Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Action
2005–2006 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Late Season Provisions
August 2005

I. Executive Summary: This item presents proposed changes to regulations governing the take of late-season species of migratory game birds for adoption.

II. 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 Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, Subchapter C. Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022, authorizes the Executive Director, after notification of the Chairman, to engage in rulemaking. Staff received permission from the Regulations Committee at its April 2005 meeting to publish the proposed regulations (located at Exhibit A) in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed regulations appeared in the May 13, 2005, issue of the Texas Register (30 TexReg 2842). Following the issuance of early-season frameworks by the Service on June 24, 2005, the Executive Director on July 14, 2005, issued Executive Order 05-005, which adopted those portions of the proposal affecting early-season species and means, methods, and special requirements (§§65.310, 65.314, and 65.315, located in Exhibit A). The Notice of Adoption effecting that action (located at Exhibit B) was submitted to the Texas Register on July 25, 2005 for publication in the August 5, 2005 issue. Staff has gathered and analyzed public comment pertaining to the late-season provisions of the proposal, and a summary will be available at the time of the meeting.

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

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 TAC §§65.318, 65.320, and 65.321, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the May 13, 2005, issue of the Texas Register (30 TexReg 2842)."

Attachments – 2

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed 2005–2006 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
  2. Exhibit B – Notice of Adoption: Early Season and Miscellaneous Provisions

Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit A

2005–2006 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) proposes amendments to §§65.310, 65.314, 65.315, 65.318, and 65.319-65.321, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

The amendment to §65.310, concerning Means, Methods, and Special Requirements, would reinstate specific language from federal regulations delineating the means and methods that are lawful and unlawful for the take of migratory game birds. Prior to 1997, the Texas regulation governing means, methods, and manners for the take of migratory game birds was a verbatim repetition of the federal rules located at 50 CFR §20.21. The federal rules consist of a list of lawful means, methods, and manners and a list of unlawful means, methods, and manners. In 1997 the department initiated an effort to reduce the overall volume of regulations. As part of that effort, the department decided to reduce regulatory volume in the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, in part, by removing the lengthy list of unlawful means, methods, and manners from the rules and replacing that list with a proviso that all means, methods, and manners other than those listed as lawful were unlawful. In general, this approach has worked well over the intervening years; however, there have been cases where confusion has arisen and the department’s Law Enforcement Division has determined that reinstatement of the original wording is necessary.

The amendment to §65.314, concerning Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species, would alter the zone boundaries of the South Zone and the Special Whitewing Dove Area (SWDA) and rename the South Zone the Southeast Zone. The current SWDA boundary no longer serves a useful purpose because whitewing density and distribution have increased, meaning whitewing populations in South Texas no longer need the protection of a restricted hunting area or season. Since the inception of the SWDA in 1984, whitewings have expanded their breeding range throughout Texas, with the highest densities located in urban areas of the South Texas Plains south and west of San Antonio. Since 1994, more whitewings have been counted annually in the expansion area than in their historic range. Whitewings now dominate the bag of most hunters in the vicinity of the larger towns (i.e., San Antonio, Hondo, Uvalde, Sabinal, and Brackettville) in the Central Zone, where the hunting season opens September 1. However, equally high densities occur farther south and east in Pearsall, Falfurrias, Kingsville, Three Rivers, Freer, and George West, where hunters don’t have access to them until after September 20, by which time most whitewings have migrated out of the area. Therefore, the department has made a formal proposal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), through the Central Flyway Council, to enlarge the SWDA by expanding it eastward to Interstate Highway 37, which would roughly double its size. Nesting studies conducted in the 1980s by the department indicate that the vast majority of white-winged doves have finished nesting and fledged their young by September 1, whereas for mourning doves, approximately 4% of nests were initiated after September 1, 6% of the seasonal eggs and nestlings were present after September 1, and 89% of nestlings have been fledged by that time. The impact of the proposed boundary change on mourning dove populations is expected to be minimal, since significantly large numbers of mourning doves inhabit urban areas where ordinances prohibit the discharge of firearms, and because the hunting season, although it would begin earlier and nearer September 1, will be restricted to half-days on weekends for the first two weeks of September (the current season structure for the Special Whitewing Season). Additionally, the department proposes to reduce the bag limit for mourning doves in the SWDA from 5 to 3 during the Special Whitewing Season in order to reduce potential negative impacts on mourning dove populations. The proposal must be approved by the Service before it can be implemented.

