Presenter: Clayton Wolf

Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Action
White-tailed Deer Regulations
April 2004

I. Executive Summary: This item presents proposed changes to deer regulations recommended by staff and the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee. The changes include:

II. Discussion: Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.0177 authorizes the Commission to modify or eliminate tagging requirements for deer, and Chapter 43, Subchapter E, authorizes the Commission to adopt rules for the content of wildlife stocking plans, certification of wildlife trappers, and the trapping, transporting, and transplanting of game animals and game birds.

In May of 2003, the previous Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, Ms. Katharine Armstrong, created the White-tailed Deer Advisory Board (WTDAC) as an ‘advisory and sounding board’ on issues involving white-tailed deer, and charged the WTDAC with presenting issues to the Parks and Wildlife Commission for deliberation. Furthermore, under the terms of House Concurrent Resolution 256 (located at Exhibit A), the 78th Texas Legislature directed the WTDAC to address how habitat relates to the ecological diversity of the state, the role of the wildlife biologist in the development of management plans and in the utilization of suitable management practices, including population goals and control, yearly census data, supplemental feeding and food plots, and genetic management; to study current deer management permits to determine how to provide flexibility and economic incentives for private landowners in preserving wildlife habitat; and to meet with the members or staff of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, the members or staff of the House Committee on State Cultural and Recreational Resources, and the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on a quarterly basis and to report findings from each meeting to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, the chairman of the House Committee on State Cultural and Recreational Resources, and the chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The proposed regulations located at Exhibits B and C are the result of staff recommendations concerning tagging regulations (forwarded to the WTDAC from staff) and the recommendations originating from WTDAC deliberations concerning regulations governing Managed Lands Deer permits and permits for the Trapping, Transportation, and Transplanting of Game Animals and Game Birds.

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

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §§65.7, concerning Harvest Log; 65.10, concerning Possession of Wildlife Resources; 65.26, concerning Managed Lands Deer Permits; 65.28, concerning Landowner Assisted Management Permits, the repeal of §65.29, concerning Bonus Tags, an amendment to 65.38, concerning Game Animals – Open Seasons and Bag Limits (located at Exhibit B), and an amendment to §65.103, concerning Trap, Transport, and Transplant Permit (located at Exhibit C), with changes to the proposals as published in the March 5, 2004, issue of the Texas Register (29 TexReg 2252).”

Attachments - 4
1. Exhibit A – HCR 256
2. Exhibit B – Proposed Changes to Rules Governing Deer Generally
3. Exhibit C – Proposed Changes to Triple T Rules
4. Exhibit D – Fiscal Note


Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit A

H.C.R. No. 256
House Concurrent Resolution

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislature and the Parks and Wildlife
Department have traditionally recognized the private landowner as
the primary steward of our state's natural resources and have
provided increased flexibility for wildlife management on private
lands; and
WHEREAS, In order to preserve wildlife habitat or "wild land"
use, the private landowner must receive economic benefit and
continued flexibility in managing natural resources; and
WHEREAS, The traditional family farm or ranch in Texas is in
danger of no longer being profitable, leading ultimately to the
extinction and loss of our rural culture; and
WHEREAS, Deer, the most managed big game species in Texas,
provide aesthetic and economic benefits to landowners on private
property; and
WHEREAS, These private properties require strict control of
deer herd numbers and demographics as a means to protect the
resource from depletion and waste while allowing the landowner to
achieve management goals; and
WHEREAS, The Parks and Wildlife Department has appointed the
White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee to review current deer
regulations and statutes and make recommendations to the department
on appropriate actions; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas
hereby direct the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee to address
how habitat relates to the ecological diversity of the state and to
study the role of the wildlife biologist in the development of
management plans and in the utilization of suitable management
practices, including population goals and control, yearly census
data, supplemental feeding and food plots, and genetic management;
and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature direct the White-tailed
Deer Advisory Committee to study current deer management permits to
determine how to provide flexibility and economic incentives for
private landowners in preserving wildlife habitat; and, be it
further
RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature direct the White-tailed
Deer Advisory Committee to meet with the members or staff of the
Senate Committee on Natural Resources, the members or staff of the
House Committee on State Cultural and Recreational Resources, and
the staff of the Parks and Wildlife Department on a quarterly basis
and to report findings from each meeting to the chairman of the
Senate Committee on Natural Resources, the chairman of the House
Committee on State Cultural and Recreational Resources, and the
chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the secretary of state forward an official
copy of this resolution to the lieutenant governor, the speaker of
the house of representatives, the chairman of the Senate Natural
Resources Committee, the chairman of the House State Cultural and
Recreational Resources Committee, and the executive director of the
Parks and Wildlife Department.

