Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Nov. 17, 1999

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item No. Subject Public Hearing Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting  
  Summary of minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Issues for Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for 200-2001
Staff: Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn, Gary Graham
Committee Only
3. Scientific Breeder Regulations
Staff: Jerry Cooke
8
4. Commercial Nongame Permits
Staff: John Herron
Committee Only
5. Status of Local Parks Grants Scoping
Staff: Tim Hogsett
Committee Only
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

August 25, 1999

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 25th day of August 1999, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 9:31 a.m. to wit:
I. APPEARANCES:

Lee M. Bass, Chair
Dick W. Heath
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Carol E. Dinkins
Alvin L. Henry
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
Nolan Ryan
Mark E. Watson, Jr.
THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Chairman Bass began the proceedings by entertaining a motion by Commissioner Heath to adopt the minutes of the June , 1999 meeting of the Regulations Committee. The motion was seconded by Commissioners Henry and Idsal and passed without opposition.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERER PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING - Chairman's Charges

Presenter - Andrew Sansom

The Chairman recognized Executive Director Andrew Sansom, who distributed the revised commission policy manual, noting that in keeping with the Chairman=s charges, that document had been reduced by approximately 60% .

2. ACTION - Migratory Game Bird Proclamation - Late Season Provisions

Presenter - Vernon Bevill

The Chairman recognized Vernon Bevill, Migratory and Wetland Ecology Program Director in the Wildlife Division. Mr. Bevill began by reprising the potential changes to federal rules under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their implications for Texas. These included increases in season length and bag limits for geese. Mr. Bevill then presented the staff recommendations for light and dark goose seasons. Chairman Bass inquired as to boundaries of the goose zones, and Brian Sullivan, Waterfowl Program Leader, responded with the requested information. Mr. Bevill then presented the staff recommendations and rationale for the seasons on ducks, mergansers, and coots, noting that the bag limits remained unchanged except for scaup, which was reduced by federal action. Continuing, Mr. Bevill presented the staff recommendations and rationale for falconry seasons, provided the Committee with a summary of public comment received in response to the department=s proposals, and briefed the Committee on the status of congressional action to authorize a conservation season for light geese. Chairman Bass then entertained a motion from Commissioner Ryan to forward the item to the full Commission for adoption. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Angelo and passed without opposition.

3. ACTION - Scientific Breeder Proclamation

Presenter - Jerry Cooke

The Chairman recognized Jerry Cooke, Program Director for Upland Wildlife Ecology in the Wildlife Division. Mr. Cooke began with a historical overview of legislative and regulatory action allowing the private possession of white-tailed deer for scientific and management purposes and reviewed the current status of department programs to administer scientific breeder permits. He continued with a presentation of staff recommendations and rationale for amendments to the scientific breeder regulations. Chairman Bass inquired as to the involvement of the regulated community in the development of the proposed amendments. Mr. Cooke stated that the department had held several meetings with permittees and members of the Legislature. Commissioner Angelo asked about the current status of the scientific breeder program. Mr. Cooke responded that due to a change in the reporting schedule for annual reports, staff did not have a summary available. Chairman Bass asked about the total number of deer held under scientific breeder permits. Mr. Cooke reported that an exact number wasn=t available, but he estimated it to be approximately between 6,000 and 7,000 animals. The Chairman then entertained a motion by Commissioner Idsal to authorize staff to publish the proposed regulations in the Texas Register for public comment. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Watson and passed without opposition.

IV. ADJOURNMENT - There being no further business, Chairman Bass adjourned the meeting of the Regulations Committee.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
November 1999

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn, Gary Graham

Regulations Committee
Action
Legislative Regulations Review
November 1999

I. DISCUSSION: Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, and means and methods for taking wildlife resources is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61. The potential changes are based upon statutory requirements, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable. The potential changes would increase recreational opportunity, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state.

