems
were resolved during the regular hunting season by
recommending a harvest of part of the doe population in the
immediate area. However, 74 permits were issued outside the
established deer hunting season to remove deer causing
The large population of American alligators in Florida has
resulted in human safety concerns, loss of domestic animals and a
reduction of recreational use of areas where large alligators are
present. The Commission conducted an experimental alligator
control program during 1977 and 1978 in the Northeast Region
to test a control method using contracted trappers to capture
nuisance alligators. Information from this experimental program
was used to establish a statewide nuisance alligator program in
1978 using contracted trapper-agents.
There are now 58 contracted alligator agents working under
special agreement with the Commission. During FY 84-85, there
were 7,289 complaints received and 2,201 nuisance alligators
The Commission's Experimental Alligator Harvest Program
has been expanded to include Lake lamonia and Lake
Miccosukee near Tallahassee. Other Florida lakes added to the
experimental harvest include Lake George and Rodman
Reservoir in the Central Region, Lake Trafford in the Everglades
Region and Lake Hancock in the South Region.
The 1978-79 Florida Legislature passed a bill requiring all
persons who hunt wild ducks in the state to possess a Florida
Waterfowl Stamp. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1984, a
total of 24,316 stamps were sold generating about $51,063 for
waterfowl management activities.
The final report and evaluation of the 1981, 1982 and 1983
special September duck hunting seasons was prepared and
submitted to the Office of Migratory Bird Management. Results
of a mail survey indicate that an average of 5,894 adult hunters
per year participate in the season, generating 12,837 additional
hunter days of recreation. The mean annual harvest of 19,336
ducks consisted mainly of wood ducks (42 percent), blue-winged
teal (41.2 percent) and mottled ducks (9.4 percent). An interim
special September season was conducted during 1984 while the
evaluation was being completed. The evaluation produced data
consistent with those used to justify the special season and
support the conclusion that such a special season can be used to
enhance recreational opportunities without jeopardizing the
sustained welfare of waterfowl populations. Based on the findings
of the evaluation, operational implementation of the special
September season in Florida was requested.
The ring-necked duck is the most important wintering
waterfowl species in Florida, accounting for about 30 percent of
the annual average harvest. Declining winter survey counts for
the Atlantic Flyway have prompted concern among biologists.
This perceived population decline, coupled with a lack of
information on the impact of hunting on the population's status,
left the Commission vulnerable to litigation challenging the
validity of promulgated harvest regulations. An investigation
conducted by waterfowl management staff demonstrated that
declines in Atlantic Flyway winter inventories were due to
changes in survey intensity, and that other indicators depict a
stable or slightly increasing ring-necked duck population. The
study also provided insights valuable for management of this
As a rule-making body, the Commission is charged with the
creation and enforcement of wildlife and fishery regulations. As a
public trustee of Florida's freshwater aquatic life and wildlife, the
Commission seeks a balance between maintaining a healthy
environment in which wildlife may exist, and meeting the
demands of the public to enjoy and use these natural resources.
The Office of Informational Services (OIS) has several respon-
sibilities in its role of supporting Commission activities and
policies. Information about regulations must be made available to
the public on a timely basis. Through mass media, OIS promotes
the use of the outdoors by various segments of the public.
Although the delivery of information is the most conspicuous
activity, the underlying theme of all programs is education.
Through education programs, OIS strives to increase the level of
awareness and understanding among Florida citizens concerning
the Commission's programs and goals.
In addition to its overall public information responsibilities,
OIS also coordinates several specific programs. These activities
include: coordinating programs such as the Hunter Education
series, Project WILD, Wildlife Reserve, Endangered Species
Education, and the Wildlife Alert program; and publishing
FLORIDA WILDLIFE magazine.
The Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission historically has
placed a great deal of emphasis on informing and educating the
public. The Youth Conservation Camps have been active for
almost 35 years, and the Hunter Education Program began nearly
28 years ago. The Endangered Species Education Program was
initiated shortly after the passage of the Federal Endangered
Species Act of 1973. In 1983, the Commission became an
associate state sponsor of Project WILD and, for the first time, in
1984, an official Nongame Wildlife Education Program was
established within the Commission. These programs are
developed and administered through the Education Section of
the Office of Informational Services.
