Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, April 2, 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. Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation FY 2003-2004
Staff: Ron George, Hal Osburn, Ken Kurzawski
3
3. Candidate State Parks for Public Hunting and Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands
Staff: Vickie Fite
4
4. Scientific Breeder Proclamation
Staff: Clayton Wolf
5
5. Migratory Gamebird Proclamation
Staff: Vernon Bevill
Committee Only
6. Six-County Antler Restrictions Update
Staff: Bob Carroll
Committee Only
7. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
January 22, 2003

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 22nd day of January 2003, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission haring room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas at 9:10 a.m., to wit:

I. REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:

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

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Motion: Commissioner Ramos (with correction)
Second: Commissioner Rising
Motion carries.

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 department had implemented all 29 statutory elements of Senate Bill 305 from the last legislative session (the Sunset Bill) and 14 of 16 management recommendations. Mr. Cook also provided the committee with an update on the results of testing deer for Chronic Wasting Disease.

2. BRIEFING – 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 that would broaden the number of employees authorized to approve wildlife management plans, impose an application deadline for issuance of antlerless and spike-buck control permits, alter bag limits for deer in Harris County, open a late muzzleloader season in several counties, enlarge the Managed Lands Permit system to include mule deer, require the marking of desert bighorn sheep skulls, close the pheasant season in certain counties, adjust pheasant seasons in the Panhandle, close the lesser prairie chicken season, and include Mearns' quail in the aggregate bag limits for quail. Commissioner Henry asked about the rationale behind conditioning the implementation of the muzzleloader season in Harris County on approval of the bag limit increase. Mr. George responded that it was a matter of regulatory uniformity with adjoining counties. Commissioner Henry then asked about the proposed closure of pheasant season in certain coastal counties. Mr. George responded that the pheasant populations in the concerned counties were basically at numbers too low to hunt, primarily due to habitat loss. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked procedural questions about the proposal to include mule deer in the Managed Lands Deer program, and inquired as to the structure of the permitting system as it would apply to mule deer. Mr. George provided the requested information. Commissioner Angelo stated that major changes in land use in the Panhandle seemed to have affected pheasant populations, and asked about department efforts to assist landowners with habitat practices. Mr. George explained some of the issues affecting pheasant populations, as well as the various department programs available to landowners. Commissioner Angelo then asked if the proposed regulation would help pheasant hunting. Mr. George provided historical information on attitudes and perspectives of hunter and landowners, and touched on the results of previous department efforts with respect to pheasant seasons in the Panhandle. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked about the possibility of introducing incentive-based programs to encourage habitat management. Mr. George responded that the economics of the situation probably encouraged farming rather than habitat management. Commissioner Rising asked about the department’s survey efforts for pheasant in coastal counties. Mr. George provided the requested information.

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, a decrease in the abundance of large trout, and a decline in trout life expectancy. He then provided a detailed review of the department’s outreach efforts with respect to stakeholders and interested parties, noting the areas of concern, opposition, and response. Mr. Osburn continued by explaining 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, and apprised the commission of the expected results. Commissioner Montgomery asked what data had led the department to conclude that angling pressure was responsible for population concerns. Mr. Osburn used department sampling and harvest data to show that the proportion of large trout had been declining, which meant that angling pressure was hitting larger trout harder than smaller trout. Mr. Osburn also explained the rationale behind the proposed guide limits. Commissioner Ramos asked if catch-and-release regulations would impact the issue. Mr. Osburn responded that he did not think so. Commissioner Ramos then asked about mortality numbers with respect to catch-and-release. Mr. Osburn replied that catch-and-release, when done properly, resulted in high survivability, and cited department studies. Commissioner Rising asked about monitoring efforts in the future to assess the impact of the rules. Mr. Osburn, replied that the department as a matter of routine practice monitors and samples throughout the year, and is especially active in this regard when new regulations have been implemented.

The 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.

3. BRIEFING – CANDIDATE STATE PARKS FOR PUBLIC HUNTING
The Chair recognized Ms. Vickie Fite, public hunting coordinator. Ms. Fite addressed staff proposals to streamline the process of developing presenting public hunting activities on state parks, and provided a historical overview of public hunting and the current staff proposals for state park hunts. Commissioner Henry asked about the methods used to get the information out to the public. Ms. Fite responded that the information was posted on the department’s website and would be covered at public meetings and through press releases. Lydia Saldaña, communications director, provided additional information. Commissioner Ramos asked if any of the hunts were directed at youth. Ms. Fite provided a detailed description of hunting opportunities for youth. Commissioner Avila asked what could be done to maximize public hunting opportunity. Ms. Fite relied that the department sought to provide as much public hunting opportunity as possible and would continue to look for ways to provide more. Executive Director Robert L. Cook commented on the overall program approach, mitigating circumstances, and future efforts. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked about Seminole Canyon State Park. Ms. Fite supplied the requested information.

