Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Jan. 22, 2003

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. Proposed Changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Staff: Ron George, Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn
Committee Only
3. Candidate State Parks for Public Hunting
Staff: Herb Kothmann
Committee Only
4. Scientific Breeder Proclamation
Staff: Clayton Wolf
9
5. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
November 6, 2002

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 6th day of November 2002, 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 9:00 a.m., to-wit:

I. REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:

Joseph Fitzsimons, Committee Chair
Katharine Armstrong, Chairman
Al Henry
Phil Montgomery
John Avila, Jr.
Donato D. Ramos
Kelly M. Rising, M.D.
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Motion: Commissioner Watson; Second: Commissioner Henry. The motion passed unanimously.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED TO THE COMMITTEE:

1. BRIEFING – CHAIRMAN’S CHARGES

The chair recognized Executive Director Robert L. Cook. Mr. Cook reported that the implementation of Senate Bill 305 from the last legislative session (the Sunset Bill) was complete. Mr. Cook noted that two items on the agenda, the shrimp report and the crab trap season item, were part of the S.B. 305 mandates.

2. BRIEFING - SHRIMP.

The chair recognized Hal Osburn, director of the Coastal Fisheries Division. Mr. Osburn began by outlining the department strategy for accomplishing the economic and scientific study of the shrimp fishery required by legislative action (Senate Bill 305). He noted that the department had created eight teams of staff scientists to address the various aspects of the study, engaged university researchers, and held a number of public hearings in developing the study, which was then sent to 18 independent scientists for peer review. He then provided an overview of the notable conclusions made within the study, including the current status of the fishery, the interrelationships of the shrimp fishery with other components of the ecosystem, the nature of the dynamics of biodiversity in the ecosystem, and the impacts of recent rulemakings on problem areas within the shrimp fishery, notably, bycatch and overharvest. Mr. Osburn then examined the economic impacts to the shrimp industry in Texas caused by foreign shrimp imports and aquaculture. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked for a status report on the department's license buy-back program. Mr. Osburn responded that approximately 900 licenses had been acquired by the department at a cost of roughly $4.5 million. He further reported that the department was about half-way to acquiring 50% of the licenses that existed at the time that the program was initiated, and that the average cost of buying a license was approximately $7,000. Chairman Armstrong asked at what point the department would begin to see an impact on the resource as a result of the buy-back program. Mr. Osburn responded that at the present time, staff believed the program had already stabilized the magnitude of effort. The Chairman then asked if the department could distinguish the economic effects of the buy-back program from other, external influences. Mr. Osburn replied that it was doubtful. The Chairman asked if there would be a way to do so once the shrimp economy stabilized. Mr. Osburn replied in the affirmative, and described the assessment mechanism that the department would use and why it was expected to be effective. At the suggestion of Executive Director Robert L. Cook, Mr. Osburn provided a biological assessment of the health of the fishery.

3. BRIEFING - POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE STATEWIDE HUNTING AND FISHING PROCLAMATION.

The Chair recognized Ron George, deputy director of the Wildlife Division. Mr. George reviewed the potential changes being advanced by the Wildlife Division, including changes to regulations concerning wildlife management plans, issuance of certain permits, deer seasons in several counties, enlargement of the Managed Lands Permit system for mule deer, marking of desert bighorn sheep skulls, the truncation of seasons for Rio Grande turkey in certain counties, the closure of pheasant seasons in certain counties, season adjustments to pheasant seasons in the Panhandle, the closure of lesser prairie chicken season, and the inclusion of Mearns' quail in the aggregate bag limits for quail. Commissioner Angelo asked about the status of Gambles' quail populations. Mr. George responded that the species was very narrowly distributed, but did exist in huntable numbers. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked about potential landowner opposition to the proposal to enlarge the MLD program for mule deer. Mr. George responded that the nature of opposition, if any, would become clearer once the department had conducted a public hearing process and began receiving public comment. Commissioner Angelo asked about high-fencing in the Trans-Pecos. Mr. George replied that there wasn't much, adding that acreages were very large in that part of the state and in the Panhandle, and that deer densities were low. Chairman Armstrong asked about the effect of predators on mule deer numbers. Mr. George responded that although predators did play a role in reducing deer numbers, the long-term drought and its effect on habitat probably played a bigger role. Commissioner Henry asked about the specifics of broadening the authority to issue Antlerless and Spike-buck Control permits. Mr. George explained that it was part of an effort to be more responsive and to increase the quality of customer service. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked about the changes to rules governing wildlife management plans. Mr. George replied that the current requirement is limited to quantitative estimates of population, and the rule change would allow qualitative indicators, such as browse surveys, to be used in determining population trends. Commissioner Fitzsimons then asked about the nuances of the proposed change to the pheasant season in the Panhandle. Mr. George responded that the proposed change was received as a petition for rulemaking that the department did not disagree with, as a longer season combined with a reduced bag limit would increase opportunity. Commissioner Fitzsimons and Mr. George than discussed a variety of issues related to management plans and landowner incentives in the Panhandle. Commissioner Angelo asked about the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on pheasant habitat. Mr. George responded that CRP was initially not focused on native grasses, but recent movements to native species had been growing, which benefits pheasants.

The chair recognized Ken Kurzawski of the Inland Fisheries Division. Mr. Kurzawski began by providing an overview of the methodology used by the Inland Fisheries Division to evaluate the effectiveness of current regulations and the need for any changes. He then addressed specific changes to minimum-length and bag limits for largemouth bass on various reservoirs, providing the scientific rationale and expected results for each. Commissioner Henry stated that he had received communications from people complaining that the department favored tournament anglers and trophy anglers. Mr. Kurzawski responded that the department's motivation in implementing regulations was to develop a quality fishery, and that in fact, the tournament community generally opposed most proposed regulations. He added that special regulations were implemented on a very limited basis. Commissioner Angelo asked about the effect upon fishing quality of catch-and-release regulations. Mr. Kurzawski responded that catch-and-release regulations were to some extent superfluous, since many anglers responded to minimum length limits by self-regulating anyway. He also noted that 80% of the reservoirs were regulated in such a way that anglers seeking to retain more fish could do so. Commissioner Watson asked if the department was concerned about damage to the resource caused by tournament angling. Mr. Kurzawski responded that although mortalities occur as a result of catch-and-release angling, there is no evidence that overall population health was being affected. Mr. Phil Durocher, director of Inland Fisheries, noted that in most cases, fish being released could have been legally kept. Commissioner Rising asked if bass catchability was affected by Florida bass. Mr. Durocher relied that northern bass did seem to be easier to catch, but that the department tried to maintain a balance between Florida and northern populations. Commissioner Avila asked about the effect of charging a fee for angling tournaments. Mr. Durocher responded that the legislature had contemplated a bill at one point that would have created a permit, without a fee, to allow the department to gather data on tournament impacts, but it was not enacted. Commissioner Ramos asked if Florida bass and northern bass hybridized, and if so, how that affected catchability. Mr. Durocher responded that although hybridization was known to occur, there was no data upon which to base any conclusions. Commissioner Fitzsimons and Mr. Durocher then discussed the pros and cons of establishing a permit for tournament angling, with Mr. Durocher noting that the department had once created a voluntary permit purely for the purpose of gathering data, but response had been quite low. Commissioner Henry asked if tournament angling exhibited any differences from general angling when it came to regulatory compliance. Mr. James Stinebaugh, director of the Law Enforcement Division, responded that there seemed to no difference between the two groups.

The chair then recognized Mr. Hal Osburn, director of the Coastal Fisheries Division. Mr. Osburn briefed the committee on the preliminary results of the department's study of the spotted sea trout fishery, noting increased pressure and efficiency, and the impacts of professional fishing guides. He then explained the scientific and statistical basis for the department's proposal to create a party limit for fishing guide boats and increase the fee for guide permits. Mr. Osburn also provided a detailed analysis of the department's outreach and public comment efforts. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked about the importance of spawning biomass. Mr. Osburn provided a detailed explanation of spawning biomass, its importance to the biological health of species and ecosystems, and the effect upon it that would be exerted by the proposed regulation. Commissioner Angelo and Mr. Osburn then discussed the relative benefits and drawbacks to various size limits. Commissioner Rising asked if the proposed regulations would be compatible with the projected increase in fishing pressure. Mr. Osburn replied that the proposed rules were heavily influenced by those concerns.

