A new Florida law now eases the ability of private landowners to make their properties available to the public for outdoor recreation. In the past, landowners had to enter into a lease with the state or open up their land to the general public to be protected from liability.
The new law provides liability protection for landowners who open up their lands to any person for hunting, fishing or wildlife viewing.
To take advantage of this, landowners must give written or posted notice to prospective users that the landowner has limited liability. They cannot charge a fee or make a profit from those people using their land for outdoor recreation.
The new law also provides liability protection to landowners who enter into a written agreement with the state — rather than a more formal lease — to make their land available for outdoor recreation. These changes make it simpler for landowners to host day-long youth hunts.
Speaking of youth hunts, the FWC is proud of its Youth Hunting Program of Florida, which provides quality hunting experiences for 12- to 17-year-olds to increase the number of youths involved in hunting.
Participating youths learn from experienced hunters about hunter safety and ethics, marksmanship and firearm skills, how to track and process game and the relationship between hunting and conservation. They get to experience firsthand being in the outdoors, make new friends, spend quality time with family and friends and take with them experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
Besides the generosity of landowners in providing access to private properties on which to have these hunts, the program also relies on the generosity of volunteers for manpower and financial contributions.
We are always looking for landowners and hunting clubs willing to contribute a weekend’s use of their property to allow us to run a youth hunt. All one has to do is provide access to land, and the FWC and volunteers will do the rest.
Anyone wishing to donate his or her time or expertise to serve as a hunt master, hunter safety instructor, cook or guide (or is willing to be trained) may contact the FWC’s Hunter Safety Section by calling 850-413-0085 or going to MyFWC.com/YHPF.
Furthermore, the program is seeking conservation-minded organizations to be partners in making this program a better tool to recruit and train the safe hunters of tomorrow.
So, whether you’d like to participate in the Youth Hunting Program of Florida or take advantage of the new limited-liability law for landowners, it’s a win-win-win situation: good for landowners, good for hunting and good for conservation.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.