Attachments – 1

1. Exhibit A - Synopsis of potential changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for 1999-2000


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Potential Regulation Changes
2000-2001

GENERAL

Proposal: Current regulations (Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation) state: "there is no open season on game animals or game birds on public roads and highways, the right-of-way of public roads and highways; or in any state-owned riverbed in Dimmit, Uvalde, and Zavala counties." This language also appears in the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

Staff finds that this regulation has been in place since 1964, prior to the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1983, which established the Parks and Wildlife Code. Parks and Wildlife Code, §61.053, states "The commission shall provide open seasons for the hunting, taking, or possession of game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life if its investigations and findings of fact reveal that open seasons may be safely provided or if the threat of waste requires an open season to conserve game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life. Staff research has not uncovered any scientific findings for this regulation; staff concludes that the continued closure of these state-owned riverbeds may not be justified.

Proposal: Current regulations (Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation) state: Special Requirement: In that portion of Henderson County bounded on the north by the county line, on the east by U.S. Highway 175 and Tin Can alley Road, on the south by State Highway 31, and on the west by State Highway 274, hunting of deer is restricted to shotguns with buckshot, longbow, compound bow, recurved bow, or crossbow. Other game animals or game birds may be taken only with shotgun, longbow, compound bow, recurved bow, or crossbow.

Staff research indicates no justification for this regulation, and at any rate, the department does not possess statutory authority to promulgate regulations on the basis of public safety except on department lands.

WILDLIFE DIVISION

White-tailed Deer

Proposal: Implement department-approved youth-only hunts, following the close of the general open season, on properties under a TPW management plan. Hunt dates and bag limits (restricted to antlerless and spikes) would be determined by regional staff, who would also issue necessary tags to the landowners.

The proposal contends that the creation of department-sanctioned youth-only hunts would increase hunting opportunity, increase outreach to youth, and offer an additional management tool to landowners who need to remove excess antlerless and spike deer.

Proposal: Create four ‘doe-days’ to run from Thanksgiving Day to the following Sunday in Cass, Marion, and Harrison counties.

The proposal contends that the present antlerless harvest (by permit only) is insufficient to control total population growth.

Proposal: Create ‘doe days’ and increase the buck bag limit in San Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker counties. Either-sex hunting would be lawful from opening day through the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving, and the bag limit would rise to four deer, no more than two antlerless and no more than two bucks. Following the close of either-sex hunting, antlerless would be taken by MLD or LAMPS only.

The proposal contends that habitat in the affected counties is at or near carrying capacity; therefore, an increase in antlerless and buck harvest is necessary to stabilize populations and improve sex ratios. Currently there are no ‘doe days’ in these counties.

Proposal: Rephrase the regulation establishing 23 ‘doe days’ in certain east Texas counties in order to provide more opportunity.

The present regulation, by specifying a finite number of days, does not always include the Thanksgiving weekend. Changing the wording in the regulation will ensure that the popular Thanksgiving weekend will always be open to either-sex hunting.

Proposal: Open a nine-day muzzleloader-only season (restricted to antlerless and spike-buck deer, no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) immediately following the close of the general open season in Angelina, Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, and Tyler counties.

The proposal contends that a muzzleloader season would provide additional hunting opportunity with a negligible effect on deer populations.

Eastern Turkey

Proposal: Open a spring season for Eastern turkey in Camp, Franklin, Hunt, Morris, Panola, Rains, Shelby, and Titus counties.

The proposal contends that habitat continuity and the time elapsed since stocking operations were completed in the affected counties have created a suitable opportunity for the implementation of an open season under the same regulatory scheme as counties currently enjoying an open season.

INLAND FISHERIES

Statewide

Proposal: Current harvest regulations for spotted and Guadalupe bass consist of a 12-inch minimum length limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit (in combination with largemouth and smallmouth bass). Regulations would be changed to no minimum length limit and the 5-fish daily bag limit would be retained.

In many part of Texas, spotted and Guadalupe bass infrequently grow to larger than 12 inches. Removal of the minimum length limit will allow anglers to harvest some of these fish without any negative impacts on the populations.