Kuempel



______________________________ ______________________________

President of the Senate                          Speaker of the House

I certify that H.C.R. No. 256 was adopted by the House on May
28, 2003, by a non-record vote.

______________________________
Chief Clerk of the House

I certify that H.C.R. No. 256 was adopted by the Senate on May
31, 2003, by a viva-voce vote.

______________________________
Secretary of the Senate



APPROVED: __________________

Date



__________________

Governor


Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit B

Deer Regulations
Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes amendments to §§65.7, concerning Harvest Log; 65.10, concerning Possession of Wildlife Resources; 65.26, concerning Managed Lands Deer permits; 65.28, concerning Landowner Assisted Management Permits, the repeal of §65.29, concerning Bonus Tags, and an amendment to 65.38, concerning Game Animals – Open Seasons and Bag Limits.

Under current regulations, a hunter upon killing a deer is required to fill out the harvest log on the back of the hunting license and attach a properly executed tag from his or her hunting license to the deer. The information on the harvest log and the license tag attest to the identity of the person who killed the deer, the date the deer was killed, and the location where the deer was killed. This information is sampled by department biologists to develop and maintain harvest data to be used in determining appropriate regulatory and management strategies, and by law enforcement personnel in enforcing harvest regulations. Also under current rules, if the deer has been taken under a LAMPS permit, MLD permit, department special permit, or WMA special antlerless permit, the hunter is also required to attach a completed permit to the carcass. The department’s current rules thus require deer in certain situations to be tagged twice with the same information. The proposed rule changes are in part undertaken to eliminate this so-called ‘double tagging’ requirement. In addition, the proposed rules would eliminate personal bag limits for deer taken by LAMPS and MLD permits, and would extend the period of validity for MLD permits to make the ending date of validity concurrent with that of antlerless and spike-buck control permits.

The proposed repeal of §65.29, concerning Bonus Tags, is necessary because the proposed amendment to §65.26, concerning Managed Lands Deer (MLD) permits, eliminates personal bag limits for deer taken by MLD permit, which makes the bonus tag superfluous. The bonus tag was created primarily as a mechanism for land managers participating in department permit programs to achieve harvest goals by allowing individual hunters to exceed the statewide bag limit through the use of bonus tags in conjunction with LAMPS and MLD permits. The rationale for creating this mechanism was that since permits were issued on the basis of a specific harvest quota established for each property (i.e., a controlled harvest), the number of deer taken by individual hunters was immaterial. A secondary purpose for the creation of bonus tags was to allow hunters selected for participation in special hunts on department lands to avoid having to use license tags, particularly in counties with a one-buck bag limit, where the use of a license tag on a department hunt would preclude that hunter from taking a buck in any other one-buck county.

The proposed amendment to §65.7, concerning Harvest Log, would remove the requirement that the harvest log be filled out for deer killed under a LAMPS permit, MLD permit, department special permit, or WMA special antlerless permit. The proposed amendment also removes a reference to bonus tags, which are being eliminated. The amendment is necessary because the information entered on a harvest log is identical to the information contained on a department-issued permit.