4. ACTION - SCIENTIFIC BREEDER'S PROCLAMATION
The Chair recognized Clayton Wolf, white-tailed deer program leader. Mr. Wolf outlined proposed regulations to eliminate the required fawn report, require additions to or enlargements of holding pens to be reflected on a diagram filed with department, and conditions for the release of deer to the wild. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked for clarification that the pen diagram was not part of an approval process. Mr. Wolf responded that it was not. Commissioner Ramos asked as the level of detail required in the annual inventory report. Mr. Wolf responded that it was purely a head count.

ADJOURNMENT: Commissioner Fitzsimons then adjourned the meeting.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Regulations Committee
Chairman's Charges
April 2003

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenters: Ron George, Hal Osburn, Ken Kurzawski

Regulations Committee
Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation FY 2003-2004
April 2003

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 3.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Vickie Fite

Regulations Committee
Candidate State Parks for Public Hunting and Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands
April 2003

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 4.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Clayton Wolf

Regulations Committee
Scientific Breeder Proclamation
April 2003

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 5.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Regulations Committee
2003-2004 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
April 2003

I. Discussion: Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, means, methods, and devices for harvesting migratory game birds within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) frameworks is delegated to the Commission under Chapter 64, Subchapter C, Parks and Wildlife Code. Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022 authorizes the Executive Director, after notification of the Chairman, to engage in rulemaking.

At present, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not issued the annual regulatory frameworks for migratory game birds. Since the current regulations reflect the Commission's policy to provide the most liberal harvest provisions permissible under the federal frameworks, staff recommends retaining those provisions (adjusted for calendar shift) should the Service frameworks remain unchanged from last year. Should the Service issue frameworks that alter any existing options or offer new options for hunter opportunity, the department will adopt the most liberal provisions possible, while affording needed protection to the resource.

Exhibit A - Proposed Migratory Game Bird Proclamation


Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

2003-2004 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission proposes amendments to §§65.315, 65.318, and 65.319-65.321, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation. The amendment to §65.315, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits - Early Season Species, adjusts the season dates for early-season species of migratory game birds to account for calendar-shift. The amendment to §65.118, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits - Late Season Species, adjusts the season dates for late-season species of migratory game birds to account for calendar-shift. The amendment to §65.319, concerning Extended Falconry Season—Early Season Species, adjusts season dates for the take of early-season species of migratory game birds by means of falconry to reflect calendar shift. The amendment to §65.320, concerning Extended Falconry Season—Late Season Species, adjusts season dates for the take of late-season species of migratory game birds by means of falconry, also to reflect calendar shift. The amendment to §65.321, concerning Special Management Provisions, establishes dates and special regulations for the take of light geese during the special conservation season. The amendments are necessary to implement commission policy to provide the greatest hunter opportunity possible under frameworks issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The Service has not issued regulatory frameworks for the 2003-2004 hunting seasons for migratory game birds; thus, the department cautions that the proposed regulations are tentative. However, it is the policy of the commission to adopt the most liberal provisions possible under the frameworks in order to provide maximum hunter opportunity.

2. Fiscal Note.

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

3. Public Benefit-Cost Note.

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

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the rules as proposed will be the department's discharge of its statutory obligation to manage and conserve the state's populations of migratory game birds, as well as the implementation of commission policy to maximize recreational opportunity for the citizenry.

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

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Government Code, §2001.022, as the department 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 Comment.

Comments on the proposed rules may submitted to Vernon Bevill, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4578 or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, which authorizes the Commission and the Executive Director to provide the open season and means, methods, and devices for the hunting and possessing of migratory game birds.

The amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

§65.315. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits—Early Season (a) Rails.

(1) Dates: September 20 - 28, 2003 [September 14 - 29, 2002] and October 25 - December 24, 2003 [October 26 - December 18, 2002].

(2) Daily bag and possession limits:

(A) king and clapper rails: 15 in the aggregate per day; 30 in the aggregate in possession.

(B) sora and Virginia rails: 25 in the aggregate per day; 25 in the aggregate in possession.

(b) Dove seasons.

(1) North Zone.

(A) Dates: September 1 - October 30, 2003 [September 1 - October 30, 2002].

(B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day;

(C) Possession limit: 30 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than four white-tipped doves in possession.

(2) Central Zone.

(A) Dates: September 1 - October 30, 2003 [September 1 - October 29, 2002] and December 26, 2003 – January 4, 2004 [December 26, 2002 - January 5, 2003].

