|Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission|
|Common name||Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission|
|Formed||July 1, 1999|
|Operations jurisdiction||Florida, United States|
|Governing body||Florida Legislature|
|Law enforcement officers||853 (2018)|
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is a Florida government agency founded in 1999 and headquartered in Tallahassee. It manages and regulates the state's fish and wildlife resources, and enforces related laws. Officers are managers, researchers, and support personnel, and perform law enforcement in the course of their duties.
In 1998, an amendment to the Florida Constitution approved the establishment of the FWC with a headquarters in Tallahassee, the state capital, on July 1, 1999. It resulted from a merger between three former offices, namely the Marine Fisheries Commission, Division of Marine Resources, the former Florida Marine Patrol, and the Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and all of the employees and commissioners of the former Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection since then serves as the environmental regulatory agency for the state, enforcing environmental legislation regarding air and water quality, for example.
In 2004, the Florida Legislature approved to integrate parts of the Division of Wildlife, Division of Freshwater Fisheries, and the Florida Marine Research Institute to create the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in St. Petersburg, Florida. It has over 600 employees.
As of 2014[update], the FWC had over 2,000 full-time employees, and maintained the FWRI, five regional offices, and 73 field offices across the state.
As of 2013, the FWC had six divisions:
The FWC has 11 offices for administrative purposes:
The Florida Constitution authorizes the commission to enact rules and regulations regarding the state's fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. To do this, the seven Governor of Florida-appointed commissioners meet five times each year to hear staff reports, consider rule proposals, and conduct other business. Because stakeholder involvement is a crucial part of the process, the commission meets in different locations across the state, giving citizens the opportunity to address the commission about issues under consideration.
The seven commissioners of the FWC are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Florida legislature for five-year terms. Typically, commissioners come from different geographical areas of the state to ensure that the FWC adequately protects the entire state of Florida, but multiple commissioners from the same city or region are not unusual. Their constitutional duty is to exercise the "...regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to wild animal life and freshwater aquatic life and shall also exercise regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to marine life, except that all license fees and penalties for violating regulations shall be as provided by law." The Commissioners as of 2018[update]:
|Member||Current term||Began original appointment||Term expires|
|Robert A. Spottswood, Chair||January 12, 2018||September 2, 2015||January 6, 2023|
|Michael W. Sole, Vice Chair||May 12, 2017||May 12, 2017||August 1, 2021|
|Rodney Barreto||July 19, 2019||July 19, 2019||January 5, 2024|
|Steven Hudson||July 19, 2019||July 19, 2019||August 1, 2022|
|Gary Lester||January 12, 2018||January 12, 2018||August 1, 2022|
|Gary Nicklaus||December 1, 2017||December 1, 2017||August 1, 2022|
|Sonya Rood||December 1, 2017||December 1, 2017||January 2, 2022|
In 2012, the FWC adopted a plan on how the Florida black bear should be managed over the next 10 years. It created bear management units based on seven geographically distinct bear subpopulations. In June 2015, the FWC approved "a limited bear hunt to take place beginning October 24, 2015, in four of the seven bear management units".
Wildlife management areas (WMAs) conserve nearly 6 million acres of Florida's natural habitat. The WMAs exist to protect fish and wildlife resources, and provide recreational opportunities such as hunting and wildlife-viewing.
The first wildlife management area, Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb WMA, was established in 1941 with Pittman-Robertson Act funds. Since that time, 45 lead properties (see below) have been added to this system. FWC also manages a number of other cooperative properties in conjunction with other agencies.
In 2017, the 75th anniversary of the WMA system was noted. Events were held statewide and included a kickoff event on January 21, 2017, at Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb WMA, several bioblitzes, and a final event at Tosohatchee WMA on December 2, 2017. #WMAzing was the tag created for the event and is still in use today.