The amendment to §65.10, concerning Possession of Wildlife Resources, exempts a person who takes a deer by LAMPS permit, MLD permit, department special permit, or WMA special antlerless permit from the tagging requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.018, which requires a person to attach a tag from their hunting license to all deer taken by that person. Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.0177, the commission is authorized to modify or eliminate the tagging requirements of §42.018. The amendment is necessary because the intent of this rulemaking is to eliminate requirements that cause hunters to have to attach the same information in multiple forms to a single deer. The proposed amendment also clarifies that a bird or animal taken under circumstances that require the bird or animal to be tagged must be tagged immediately upon take. The amendment is necessary to establish with certainty when a person’s legal obligations begin with respect to tagging requirements.

The amendment to §65.26, concerning Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits, eliminates personal bag limits for antlerless deer on Level I MLD properties and personal bag limits for both antlerless and buck deer on Level II and Level III MLD properties; makes Level II bucks valid for the take of fork-antlered bucks during the early youth-only season; eliminates references to stamp requirements for deer taken during the muzzleloader-only open season; removes references to bonus tags and the statutory requirement that a license tag be attached to all deer taken by MLD permit; and stipulates that deer not immediately tagged by MLD tag upon take are to be taken by the most direct route to a location where a MLD tag can be attached to the deer. The removal of personal bag limits is being implemented because MLD permits are issued on the basis of a specific harvest articulated in a wildlife management plan, which is a controlled harvest agreed upon by the landowner. Proper management of deer populations is essential to maintaining the habitat quality that all species of wildlife depend upon for sustenance. By its very nature, hunter success is unpredictable, and the department desires to provide a mechanism to land managers that will provide them a greater probability of achieving the harvest quota specified in the wildlife management plan. Thus, if the harvest on a given property is in danger of not fulfilling the goal stipulated by the wildlife management plan, the landowner has the option of giving more permits to the remaining hunters, or themselves using the permits to achieve the harvest quota. The provision for the take of fork-antlered bucks by youth during the youth-only open season on Level II MLD properties is part of the department’s efforts to simplify and make consistent the regulations governing youth-only hunts. Under current rule, Level II MLD permits are valid only for spike-antlered bucks prior to the general open season. Because the early youth-only season takes places one week prior to the opening of the general season, and because fork-antlered can be taken by youth during that season on non-MLD properties, Level I MLD properties, and Level III MLD properties, the department sees no reason to exclude youth on Level II MLD properties from the same opportunity. The removal of references to the stamp requirement for hunting during the muzzleloader-only season is necessary because the legislature eliminated the muzzleloader stamp during the most recent legislative session. The elimination of the provision requiring deer taken on MLD properties to be tagged with a license tag or bonus tag is necessary because the intent of this rulemaking is to eliminate requirements that cause hunters to have to attach the same information in multiple forms to a single deer. Since deer on MLD properties must be tagged with an MLD permit, the license tag is superfluous. The bonus tag is being eliminated for reasons set forth in elsewhere in this rulemaking in the discussion of the proposed repeal of §65.29. The stipulation that deer taken by MLD permit but not immediately tagged by MLD tag are to be taken by the most direct route to a location where a MLD tag can be attached to the deer is necessary for clarification purposes. The current rule acknowledges that landowners face logistical problems related to permit allotment and use. Hunters are not always successful, and to require each hunter to have a permit on their person in the field means that unused permits would have to be returned to the landowner and reissued to subsequent hunters, which is inefficient, particularly on larger properties that might entertain dozens of hunters in a season. The department thus allows hunters to harvest a deer and then take it to a location on the property where the MLD tag can then be attached to the carcass. The language requiring deer to be taken by the most direct route to a tagging station is intended to reduce potential enforcement problems that could arise when law enforcement personnel encounter hunters with untagged deer, since another element of this rulemaking eliminates the requirement that deer taken on MLD properties be tagged with a license tag. The final proposed change is to make the period of validity for MLD permits concurrent with that of antlerless and spike-buck control permits. The department finds that it is inconsistent to have one period ending several days before another, and by making the two periods end at the same time, the potential for confusion among landowners, hunters, and law enforcement is eliminated.