(B) Daily bag limit: 12 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day;

(C) Possession limit: 24 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than four white-tipped doves in possession.

(3) South Zone.

(A) Dates: Except in the special white-winged dove area as defined in §65.314 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species), September 20 - November 5, 2003 [September 20 - November 3, 2002], and December 20, 2003 - January 11, 2004 [December 21, 2002 - January 14, 2003].

(B) Daily bag limit: 12 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day;

(C) Possession limit: 24 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than four white-tipped doves in possession.

(4) Special white-winged dove area.

(A) Dates: September 6, 7, 13, and 14, 2003 [September 7, 8, 14, and 15, 2002].

(i) Daily bag limit: 10 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than five mourning doves and two white-tipped doves per day;

(ii) Possession limit: 20 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate to include no more than 10 mourning doves and four white-tipped doves in possession.

(B) Dates: September 20 - November 5, 2003 and December 20, 2003 - January 7, 2004 [September 20 - November 3, 2002 and December 21, 2002 - January 10, 2003].

(i) Daily bag limit: 12 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than two white-tipped doves per day;

(ii) Possession limit: 24 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate to include no more than four white-tipped doves in possession.

(c) Gallinules.

(1) Dates: September 20 - 28, 2003 [September 14 - 29, 2002] and October 25 - December 24, 2003 [October 26 - December 18, 2002].

(2) Daily bag and possession limits: 15 in the aggregate per day; 30 in the aggregate in possession.

(d) September teal-only season.

(1) Dates: September 20 - 28, 2003 [September 14 - 22, 2002].

(2) Daily bag and possession limits: four in the aggregate per day; eight in the aggregate in possession.

(e) Red-billed pigeons, and band-tailed pigeons. No open season.

(f) Shorebirds. No open season.

(g) Woodcock: December 18, 2003 - January 31, 2004 [December 18, 2002 - January 31, 2003]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(h) Common snipe (Wilson's snipe or jacksnipe): October 18, 2003 - February 1, 2004 [October 19, 2002 - February 2, 2003]. The daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is 16.

§65.318. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits—Late Season. Except as specifically provided in this section, the possession limit for all species listed in this section shall be twice the daily bag limit.

(1) Ducks, mergansers, and coots. The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may include no more than five mallards or Mexican mallards (Mexican duck), only two of which may be hens, three scaup, one mottled duck, one pintail, two redheads, and two wood ducks. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than one hooded merganser. There is no open season for canvasback.

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: September 29-October 6, 2003, and October 25, 2003 - January 21, 2004 [September 23-September 29, 2002, and October 26, 2002 - January 22, 2003]. The open season for pintail begins December 11, 2003 [December 12, 2002] and runs through January 18, 2004 [January 19, 2003].

(B) North Zone: November 8-9, 2003 [November 9-10, 2002] and November 15, 2003 - January 25, 2004 [November 16, 2002 - January 26, 2003]. The open season for pintail begins December 18, 2003 [December 19, 2002] and runs through January 25, 2004 [January 26, 2003].

(C) South Zone: November 1 – November 30, 2003, and December 6, 2003 - January 18, 2004 [November 2 - December 1, 2002, and December 7, 2002 - January 19, 2003]. The open season for pintail begins December 11, 2003 [December 12, 2002] and runs through January 18, 2004 [January 19, 2003].

(2) Geese.

(A) Western Zone.

(i) Light geese: October 25, 2003 - February 8, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - February 9, 2003]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(ii) Dark geese: October 25, 2003 - February 8, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - February 9, 2003]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, which may not include more than one white-fronted goose.

(B) Eastern Zone.

(i) Light geese. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(I) In that portion of the Eastern Zone lying north of IH 10: October 25, 2003 - January 25, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - January 26, 2003].

(II) In that portion of the Eastern Zone that is both south of IH 10 and east of IH 35: October 25, 2003 - January 18, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - January 19, 2003].

(ii) Dark geese:

(I) White-fronted geese: October 25, 2003 - January 18, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - January 19, 2003].

(II) Canada geese and brant: October 25, 2003 - January 18, 2004 [October 26, 2002 - January 19, 2003].

(III) The daily bag limit for dark geese is three, no more than two white-fronted geese or no more than two Canada geese.

(3) Sandhill cranes. A free permit is required of any person to hunt sandhill cranes in areas where an open season is provided under this proclamation. Permits will be issued on an impartial basis with no limitation on the number of permits that may be issued.

(A) Zone A: November 8, 2003 - February 8, 2004 [November 9, 2002 - February 9, 2003]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(B) Zone B: November 29, 2003 - February 8, 2004 [November 30, 2002 - February 9, 2003]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(C) Zone C: December 20, 2003 - January 18, 2004 [December 21, 2002 - January 19, 2003]. The daily bag limit is two. The possession limit is four.