YOUTH CONSERVATION CAMPS
The Commission's youth camps in Ocala and West Palm
Beach operate for eight, one-week sessions each summer. Boys
and girls between the ages of eight and 14 may attend this
inexpensive program. The rustic camps are set in unique, natural
environments ideal for environmental education. The primary
goals of the instructional program are to promote increased
awareness and appreciation of wildlife, its management and
conservation, and to teach responsible use of our natural
The Youth Camp Program had a total attendance of 1,810
young people during this past season. An additional 800
youngsters were on the waiting list. A survey of parents of
campers attending the first, third and seventh sessions indicated
that 95.6 percent of the respondents felt the overall effectiveness
of the program was either excellent or good. Additionally, 93.5
percent responded that they would send their children again.
This year, for the first time, a three-level program (beginner,
intermediate and advanced) was implemented. The staff received
training in the use of Project WILD activities and incorporated
them into the program.
During the off-season, youth camp facilities are used by a
number of organizations for meetings, conferences and
workshops. The Project WILD/Outdoor Adventure Workshops
offered by the Commission take place at these sites.
When it was established several decades ago, the primary goal
of the Hunter Education Program was to teach the techniques of
safe firearm handling as well as hunting skills. The program has
evolved into much more than that, with a strong emphasis on
responsible, ethical and safe use of the outdoors by all
recreationists, including hunters and non-hunters. Topics
addressed in the modern Hunter Education Program include
traditional firearm safety with both primitive and modern
weapons, wildlife identification, conservation and management,
wilderness survival, first aid, water safety and recreational ethics.
During FY 84-85, more than 8,470 persons, including
residents and visitors, men and women, children and senior
citizens, participated in 323 hunter education classes statewide.
One class employed the use of an interpreter, trained in
American Sign Language, to assist with six participants who were
hearing impaired. Many classes are taught by the Commission's
regional hunter education officers, but a corps of more than 400
active certified volunteers is responsible for the majority of
instruction. The 15-hour class is free to all participants.
Volunteer instructors donated their time, which amounted to
nearly 15,000 hours during this fiscal year. This time had a value
to the State of Florida of $135,691.35 in matching federal aid.
ENDANGERED SPECIES EDUCATION
Requests from the public for information about threatened
and endangered species, especially from schoolchildren and their
teachers, come into OIS on a steady basis. Presentations on
endangered and threatened species, often in combination with
programs on nongame wildlife or Project WILD, are given to
schools, civic organizations and conservation-minded groups. A
typical program involves a synchronized, multi-projector slide
show combined with original music about Florida's wildlife and
During FY 84-85, 112 programs were conducted for the
public. These programs introduce audiences to the Nongame
Wildlife Program, explaining how endangered species relate to it
and telling of the Commission's efforts, through distribution of
educational materials, Project WILD workshops, and informative
presentations, to prevent other species from being added to the
threatened or endangered lists. More than 1,000 pieces of
Commission literature were distributed to interested persons
during these programs.
In addition to group presentations, numerous interviews
with news media also were conducted on behalf of Florida's
wildlife and its habitat.
NONGAME WILDLIFE EDUCATION PROGRAM
The Nongame Wildlife Program was funded in 1984 by the
Florida Legislature. The emphasis of this program is on the 85
percent of Florida's wildlife which has not traditionally been
hunted and is also not classified as threatened or endangered.
Citizens received educational information about the nongame
program through presentations by Commission staff and from
literature which was developed to introduce the program. This
included a brochure providing a program overview, a poster of
the crested caracara with information about the nongame
program, and some species checklists and fact sheets.
A nongame wildlife education coordinator was hired in May to
develop educational curricula and materials for use in schools,
youth organizations, nature centers and the youth camp program.
A publication production specialist was hired near the end of the
year to assist with the nongame wildlife newsletter, The Skimmer,
and other publication tasks.
A slide show on the Nongame Wildlife Program, available in
each of the regions, was used extensively to promote awareness
of the program and to educate the public as to its goals and
objectives. In addition, approximately 17 news releases, several
radio public service announcements and one television public
service announcement were used to help inform the public.
Project WILD is an activity-centered, multidisciplinary, supple-
mentary conservation and environmental education program
which emphasizes wildlife and its habitat. The goal of Project
WILD is to assist individuals of any age in developing awareness,
knowledge, skills and commitment to result in informed
decisions, responsible behavior and constructive actions
concerning wildlife and the environment. Florida is one of 35
states offering this award-winning program to educators.