4. ACTION - CRAB TRAP REMOVAL RULES

The chair recognized Mr. Robin Riechers, management director in the Coastal Fisheries Division. Mr. Riechers began by reviewing the legislative authority granted to the commission for promulgating rules to close crab seasons for the purposes of identifying and removing abandoned crabs in public waters. He then reported the results of the previous years' efforts and participation in those efforts by outside entities, and presented the specifics and rationale for the proposed upcoming closure, along with a summary of public comment and input from the regulated community.

5. ACTION - SCIENTIFIC BREEDER'S PROCLAMATION

The chair recognized Jerry Cooke, Game Branch chief. Mr. Cooke began by reviewing background information on the Commission's previous and pending actions with respect to scientific breeder regulations in response to the chronic wasting disease issue. Mr. Cooke then addressed the specific rulemaking before the committee, consisting of the removal of the prohibition of deer importation, elimination of the annual fawn report, modification of release provisions, provisions prohibiting out-of-state transport of deer for nursing or veterinary purposes, and clarifications of documentation requirements for transactions. Mr. Cooke provided an explanation for the rationale or cause for each of the proposed changes, and noted that the proposal reflected the consensus of the department's advisory group.

6. ACTION - PERMITS FOR THE TRAPPING, TRANSPORTING, AND TRANSPLANTING OF GAME ANIMALS AND GAME BIRDS

The chair recognized Jerry Cooke, Game Branch chief. Mr. Cooke began by reviewing the department's efforts to respond to the threat of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and the role in that effort represented by the proposal to remove the applicability of the Triple T regulations to deer. Mr. Cooke then presented a history of the Triple T program and a geographical portrait of Triple T activities, using that information in the context of the multi-agency strategy to address the CWD issue. He then provided a comprehensive summary of the agency's outreach and public comment efforts, and how the input from interested individuals, associations, and advisory groups was used in the department's rulemaking efforts. Commissioner Fitzsimons inquired about the volume of testing handled by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab. Mr. Cooke replied that it was very early in the process and there were not many samples, but that everything seemed to be going fine. Commissioner Ramos asked about the number of animals the department expected to be tested. Mr. Cooke replied that the number was somewhere around 2,200. Commissioner Ramos and Mr. Cooke then discussed the particulars of how Triple T permits would be issued in light of landowner testing. Commissioner Angelo stated that he was opposed to any provision that would allow deer to be moved without a test sample. Commissioner Montgomery asked about the timespan between testing and the transport of deer under a permit. Mr. Cooke responded that since there is a trapping season for Triple T deer and a specified period of permit validity, the time span for the efficacy of test results was already part of the regulatory effect. Executive Director Robert L. Cook inquired as to the potential for backlog at the lab if a large number of animals were to be submitted in a short amount of time. Mr. Cook responded that he didn't feel that there would be a problem, especially since a second lab was scheduled to come on-line in the near future. Chairman Armstrong asked Mr. Cook if in his opinion the interests of all concerned parties had been adequately addressed during the process. Mr. Cook responded that he absolutely believed so.

7. BRIEFING - CWD MANAGEMENT PLAN

The chair recognized Mr. Doug Humphreys, assistant Game Branch chief, who in turn introduced Dr. Ken Wardrup of the Texas Animal Health Commission. Mr. Humphreys began by noting that the response to CWD in Texas was a multi-agency effort, and delineated the areas of responsibility and jurisdiction among the participating agencies. He then provided a detailed description of surveillance and monitoring protocols, noting that sampling efforts would be taking place on both private and public lands and detailing the mechanisms for both cases. He then presented the specifics of response in the event of the discovery of CWD, outlining the sampling and quarantine events that would take place and the geographical context of those efforts. Chairman Armstrong asked Dr. Wardrup if he was comfortable with TPWD's efforts with respect to the Triple T testing requirements as discussed in the previous agenda item. Dr. Wardrup responded in the affirmative.

IV. Commissioner Fitzsimons then adjourned the meeting.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Regulations Committee
Chairman's Charges
January 2003

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenters: Ron George, Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn

Regulations Committee
Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
January 2003

I. DISCUSSION: Responsibility for establishing places, 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 to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation (located at Exhibit A) are based on public comment, petitions for rulemaking, and statutory requirements that include scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable. The proposed changes would increase recreational opportunity, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state.

Exhibit A – Proposed Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for 2003-2004
Exhibit B – Proposed Fishing Guide Fee Rules


Exhibit A

2003-2004 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife department proposes amendments to 65.3, 65.10, 65.25-65.27, 65.29, 65.42, 65.56, 65.60, 65.62, 65.71, 65.72, and 65.78, concerning the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation.

The amendment to § §65.3, concerning Definitions, adds a definition of ‘deer population data’ to specifically delineate the analytical components used to make deer population assessments, and defines the terms ‘fishing guide’ and ‘fishing guide deck hand’. The amendment to §65.3 is necessary because an amendment to §65.25 is eliminating the term ‘census data’ and replacing it with ‘population data,’ a term that is more inclusive than the term it replaces. The amendment is also necessary because the department is implementing bag limits for fishing guide parties, and therefore the terms must be defined for enforcement purposes. Because of that, the department believes it is necessary to provide a definition to prevent confusion or misunderstanding. The proposed amendment also defines the term ‘population data’ as ‘the results derived from deer population surveys and/or from systematic data analysis of density or herd health indicators, such as browse surveys or other scientifically acceptable data, that function as direct or indirect indicators of population density.’

The amendment to §65.10, concerning Possession of Wildlife Resources, would establish a convention for lawful proof-of-sex documentation for deer from which the head has been removed for department-sanctioned diagnostic purposes. Under current rules, the headless carcass of a deer must be accompanied by a taxidermist’s receipt or landowner affidavit attesting to the sex of the carcass. The amendment is necessary because the department is sampling harvested deer for chronic wasting disease (necessitating the removal of the head) and there is a need for a department receipt in order to eliminate potential confusion and inconvenience for hunters. The amendment would also implement a mandatory tagging requirement for desert bighorn sheep skulls. The amendment is necessary in order to make Texas law consistent with bighorn sheep regulations in other states, which are designed to prevent the traffic in illegally taken bighorn sheep.

The amendment to §65.25, concerning Wildlife Management Plan (WMP), would replace the term ‘census data’ with the term ‘population data.’ Currently, the content of wildlife management plans condition the issuance of Managed Lands Deer permits at least partially on the inclusion of ‘deer census data,’ which has proved to be problematic in that a census, strictly speaking, is a count or tally. However, in creating a meaningful management plan, a raw number representing the deer population is not by itself as useful or relevant as when augmented by additional, indirect indices that can assist in revealing how a population is actually functioning within a system.

The amendment to §65.26, concerning Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits, comports terminology to be consistent with changes made to §65.25 and expands the program to include mule deer. Current regulations provide for the issuance only of Level I Managed Lands Deer permits (antlerless only) for mule deer. The proposed amendment would expand the MLD permit program to allow the issuance of permits for either sex. The expanded MLD program would also include an extended season and enhanced bag limits (including bonus tags) to fulfill the harvest quotas established in the wildlife management plans on properties receiving both buck and antlerless permits. The amendment would provide landowners with greater flexibility in managing mule deer on their property.

The amendment to §65.27, concerning Antlerless and Spike-buck Control Permits, would allow additional field personnel to approve permit issuance and would implement a deadline for permit applications to be received by the department in order to guarantee permit issuance for the year requested. The amendment is necessary to increase efficiency and decrease turnaround times for application approval, and to address workload problems associated with high volumes of last-minute applications.

