CRESTVIEW — Oct. 26 through Feb. 23 spans archery, crossbow, muzzle loader and gun season for Northwest Florida hunters.
But what should residents do when they spot animal carcasses polluting area waterways? It depends on the circumstances.
For instance, a butchered deer's carcass in a northeast stream outside Crestview recently tainted downstream waters feeding a wetland overseen and protected by the Northwest Florida Water Management District and Department of Environmental Protection, respectively. The wetland runs into a recreational lake serving Grandview Heights residents.
It's a felony to dump household waste in the stream, part of a storm water management system, former Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office environmental officer David Holt said. Holt, now a school resource officer, was reassigned following the OCSO environmental office's closure two years ago.
Calls to the sheriff's office to report the offense were referred to county code enforcement.
Because the matter involves an animal, responsibility lies with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, county and water management district spokespersons said.
However, it's not unlawful for a hunter to shoot and quarter a deer on public lands, leaving the rest behind, Tony Young, spokesman for the FWC division of hunting and game management, said.
"Vultures and coyotes will eat it," he said. "We just don't want people to do it in the water."
Scavengers likely removed the deer carcass from the Crestview stream, former Troy University environmental studies professor Dennis Mitchell said.
"I don't think there's a heck of a lot of environmental impact unless the dumping becomes routine," he said. "Mother Nature recycles pretty quickly."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.