Duck hunting reduced around Kennedy Space Center

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Oct. 7, 2001.

KSC security closures curtail refuge duck hunting.

By Bill Sargent, FLORIDA TODAY.

MERRITT ISLAND REFUGE, Fla. - Because of security closures around the Kennedy Space Center, duck hunting this season could be drastically reduced at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Half of the 36,000 acres of hunting area will be closed if the security measures continue into the waterfowl season.

Despite the uncertainty for access and open areas when the waterfowl season opens on Nov. 17, refuge officials are going ahead this week with an advance call-in reservation system for hunting permits.

"We've decided to continue the hunt at a reduced level," said Dorn Whitmore, a spokesman for the refuge east of Titusville. "We're putting together as much of a quality hunt as we can under these conditions, and we appreciate NASA trying to accommodate us because they have their concerns for shuttle security."

Calls for permits will be taken Saturday, and on Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 if necessary, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The numbers to call are (321) 867-2412, 861-1421, and 861-1275.

If the current security closure remains, only the section of the refuge north of Haulover Canal will be open to hunting, including all of hunt area 3, which is the north section of Mosquito Lagoon, and the northern section of hunt area 4, known as Shiloh Marsh.

All of hunt areas 1 and 2 will be closed, plus L Pond, M Pond and T Pond in Hunt Area 4.

That means only five of the original 13 quota hunt sites for permitted hunters will be open. They will be Duck Roost, Shiloh 1, Shiloh 2, Shiloh 3 and Shiloh 5. Quota permits will not be necessary in Hunt Area 3.

Access to those areas will be necessary through the refuge's north entrance off U.S. 1 south of Oak Hill.

The permits, costing $12.50 for each one or two-day hunt, will be necessary until Dec. 30. The state season continues through January 15.

Whitmore said only 22 permits will be issued for each of 13 quota hunt dates in the five impoundment areas, for a total of 286 available permits. Under the original quota plan, which included hunt area 1, Whitmore said 64 permits would have been issued for each hunt date.

The refuge will be open to hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and holidays. Weekends will be considered one hunt, as will Nov. 21 and 22, and Dec. 25 and 26, when holidays fall next to a normal hunt days.

Each successful caller will be issued one permit for a one- or two-day hunt on each call date. That person will be allowed to hunt with up to three other individuals on his or her permit. If any permits remain after the first call-in day, successful first-day callers will be allowed to call again.

"There's a good chance all the permits will go the first day," Whitmore said. "We are trying to level the playing field as much as we can with the limited hunts we've got."

To obtain a quota permit, a hunter must be 16 years or older, and must have a hunter safety card, verifying that he or she has successfully completed a hunter safety course.

The caller must give the following information: hunter safety card number, mailing address, phone number, date of birth, plus date and name of impoundment desired for hunting.

Callers should be prepared to give alternate locations and dates if the first choice is not available.

All refuge hunters must have a hunter safety card and, and a self-issuing hunting permit which is available in the refuge hunting brochure.

Mail-in payment, by check or money order, for all quota permits must be received by Oct. 31, and must include the quota confirmation number(s), a photo copy of the caller's hunter safety card, plus a self-addressed stamped legal-size envelope. It must be mailed to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 6504, Titusville, FL 32782.

Any unclaimed or left over permits will go on sale at the refuge headquarters beginning on Nov. 1 at 8 a.m. They must be obtained in person, and each person may purchase up to three permits.

In the event NASA security reduces the security zone, allowing hunt area 1 (south of State Road 402) to open, Whitmore said quota permits would not be required.
 

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