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 (an annual adjustment to ensure that seasons open on the correct day of the week). Additionally, the department proposes to increase the aggregate bag limit while reducing the bag limit for mourning doves in the Special Whitewing Dove Area from 10 to 12 during the Special Whitewing Season. The increase in the aggregate bag limit will effectively be an increase in the whitewing dove bag limit, since the mourning dove component of the whitewing bag limit is being reduced. The mourning dove component of the aggregate bag limit is being reduced in order to minimize potential negative impacts on mourning dove populations as a result of enlarging the size of the area. Additionally, the proposed amendment would implement a 16-day teal season. The proposal must be approved by the Service before it can be implemented.

The amendment to §65.318, 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, with the exceptions of the proposed South Zone duck season and the white-fronted goose seasons. The department last year implemented an exploratory season for ducks in the South Zone to see if hunters would respond favorably to an increased opportunity for the take of early arrivals. Surveys indicate, however, a strong hunter preference for a later opener for the first split. Therefore, the department is proposing a later opener for the first split in the South Zone. The seasons for white-fronted geese in previous years have been 86 days long. However, recent declines in the mid-continent white-fronted goose populations are a cause for concern. The estimated population in 1999 was 980,000. That population in 2004 had declined to 650,000. This decline is not of a magnitude or even close to a magnitude to threaten depletion of the resource, as the population is well within limits for recuperative potential; however, the department is concerned and chooses to employ a cautious approach. Therefore, the department is proposing a reduction in season length to 72 days. The proposed amendment also sets forth conditional bag limits for ducks, coots, and mergansers. The current and proposed bag limits for these species reflect the continuing concerns of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over breeding populations of canvasback and pintail ducks. For the last two years, the Service has not authorized full-season hunting opportunity for those two species, electing to require states to impose a truncated season-within-a-season instead.

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, also adjusts dates for the take of light geese during the special conservation season to account for calendar shift.

The amendments are generally necessary to implement commission policy to provide the greatest hunter opportunity possible, consistent with hunter preference for season starting dates and segment lengths, under frameworks issued by the Service. The Service has not issued regulatory frameworks for the 2005-2006 hunting seasons for migratory game birds; thus, the department cautions that the proposed regulations are tentative and may change significantly, depending on federal actions. However, it is the policy of the commission to adopt the most liberal provisions possible, consistent with hunter preference, 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 adverse economic effect on small businesses or microbusinesses and 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 be 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.

§65.310. Means, Methods, and Special Requirements.

(a) The following means and methods are lawful, subject to control of subsection (b) of this section, in the taking of migratory game birds:

(1) dogs, artificial decoys, manual or mouth-operated birdcalls, lawful archery equipment (except crossbows), legal shotguns, and by means of falconry;

(2) positions in the open or from a blind or other place of concealment except a sinkbox;

(3) taking from floating craft (other than a sinkbox), provided that at the time of take:

(A) any motion by the craft is the result of manual propulsion or natural current or wind, and not by sail or motive power; and

(B) any sails are furled and any motor is completely shut off;

(4) taking on or over unbaited areas;

(5) taking by the use of power boats, sailboats, or other craft when used solely as a means of picking up dead or injured birds; and

(6) taking by means of falconry, but the hunting is limited to persons holding valid falconry permits issued under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 49.

(b) Paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take migratory game birds from a stationary motor vehicle or motor-driven land conveyance.