An education coordinator was hired this year to develop and
coordinate educational programs for the Commission; this
responsibility includes serving as the state coordinator for Project
A total of 28 Project WILD workshops were conducted in
Florida this year. Approximately 1,088 educators were trained to
use the Project WILD Activity Guides, which consist of approxi-
mately 80 different, multidisciplinary, supplementary and
learning activities. The participants were primarily school
teachers but also included scout and 4-H leaders, nature center
staff and other environmental educators and interested adults.
These workshops involve approximately six hours of training and
Approximately 150 Project WILD facilitators were trained in
three weekend workshops at the Commission's Youth
Conservation Camps. These weekend programs combine training
in Project WILD with another segment, Outdoor Adventure,
which emphasizes outdoor skills and lifetime sports. These
include canoeing, orienteering, fishing, camping and shooting
sports. An overall emphasis is placed on safety and responsible
and ethical use of the natural environment. Safe use of firearms is
emphasized above all else. Project WILD facilitators receive more
extensive training than educators participating in one-day
workshops and are thereby certified to offer and teach the
program to other volunteers in their own communities.
The best way to reach large segments of the public with
information about Florida's wildlife and fisheries resources is to
use all of the audio and visual means possible. The Audio-Visual
Section strives to do exactly that. Through the use of electronic
media such as radio and television, one message can reach
hundreds of thousands of people. This year new television public
service announcements (PSAs) were produced on the
Commission's nongame program and hunter education. Sixteen
special T.V. interviews were coordinated and arranged with local
television stations and Commission staff covering a wide variety
of subjects such as lake drawdowns, striper stocking, endangered
species, hunting and fishing regulations, nongame programs and
alligator harvests. Coordination was provided between the
Commission and film and television production companies for
projects involving Florida wildlife and freshwater fish.
A wide variety of subjects were covered in radio public service
announcements and actualities. Thirty-five PSAs on fishing,
Wildlife Alert, hunter education, nongame wildlife, steel shot,
public meetings and endangered species were produced and
distributed to 171 radio stations in Florida. Actualities featuring
Commission staff were produced on doves, citrus canker and the
Slide presentations remain an important method of reaching
certain segments of the population with information. These are
especially effective for use at civic meetings, conservation groups,
schools and sportmen's clubs. This year, copies of six new slide
programs were made available through all Commission regional
offices in the state. These included programs on aquatic plants
and Project WILD, and a series on fish, birds, insects and
poisonous reptiles of Florida; these latter programs are aimed
primarily at school-age children. Audio-visual assistance has been
provided to Commission staff members preparing reports,
articles and making presentations.
Photographic and related services have been made available to
FLORIDA WILDLIFE magazine, electronic and print media, and
Commission programs and projects. Special photographs and
captions were distributed to more than 240 newspapers and
publications throughout the state or, nine different conservation-
related subjects. Each of these photos reached an average
circulation of between 500,000 and 2 million readers.
FLORIDA WILDLIFE PUBLICATIONS
FLORIDA WILDLIFE magazine continued its tradition of
excellence during the year, reaching its highest paid circulation
level and receiving an unprecedented First Place for General
Excellence award in statewide competition. The recognition, by
the Florida Magazine Association, was based on all elements of
the publication's journalistic quality--editorial style, design and
Average circulation in FY 84-85 rose by 9.07 percent over the
previous fiscal year. A major promotional effort to give gift
subscription purchasers a high-quality artist print of the Florida
panther was directly responsible for most new subscribers. Net
revenues received and deposited into the State Game Trust Fund
for FLORIDA WILDLIFE totaled $162,146.25, an increase of
$32,505.55 (25.07 percent) over the previous year's total
revenue. Expenditures for the total cost of preparation, printing
and circulation were $246,027.35 for the six issues published
during the year.
In addition to the panther print promotion, the magazine staff
inserted subscription coupons (and other appropriate messages)
in a total of 1,484,350 copies other publications of the
The Publication Section produced camera-ready materials for
most of the Commission"s brochures, special reports, printed
regulations and administrative forms. For public distribution,
104 titles were produced. Another 115 service jobs, varying from
logo design to production of administrative forms were
performed by the section. Of the publications for general
distribution, 37 were major productions, costing $1,000 or
more. The total number of copies of these was 1,344,350 for all
NEWS AND INFORMATION SERVICES
The News and Information Section of OIS has continued to
communicate information about wildlife, hunting and fishing to
the public through the news media.