The amendment to §65.29, concerning Bonus Tag, would allow the use of bonus tags on properties that have received MLD permits for mule deer, and adds language to clarify that bonus tags may be used to exceed the statewide bag limit. The amendment is necessary to comport the section with changes proposed for §65.25 and §65.26, which expand the MLD program for mule deer.

The amendment to §65.42, concerning Deer, consists of several actions. Current harvest regulations in Harris County allow a hunter to take three deer, no more than one of which may be a buck and no more than two of which may be antlerless. The proposed amendment would increase the bag limit to four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) and establish "doe days" for Harris County. The deer range in Harris County is mostly in the northern part of the county, which is part of the Pineywoods Ecological Region. The deer season for Harris County should be consistent with adjoining Pineywoods counties to the north and east. A more liberal bag limit would also help address deer problems caused by human development and isolation of the deer herd. The proposed amendment would add a muzzleloader season to Harris (contingent upon adoption of the proposal to increase the bag limit), San Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker counties. The proposal would allow additional hunting opportunity in these counties and standardize the regulations with adjoining counties that have similar harvest restrictions, habitat, and herd characteristics.

The amendment to §65.56, concerning Lesser Prairie Chicken: Open Seasons, Bag, and Possession Limits, would close the season on lesser prairie chicken statewide. Current harvest surveys indicated only 200 lesser prairie chickens are harvested annually in Texas. Staff attributes the decline in lesser prairie chicken numbers primarily to habitat loss, not hunting. However, there is currently a multi-state effort to manage the remaining lesser prairie chickens and Texas, having the most remaining chickens, is the logical source for any stocking efforts in other states. Saving the remaining chickens for brood stock is thought to be the best use of this resource.

The amendment to §65.60, concerning Pheasant, would close the season in Wharton, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Matagorda counties, and lengthen the season in 37 Panhandle counties from 16 to 30 days while reducing the bag limit by one cock. The season closure is necessary because department surveys indicate that pheasant in the affected counties no longer exist in huntable numbers. The amendment affecting Panhandle counties, which originated via a petition for rulemaking, is intended to provide greater hunter opportunity and the department has determined that it could be implemented without causing depletion of the resource.

The amendment to §65.62, concerning Quail: Open Seasons, Bag, and Possession Limits, would implement an open season for Mearn’s quail and would limit the daily bag of Mearn’s quail to no more than two per day as part of an aggregate quail bag. A two-bird daily bag limit on Mearn’s quail would provide limited hunting opportunities for persons interested in taking all four species of Texas’ native quail species. The proposed amendment would also ensure that the Mearn’s quail taken by accident during quail season would not be an offense.

The amendment to §65.71, concerning Reservoir Boundaries, adds a delineation of the boundaries of Toledo Bend reservoir. The amendment is necessary to clearly set forth the geographical area to which bag and possession limits apply with respect to Toledo Bend Reservoir.

The amendment to §65.72, concerning Fish, consists of several actions.

The amendment would change harvest regulations for largemouth bass on Lost Creek Lake in Jack County from the current 16-inch minimum length limit, five fish daily bag limit to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag. Decreasing the minimum length limit to 14 inches will increase the opportunity for angler harvest and possibly utilization. Evaluation indicated that an increase in overall yield will result. Tournament anglers will appreciate the change since it will make it the same as an adjoining lake, which they often use in combination for tournaments. The change will also make enforcement easier for TPWD game wardens.

The amendment changes harvest regulations for largemouth bass at Lake Waxahachie in Ellis County from the current 14 -18-inch slot length-limit, five fish daily bag limit, to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit. The five fish daily bag limit would be retained. Because angling activity for largemouth bass at Lake Waxahachie is primarily during fishing tournaments, and few of the fish captured during these tournaments are retained following weigh-in, it is unlikely that exploitation will increase. However, availability of 14-18 inch fish for legal possession will increase the numbers of fish that anglers may retain for weigh-in.

The amendment changes harvest regulations for white bass on Lakes Buchanan, Canyon, Conroe, Georgetown, Inks, Limestone, Livingston, Lyndon B. Johnson, Marble Falls, Palestine, Somerville, and Travis Reservoirs, and a section of the Trinity River from the current 12-inch minimum length limit and a 25-fish daily bag limit to the statewide 10-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag. Decreasing the minimum length limit to 10 inches will increase the opportunity for angler harvest and possibly increase utilization of the fishery. The change will reduce angler confusion and make enforcement easier for TPWD game wardens.

The amendment nonsubstantively changes certain lists of counties to reformat the list in alphabetical order. The change is necessary to present the information in more user-friendly fashion.

The amendment would impose a 25-inch maximum length limit for spotted seatrout (except that one fish of greater than 25 inches could be retained per day), which is necessary to better distribute the harvest of larger trout amongst more anglers over a greater period of time. The amendment is necessary because department data indicates that the proportion of fish greater than 25 inches has declined, while fishing pressure on seatrout populations has increased. The proposed amendment will protect those fish greater than 25 inches and increase overall spawning stock populations.

The amendment would establish an aggregate bag limit for guided fishing parties equal to the number of licensed anglers, less the fishing guide and deck hand, multiplied by the personal bag limit for each species. The amendment is necessary to ensure equitable distribution of opportunity to all users of the resource. Department data indicates that guided fishing parties catch far more fish per person than is the case for unguided anglers.

The amendment to §65.78, concerning Crabs and Ghost Shrimp, would alter gear requirements for crab traps by lowering the minimum gauge thickness of wire on escape panels from 20 ga. to 16 ga. The amendment is necessary because 16 ga. wire is more widely available and the department feels that the change will maintain the conservation benefit of the escape panels while at the same time making it easier for crabbers to comply.

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.

3. Public Benefit - Cost Note.

Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the dispensation of the agency’s statutory duty to protect and conserve the wildlife resources of this state, the duty to equitably distribute opportunity for the enjoyment of those resources among the citizens, and the execution of the commission’s policy to maximize recreational opportunity within the precepts of sound biological management practices.

(B) There will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rules as proposed.

(C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

(D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comments.

Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone (area code 512) or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (Wildlife 389-4775; e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us), Ken Kurzawski (Inland Fisheries 389-4591; e-mail: ken.kurzawski@tpwd.state.tx.us), Paul Hammerschmidt (Coastal Fisheries 389-4650; e-mail: paul.hammerschmidt@tpwd.state.tx.us), David Sinclair (Wildlife Enforcement 389-4854; e-mail: david.sinclair@tpwd.state.tx.us), or Larry Young (Fisheries Enforcement 389-4628; e-mail: larry.young@tpwd.state.tx.us), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4775 or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61, Uniform Wildlife Regulatory Act (Wildlife Conservation Act of 1983), which provides the Commission with authority to establish wildlife resource regulations for this state.

The proposed new rule and amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61.

§65.3. Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. All other words and terms in this chapter shall have the meanings assigned in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code.

(1) – (15) (No change.)

(16) Deer population data - Results derived from deer population surveys and/or from systematic data analysis of density or herd health indicators, such as browse surveys or other scientifically acceptable data, that function as direct or indirect indicators of population density

(17)[(16)] Dip net—A mesh bag suspended from a frame attached to a handle.

(18)[(17)] Final processing—the cleaning of a dead wildlife resource for cooking or storage purposes.

(19)[(18)] Fish—

(A) Game fish—Blue catfish, blue marlin, broadbill swordfish, brown trout, channel catfish, cobia, crappie (black and white), flathead catfish, Guadalupe bass, king mackerel, largemouth bass, longbill spearfish, pickerel, red drum, rainbow trout, sailfish, sauger, sharks, smallmouth bass, snook, Spanish mackerel, spotted bass, spotted seatrout, striped bass, tarpon, wahoo, walleye, white bass, white marlin, yellow bass, and hybrids or subspecies of the species listed in this subparagraph.

(B) Non-game fish—All species not listed as game fish, except endangered and threatened fish, which are defined and regulated under separate proclamations.