(c) Except as specifically provided in §65.321 of this title (relating to Special Management Provisions), the following means and methods are unlawful in the taking of migratory game birds:

(1) trap, snare, net, crossbow, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;

(2) any firearm other than a legal shotgun;

(3) from, or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox, motor-driven conveyance, motor vehicle, or aircraft of any kind;

(4) by the use of recorded or electrically amplified birdcalls or sounds;

(5) by the use of live birds as decoys;

(6) by the means or aid of motor-driven land, water, or air conveyance or sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory game bird; and

(7) by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a

person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been

baited. However, nothing in this paragraph prohibits:

(A) the taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas:

(i) standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics);

(ii) standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;

(iii) from a blind (or any other place of concealment) camouflaged with natural vegetation;

(iv) from a blind (or any other place of concealment) camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or

(v) standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.

(B) the taking of any migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.

[(a) It is unlawful to hunt migratory game birds by any means or method other than as authorized in this section.]

[(1) Lawful means: lawful archery equipment (except crossbows), legal shotguns, and falconry.]

[(2) Lawful methods: It is lawful to hunt:]

[(A) with dogs, artificial decoys, manual or mouth-operated birdcalls;]

[(B) in the open or from a blind or other place of concealment except a sinkbox; including but not limited to:]

[(i) blinds camouflaged with natural vegetation; and]

[(ii) blinds camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of grain or other feed;]

[(C) from floating craft (other than a sinkbox), provided that at the time of hunting:]

[(i) any motion by the craft is the result of manual propulsion or natural current or wind, and not by sail or motive power; and]

[(ii) any sails are furled and any motor is completely shut off;]

[(D) on or over unbaited areas, including:]

[(i) standing crops or flooded standing crops; and]

[(ii) flooded harvested cropland.]

[(E) by the use of power boats, sailboats, or other craft when used solely as a means of picking up dead or injured birds;]

[(F) from any stationary motor vehicle or motor-driven land conveyance, provided the hunter is missing at least one leg or is a paraplegic;]

[(G) on or over standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation;]

[(H) on or over lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as a result of a normal agricultural practice or pre-harvest manipulation of an agricultural crop, except that waterfowl and cranes may not be hunted where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered as the result of:]

[(i) pre-harvest manipulation of an agricultural crop; or]

[(ii) livestock feeding;]

[(I) on or over normal soil stabilization practice; and]

[(J) on or over crops where grain has been inadvertently scattered as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.]

[(b) No person may possess shotgun shells containing any shot material, or loose shot for muzzleloading firearms, other than nontoxic shot while hunting waterfowl anywhere in Texas, including the shooting of privately owned banded pen-reared mallards on licensed private bird hunting areas.]

[(c) Nothing in this subchapter applies to persons taking birds pursuant to valid collection or depredation permits when operating within the terms of such permits.]

[(d) Except for migratory birds processed at a cold storage or processing facility, or doves, one fully-feathered wing or the head must remain attached on dressed migratory game birds while the birds are being transported between the place where taken and the personal residence of the possessor.]

[(e) No person may place or direct the placement of bait on or adjacent to an area for the purpose of causing, inducing, or allowing any person to take or attempt to take any migratory game bird by the aid of baiting on or over the baited area.]

§65.314. Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species.

(a) Rails: statewide.

(b) Mourning and white-winged doves.

(1) North Zone: That portion of the state north of a line beginning at the International Bridge south of Fort Hancock; thence north along FM 1088 to State Highway 20; thence west along State Highway 20 to State Highway 148; thence north along State Highway 148 to Interstate Highway 10 at Fort Hancock; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to Interstate Highway 20; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 20 to Interstate Highway 30 at Fort Worth; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 30 to the Texas-Arkansas state line.

(2) Central Zone: That portion of the state between the North Zone and the Southeast [South] Zone.