During this fiscal year, OIS, from its Tallahassee headquarters
and five regional offices, continued to provide information and
respond to an increasing number of requests for information
from the media and general public.
Written news releases are the backbone of OIS's public
information program. A total of 109 statewide and 432 regional
news releases were distributed to the media and interested groups
and organizations. Topics ranged from hunting and fishing
information and regulations, and Commission policies and pro-
grams, to feature stories about outdoor topics and Commission
activities. These news releases are used on a regular basis by
outdoor writers for daily and weekly newspapers throughout the
state as well as by the electronic media. Included with these news
releases were two that received international recognition in
competition with other fish and wildlife agencies' information
Information personnel also assisted reporters and editors who
were preparing outdoor-related stories by providing information
This section of OIS handles special and regularly scheduled
public relations projects on Florida panthers, steel shot
regulations, spring and summer fishing, the youth conservation
camps, the Wildlife Alert program, nongame wildlife, the Hunter
Education Program, alligators, hunting regulations, and
Commission public meetings.
All six offices continued to respond to hundreds of telephone
inquiries. A majority of these telephone calls were for general
outdoor information. However, a number of such calls resulted
in mailing information or other follow-up activities.
The Tallahassee office alone sent 750 written responses and
more than 1,200 packets containing pamphlets and brochures to
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individuals who wrote fc ........
Regional OIS staff maintained contact with sportsmen, conser-
vation and civic organizations throughout the state.
Approximately 286 speeches and presentations were delivered on
a variety of outdoor topics and Commission programs.
As another function of OIS's public outreach program, 24
exhibits were prepared and manned at fairs and similar events in
the state. Some of these exhibits were viewed by nearly 1 million
Radio and television programs were used extensively to
publicize Commission activities and programs. Regional OIS staff
appeared in or coordinated 173 television appearances and 99
radio interviews and programs during the fiscal year.
In order to aid the Commission's wildlife law enforcement
efforts, the Wildlife Alert program was established in 1979. This
program pays cash rewards to those concerned conservationists
whose reports of wildlife law violations result in arrests.
During FY 84-85, 30,000 bumper stickers were printed and
distributed, raising the total printed since the program began to
Four public service announcements for radio were produced
and distributed statewide during this period.
Thirty-two news releases concerning Wildlife Alert were issued
by OIS from either the Tallahassee office or the regional offices.
In addition, regional public information specialists promoted
Wildlife Alert through 75 group presentations, 19 exhibits, 27
radio appearances and 20 television appearances.
Two private organizations continued their promotion of
Wildlife Alert by underwriting the printing of hunting season
information cards bearing a Wildlife Alert message. Federal Land
Bank Association/Production Credit Associations of Florida
paid for 300,000 general hunting season cards, and the Florida
Bowhunters Council paid for 20,000 cards containing archery
FLORIDA WILDLIFE magazine channeled its resources into
Wildlife Alert promotion. An article commemorating Wildlife
Alert's fifth anniversary was featured in the
November/December 1984 issue. In addition, public service
advertising and articles in the "Conservation Scene" portion of
each issue promoted the program.
An auction benefiting Wildlife Alert took place in
conjunction with the Florida Sportsmen's show in Ocala.
Hunting trips, fishing trips, sporting goods and general
merchandise were sold to the highest bidders, raising more than
$8,500 for the reward fund.
The Division of Law Enforcement and OIS worked together to
maintain an accurate record of citizen reports, arrests and reward
figures. During the fiscal year, $11,210 in rewards were paid to
individuals whose reports of violations resulted in 142 arrests. In
addition, 591 arrests resulted from callers who declined rewards.
The Wildlife Alert Reward Association, a 13-member panel
appointed by the Executive Director, met three times at various
locations during the fiscal year to oversee the program with OIS
handling the arrangements. Minutes of each meeting were
prepared by OIS and distributed to Association members and
appropriate Commission staff.
Through the voluntary contributions of concerned citizens and
fines made payable to Wildlife Alert by the judicial system, the
reward fund increased by $33,652.81 during FY 84-85.