(20)[(19)] Fishing—Taking or attempting to take aquatic animal life by any means.

(21)[(20)] Fish length—That straight-line measurement (while the fish is lying on its side) from the tip of the snout (jaw closed) to the extreme tip of the tail when the tail is squeezed together or rotated to produce the maximum overall length.

(22)[(21)] Fish species names—The names of fishes are those prescribed by the American Fisheries Society in the most recent edition of "A List of Common and Scientific Names of Fishes of The United States and Canada."

(23) Fishing guide—a person who operates a boat for compensation to accompany or to transport a person or persons engaged in fishing in the water of this state.

(24) Fishing guide deck hand—a person in the employ of a fishing guide who assists in operating a boat for compensation to accompany or to transport a person or persons engaged in fishing in the water of this state.

(25)[(22)] Fully automatic firearm—Any firearm that is capable of firing more than one cartridge in succession by a single function of the trigger.

(26)[(23)] Gaff—Any hand-held pole with a hook attached directly to the pole.

(27)[(24)] Gear tag—A tag constructed of material as durable as the device to which it is attached. The gear tag must be legible, contain the name and address of the person using the device, and, except for saltwater trotlines and crab traps, the date the device was set out.

(28)[(25)] Gig—Any hand-held shaft with single or multiple points.

(29)[(26)] Jug line—A fishing line with five or less hooks tied to a free-floating device.

(30)[(27)] Lawful archery equipment—Longbow, recurved bow, and compound bow.

(31)[(28)] License year—The period of time for which an annual hunting or fishing license is valid.

(32)[(29)] Muzzleloader—Any firearm that is loaded only through the muzzle.

(33)[(30)] Natural bait—A whole or cut-up portion of a fish or shellfish or a whole or cut-up portion of plant material in its natural state, provided that none of these may be altered beyond cutting into portions.

(34)[(31)] Permanent residence—One's principal or ordinary home or dwelling place. This does not include a temporary abode or dwelling such as a hunting/fishing club, or any club house, cabin, tent, or trailer house used as a hunting/fishing club, or any hotel, motel, or rooming house used during a hunting, fishing, pleasure, or business trip.

(35)[(32)] Pole and line—A line with hook, attached to a pole. This gear includes rod and reel.

(36)[(33)] Possession limit—The maximum number of a wildlife resource that may be lawfully possessed at one time.

(37)[(34)] Purse seine (net)—A net with flotation on the corkline adequate to support the net in open water without touching bottom, with a rope or wire cable strung through rings attached along the bottom edge to close the bottom of the net.

(38)[(35)] Sail line—A type of trotline with one end of the main line fixed on the shore, the other end of the main line attached to a wind-powered floating device or sail.

(39)[(36)] Sand Pump—A self-contained, hand-held, hand-operated suction device used to remove and capture Callianassid ghost shrimp (Callichirus islagrande, formerly Callianassa islagrande) from their burrows.

(40)[(37)] Seine—A section of non-metallic mesh webbing, the top edge buoyed upwards by a floatline and the bottom edge weighted.

(41)[(38)] Silencer or sound-suppressing device—Any device that reduces the normal noise level created when the firearm is discharged or fired.

(42)[(39)] Spear—Any shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless, which may be propelled by any means, but does not include arrows.

(43)[(40)] Spear gun—Any hand-operated device designed and used for propelling a spear, but does not include the crossbow.

(44)[(41)] Spike-buck deer—A buck deer with no antler having more than one point.

(45)[(42)] Throwline—A fishing line with five or less hooks and with one end attached to a permanent fixture. Components of a throwline may also include swivels, snaps, rubber and rigid support structures.

(46)[(43)] Trap—A rigid device of various designs and dimensions used to entrap aquatic life.

(47)[(44)] Trawl—A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life.

(48)[(45)] Trotline—A nonmetallic main fishing line with more than five hooks attached and with each end attached to a fixture.

(49)[(46)] Umbrella net—A non-metallic mesh net that is suspended horizontally in the water by multiple lines attached to a rigid frame.

(50)[(47)] Upper-limb disability—A permanent loss of the use of fingers, hand or arm in a manner that renders a person incapable of using a longbow, compound bow or recurved bow.

(51)[(48)] Wildlife resources—All game animals, game birds, and aquatic animal life.

(52)[(49)] Wounded deer—A deer leaving a blood trail.

§65.10. Possession of Wildlife Resources.

(a) – (b) (No change.)

(c) In lieu of proof of sex, the person who killed the wildlife resource may:

(1) obtain a receipt from a taxidermist or a signed statement from the landowner, containing the following information:

(A)[(1)] the name of person who killed the wildlife resource;

(B)[(2)] the date the wildlife resource was killed;

(C)[(3)] one of the following, as applicable:

(i)[(A)] whether the deer was antlered or antlerless;

(ii)[(B)] the sex of the antelope;

(iii)[(C)] the sex of the turkey and whether a beard was attached; or

(iv)[(D)] the sex of the pheasant or;[.]

(2) if the deer is to be tested by the department for chronic wasting disease, obtain a department-issued receipt (PWD 905).

(d) (No change.)

(e) It is a defense to prosecution if the person receiving the wildlife resource does not exceed any possession limit or possess a wildlife resource or a part of a wildlife resource that is required to be tagged if the wildlife resource or part of the wildlife resource is tagged. It is an offense for any person to possess a deer tagged under the provisions of §65.193(f)(2) of this title (relating to Access Permit Required and Fees) unless the person also possesses either the special permit under which the deer was taken or a properly executed wildlife resource document.

(f) The identification requirements for desert bighorn sheep skulls are as follows.

(1) No person may possess the skull of a desert bighorn ram in this state unless:

(A) one horn has been marked with a department identification plug by a department representative; or

(B) the person also possesses evidence of lawful take in the state or country where the ram was killed.

(2) A person may possess the skull and horns of a desert bighorn ram found dead in the wild, provided:

(A) the person did not cause or participate in the death of the ram;

(B) the person notifies a department biologist or game warden within 48 hours of discovering the dead ram and arranges for marking with a department identification plug by a department representative; and

(C) the landowner on whose property the skull was found signs an affidavit prior to the time the skull is marked that attests the place and date that the person discovered the ram.

(3) Individual horns may be possessed without any identification or documentation.

§65.25. Wildlife Management Plan (WMP).

(a) An approved WMP[, specifying a harvest quota for antlerless deer or both buck and antlerless deer,] is required for the issuance of Managed Lands Deer Permits and Antlerless/Spike-Buck Deer Control Permits.

(b) MLD permit issuance for white-tailed deer shall be determined by the WMP as follows.

(1) Level 1 MLD permits shall be issued to a landowner whose WMP includes current deer population [census] data.

(2) Level 2 MLD permits shall be issued to a landowner whose WMP includes:

(A) deer population [census] data for both the current year and the immediately preceding year;

(B) deer harvest data from the immediately preceding year; and

(C) at least two recommended habitat management practices.

(3) Level 3 MLD permits shall be issued to a landowner whose WMP includes:

(A) deer population [census] data for the current year and the immediately preceding two years;

(B) deer harvest data from the immediately preceding two years; and

(C) at least four recommended habitat management practices.

(c) MLD permit issuance for mule deer shall be determined by the WMP as follows. MLD permits shall be issued to a landowner whose WMP includes:

(1) deer population data for both the current year and the immediately preceding year;

(2) deer harvest data from the immediately preceding two years; and

(3) at least three recommended habitat management practices.

(d) A WMP is not valid unless it is:

(1) consistent with Parks and Wildlife Code, §§61.053 and 61.056; and

(2) signed by a Wildlife Division biologist or technician. A WMP is valid for one year following the date of such signature.

§65.26. Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits.

(a) White-tailed deer.

