'Deer dog' hunting dispute goes to Florida Supreme Court


  • Florida Supreme Court
Some Northwest Florida residents have gone to the state Supreme Court in a legal battle aimed at reining in “deer dog” hunting on property around the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area.

The residents, who contend that “deer dog” hunting has infringed on their property rights and created a nuisance, filed a notice as a first step in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, according to documents posted Thursday on the Supreme Court website.

The notice came after the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and overturned a ruling by a Leon County circuit judge. The notice, as is common, does not detail the arguments that the residents will make at the Supreme Court.

“Deer dog” hunting, as the name implies, involves hunters using dogs to flush out deer and has long been allowed in the state’s Blackwater Wildlife Management Area. But the legal battle stems from hunters and dogs trespassing on adjoining private land.

Property owners filed a lawsuit in 2016, seeking to prevent deer-dog hunting in the wildlife-management area. The lawsuit included what is known as a “takings claim” —- essentially arguing that the deer-dog problems were so serious that they were depriving the owners from enjoying their property.

Also, the lawsuit sought an injunction to require the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to “abate” the nuisance on the private property.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers issued an injunction requiring the commission to abate the problem. But the commission took the dispute to the 1st District Court of Appeal, where a majority of a three-judge panel rejected the injunction and sent the case back for entry of summary judgment in favor of the commission on the takings and nuisance claims.

Among other things, the appeals court said the injunction was overbroad and violated separation of powers.

“Here, the injunction is impossible for FWC (the commission) to comply with because it holds the FWC accountable for the actions of third parties over which the FWC has no control,” the appeals court ruled.

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