The proposed amendment to §65.28, concerning Landowner Assisted Management Permit System (LAMPS), eliminates personal bag limits for antlerless deer on LAMPS properties and removes references to both the bonus tag and the statutory requirement that a license tag be attached to all deer immediately upon take. LAMPS permits are valid only for antlerless deer. The removal of personal bag limits is being implemented because when LAMPS permits are issued there is no other lawful way for antlerless deer to be harvested on the receiving property (except during the archery-only season). In light of a finite antlerless harvest, the department wishes to provide land managers with a flexible and efficient method of removing antlerless deer in order to facilitate maximum permit utilization. The elimination of the provision requiring deer taken on LAMPS properties to be tagged with a license tag or bonus tag is necessary because the intent of this rulemaking is to eliminate requirements that cause hunters to have to attach the same information in multiple forms to a single deer. Since antlerless deer on LAMPS properties must be tagged with a LAMPS permit, the license tag is superfluous. The bonus tag is being eliminated for reasons set forth in elsewhere in this rulemaking in the discussion of the proposed repeal of §65.29.

The proposed amendment to §65.38, concerning Game Animals-Open Seasons and Bag Limits, adds language to allow bag limits to be exceeded. The amendment is necessary because other elements of this rulemaking allow persons under certain circumstances to exceed the statewide bag limit for white-tailed deer.

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed is in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state and 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 enhancement of the ability of land managers and landowners who participate in department permit programs to more efficiently and easily achieve harvest goals and thus protect the habitat that all species depend upon, which benefits the public by protecting and enhancing ecosystems in a variety of ways, and by eliminating redundant systems of hunter documentation, which benefits that segment of the public that enjoys hunting.

(B) There will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the amendment 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 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 Government Code, § 2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules) does not apply to the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to Clayton Wolf, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4363 (e-mail: clayton.wolf@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.0177, which authorizes the commission to modify or eliminate the tagging requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.018; and parks and Wildlife Code, §61.054, which authorizes the commission to establish the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; the means or method that may be used to hunt, take, or possess the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life may be hunted, taken, or possessed.

The amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapters 42 and 61.

§65.7. Harvest Log.

(a) The provisions of this subsection apply only to a person in possession of a license purchased through an automated point-of-sale system.

(1) A person who kills a white-tailed deer shall complete, in ink, the harvest log on the back of the hunting license immediately upon kill.

(2) Completion of the harvest log is not required for deer taken:

(A) under the provisions of §65.26 of this title (relating to Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits;

(B) under the provisions of §65.28 of this title (relating to Landowner Assisted Management Permits (LAMPS);

(C) by special permit under the provisions of Subchapter H of this chapter (relating to Public Lands Proclamation) on department lands;

(D) on department-leased lands under the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0272;

(E) by special antlerless permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for use on USFS lands that are part of the department’s public hunting program; or

(F) under the provisions of §65.27 of this title (relating to Antlerless and Spike-Buck Deer Control Permits) [and/or provisions of §65.29 of this title (relating to Bonus Tags)].

(b) The provisions of this subsection apply to any person in possession of a license lawfully purchased by any means other than through an automated point-of-sale system.

(1) A person who takes a white-tailed deer, mule deer, Rio Grande turkey, Eastern turkey, red drum in excess of the maximum length limit, or tarpon shall complete, in ink, the harvest log on the back of the hunting or fishing license, as applicable, immediately upon kill, or, in the case of fish, upon retention.

(2) Completion of the harvest log is not required for deer taken under the provisions of subsection (a)(2) of this section [§65.27 of this title].

§65.10. Possession of Wildlife Resources.

(a) For all wildlife resources taken for personal consumption and for which there is a possession limit, the possession limit shall not apply after the wildlife resource has reached the possessor's permanent residence and is finally processed.