(3) Southeast [South] Zone: That portion of the state within the area circumscribed by line beginning at Interstate Highway 10 at the Louisiana border, thence west along I-10 to State Loop 1604 east of San Antonio, thence south and west along Loop 1604 to Interstate Highway 37, thence south and east along I-37 to its junction with State Highway 358, thence south and east along State Highway 358 to its junction with Park Road 22, thence south and east along Park Road 22 to the Kleberg-Nueces county line, thence east along the county line to the Gulf of Mexico, thence north and east along the Gulf of Mexico to Sabine Pass, and thence north along the Texas-Louisiana border through Sabine Lake and the Sabine River to I-10. [That portion of the state south of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to State Loop 1604; thence following Loop 1604 south and east to Interstate Highway 10; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to the Texas-Louisiana State Line.]

(4) Special white-winged dove area: That portion of the state within the area circumscribed by a line beginning at the Del Rio/Ciudad Acuņa International Bridge southwest of Del Rio, thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio, thence proceeding east along U.S. 90 to State Loop 1604 west of San Antonio, thence south and east along Loop 1604 to Interstate Highway 37, thence south and east along I-37 to its junction with State Highway 358, thence south and east along State Highway 358 to its junction with Park Road 22, thence south and east along Park Road 22 to the Kleberg-Nueces county line, thence east along the county line to the Gulf of Mexico, thence east and south along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande River; and thence west and north along the Rio Grande River to the International Bridge south of Del Rio. [That portion of the state south and west of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to United States Highway 83 at Uvalde; thence south along U.S. Highway 83 to State Highway 44; thence east along State Highway 44 to State Highway 16 at Freer; thence south along State Highway 16 to State Highway 285 at Hebbronville; thence east along State Highway 285 to FM 1017; thence southeast along FM 1017 to State Highway 186 at Linn; thence east along State Highway 186 to the Mansfield Channel at Port Mansfield; thence east along the Mansfield Channel to the Gulf of Mexico.]

(c) Gallinules (Moorhen or common gallinule and purple gallinule): statewide.

(d) Teal ducks (blue-winged, green-winged, and cinnamon): statewide.

(e) Woodcock: statewide.

(f) Wilson's (Common) snipe: statewide.

§65.315 Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits—Early Season.

(a) Rails.

(1) Dates: September 10 - 25, 2005 and October 29 - December 21, 2005 [September 11 - 26, 2004 and October 30 - December 22, 2004].

(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, 2005 [September 1 - October 30, 2004.]

(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, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 4, 2006 [September 1 - October 31, 2004 and December 26, 2004 - January 3, 2005].

(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) Southeast [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 23 - November 10, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 15, 2006 [September 24 - November 10, 2004 and December 26, 2004 - January 16, 2005].

(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 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2005 [September 4, 5, 11, and 12, 2004].

(i) Daily bag limit: 12 [10] white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than three [five] mourning doves and two white-tipped doves per day;

(ii) Possession limit: 24 [20] white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate to include no more than six [10] mourning doves and four white-tipped doves in possession.

(B) Dates: September 23 - November 10, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 11, 2006 [September 24 - November 10, 2004 and December 26, 2004 - January 12, 2005].

(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 10 - 25, 2005 and October 29 - December 21, 2005 [September 11 - 26, 2004 and October 30 - December 22, 2004].

(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 10 - 25, 2005 [September 18 - 26, 2004].

(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, 2005 - January 31, 2006 [December 18, 2004 - January 31, 2005]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(h) Wilson's snipe (Common snipe): October 29, 2005 - February 12, 2006[October 30, 2004 - February 13, 2005]. 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 canvasback, 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. Canvasback and pintail may be taken only during the restricted seasons provided for those species.

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: September 26-October 3, 2005, and October 29-January 24, 2006 [September 27-October 4, 2004, and October 30-January 25, 2005]. The open season for pintail and canvasback begins December 17, 2005 and runs through January 24, 2006 [December 18, 2004 and runs through January 25, 2005].

(B) North Zone: November 5-27, 2005 and December 10-January 29, 2006 [November 6-28, 2004 and December 11-January 30, 2005]. The open season for pintail and canvasback begins December 22, 2004 and runs through January 29, 2006 [December 23, 2004 and runs through January 30, 2005].

