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What are Wildlife Management Areas?

What are Wildlife Management Areas?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) oversees more than 6 million acres of land established as wildlife management areas or wildlife and environmental areas.

The FWC works in partnership with other governmental or private landowners on the majority of the lands (cooperative areas) and is the landowner or lead managing agency on the remainder (lead areas). These lands, managed for both conservation and recreation, are more rugged than parks and have fewer developed amenities.

You can find out more about the stewardship of these lands and the wide range of recreation they offer through our alphabetical listing or our map.

Why manage wildlife and habitat?

During the last few centuries, human settlement and demand for wild meat, plumes and pelts, pushed many species into jeopardy; some even into extinction. By the early 20th century, white-tailed deer and wild turkey numbers were reduced to fractions of their original populations.

Against this backdrop of loss is another great, untold story: 100 years of wildlife conservation and recovery. By regulating hunting and fishing harvests, creating refuges and actively managing habitat, wildlife populations have rebounded. White-tailed deer, American alligators and wild turkey now thrive in Florida. These healthier habitats also help protect the sources that provide drinking water to the state’s growing population.

Who uses Wildlife Management Areas?

Due to excellent wildlife and habitat management, the wildlife management area system is enjoyed by many of Florida’s anglers, hunters, wildlife viewers and boaters. These interests alone support more than 425,000 jobs in Florida and have an economic impact of $58.6 billion. Bicyclists, horseback riders, paddlers, photographers and other outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy these wild lands.

Before You Go

Exploring some of the wildest areas in Florida does take some planning. Several wildlife management areas require entrance fees. Be sure to familiarize yourself with a map of the area you plan to visit ahead of time, and bring a copy of the map with you. Make sure that your cell phone is charged, or that you at least have a compass with you in case you get turned around. If you plan to be out for more than a day, let someone else know what you plan to do. Finally, it gets hot out there and there are no vending machines on Florida’s wildlife management areas. Pack your water and snacks!

Photos from Florida's WMAs