(b) A person who lawfully takes a deer is exempt from the tagging requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.018 if the deer is taken:

(1) under the provisions of §65.26 of this title (relating to Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits);

(2) under the provisions of §65.28 of this title (relating to Landowner Assisted Management Permits (LAMPS));

(3) by special permit under the provisions of Subchapter H of this chapter (relating to Public Lands Proclamation);

(4) on department-leased lands under the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0272;

(5) by special antlerless permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for use on USFS lands that are part of the department’s public hunting program; or

(6) under the provisions of §65.27 of this title (relating to Antlerless and Spike-Buck Deer Control Permits).

(c) A person who kills a bird or animal under circumstances that require the bird or animal to be tagged with a tag from the person’s hunting license shall immediately attach a properly executed tag to the bird or animal.

(d) Proof of sex must remain with certain wildlife resources until the wildlife resource reaches either the possessor's permanent residence or a cold storage/processing facility and is finally processed. Proof of sex is as follows:

(1) turkey (in a county where the bag composition is restricted to gobblers and/or bearded hens):

(A) male turkey:

(i) one leg, including the spur, attached to the bird; or

(ii) the bird, accompanied by a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached.

(B) female turkey taken during the fall season: the bird, accompanied by a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached.

(2) deer:

(A) buck: the head, with antlers still attached;

(B) antlerless: the head;

(3) antelope: the unskinned head; and

(4) pheasant: one leg, including the spur, attached to the bird or the entire plumage attached to the bird.

(e)[(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) the name of person who killed the wildlife resource;

(B) the date the wildlife resource was killed;

(C) one of the following, as applicable:

(i) whether the deer was antlered or antlerless;

(ii) the sex of the antelope;

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

(iv) 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).

(f)[(d)] A person may give, leave, receive, or possess any species of legally taken wildlife resource, or a part of the resource, that is required to have a tag or permit attached or is protected by a bag or possession limit, if the wildlife resource is accompanied by a wildlife resource document from the person who killed or caught the wildlife resource.

(1) For deer, turkey, or antelope, a properly executed wildlife resource document shall accompany the wildlife resource until it reaches either the possessor's permanent residence or a cold storage/processing facility and is finally processed.

(2) For all other wildlife resources, a properly executed wildlife resource document shall accompany the wildlife resource until it reaches the possessor's permanent residence and is finally processed.

(3) The wildlife resource document must contain the following information:

(A) the name, signature, address, and hunting or fishing license number, as required, of the person who killed or caught the wildlife resource;

(B) the name of the person receiving the wildlife resource;

(C) a description of the wildlife resource (number and type of species or parts);

(D) the date the wildlife resource was killed or caught; and

(E) the location where the wildlife resource was killed or caught (name of ranch; area; lake, bay or stream; and county).

(g)[(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.

(h)[(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.

(4) This subsection does not apply to skulls possessed before the effective date of the subsection.

§65.26. Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits.

(a) 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 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 data.

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

(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 deer 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 requirement [requirements] of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter [Subchapters] I applies[and Q, apply]. There is no bag limit for antlerless deer on properties for which Level I permits have been issued; however, the county and statewide bag limits for buck deer apply.

(2) Level 2.

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

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

(ii) A Level 2 buck permit is valid:

(I) for spike bucks taken by any lawful means, [and] for all bucks taken by means of lawful archery equipment, and for any buck taken by a hunter 16 years of age or younger during a youth-only open deer season: from the Saturday closest to September 30 through the last day in February [Sunday in January, and during any open season] on the property for which it is issued; and

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

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

(i) there is no bag limit for buck or antlerless deer[the bag limit shall be five deer, no more than three bucks, regardless of the county bag limit;] and

[(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 requirement [requirements] of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter [Subchapters] I does [and Q, do] not apply.

(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.