(C) South Zone: October 29-November 27, 2004 and December 10, 2004-January 22, 2006 [September 27-October 3, 2004, and November 13, 2004-January 18, 2005]. The open season for pintail and canvasback begins December 15, 2004 and runs through January 22, 2006 [December 11, 2004 and runs through January 18, 2005].

(2) Geese.

(A) Western Zone.

(i) Light geese: November 5, 2005-February 7, 2006 [October 30, 2004-February 1, 2005]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(ii) Dark geese: November 5, 2005-February 7, 2006 [October 30, 2004-February 1, 2005]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is four, which may not include more than three Canada geese or more than one white-fronted goose.

(B) Eastern Zone.

(i) Light geese: October 29, 2005-January 29, 2006 [November 6, 2004-January 30, 2005]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(ii) Dark geese: November 19, 2005-January 29, 2006 [November 6, 2004-January 30, 2005]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, no more than three of which may be Canada geese and no more than two of which may be two white-fronted 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 5, 2005 - February 5, 2006 [November 6, 2004 - February 1, 2005]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(B) Zone B: November 26, 2005 - February 5, 2006 [November 27, 2004 - February 1, 2005]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(C) Zone C: December 17, 2004 - January 22, 2005 [December 18, 2004 - January 16, 2005]. 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 and canvasback ducks may be taken. The bag limit for pintail ducks is one per day and the bag limit for canvasback ducks is one per day. The possession limit is two. Season dates are as follows:

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 22-23, 2005 [October 23-24, 2004];

(B) North Zone: October 29-30, 2005 [October 30-31, 2004]; and

(C) South Zone: October 22-23, 2005 [October 30-31, 2004].

§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, 2005[November 19 - December 25, 2004].

(2) rails and gallinules: December 22, 2005 - January 27, 2006[December 23, 2004 - January 28, 2005].

(3) woodcock: November 24 - December 17, 2005 and February 1 - March 10, 2006[November 24 - December 17, 2004 and February 1 - March 9, 2005].

(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 30- February 13, 2006 [January 31- February 21, 2005];

(C) South Duck Zone: January 23-February 7, 2006 [January 19-February 9, 2005].

(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 30, 2006-March 26, 2006 [January 31, 2005 through March 27, 2005], the take of light geese is lawful in Eastern Zone as defined in §65.317 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species).

(B) From February 8-March 26, 2006 [February 2-March 27, 2005], 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


Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit B

2005–2006 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Early Season Provisions
Adoption Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) adopts amendments to §§65.310, 65.314, 65.315, and 65.319, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation. Sections 65.314 and 65.315 are adopted with changes to the proposed text as published in the May 13, 2005, issue of the Texas Register (30 TexReg 2842).

The change to §65.314, concerning Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species, implements a Special Whitewing Dove Area (SWDA) different from that described in the proposal. The department proposed to establish Interstate Highway 37 as the eastern boundary of the SWDA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) did not approve the proposed expansion, but did authorize the department to expand the SWDA to Interstate Highway 35. The change also retains current terminology with respect to zone designations. The proposal to increase the size of the SWDA was accompanied by a corresponding change to rename the South Dove Zone as the Southeast Dove Zone. Owing to the relatively modest increase in the size of the SWDA effected in this rulemaking, the current description is deemed to be more appropriate and is therefore being retained.

The change to §65.315, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits - Early Season Species, retains the current designation of a portion of the state as the South Dove Zone, for reasons previously discussed in the changes to §65.314. The change also increases the mourning dove bag limit during the special whitewing dove season from three to four, which also causes the possession limit for mourning doves to change from six to eight. The change is necessary because the although the department proposed a three-dove bag limit to the Service as part of the proposed enlargement of the SWDA, the Service’s frameworks allowed a four-dove bag limit for mourning doves. In keeping with the commission’s policy of adopting regulations that offer the greatest opportunity possible under federal frameworks for Texas hunters, the higher bag limit is being adopted. The change also implements a nine-day teal season. The department proposed a 16-day teal season, but the Service has authorized only nine days of teal hunting in Texas, and the state cannot adopt season lengths longer than those allowed by the Service.


