The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging the public to provide input about a slate of proposed changes in hunting and fishing regulations.
Each year, TPWD considers regulation changes to achieve resource-management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities consistent with good stewardship.
Among the most prominent proposals being considered is a continuation of special buck-deer harvest regulations in six Post Oak Savannah counties. Based upon findings from a 3-year experiment in those counties, biologists believe the restrictions are helping create a healthy deer population. For the 2005-06 hunting season, TPWD is proposing to add a second buck to the bag limit in counties with the special antler restrictions. Hunters would be allowed to take two bucks, but no more than one of them could have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. The proposal would also expand the coverage to 15 additional surrounding counties with similar deer population issues.
The department will also be seeking public comment about a proposal to expand the “managed lands” concept to include quail. For many years, TPWD has used the Managed Lands Deer Program to encourage sound habitat management across white-tailed deer ranges. In January, TPWD announced plans to expand the program to include mule deer and lesser prairie chicken.
“While we were discussing how to implement the managed lands concept with respect to lesser prairie chicken, someone remarked that we should also include quail,” said Mike Berger, Director of the Wildlife Division, “and I thought it’d be a good idea to take it to public hearings and see what people think.”
According to the proposal, landowners with a department-approved management plan for quail would agree to a harvest recommendation and to perform a minimum of five department-recommended habitat management practices that benefit quail. In return, hunters on the property would be allowed to harvest as many as 30 quail per day.
Following is a summary of proposed changes:
Proposed Hunting Regulation Changes
- Consolidation of doe day categories. Currently, TPWD offers seven different sets of doe day combinations, including no days, four days, nine days, 16 days, 23 days, 23-plus days and full season. Wildlife biologists are suggesting consolidating doe days in 36 counties and cutting the options back to no days, four days, 16 days, 23-plus days or full-season doe hunting. They also are looking at eliminating doe-day restrictions in 33 counties, mostly in the Panhandle.
- Elimination of the aggregate buck-bag restriction in one-buck and two-buck counties. This proposal would allow hunters to take a buck in three different one-buck-only counties or they could hunt in multiple two-buck counties, provided they do not exceed the county bag limit or take more than three bucks in all the two-buck counties combined.
- Creation of an appeals process for deer permit programs.
- Prohibition of hunting by remote control. This issue centers on the use of Internet technology as it relates to the taking of game animals and game birds.
- Removal of Hunt and Washington counties from the list of counties where the use of dogs to trail wounded deer is prohibited.
- Extend Managed Lands Deer Permit program to include mule deer. This proposal would allow landowners under an approved wildlife management plan to enter voluntarily in a habitat-based permit program, which would allow greater flexibility in managing mule deer harvest. With this proposal, permit holders could hunt from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January.
- Several proposals that would consolidate and standardize turkey hunting regulations, including: standardizing the spring season length in the eastern and western halves of the state; standardizing the season length and bag composition for fall turkey seasons; and implementing youth-only spring turkey seasons for Rio Grande turkey.
- TPWD is also looking at the possibility of opening fall and spring seasons for Rio Grande turkey in Cameron and Zapata counties, and opening a fall season in Tarrant County.
Lesser Prairie Chicken
- A proactive measure to address long-term habitat loss impacting lesser prairie chicken populations incorporates a two-phase proposal that would eliminate countywide seasons and replace them with a limited harvest option for properties with a wildlife management plan for Lesser Prairie Chickens. Managed properties would have a harvest recommendation, and would be required to perform at least five department recommended habitat management practices.
- A rule to prohibit ‘Internet hunting’ of game animals and game birds. TPWD has become aware of the possibility that firearms could be operated by remote control over the Internet to take game animals and game birds. The proposed provision would require any person hunting a game animal or game bird to be physically present and personally operate the means of take.
- A provision to allow the use of a motor vehicle to locate desert bighorn sheep for hunting purposes. Until recently, most desert bighorn sheep hunting took place on Wildlife Management Areas where the movements and locations of the sheep were very well known. Now that hunting is increasingly taking place on private properties, the department feels that, due to the extremely rugged and isolated nature of the habitat, it would be appropriate to allow the use of vehicles.
Proposed Fishing Regulation Changes
Lake Nasworthy (Tom Green County)
- Fisheries biologists are looking into changing harvest regulations for red drum from the current 20-inch minimum length limit and daily bag limit of three fish, to no length and no bag limit to allow for maximized harvest of red drum. TPWD will not be managing red drum at Lake Nasworthy due to the shutting down of the power plant facility there, which will likely result in water temperatures being too low to maintain red drum.
North and South Arms of the Concho River (Tom Green County)
- Define waters (North Concho from O.C. Fisher Dam to Bell Street Dam and South Concho from Lone Wolf Dam to Bell Street Dam) that are covered by special regulations for blue and channel catfish (no minimum length limit and pole and line only angling) and where statewide regulations (12-inch minimum length limit and no gear restrictions) are in effect (South Concho above Lone Wolf dam)
Toledo Bend Reservoir
- Remove 12-inch minimum length limit for spotted bass. Limit will be the same as statewide limit (no minimum).
Proposed Coastal Fishing Regulation Changes
- Because of concerns about the vulnerability of certain live mollusks and other inter-tidal species to over-harvest, TPWD may establish a closed season along a small area of South Padre Island including the Brazos Santiago Pass and running on the bayward side of the island to Marisol Drive from Nov. 1 through April 30. The closure would protect species such as hermit crabs, starfish, sea urchins and periwinkles. The proposal would also establish a daily bag limit of 15 univalve snails in aggregate and no more than two each in the daily bag of lightening whelk, horse conch, Florida fighting conch, pear whelk, banded tulip and Florida rocksnail.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting the Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) beginning March 7 *. Comment is also welcome at any of the following public meetings.
|County Courthouse, West Courtroom, 2nd floor, 100 W. Houston St.
|Seguin Court House, 101 E. Court St.
|School Auditorium, AISD Administration Building, 704 W. Sul Ross Ave.
|County Courthouse, 231 Lamar Ave.
|County Road & Bridge, 775 Business 290
|Van Horn Community Center, 400 Jones St.
|101 W. Main, District Court Room
|218 N. Russell, Gray County Courthouse
|La Grange Fire Hall, 155 E. Colorado
|NW Texas Field & Stream Assoc. 2005 SW Parkway
|Childress County Courthouse, Commissioner’s Courtroom, 100 Ave. E NW
|County Courthouse Annex, 114 W. Austin St., Room 210
|City of Southlake Office Bldg. 3rd Floor Training Room, 1400 Main St.
|County Courthouse, Central Jury Room, 1710 Bowie Drive
|Courthouse Community Meeting Room, Hwy 83
|Patti Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro
|Angelo State University M.I.R. Center, 7945 Grape Creek Road
|County Courthouse, District Court Room
|Dallum County Courthouse, 2nd Floor, 414 Denver
|Community Center, 213 Yturria
|Plains Community Building
|County Courthouse, 118 Church St.
|Dickinson TPWD 1502 FM 517 East
|Small Community Building, 109 Rooney St.
|303 W. Main, Kennedy City Hall Auditorium
|700 Main, Kerr County Courthouse, Court Room 2
|Courthouse Annex, 215 NW 1st St.