Presenter: Walt Dabney

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Action
State Park Operational Rules
January 2004

I. Executive Summary: This item amends the state park rules of conduct to prohibit the feeding of native and exotic wildlife, with exceptions to be made on a park-by-park basis for the feeding of birds under conditions prescribed by the department. The proposed amendment also makes nonsubstantive, housekeeping-type changes.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13, the Commission is authorized to promulgate regulations governing the health, safety, and protection of persons and property in state parks, historic sites, scientific areas, or forts under the control of the department, including public water within state parks, historic sites, scientific areas, and forts. Under current regulations, the practice of feeding wildlife is not prohibited by rule. State Parks Division staff have determined that the feeding of wildlife by park visitors potentially interferes with the department’s duty to ensure the health and safety of park visitors, as animals that lose their natural fear of humans become bold or aggressive and can behave unpredictably. The proposed rule located at Exhibit A would prohibit the feeding of wildlife except under specific conditions prescribed by the department. The rule also includes nonsubstantive housekeeping-type changes.

The Commission at the November 2003 meeting authorized publication of the proposed amendment in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposal appeared in the December 12, 2003, issue of the Texas Register (28 TexReg 11085). Staff will provide a summary of public comment at the time of the hearing.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to 31 TAC §59.134, concerning Rules of Conduct in Parks, with changes to the proposed text as published in the December 12, 2003, issue of the Texas Register (28 TexReg 11085).”

Attachments – 2
1. Exhibit A – Proposed Rules
2. Exhibit B – Fiscal Note


Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit A

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

State Park Operational Rules
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §59.134, concerning Rules of Conduct in Parks. The amendment would prohibit the feeding of wildlife and exotic wildlife on state parks except as specifically authorized by the department. The rule is necessary for several reasons. First, wild animals are inherently dangerous, no matter how innocuous they may seem. Wild animals that become habituated to humans, and especially those wild animals that learn to associate humans with food, lose their natural fear and in some cases can behave aggressively. In addition to their potential to inflict physical harm, wild animals also have the potential to carry and transmit disease. Therefore, the rule is primarily intended to reduce threats to human health and safety. Secondly, wild animals should live in natural systems. Supplemental feeding, however well intended it may be, is an unnatural interference in the natural balance between animals and their habitat and can, if unchecked, lead to population problems and habitat degradation. Additionally, people have been known to offer a variety of foodstuffs to wild animals, some of which may be unhealthy or injurious; the proposed rule is therefore also intended to protect the well-being of wildlife resources on state parks. The proposed rule also corrects a misspelling in subsection (e)(3), replaces references to horses with references to equines, which is necessary because park rules relating to equines apply to all equines, not just horses, and would redesignate subsection (v)(2)(A) and (B) as (v)(3) and (4) for purposes of clarity.

2. Fiscal Note.

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

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

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

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rule as proposed will be the increased protection of the health and safety of park visitors and wildlife.

(B) The rule will have no economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rule.

(C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedure Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule 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 rule.

(E) The department has determined that the proposed rules is not a major environmental rule as defined by Government Code, §2001.0225.

4. Request for Public Comment.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to Wes Masur, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-8001 (e-mail: wes.masur@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendment and new sections are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.101, which authorizes the commission to promulgate regulations governing the health, safety, and protection of persons and property in state parks, historic sites, scientific areas, or forts under the control of the department, including public water within state parks, historic sites, scientific areas, and forts.

The amendment and new sections affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13.

§59.134. Rules of Conduct in Parks.

(a) –(d) (No change.)
(e) Animals. It is an offense to:

(1) bring into or possess within a state park a pet or other domesticated animal, unless the animal is secured by a leash not exceeding six feet in length, or confined in a vehicle, or to permit an animal to enter into or remain in a unit of the state park unless so secured;

(2) permit a pet or other animal to remain unattended or create a disturbance or hazard within a state park;

(3) permit an animal (except a trained assistance animal accompanying a person with a disability) to enter into or remain in any building or enclosure designated for public use including, but not limited to, a restaurant, snack bar, cabin, lodge room, restroom [restore], park store, shelter, refectory building, amphitheater, administration building, or railroad coach;

(4) permit a pet animal in the water of a designated swimming area or to permit a pet animal (except a trained assistance animal accompanying a person with a disability) within the land or beach area adjacent to the water of a designated swimming area;

(5) bring into, permit to range, or release into a state park a wild animal, pet, fowl, or livestock, except as authorized in this chapter or a permit or by law;

(6) possess a noisy, vicious, or dangerous animal, or one which is disturbing to other persons, in a state park;

(7) ride, drive, lead, or keep equines [a saddle horse], except in designated areas;

(8) ride equines [a saddle horse] in a manner that is dangerous to a person or animal;

(9) allow equines [a saddle horse] to stand unattended or insecurely tied; and

(10) hitch equines [a saddle horse] to a tree, shrub, or structure in any manner that may cause damage.

(f) – (u) (No change.)
(v) Peace and quiet. It is an offense to:

(1) disturb other persons in sleeping quarters or in campgrounds between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; and

(2) cause, create, or contribute to any noise which is broadcast, or caused to be broadcast, into sleeping quarters or campgrounds, or which emits sound beyond the person's immediate campsite, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., whether by shouting or singing, by using a radio, phonograph, television, or musical instrument, or by operating mechanical or electronic equipment:

(3)[(A)] use electronic equipment, including electrical speakers, at a volume which emits sound beyond the immediate individual camp or picnic site at any time without specific permission of the director;

(4)[(B)] create a disturbance by causing excessive noise by any means.

(w) – (aa) (No change.)
(bb) Wildlife. It is an offense to:

(1) harm, harass, disturb, trap, confine, catch, possess, or remove any wildlife, or portions of wildlife from a unit of the state park system, except by a permit issued by the director or as provided by the Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 62, Subchapter D; [and]

(2) release any fish into the waters of any state park, except as authorized by the Parks and Wildlife Code; or

(3) feed or offer food to any wildlife or exotic wildlife, or to leave food unsecured in a manner that makes the food available to wildlife or exotic wildlife, unless specifically authorized by the department. The feeding of birds may be permitted on a park-by-park basis as prescribed by the department.

(cc) – (ee) (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


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