(1) MLD permits may be issued only to a landowner who has a current WMP in accordance with §65.25 of this title (relating to Wildlife Management Plan). In the case that a landowner is otherwise in fulfillment of the provisions of §65.25 of this title but does not have current population [survey] data, the department may conditionally authorize partial issuance of MLD permits, not to exceed 30 per cent of the total MLD permits to be issued for that property during the affected license year, with the balance of MLD permits to be issued upon submission of the required population [survey] data.

(2)[(b)] An applicant may request the issuance of any type of MLD listed in this subsection [section].

(A)[(1)] Level 1. Level 1 MLD permits authorize only the take of antlerless white-tailed or antlerless mule deer. A Level 1 MLD permit is valid during any open season in the county for which it is issued, the bag limit for antlerless deer in that county applies, and the provisions of §65.42(b)(8) of this title (relating to Archery-Only Open Season), §65.42(b)(9) of this title (relating to Muzzleloader-Only Open Season), and the stamp requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapters I and Q, apply.

(B)[(2)] Level 2.

(i)[(A)] Level 2 MLD permits authorize the take of buck or antlerless white-tailed deer as specified by the permit.

(I)[(i)] A Level 2 antlerless permit is valid from the Saturday closest to September 30 through the last Sunday in January and during any open season on the property for which it is issued;

(II)[(ii)] A Level 2 buck permit is valid:

(-a-)[(I)] for spike bucks taken by any lawful means and for bucks taken by means of lawful archery equipment: from the Saturday closest to September 30 through the last Sunday in January, and during any open season on the property for which it is issued; and

(-b-)[(II)] for any buck, irrespective of means: from the opening day of the general open season in the county for which it is issued through the last Sunday in January, and during any open season other than the archery-only open season on the property for which it is issued.

(III)[(B)] On all tracts of land for which Level 2 MLD permits have been issued:

(-a-)[(i)] the bag limit shall be five deer, no more than three bucks, regardless of the county bag limit; and

(-b-)[(ii)] the provisions of §65.42(b)(8) of this title (relating to Archery-Only Open Season), §65.42(b)(9) of this title (relating to Muzzleloader-Only Open Season), and the stamp requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapters I and Q, do not apply.

(ii)[(C)] By acceptance of Level 2 MLD permits a landowner agrees to accomplish at least two habitat management recommendations contained in the WMP within three years of permit issuance, and agrees to maintain the habitat management practices for as long as Level 2 permits are accepted thereafter. A landowner who fails to accomplish at least two habitat management recommendations of the WMP within three years is not eligible for Level 2 permits the following year, but is eligible for Level 1 MLD permits or may choose to cease accepting MLD permits.

(C)[(3)] Level 3.

(i) Level 3 MLD permits authorize the take of buck and antlerless white-tailed deer as specified by the permit. A Level 3 MLD permit is valid from the Saturday nearest September 30 through the last Sunday in January and during any open season on the property for which it is issued. On all tracts of land for which Level 3 MLD permits have been issued:

(I)[(A)] the bag limit shall be five deer, no more than three bucks, regardless of the county bag limit; and

(II)[(B)] the provisions of §65.42(b)(8) of this title, §65.42(b)(9) of this title, and the stamp requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapters I and Q, do not apply.

(ii)[(C)] By acceptance of Level 3 MLD permits a landowner agrees to accomplish at least four habitat management recommendations contained in the WMP within three years of permit issuance, and agrees to maintain the habitat management practices for as long as Level 3 permits are accepted thereafter. A landowner who fails to accomplish at least four habitat management recommendations of the WMP within three years is not eligible for Level 3 permits the following year, but may be eligible for other levels of MLD permits or may choose to cease accepting MLD permits.

(b) Mule deer.

(1) MLD permits for mule deer may be issued only to a landowner who has a current WMP in accordance with §65.25 of this title (relating to Wildlife Management Plan) that specifies a harvest quota for both buck and antlerless mule deer.

(2) An MLD issued under this subsection permits the take of antlerless and buck mule deer, as specified on the permit.

(3) An MLD permit issued under this paragraph is valid only on the property for which it is issued.

(4) The provisions of §65.42(b)(9) of this title (relating to Muzzleloader-Only Open Season), and the stamp requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter Q, do not apply on properties that have received MLD permits under this subsection.

(5) An MLD permit issued under this subsection is valid from 14 days before the opening day of the general season for mule deer in the county of issuance until the 14th day following the close of the general season for mule deer in the county of issuance.

(6) The number of MLD permits distributed to a hunter shall be at the discretion of the landowner.

(c) All deer harvested by MLD permit must immediately be tagged with an appropriate tag (i.e., buck tag for buck deer, antlerless tag for antlerless deer) from the hunting license of the person who killed the deer or a valid bonus tag. If an appropriate MLD permit is not attached immediately at the time of kill, the person who killed the deer shall immediately take the carcass to a location on the property where an appropriate MLD tag shall be attached.

(d) If a landowner in possession of MLD permits does not wish to abide by the harvest quota or habitat management practices specified by the WMP, the landowner must return all MLD permits to the department by the Saturday closest to September 30.

(e) In the event that unforeseeable developments such as floods, droughts, or other natural disasters make the attainment of recommended habitat management practices impractical or impossible, the department may, on a case-by-case basis, waive the requirements of this section.

(f) The department reserves the right to deny further issuance of MLD permits to a landowner who exceeds the harvest quota specified by the WMP or who does not otherwise abide by the WMP. A property for which the department denies further permit issuance under this subsection is ineligible to receive MLD permits for a period of three years from the date of denial.

(g) Administratively complete applications received by the department before August 15 of each year shall be approved or denied by October 1 of the same year.

§65.27. Antlerless and Spike-buck Control Permits (control permits). Control permits shall be issued only to control overpopulation of white-tailed deer and may be issued only to a landowner who has a current WMP issued in accordance with §65.25 of this title (relating to Wildlife Management Plan) that specifies a harvest quota of more than 20 antlerless deer. The WMP for permits issued under this section must be signed by a Wildlife Division employee assigned to write wildlife management plans [biologist classified CS VI or higher].

(1) - (5) (No change.)

(6) Applications for control permits received after December 10, if approved, will result in the issuance of permits that are valid beginning on the Saturday closest to the immediately following September 30.

(7) A report form provided by the department shall be submitted to the department by the landowner not later than February 14 following the use of the permits. The report must specify the sex and date of kill for each deer harvested under a control permit.

§65.29. Bonus tags.

(a) A person may take one white-tailed deer or mule deer per bonus tag during an open [white-tailed] deer season in any county, irrespective of the county and statewide bag limits [bag limit], provided that person possesses a valid bonus tag on their person and one of the following:

(1) an appropriate, valid MLD permit (i.e., MLD buck permit [tag] for a buck deer, [or] MLD antlerless permit [tag] for an antlerless deer, MLD white-tailed permit for white-tailed deer, MLD mule deer permit for mule deer);

(2) a valid LAMPS permit (valid for antlerless only); or

(3) a valid Special Permit issued by the department for a public hunt, in which case the bonus tag is valid:

(A) only at the location specified on the permit;

(B) only during the date and time specified on the permit; and

(C) only for the species and sex of deer (buck or antlerless) specified on the permit.

(b) No person may:

(1) purchase more than five bonus tags per license year;

(2) use a bonus tag on more than one animal; or

(3) buy, sell, or otherwise exchange a bonus tag for remuneration or considerations of any kind; however, a bonus tag may be given to another person.

(c) A person who kills a deer shall immediately attach a properly executed bonus tag to the deer.

§65.42. Deer.

(a) Except as provided in §65.27 of this title (relating to Antlerless and Spike-Buck Deer Control Permits) or §65.29 of this title (relating to Bonus Tags), no person may exceed the annual bag limit of five white-tailed deer (no more than three bucks) and two mule deer (no more than one buck).

(b) White-tailed deer. The open seasons and annual bag limits for white-tailed deer shall be as follows. No person may take more than two bucks, in the aggregate, from the counties listed in paragraphs (1), (2), and (6) of this subsection.

(1) – (5) (No change.)

(6) In Angelina, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, and Walker counties, there is a general open season.