2. Justification for the Rules.

The amendment to §65.310, concerning Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species, reinstate specific language from federal regulations delineating the means and methods that are lawful and unlawful for the take of migratory game birds. Prior to 1997, the Texas regulation governing means, methods, and manners for the take of migratory game birds was a verbatim repetition of the federal rules located at 50 CFR §20.21. The federal rules consist of a list of lawful means, methods, and manners and a list of unlawful means, methods, and manners. In 1997 the department initiated an effort to reduce the overall volume of regulations. As part of that effort, the department decided to reduce regulatory volume in the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, in part, by removing the lengthy list of unlawful means, methods, and manners from the rules and replacing that list with a proviso that all means, methods, and manners other than those listed as lawful were unlawful. In general, this approach has worked well over the intervening years; however, there have been cases where confusion has arisen and the department’s Law Enforcement Division has determined that reinstatement of the original wording is necessary.

The amendment to §65.314, concerning Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species, alters the zone boundaries of the South Zone and the Special Whitewing Dove Area (SWDA). Increases in whitewing density and distribution have eliminated the need for a restricted hunting area and season. Since the inception of the SWDA in 1984, whitewings have expanded their breeding range throughout Texas, with the highest densities located in urban areas of the South Texas Plains south and west of San Antonio. Since 1994, more whitewings have been counted annually in the expansion area than in their historic range. Whitewings now dominate the bag of most hunters in the vicinity of the larger towns (i.e., San Antonio, Hondo, Uvalde, Sabinal, and Brackettville) in the Central Zone, where the hunting season opens September 1. However, equally high densities occur farther south and east in Pearsall, Falfurrias, Kingsville, Three Rivers, Freer, and George West, where hunters don’t have access to them until after September 20, by which time most whitewings have migrated out of the area. The Service has authorized the department to enlarge the SWDA by expanding it eastward to Interstate Highway 35. Nesting studies conducted in the 1980s by the department indicate that the vast majority of white-winged doves have finished nesting and fledged their young by September 1, whereas for mourning doves, approximately 4% of nests were initiated after September 1, 6% of the seasonal eggs and nestlings were present after September 1, and 89% of nestlings have been fledged by that time. The impact of the boundary change on mourning dove populations is expected to be minimal, since significantly large numbers of mourning doves inhabit urban areas where ordinances prohibit the discharge of firearms, and because the hunting season, although it would begin earlier and nearer September 1, will be restricted to half-days on weekends for the first two weeks of September (the current season structure for the Special Whitewing Season). Additionally, the bag limit for mourning doves in the SWDA is being reduced from five to four during the Special Whitewing Season in order to reduce potential negative impacts on mourning dove populations.

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 (an annual adjustment to ensure that seasons open on the correct day of the week). Additionally, the aggregate bag limit is increased while the bag limit for mourning doves in the Special Whitewing Dove Area is reduced from 10 to 12 during the Special Whitewing Season. The increase in the aggregate bag limit will effectively be an increase in the whitewing dove bag limit, since the mourning dove component of the whitewing bag limit is being reduced. The mourning dove component of the aggregate bag limit is being reduced in order to minimize potential negative impacts on mourning dove populations as a result of enlarging the size of the area. Additionally, the amendment implements a nine-day teal season.

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 amendments are generally necessary to implement commission policy to provide the greatest hunter opportunity possible, consistent with hunter preference for season starting dates and segment lengths, under frameworks issued by the Service.


3. How the Rules Will Function.

The amendments will function by establishing means, methods, special requirements, times, and places for the hunting of early-season species of migratory game birds, as well as daily bag and possession limits.


4. Summary of Public Comment.

The department received 11 comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment to reinstate specific language from federal regulations delineating the means and methods that are lawful and unlawful for the take of migratory game birds. Two commenters articulated a specific reason or reasons for opposing adoption of the proposed amendment. The comments and the agency response are as follows.