(3) Level 3. 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 day in February [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:

(A) there is no bag limit for buck or antlerless deer[the bag limit shall be five deer, no more than three bucks, regardless of the county bag limit;] and

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

(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.

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

(d) A deer killed under the authority of a MLD permit must be tagged with a MLD permit immediately by the person who killed the deer or [Except for deer taken under an Antlerless and Spike-Buck Control permit, all deer harvested on a property for which MLD permits have been issued 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 by the most direct route to a tagging station (location where permits are maintained on the permitted property) location on the property where an appropriate MLD tag shall be attached.

(e) 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.

(f) 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.

(g) The department reserves the right to deny [further] issuance of MLD permits:

(1) for one year for a property upon which [to a landowner who exceeds] the harvest quota specified by the WMP has been exceeded; and

(2) for three years for a property that otherwise is not in compliance with 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].

(h) 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.

§65.28. Landowner Assisted Management Permit System (LAMPS).

(a) A LAMPS recommendation specifies the number of antlerless deer to be harvested from a specific tract of land and is derived from acreage, habitat, population, and harvest data supplied by the landowner as specified by the department.

(b) The minimum contiguous acreage necessary for eligibility in the LAMPS program shall be determined on a county-by-county basis according to population trends and habitat.

(c) No LAMPS antlerless deer permit is required for a deer legally killed with lawful archery equipment during the archery-only open season.

(d) Except as provided by subsection (c) of this section, all deer killed on a tract of land for which LAMPS permits have been issued shall be tagged immediately with a valid LAMPS permit[, and either an antlerless white-tailed deer tag from the hunting license of the person who killed the deer or a valid bonus tag].

(e) On all properties for which LAMPS permits have been issued, there is no bag limit for antlerless deer; however, the county and statewide bag limits for buck deer apply.

The repeal is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.0177, which authorizes the commission to modify or eliminate the tagging requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.018; and parks and Wildlife Code, §61.054, which authorizes the commission to establish the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; the means or method that may be used to hunt, take, or possess the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life may be hunted, taken, or possessed.

The repeal and amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapters 42 and 61.

§65.29. Bonus Tag.

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

 

The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.0177, which authorizes the commission to modify or eliminate the tagging requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.018; and parks and Wildlife Code, §61.054, which authorizes the commission to establish the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; the means or method that may be used to hunt, take, or possess the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life may be hunted, taken, or possessed.

§65.38. Game Animals: Open Seasons and Bag Limits. Except as provided in this subchapter, it [It] is unlawful to hunt a game animal at any time other than during the open seasons provided in this chapter or to take more than the annual or daily bag limits, or to have in possession a game animal taken at any time other than during the open season. On the first day of any open season the possession limit is the same as the daily bag limit.


Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit C

Deer Regulations
Triple T Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §65.103, concerning Trap, Transport, and Transplant Permit. In 1995, the Texas Legislature enacted the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter E, which authorized the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to issue permits for the trapping, transporting, and transplanting of game animals and game birds from the wild to allow adjustments in game populations for better wildlife management. Under rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission since that time, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has issued permits (popularly referred to as ‘Triple T’ permits) for that purpose. In general, the overarching policy of the commission has been to recognize habitat conservation and management as the cornerstone of wildlife management. To that end, the rules adopted with respect to Triple T permits have been predicated on the exercise of sound habitat management while respecting both a landowner’s desire to improve game populations on their property and the right of other landowners to expect that such activities result in no adverse impacts on either the areas adjoining those where game animals and game birds are trapped or the areas adjoining those where game animals or game birds are released.

Under the direction of the commission, the department convened the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee (WTDAC) to investigate and make recommendations concerning all aspects of the department’s regulatory activities concerning white-tailed deer, including those relating to the Triple T permit. The WTDAC’s recommendations are the basis for this proposed rulemaking.

The proposed amendment addresses several areas of Triple T permit activities, as follow.