(A) Open season: first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January.

(B) Bag limit: four deer, no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless.

(C) From opening day through the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving, antlerless deer may be taken without antlerless deer permits unless MLD, LAMPS, or Wildlife Management Area permits have been issued for the tract of land. On National Forest, Corps of Engineers, Sabine River Authority, and Trinity River Authority lands, the take of antlerless deer shall be by permit only. If MLD or LAMPS permits have been issued, they must be attached to all antlerless deer harvested on the tract of land. From the Monday following Thanksgiving, antlerless deer may be taken only by MLD antlerless permits or LAMPS permits. On tracts of land for which LAMPS permits have been issued, no LAMPS permit is required for the harvest of antlerless deer during the archery-only or muzzleloader-only open season.

(7) – (8) (No change.)

(9) Muzzleloader-only open seasons, and bag and possession limits shall be as follows.

(A) In Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, and Upton (that portion located both south of U.S. Highway 67 and east of state highway 349) counties, there is an open season during which only antlerless and spike-buck deer may be taken only with a muzzleloader.

(i) Open Season: from the first Saturday following the closing of the general open season for nine consecutive days.

(ii) Bag limit: four antlerless or spike-buck deer in the aggregate, no more than two spike bucks.

(B) In Angelina, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, [and] Tyler, and Walker counties, there is an open season during which only antlerless and spike-buck deer may be taken only with a muzzleloader.

(i) Open Season: from the first Saturday following the closing of the general open season for nine consecutive days.

(ii) Bag limit: four antlerless or spike-buck deer in the aggregate, no more than two spike bucks and no more than two antlerless.

(C) No permit is required to hunt antlerless deer unless MLD permits have been issued for the property.

(10) (No change.)

(c) (No change.)

§65.56. Lesser Prairie Chicken: Open Seasons, Bag, and Possession Limits. There is no open season for lesser prairie chicken.

[(a) In Cochran, Hemphill, Hockley, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Terry, Wheeler, and Yoakum counties, there is an open season on prairie chicken, during which prairie chicken may be taken only by permit.]

[(1) Open season: Third Saturday in October for two consecutive days.]

[(2) Daily bag limit: Two prairie chickens.]

[(3) Possession limit: Four prairie chickens.]

[(b) In all other counties, there is no open season on prairie chicken.]

[(c) It is unlawful to hunt prairie chicken by any means other than shotgun.]

§65.60. Pheasant: Open Seasons, Bag, and Possession Limits.

(a) In Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Floyd, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Wheeler, and Wilbarger counties, there is an open season for pheasants.

(1) Open season: First [Second] Saturday of December for 30 [16] consecutive days.

(2) Daily Bag limit: Two [Three] cock pheasants.

(3) Possession limit: Six cock pheasants.

(b) In [Brazoria,] Chambers, [Fort Bend], Jefferson, Liberty, [Matagorda, and Wharton] counties, there is an open season for pheasants.

(1) Open season: Saturday nearest November 1 through the last Sunday in February.

(2) Daily bag limit: Three cock pheasants.

(3) Possession limit: Six cock pheasants.

(c) In all other counties, there is no open season on pheasants.

(d) It is unlawful to hunt pheasant with the aid of a cable, chain, rope, or other device connected to or between a moving object or objects.

§65.62. Quail: Opens Seasons, Bag, and Possession limits.

(a) In all counties there is an open season for quail beginning the Saturday closest to October 28 through the last Sunday in February.

(b) Daily bag limit: 15 quail, including no more than two Mearns’quail.

(c) Possession limit: 45 quail, including no more than six Mearns’quail.

[(d) There is no open season on Mearns' quail (commonly called fool's quail).]

§65.71. Reservoir Boundaries. Reservoir boundaries for daily bag, possession, and length limits.

(1)-(18) (No change.)

(19) Toledo Bend Reservoir in Newton, Sabine, and Shelby counties comprises all impounded waters of the Sabine River from the Toledo Bend Reservoir Dam to the U.S. Highway 84 bridge.

§65.72. Fish.

(a) (No change.)

(b) Bag, possession, and length limits.

(1) The possession limit does not apply to fish in the possession of or stored by a person who has an invoice or sales ticket showing the name and address of the seller, number of fish by species, date of the sale, and other information required on a sales ticket or invoice.

(2) There are no bag, possession, or length limits on game or non-game fish, except as provided in these rules.

(A) Possession limits are twice the daily bag limit on game and non-game fish except as provided in these rules.

(B) Statewide daily bag and length limits shall be as follows:

Figure: 31 TAC §65.72(b)(2)(B)

Species Daily Bag Minimum Length (Inches) Maximum Length (Inches)
Amberjack, greater. 1 32 No limit
Bass: Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and Guadalupe bass. 5 (in any combination)    
Largemouth and Smallmouth bass.   14 No limit
Bass, striped, its hybrids, and subspecies. 5 (in any combination) 18 No limit
Bass, white 25 10 No limit
Catfish: channel and blue catfish, their hybrids, and subspecies. 25 (in any combination) 12 No limit
Catfish, flathead. 5 18 No limit
Catfish, gafftopsail. No limit 14 No limit
Cobia. 2 37 No limit
Crappie: white and black crappie, their hybrids, and subspecies. 25 (in any combination) 10 No limit
Drum, black. 5 14 30
Drum, red. 3* 20 28*
*Special Regulation: During a license year, one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly executed Red Drum Tag, a properly executed Exempt Red Drum Tag or with a properly executed Duplicate Exempt Red Drum Tag and one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly executed Bonus Red Drum Tag. Any fish retained under authority of a Red Drum Tag, an Exempt Red Drum Tag, a Duplicate Exempt Red Drum Tag, or a Bonus Red Drum Tag may be retained in addition to the daily bag and possession limit as stated in this section.
Flounder: all species, their hybrids, and subspecies. 10* 14 No limit
*Special Regulation: The daily bag and possession limit for the holder of a valid Commercial Finfish Fisherman's license is 60 flounder, except on board a licensed commercial shrimp boat.
Grouper, goliath. 0    
Mackerel, king. 2 27 No limit
Mackerel, Spanish. 15 14 No limit
Marlin, blue. No limit 131 No limit
Marlin, white. No limit 86 No limit
Mullet: all species, their hybrids, and subspecies. No limit No limit *
*Special regulation: During the period October through January, no mullet more than 12 inches in length may be taken from public waters or possessed on board a vessel.
Sailfish No limit 84 No limit
Saugeye 3 18 No limit
Seatrout, spotted. 10 15 No limit
*Special Regulation: One spotted seatrout greater than 25 inches may be retained per day.
Shark: all species, their hybrids, and subspecies. 1 24 No limit
Sheepshead. 5 12 No limit
Snapper, lane. No limit 8 No limit
Snapper, red. 4 15 No limit
Snapper, vermilion. No limit 10 No limit
Snook. 1 24 28
Tarpon. 0   Catch and release only*.
*Special Regulation: One tarpon 80 inches in length or larger may be retained during a license year when affixed with a properly executed Tarpon Tag.
Trout: rainbow and brown trout, their hybrids, and subspecies. 5 (in any combination) No limit No limit
Walleye. 5* No limit No limit
*Special regulation: Two walleye of less than 16 inches may be retained per day.

