Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Florida Wildlife Commission Now Offering Disabled Vets License Exemptions

In Florida, the state legislature and Governor Rick Scott have worked together to give hunting veterans a break.  They passed a bill during the 2013 legislative session which created a recreational hunting and fishing licensing exception for active and reserve duty military service members, disabled veterans, their immediate family members and their assistants during the special events that are regularly held for vet-focused recreation or rehabilitation purposes. The exemption was started as of September 5, 2013, by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Richard Corbett stated, Florida's military and disabled veterans gave so much to the state that the state wanted to give something back. Veterans are invited to participate in hunting and fishing events without first having to buy a license or a permit.

The exemption does not mean that active military personnel and disabled veterans can simply go off and fish and hunt without a license. The exception is specifically for participation in special events such as an NRA-organized hunt or a fishing trip sponsored by the Wounded Warriors. The event organizers must still apply for an event permit in order for the qualified exemption to kick in for participants.

The permit exemption does mean that the qualified event participants may fish and hunt without a saltwater or freshwater fishing license or a recreational hunting license, nor will they need a permit to hunt Florida migratory birds, waterfowl, turkey, deer, or snook, or to gather spiny lobsters, or shoot during archery season, crossbow season, or muzzle-loading season, if the participant is taking part in an exempted event in which those activities are sponsored. The permit exemption does not cover alligator trapping licenses or permits, tarpon tags, the federal duck stamp or limited entry/quota hunts.

The exemption also does not authorize any fishing or hunting without a license by someone who is not a qualified event participant directly participating in the permitted event. 

A number of other states also offer fishing and hunting licensing breaks to veterans: In North Carolina, vets who are 50 percent or more disabled may get a lifetime hunting-fishing license for $10.00. Veterans with service-related disabilities in Iowa can get a lifetime hunting or fishing license for a $7.00 fee. New Mexico offers any veteran with a 100 percent service-connected disabled a free lifetime small-game hunting and fishing license.

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