One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that rather than reproducing the federal regulatory language in the rules, the department should cite a reference to the applicable federal law. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the purpose of the amendment is to create a single reference for hunters. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that the court should decide if a violation occurred, based on the information of the case, and that listing of lawful means should be sufficient to that end. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the intent of the amendment is to remove confusion and doubt in the field, thereby possibly preventing the need for determinations by the court in some cases. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received 57 comments supporting adoption of the rules.

The department received seven comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment to alter the zone boundaries of the South Zone and the Special Whitewing Dove Area (SWDA). Three commenters articulated a specific reason or reasons for opposing adoption of the proposed amendment. The comments and the agency response are as follows.

Three commenters opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that the expansion of the SWDA should have included Victoria and the area between U.S. Highway 77 and Interstate Highway 37. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the department has no authority to expand the SWDA beyond the boundaries approved by the Service. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

The department received 88 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

The department received nine comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing dove seasons and bag limits. Two commenters articulated a specific reason or reasons for opposing adoption of the proposed amendment. The comments and the agency response are as follows.

One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that the proposed second split of the season in the Central Zone is far too short. The commenter stated that dove numbers are healthy in this area and great numbers of hunters seek them. The commenter also stated that the short second split will impact retail sales for dove hunting equipment and needs. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter preference is for the season structure as adopted. The department also responds that hunter numbers and dove numbers are not dependent on the dates selected for hunting opportunity, but on various factors of the natural world that are beyond the control of the department. The department also responds that it does not believe the timing of the second split is a factor affecting the retail sales of hunting equipment. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

Four commenters opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that there should be a statewide 15-bird bag limit. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that responds that harvest and hunter surveys indicate that a longer season and lower bag limit is favored by hunters in the South and Central Zones, while the shorter season and higher bag limit is preferred by most hunters in the North Zone. No changes were made as a result of the comments.
One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that daily limit in the North Zone should be reduced to 12 birds per day. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the shorter season and higher bag limit is preferred by most hunters in the North Zone. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that the department should implement a winter segment in the North Zone. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that harvest and hunter surveys indicate that a longer season and lower bag limit is favored by most hunters in the South and Central Zones, while the shorter season and higher bag limit is preferred by hunters in the North Zone. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

The department received 100 comments supporting adoption of the rules.

The department received no comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing seasons and bag limits for gallinules. The department received 23 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

The department received nine comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing seasons and bag limits for teal ducks. Four commenters articulated a specific reason or reasons for opposing adoption of the proposed amendment. The comments and the agency response are as follows.

One commenter opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that there should be a nine-day season beginning the September 22 or 23 because the teal arrived late last year. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that teal season is set to occur when the majority of teal are in the state, and that the season as adopted is consonant with hunter preference. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

Three commenters opposed adoption of the proposed amendment and stated that that the four-bird bag limit was too low. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the bag limit is the maximum permitted under federal law. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

The department received 88 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

The department received one comment opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing seasons and bag limits for woodcock. The commenter stated that the season on woodcock should be closed to allow numbers to increase. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that woodcock populations are not believed to be declining, and that in any event, hunting pressure is slight and therefore not a significant factor in population variation.

The department received 29 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

The department received no comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing seasons and bag limits for snipe. The department received 26 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

The department received no comments opposing adoption of the proposed amendment establishing seasons and bag limits for the take of early-season migratory birds by means of falconry. The department received 14 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.


5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are adopted 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.

§65.310. Means, Methods, and Special Requirements.