(C) Exceptions to statewide daily bag, possession, and length limits shall be as follows:

(i) The following is a figure:

Location (County) Daily Bag Minimum Length (Inches) Special Regulation
Bass: largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and Guadalupe bass, their hybrids, and subspecies.      
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson). 5 (in any combination) 14  
In all waters in the Lost Maples State Natural Area (Bandera) 0 No Limit Catch and release only.
Bass: largemouth and smallmouth      
Lake Toledo Bend (Newton, Sabine and Shelby). 8 (in any combination) 14 Possession Limit is 10.
Bass: largemouth.      
Conroe (Montgomery and Walker), Fort Phantom Hill (Jones), Granbury (Hood), [Lost Creek (Jack),] Possum Kingdom (Palo Pinto, Stephens, Young), Proctor (Comanche), and Ratcliff (Houston). 5 16  
Lakes Aquilla (Hill) , Bellwood (Smith), Braunig (Bexar), Bright (Williamson), Brushy Creek (Williamson), Bryan (Brazos), Calaveras (Bexar), Casa Blanca (Webb), Cleburne State Park (Johnson), Cooper (Delta and Hopkins), Fairfield (Freestone), Gilmer (Upshur), Jacksonville (Cherokee), Meridian State Park (Bosque), Old Mount Pleasant City (Titus), Rusk State Park (Cherokee), San Augustine City (San Augustine), and Welsh (Titus) [Lakes Brushy Creek (Williamson), Fairfield (Freestone), Jacksonville (Cherokee), Cleburne State Park (Johnson), Meridian State Park (Bosque), San Augustine City (San Augustine), Calaveras (Bexar), Bright (Williamson), Cooper (Delta and Hopkins), Aquilla (Hill), Bellwood (Smith), Casa Blanca (Webb), Old Mount Pleasant City (Titus), Rusk State Park (Cherokee), Welsh (Titus), Braunig (Bexar), Bryan (Brazos), and Gilmer (Upshur)]. 5 18  
Nelson Park Lake (Taylor) and Buck Lake (Kimble). 0 No Limit Catch and release and only.
Lakes Alan Henry (Garza) and O.H. Ivie (Coleman, Concho, and Runnels). 5 No Limit It is unlawful to retain more than two bass of less than 18 inches in length.
Purtis Creek State Park Lake (Henderson and Van Zandt), and Raven (Walker). 0 No Limit Catch and release only except that any bass 21 inches or greater in length may be retained in a live well or other aerated holding device and immediately transported to the Purtis Creek or Huntsville State Park, or Gibbons Creek weigh stations. After weighing, the bass must be released immediately back into the lake or donated to the ShareLunker Program.
Lakes Bridgeport (Jack and Wise), Burke-Crenshaw (Harris), Caddo (Marion and Harrison), Davy Crockett (Fannin) , Grapevine (Denton and Tarrant), Georgetown (Williamson), Madisonville (Madison), and Sweetwater (Nolan) [Lakes Waxahachie (Ellis), Bridgeport (Jack and Wise), Georgetown (Williamson), Caddo (Marion and Harrison), Burke-Crenshaw (Harris), Grapevine (Denton and Tarrant), Davy Crockett (Fannin) , Sweetwater (Nolan), and Madisonville (Madison).] 5 14-18 Inch Slot Limit It is unlawful to retain largemouth bass between 14 and 18 inches in length.
Lakes Athens (Henderson), Bastrop (Bastrop), Buescher State Park (Bastrop), Houston County (Houston), Joe Pool (Dallas, Ellis, and Tarrant), Mill Creek (Van Zandt), Murvaul (Panola), Nacogdoches (Nacogdoches), Pinkston (Shelby), Timpson (Shelby), Town (Travis), and Walter E. Long (Travis)[Lakes Bastrop (Bastrop), Buescher State Park (Bastrop), Town (Travis) Houston County (Houston), Nacogdoches (Nacogdoches), Mill Creek (Van Zandt), Joe Pool (Dallas, Ellis, and Tarrant), Walter E. Long (Travis), Timpson (Shelby), and Athens (Henderson), Murvaul (Panola), and Pinkston (Shelby).] 5 14-21 Inch Slot Limit It is unlawful to retain largemouth bass between 14 and 21 inches in length. No more than 1 bass 21 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Lakes Fayette County (Fayette), Gibbons Creek Reservoir (Grimes), Monticello (Titus), and Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson). 5 14-24 Inch Slot Limit It is unlawful to retain largemouth bass between 14 and 24 inches in length. No more than 1 bass 24 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Lake Fork (Wood, Rains and Hopkins) 5 16-24 Inch Slot Limit It is unlawful to retain largemouth bass between 16 and 24 inches in length. No more than 1 bass 24 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Bass: smallmouth.      
Lakes O. H. Ivie (Coleman, Concho, and Runnels), Alan Henry (Garza), and Devil's River (Val Verde) from State Highway 163 bridge crossing near Juno downstream to Dolan Falls. 3 18  
Lake Meredith (Hutchinson, Moore, and Potter). 3 12-15 Inch Slot Limit It is unlawful to retain smallmouth bass between 12 and 15 inches in length.
Bass: spotted      
Lake Alan Henry (Garza) 3 18  
Lake Toledo Bend (Newton, Sabine and Shelby). 8 12 Possession Limit is 10.
Bass: striped, its hybrids, and subspecies.      
Lake Toledo Bend (Newton, Sabine and Shelby). 5 No Limit No more than 2 striped bass 30 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson). 10 (in any combination) No Limit No more than 2 striped or hybrid striped bass 20 inches or greater in length may be retained each day. Striped or hybrid striped bass caught and placed on a stringer, in a live well or any other holding device become part of the daily bag limit and may not be released. Possession limit is 10.
Red River (Grayson) from Denison Dam downstream to and including Shawnee Creek (Grayson). 5 (in any combination) No Limit Striped bass caught and placed on a stringer, in a live well or any other holding device become part of the daily bag limit and may not be released.
Lake Possum Kingdom (Palo Pinto, Stephens, Young) and Trinity River (Polk and San Jacinto) from the Lake Livingston dam downstream to the F.M. Road 3278 bridge. 2 (in any combination) 18  
Bass: striped and white bass, their hybrids, and subspecies.      
Lake Pat Mayse (Lamar) and Lake O'the Pines (Camp, Marion, Morris, and Upshur) 25 (in any combination) 10 No more than 5 striped, white, or hybrid striped bass 18 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Bass: white      
[Lakes Conroe, Livingston, Limestone, Palestine, Somerville, Buchanan, Canyon, Georgetown, Inks, Lyndon B. Johnson, Marble Falls, and Travis.] [25] [12]  
Lakes Texoma (Cooke and Grayson) and Toledo Bend (Newton, Sabine, and Shelby). 25 No Limit  
Catfish: channel and blue catfish, their hybrids, and subspecies.      
Lake Livingston (Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker). 50 (in any combination) 12 Possession limit is 50. The holder of a commercial fishing license may not retain channel or blue catfish less than 14 inches in length.
Trinity River (Polk and San Jacinto) from the Lake Livingston dam downstream to the F.M. Road 3278 bridge. 10 (in any combination) 12 No more than 2 channel or blue catfish 24 inches or greater in length may be retained each day.
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson). 15 (in any combination) 12  
Community fishing lakes, Bellwood (Smith), Dixieland (Cameron), and Tankersley (Titus). 5 (in any combination) 12  
Catfish: flathead      
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson) and the Red River (Grayson) from Denison Dam to and including Shawnee Creek (Grayson). 5 20  
Crappie: black and white crappie, their hybrids and subspecies.      
Lake Toledo Bend (Newton, Sabine, and Shelby). 50 (in any combination) 10 Possession limit is 50. From December 1, through the last day in February, there is no minimum length limit. All crappie caught during this period must be retained.
Lake Fork (Wood, Rains, and Hopkins) and Lake O'The Pines (Camp, Harrison, Marion, Morris, and Upshur). 25 (in any combination) 10 From December 1, through the last day in February, there is no minimum length limit. All crappie caught during this period must be retained.
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson). 37 (in any combination) 10 Possession limit is 50.
Drum, red.      
Lakes Braunig and Calaveras (Bexar), Coleto Creek Reservoir (Goliad and Victoria), Colorado City (Mitchell), Fairfield (Freestone), Nasworthy (Tom Green), and Tradinghouse Creek (McLennan). 3 20 No maximum length limit.
Shad: gizzard and threadfin shad.      
The Trinity River below Lake Livingston in Polk and San Jacinto Counties. 500 (in any combination) No Limit Possession Limit 1,000 in any combination.
Trout: Rainbow and brown trout, their hybrids, and subspecies.      
Guadalupe River (Comal) from the second bridge crossing on the River Road upstream to the easternmost bridge crossing on F.M. Road 306. 1 18  
Walleye.      
Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson). 5 18  

(ii) Bag and possession limits for black drum and sheepshead do not apply to the holder of a valid Commercial Finfish Fisherman's License.

