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County sets sights on public-land hunting

Sarasota County commissioners approved the removal language prohibiting hunting on public land, from county ordinances Monday, August 24.

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  • | 4:00 p.m. August 24, 2015
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Sarasota County commissioners have approved a change to language that determines how people use public lands, to open the way for hunting.

The item approved at Monday’s meeting removes hunting from a list of specifically restricted activities, on public lands, contained in Sarasota County ordinances. Several of those who spoke in favor of the change emphasized that it would not open public lands for hunting without further process.

“There will be residents who will take advantage of this to get red meat." — Commissioner Christine Robinson

According to the board, any actual hunting would require a parcel-by-parcel assessment process that includes public input.

Commissioner Charles Hines voted against the measure, indicating he would rather have a particular tract to discuss than to begin with such a broad stroke.

“I’m struggling with this,” Hines said.

Commissioner Paul Caraguilo disagreed, saying earlier in the meeting that it made less sense to look for parcels to assess for a strictly prohibited activity.

Commissioner Christine Robinson suggested that hunting would allow some families that couldn’t otherwise afford it access to certain foods.

“There will be residents who will take advantage of this to get red meat,” Robinson said.

Conservationists who spoke against the initiative at Monday’s meeting emphasized language that they said has been included in the conservation-land acquisition for decades: that certain lands acquired for conservation should be reserved for non-consumptive use.

Depending on who you ask, that may include hunting.

Matt Scarbrough, a representative of the Sarasota Sportsmen’s Association, argued that hunting is a sustainable practice, and hopes this will pave the way to open parcels east of I-75 such as Pinelands Reserve, Walton Ranch and Carlton and Deer Prairie Creek preserves.

Jono Miller, who opposed the measure, said he believes there is room for legal challenge to the changes.


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