The ‘inconsequential release’ provisions of the current rules were promulgated in 2000. Prior to that time, all proposed Triple T activities involving white-tailed deer required a site inspection by department personnel before permits were issued. However, many proposed activities involved small numbers of deer, numbers so small that the impacts of the release could be said to be inconsequential. For that reason, the rules adopted in 2000 established a set of criteria specifying just exactly what constituted an inconsequential release, and therefore required a site inspection. Under those rules (the current rules), an inconsequential release was defined as a release of not more than one deer per 200 acres, or successive releases that do not result in a cumulative ratio of more than one deer to 200 acres. In the process of evaluating the current rule, the WTDAC identified additional dimensions of inconsequential releases, as well as other types of releases for which a site inspection is not necessary.

The first of these involves the length of time between releases. The natural lifespan of a white-tailed deer in the wild is anywhere from six to eight years; thus, in a three-year period following the release of mature deer at least a third and perhaps half of those deer will die, meaning that the density of released deer on the property will necessarily fall below the one deer per 200 acres threshold for additional releases. For that reason, the proposed amendment adds a provision that authorizes inconsequential releases if there have been no releases on the property within the preceding three years.

The second aspect concerning inconsequential releases identified by the WTDAC involves changes in ownership of property. The proposed amendment of the inconsequential release provisions would allow an inconsequential release on properties that have changed owners, even if previous releases on the property met the one deer per 200 acres threshold the previous year. The rationale is that a new owner of a piece of property may not be able to provide the historical biological documentation for an inconsequential release and should not be prevented from effecting such a release, the documentation requirements to proceed from that point on.

A third aspect, also involving releases for which a site inspection should not be required, involves properties receiving managed Lands Deer (MLD) permits. The MLD permit system was created in 1996 as an incentive-driven program to encourage landowners and land managers to practice sound habitat management techniques. The program offers special extended seasons and enhanced bag limits to landowners who voluntarily place their property under a wildlife management plan, accept specific harvest quotas for deer, and agree to perform certain habitat management practices. Under the current rules, only those properties receiving Level III MLD permits could qualify for releases without a site inspection, provided the properties were 1) in compliance with the requirements of the wildlife management plan, 2) the release(s) involved only antlerless deer, 3) the number of deer to be trapped did not exceed the number of unused MLD permits for the trap site property (which would cause a population density higher than that specified by the wildlife management plan, and therefore, potential habitat degradation), 4) the harvest quota at the release site would not result in a population reduction greater than half of the recruitment below the total population specified by the wildlife management plan (in other words, the recommended harvest would not be greater than half of the reproductive potential of the total population), and 5) the property in question had received Level III MLD permits within the previous three years. Permit issuance without a site inspection under these criteria is based on the rationale that Level III cooperators are required under current MLD rules to provide three years of population and harvest data (in addition to the data required for initial permit issuance), enabling department biologists to have a very good idea of the probable impact of both trapping and release on habitat. The WTDAC noted that although Level II MLD properties do not have to meet the higher standard for population and harvest data required for Level III properties (for initial permit issuance), a Level II property after two years will have accumulated enough data meet the Level III standard. Therefore, the WTDAC recommended that Level II properties with at least three years of population data and two years of harvest data be allowed to conduct releases without site inspections, provided the properties in question also meet the rest of the criteria established for releases on Level III properties.

The WTDAC also recommended eliminating the provision requiring a site inspection for proposed releases that would result in a population reduction (i.e., the harvest quota stipulated in the wildlife management plan) of greater than 50% of recruitment below the total population specified for the property in the wildlife management plan. The current rule was intended to prevent wholesale removal and replacement of deer herds on properties, but it has been pointed out that this is sometimes necessary for genetic enhancement, and that in any event, it shouldn’t matter because as long as the total population doesn’t exceed that specified in the management plan, there would be no negative impacts on habitat quality.

Further, the WTDAC recommended that buck deer be allowed to be released via inconsequential release and release-without-inspection (on Level II and Level III MLD properties). The rationale for the recommendation is that the gender of released is unimportant with respect to habitat impact.