(iii) Fish caught in federal waters in compliance with a federal fishery management plan may be landed in Texas.

(iv)The bag limit for a guided fishing party is equal to the total number of persons in the boat licensed to fish or otherwise exempt from holding a license minus each fishing guide and fishing guide deckhand multiplied by the bag limit for each species harvested.

(c) (No change.)

§65.78. Crabs and Ghost Shrimp.

(a) – (d) (No change.)

(e) Devices, means and methods.

(1) (No change.)

(2) Only the following means and methods may be used for taking crabs:

(A) Crab line. It is unlawful to fish a crab line for commercial purposes that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length and six inches in width bearing the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the end fixtures.

(B) Crab trap. It is unlawful to:

(i) fish for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial crab fisherman's license with more than 200 crab traps at one time;

(ii) fish for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial finfish fisherman's license with more than 20 crab traps at one time;

(iii) fish for non-commercial purposes with more than six crab traps at one time;

(iv) fish a crab trap in the fresh waters of this state;

(v) fish a crab trap that:

(I) exceeds 18 cubic feet in volume;

(II) is not equipped with at least two escape vents (minimum 2-3/8 inches inside diameter) in each crab-retaining chamber, and located on the outside trap walls of each chamber; and

(III) is not equipped with a degradable panel. A trap shall be considered to have a degradable panel if one of the following methods is used in construction of the trap:

(-a-) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 390). The trap lid must be secured so that when the twine degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(-b-) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 16 [20] gauge. The trap lid must be secured so that when the wire degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(-c-) the trap contains at least one sidewall, not including the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening no smaller than 3 inches by 6 inches. Any obstruction placed in this opening may not be secured in any manner except:

(-1-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 390) knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. When the twine degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-2-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 16 [20] gauge. When the wire degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-3-) the obstruction may be loosely hinged at the bottom of the opening by no more than two untreated steel hog rings and secured at the top of the obstruction in no more than one place by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand # 390), or by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 16 [20] gauge. When the twine or wire degrades, the obstruction will hinge downward and the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed.

(vi) fish a crab trap for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial crab fisherman's license:

(I) that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width attached to the crab trap;

(II) that is not marked with a white buoy bearing the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the crab trap;

(III) that is marked with a buoy bearing a commercial crab fisherman's license plate number other than the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number displayed on the crab fishing boat;

(vii) fish a crab trap for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial finfish fisherman's license:

(I) that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width attached to the crab trap;

(II) that is not marked with a white buoy bearing the letter 'F' and the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the crab trap;

(III) that is marked with a buoy bearing a commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number other than the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number displayed on the finfish fishing boat;

(viii) fish a crab trap for non-commercial purposes without a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide center stripe of contrasting color, attached to the crab trap;

(ix) fish a crab trap in public salt waters without a valid gear tag. Gear tags must be attached within 6 inches of the buoy and are valid for 30 days after date set out.

(x) fish a crab trap within 200 feet of a marked navigable channel in Aransas County; and in the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula or possess, use or place more than three crab traps in waters north and west of Highway 146 where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County;

(xi) remove crab traps from the water or remove crabs from crab traps during the period from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise;

(xii) place a crab trap or portion thereof closer than 100 feet from any other crab trap, except when traps are secured to a pier or dock;

(xiii) fish a crab trap in public waters that is marked with a buoy made of a plastic bottle(s) of any color or size; or

(xiv) use or place more than three crab traps in public waters of the San Bernard River north of a line marked by the boat access channel at Bernard Acres.

(C) – (D) (No change.)

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Exhibit B

Fishing Guide Fees
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §53.7, concerning Business Licenses and Permits. The amendment increases the fee for a fishing guide license from $75 to $200. The amendment is necessary because the department has determined that the licensing fee for fishing guides is underpriced with respect to the impact of fishing guides on fisheries resources. The amendment also eliminates a reference to an effective date that is no longer necessary.

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, Wildlife Division regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the proposed amendment is in effect, there will be fiscal implications to the department. The department estimates that sales of fishing guide licenses will generate additional revenues of $230, 425. There will be no fiscal implications to local governments or other units of state government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed amendment.

3. Public Benefit - Cost Note.

Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed amendment is in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the amendment as proposed will be additional fiscal resources available to the department for the conservation and management of the state's freshwater and saltwater fisheries.

(B) There will be minimal adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, and persons required to comply with the amendment as proposed. Persons working as fishing guides will have to spend an additional $125 for annual licensure, which is not believed to be burdensome even to the person who infrequently or occasionally guides fishermen in exchange for pay or compensation.

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Government Code, §2001.022, as this agency has determined that the amendment as proposed will not impact local economies.

(D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed amendment.

4. Request for Public Comments.

Comments on the proposed amendment may be submitted to Robin Riechers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4645or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendment is proposed under the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code, §47.004, which authorizes the commission to be establish the fee for a fishing guide license and to adopt rules governing the issuance and use of a fishing guide license.

The amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 47.

§53.7. Business Licenses and Permits. Fish, bait, and shrimp licenses and tags.

(1) Licenses.

(A) retail fish dealer's — $84;

(B) retail fish dealer's truck — $156;

(C) wholesale fish dealer's — $750;

(D) wholesale fish dealer's truck — $510;

(E) bait dealer's — individual — $36;

(F) bait dealer-place of business/building — $36;

(G) bait dealer-place of business/motor vehicle — $36;

(H) bait shrimp dealer's — $204;

(I) finfish import — $90; and

(J) fishing guide – $200[$75].

(2) License transfers.

(A) retail fish dealer's license transfer — $10;

(B) retail fish dealer's truck license transfer — $10;

(C) wholesale fish dealer's license transfer — $10;

(D) wholesale fish dealer's truck license transfer — $10;

(E) bait dealer's license transfer — $10;

(F) bait dealer's-place of business/building license transfer — $10;

(G) bait dealer's-place of business/motor vehicle license transfer — $10;

(H) bait shrimp dealer's license transfer — $10;

(I) finfish import license transfer — $10.

(3) The fee for the saltwater trotline tag shall be $3.00.

[(4) The provisions of this section take effect September 1, 2002.]

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas on


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Herb Kothmann

Regulations Committee
Candidate State Parks for Public Hunting
January 2003

I. DISCUSSION: Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 12, Subchapter A, provides that a tract of land purchased primarily for a purpose authorized by the code may be used for any authorized function of the Parks and Wildlife Department if the commission determines that multiple use is the best utilization of the land’s resources. Additionally, Chapter 81, Subchapter E of the code provides the commission with the authority to establish open seasons, and authorizes the Executive Director to determine bag limits, means and methods, and conditions for the taking of wildlife resources on wildlife management and public hunting areas. Chapter 62, Subchapter D, provides authority to the Commission to prescribe seasons, number, size, kind, sex and the means and methods for the taking of any wildlife on state parks. Chapter 42, §42.0177, authorizes the Commission to modify or eliminate the tagging requirements of Chapter 42.

In the recent past, staff has typically presented the commission in January with a list of candidate state parks for public hunting opportunity. In discharging the commission policy of providing the maximum amount of public hunting possible on state parks in accordance with established guidelines, staff notes that the list of parks hunted, as well as the hunting activities on each, has not changed appreciably from year to year. Therefore, staff proposes to develop the hunting proposals for state parks in a fashion similar to that used for wildlife management areas, which would allow the elimination of the annual January presentation unless there are significant changes in the number or format of hunting activities on state park system. Staff would continue to brief the commission each April on the proposed hunts on state parks.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Clayton Wolf

Regulations Committee
Scientific Breeder Proclamation
January 2003

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 9.)


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