Proposal: On Lake Jacksonville (Cherokee County), Cleburne State Park Lake (Johnson County), and Meridian State Park Lake (Bosque County), current harvest regulations for largemouth bass consist of 14-inch minimum length limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit. The minimum length would be changed to an 18-inch limit.

Density of quality-sized bass will increase in waters where abundance of larger individuals is currently low.

Proposal: On Buescher State Park Lake (Bastrop County), Town Lake and Lake Austin (Travis County), current harvest regulations for largemouth bass consist of 14-inch minimum length limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit. Regulations would be changed to a 14-21 inch slot length limit and 5 fish daily bag, of which only one fish 21 inches or greater may be harvested per day.

Density of quality-sized bass will increase while allowing harvest of some smaller bass. Harvest of smaller bass can have positive benefits on growth of large bass by decreasing competition for available food. The change on Town Lake is contingent on removal by Texas Department of Health of current consumption advisory.

Proposal: On the North and South Conhco Rivers (Tom Green County), Community Fishing Lake (CFL) regulations (catfish daily bag of 5 and pole-and-line angling only) apply to named impoundments on the CFL list. This description would be clarified by stating these regulations apply to the North and South Concho Rivers within the city limits of San Angelo.

This clarification of boundaries for regulations concerning CFL's should improve compliance and enforcement of current regulations.

COASTAL FISHERIES DIVISION

Finfish License Management

Proposal: Pursuant to the passage of Senate Bill 1303, which provided authorization to the Commission to develop and implement a license limitation program for the Texas commercial finfish fishery, proposed changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation §65.72 Fish, §65.72 Crabs and Ghost Shrimp, § 53.6 Commercial Fishing Licenses and Tags and § 53.7 Business Licenses and Permits, and new §§ 58.301-58.310 Finfish Fishery Proclamation, will be brought before the commercial fishing community for scoping, comments and input.

Compatibility with Federal Rules in the Exclusive Economic Zone

Proposal: Staff will be reviewing possible rule changes regarding the harvest of various marine finfish species to be compatible with rules currently in place in the federal waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone. Staff anticipates proposing changes in harvest regulations for sharks and billfish in Texas waters, and will evaluate through scoping, potential regulation changes for Spanish mackerel, red snapper, and king mackerel.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Action
Scientific Breeder Regulations
November 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 8.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: John Herron

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Commercial Nongame Permits
November 1999

I. DISCUSSION: The Commission approved regulations concerning permits for the Collection and Sale of Nongame Wildlife in August 1998 (31 TAC §§65.325-65.33). These regulations became effective January 1, 1999. The Commission requested that staff brief the Commission on the impact of these regulations the following year.

To date, the Department has issued 549 nongame commercial collection permits and 184 nongame dealer permits.

Permits were available through select vendors and Austin headquarters beginning January 1, 1999. There was some delay in getting the permits available to all vendors in the Department’s Point-of-Sale system, but permits have been available at all vendors since early February 1999. No citations were issued during the period when permits were not readily available.

A Nongame Permit Regulation Advisory Committee was established at the request of the Commission. This committee has met 6 times during the past year. Members of the committee were instrumental in helping the Department develop reporting forms, as well as providing feedback to the Department concerning implementation fo the new regulations. During the next year, the Department will increase its efforts to inform citizens of the new regulations, particularly pet stores.

Annual reports were due September 15, 1999. To date, 133 collector and 86 dealer reports have been received. Reminder letters were mailed in early October to all permittees who have not filed annual reports. Those individuals who fail to report will probably be flagged in the POS system and will not be able to purchase any additional permits ot licenses until their annual report is received.

Staff is discussing possible improvements to the regulations and administrative procedures. Some administrative changes will probably be made to reporting forms. A number of constituents and staff members have suggested the names of the permits be changed to better explain the difference between collection, sale and resale.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Status of Local Parks Grants Scoping
November 1999

I. DISCUSSION:


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