Finally, the WTDAC recommended that the antlers be removed from all buck deer released under a Triple T permit prior to transport from the trap site. The rationale for the recommendation is

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that 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 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 enhancement of the ability of land managers and landowners who participate in department permit programs to more efficiently and easily achieve management goals while protecting the habitat that all species depend upon, which benefits the public by protecting and enhancing ecosystems in a variety of ways.

(B) There will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the amendment 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 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 Government Code, § 2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules) does not apply to the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to Clayton Wolf, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4363 (e-mail: clayton.wolf@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §43.061, which requires the commission to adopt rules for the content of wildlife stocking plans and the trapping, transporting, and transplanting of game animals and game birds.

The new rule affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter E.

§65.103. Trap, Transplant, and Transport Permit.

(a) For the purposes of this subchapter, the content of a wildlife stocking plan for a release site shall be the same as that required for a wildlife management plan under the provisions of §65.25 of this title (relating to Wildlife Management Plan). Applications may be approved without an inspection, provided:

(1) the release will not exceed a ratio of one white-tailed deer per 200 acres at the release site; however, when the accumulated releases on a tract result in a ratio of one deer to 200 acres (counting released deer only), no further releases shall take place unless:

(A) a site inspection has been performed by the department; [or]

(B) a minimum of four license years has elapsed since the last release; or

(C) there has been a change in the recorded ownership of the property or portion of the property for which a release is sought; or

(2) the property has been issued Level II or Level III MLD permits during the year of[within the three years immediately preceding] the release, the landowner furnishes a minimum of three years of population data and two years of harvest data, and is in compliance with all requirements of the wildlife management plan for the property [and the activities involve only doe deer];

and

(A) the number of [doe] deer to be trapped (in addition to the number of deer harvested) does not exceed the population reduction specified in the wildlife management plan for the trap site [is not greater than the number of unused antlerless MLD permits from the hunting season coinciding with the current trapping period]; and

(B) the number of [doe] deer to be released does not cause the total population of deer on the release site to exceed the total population size specified in a management plan under the provisions of §65.25 of this title[; and]

[(C) the harvest quota under §65.26 of this title (relating to Managed Lands Deer Permits) for the release site would not result in a population reduction of greater than 50% of recruitment below the total population size specified under the provisions of §65.25 of this title].

(b) Applications received by the department between September 1 and November 15 in a calendar year shall be approved or denied within 45 days of receipt.

(c) The department may deny a permit application if the department determines that:

(1) the removal of game animals or game birds from the trap site may be detrimental to existing populations or systems;

(2) the removal of game animals or game birds may detrimentally affect the population status on neighboring properties;

(3) the release of game animals or game birds at the release site may be detrimental to existing populations or systems;

(4) the release site is outside of the suitable range of the game animal or game bird;

(5) the applicant has misrepresented information on the application or associated wildlife stocking plan;

(6) the activity identified in the permit application does not comply with the provisions of the department's stocking policy; or

(7) the trapping activity would involve deer held under a Deer Management Permit.

(d) A buck deer transported under the provisions of this subchapter shall have its antlers removed prior to transport[, unless:]

[(1) the transport takes place between February 10 and March 31 of a calendar year; or]

[(2) the trap site and the release site are owned by the same person. The sites shall be contiguous, but may be separated by a water body or public roadway].

(e) The department may establish trapping periods, based on biological criteria, when the trapping, transporting, and transplanting of game animals and game birds under this section by individuals will be permitted.

(f) The department may, at its discretion, require the applicant to supply additional information concerning the proposed trapping, transporting, and transplanting activity when deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of this subchapter.

(g) Game animals and game birds killed in the process of conducting permitted activities shall count as part of the total number of game animals or game birds authorized by the permit to be trapped.

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

Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Top of Page
Back to Top
Back to Top