(a) The following means and methods are lawful, subject to control of subsection (b) of this section, in the taking of migratory game birds:

(1) dogs, artificial decoys, manual or mouth-operated birdcalls, lawful archery equipment (except crossbows), legal shotguns, and by means of falconry;

(2) positions in the open or from a blind or other place of concealment except a sinkbox;

(3) taking from floating craft (other than a sinkbox), provided that at the time of take:

(A) any motion by the craft is the result of manual propulsion or natural current or wind, and not by sail or motive power; and

(B) any sails are furled and any motor is completely shut off;

(4) taking on or over unbaited areas;

(5) taking by the use of power boats, sailboats, or other craft when used solely as a means of picking up dead or injured birds; and

(6) taking by means of falconry, but the hunting is limited to persons holding valid falconry permits issued under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 49.

(b) Paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take migratory game birds from a stationary motor vehicle or motor-driven land conveyance.

(c) Except as specifically provided in §65.321 of this title (relating to Special Management Provisions), the following means and methods are unlawful in the taking of migratory game birds:

(1) trap, snare, net, crossbow, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;

(2) any firearm other than a legal shotgun;

(3) from, or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox, motor-driven conveyance, motor vehicle, or aircraft of any kind;

(4) by the use of recorded or electrically amplified birdcalls or sounds;

(5) by the use of live birds as decoys;

(6) by the means or aid of motor-driven land, water, or air conveyance or sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory game bird; and

(7) by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. However, nothing in this paragraph prohibits:

(A) the taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas:

(i) standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics);

(ii) standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;

(iii) from a blind (or any other place of concealment) camouflaged with natural vegetation;

(iv) from a blind (or any other place of concealment) camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or

(v) standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.

(B) the taking of any migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.

§65.314. Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species.

(a) Rails: statewide.

(b) Mourning and white-winged doves.

(1) North Zone: That portion of the state north of a line beginning at the International Bridge south of Fort Hancock; thence north along FM 1088 to State Highway 20; thence west along State Highway 20 to State Highway 148; thence north along State Highway 148 to Interstate Highway 10 at Fort Hancock; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to Interstate Highway 20; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 20 to Interstate Highway 30 at Fort Worth; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 30 to the Texas-Arkansas state line.

(2) Central Zone: That portion of the state between the North Zone and the South Zone.

(3) South Zone: That portion of the state south of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to State Loop 1604; thence following Loop 1604 south and east to Interstate Highway 10; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to the Texas-Louisiana State Line.

(4) Special white-winged dove area: That portion of the state south and west of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to State Loop 1604; thence along Loop 1604 south and east to Interstate Highway 35, thence south along Interstate Highway 10 to State Highway 44; thence east along State Highway 44 to State Highway 16 at Freer; thence south along State Highway 16 to State Highway 285 at Hebbronville; thence east along State Highway 285 to FM 1017; thence southeast along FM 1017 to State Highway 186 at Linn; thence east along State Highway 186 to the Mansfield Channel at Port Mansfield; thence east along the Mansfield Channel to the Gulf of Mexico.

(c) Gallinules (Moorhen or common gallinule and purple gallinule): statewide.

(d) Teal ducks (blue-winged, green-winged, and cinnamon): statewide.

(e) Woodcock: statewide.

(f) Wilson's (Common) snipe: statewide.

§65.315 Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits—Early Season.

(a) Rails.

(1) Dates: September 10 - 25, 2005 and October 29 - December 21, 2005.

(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, 2005.

(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, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 4, 2006.

(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 23 - November 10, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 15, 2006.

(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 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2005.

(i) Daily bag limit: 12 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than four mourning doves and 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 eight mourning doves and four white-tipped doves in possession.

(B) Dates: September 23 - November 10, 2005 and December 26, 2005 - January 11, 2006.

(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 10 - 25, 2005 and October 29 - December 21, 2005.

(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 17 - 25, 2005.

(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, 2005 - January 31, 2006. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(h) Wilson's snipe (Common snipe): October 29, 2005 - February 12, 2006. The daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is 16.

§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, 2005.

(2) rails and gallinules: December 22, 2005 - January 27, 2006.

(3) woodcock: November 24 - December 17, 2005 and February 1 - March 10, 2006.

(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.

This agency hereby certifies that the adoption has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be a valid exercise of the agency’s authority.

Issued in Austin, Texas, on


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