(4) Special Youth-Only Season. There shall be a special youth-only duck season during which the hunting, taking, and possession of ducks, mergansers, and coots is restricted to licensed hunters 15 years of age and younger accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older, except for persons hunting by means of falconry under the provisions of §65.320 of this chapter (relating to Extended Falconry Season—Late Season Species). Bag and possession limits in any given zone during the season established by this paragraph shall be as provided for that zone by paragraph (1) of this section, except that pintail ducks may be taken. The bag limit for pintail ducks is one per day. The possession limit is two. Season dates are as follows:

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 18-19, 2003 [October 19-20, 2002];

(B) North Zone: October 25-26, 2003 [October 26-27, 2002]; and

(C) South Zone: October 25-26, 2003 [October 26-27, 2002].

§65.319. Extended Falconry Season—Early Season Species. (a) It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons:

(1) mourning doves and white-winged doves: November 19 - December 25, 2003 [November 19 - December 25, 2002].

(2) rails and gallinules: December 19, 2003 - January 24, 2004 [December 19, 2002 - January 24, 2003].

(3) woodcock: November 24 - December 17, 2003 and January 31 - March 9, 2004 [November 24 - December 17, 2002 and February 1 - March 10, 2003].

(b) The daily bag and possession limits for migratory game birds under this section shall not exceed three and six birds respectively, singly or in the aggregate.

§65.320. Extended Falconry Season—Late Season Species. It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons.

(1) Ducks, coots, and mergansers:

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: no extended season;

(B) North Duck Zone: January 26 - February 16, 2004 [January 27 - February 17, 2003];

(B) South Duck Zone: January 19 - February 9, 2004 [January 20 - February 10, 2003].

(2) The daily bag and possession limits for migratory game birds under this section shall not exceed three and six birds, respectively, singly or in the aggregate.

§65.321. Special Management Provisions. The provisions of paragraphs (1)-(3) of this section apply only to the hunting of light geese. All provisions of this subchapter continue in effect unless specifically provided otherwise in this section; however, where this section conflicts with the provisions of this subchapter, this section prevails.

(1) Means and methods. In addition to the means and methods authorized in §65.310(a) of this title (relating to Means , Methods, and Special Requirements), the following means and methods are lawful during the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this section:

(A) shotguns capable of holding more than three shells; and

(B) electronic calling devices.

(2) Possession. During the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this section:

(A) there shall be no bag or possession limits; and

(B) the provisions of §65.312 of this title (relating to Possession of Migratory Game Birds) do not apply; and

(C) a person may give, leave, receive, or possess legally taken light geese or their parts, provided the birds are accompanied by a wildlife resource document from the person who killed the birds. The wildlife resource document is not required if the possessor lawfully killed the birds; the birds are transferred at the personal residence of the donor or donee; or the possessor also possesses a valid hunting license, a valid waterfowl stamp, and is HIP certified. The wildlife resource document shall accompany the birds until the birds reach their final destination, and must contain the following information:

(i) the name, signature, address, and hunting license number of the person who killed the birds;

(ii) the name of the person receiving the birds;

(iii) the number and species of birds or parts;

(iv) the date the birds were killed; and

(v) the location where the birds were killed (e.g., name of ranch; area; lake, bay, or stream; county).

(3) Shooting hours. During the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this section, shooting hours are from one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset.

(4) Special Light Goose Conservation Period.

(A) From January 26, 2004 through March 28, 2004 [January 27, 2003 through March 30, 2003], the take of light geese is lawful in that portion of the Eastern Zone lying north of IH 10.

(B) From January 19, 2004 through March 28, 2004 [January 20, 2003 through March 30, 2003], the take of light geese is lawful in that portion of the Eastern Zone that is both south of IH 10 and east of IH 35.

(C) From February 9, 2004 through March 28, 2004 [February 10, 2003 through March 30, 2003], the take of light geese is lawful in the Western Zone as defined in §65.317 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species).

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. 6
Presenter: Bob Carroll

Regulations Committee
Six-County Antler Restrictions Update
April 2003

I. Discussion: The 2002-2003 hunting season was the first year of a three-year experiment testing mandatory antler restrictions for a six-county area between Austin and Houston. A hunter and landowner opinion survey was conducted prior to the implementation of the new regulation, with the majority of the respondents favoring the change. Harvest data was collected on 633 animals in the six-county area to determine the impact of the regulation in the first year of the experiment. These data indicate harvest pressure shifted to older bucks with the exception of bucks having at least one unbranched antler. A landowner harvest survey was conducted post-season to evaluate the impact of the regulation on overall harvest numbers and hunter participation.


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