Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, January 21, 2009

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744

Commissioner T. Dan Friedkin, Committee Chair
Scott Boruff, Committee Liaison

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
    • New Game Warden Training Center Update
    • Operation Texas Shuffle-Deer Breeder Arrests
    • Deer Breeder Technical Rule Amendment
    • New Public Hunting at the Muse Wildlife Management Area
    Staff: Carter Smith
  2. Rule Review - Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register
    • Chapter 57 - Fisheries
    • Chapter 65 - Wildlife
    Staff: Ann Bright
  3. Rule Review - Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register
    • Chapter 53 - Finance
    • Chapter 59 - Parks
    • Chapter 69 - Resource Protection
    Staff: Ann Bright, Walt Dabney
  4. Trapping, Transporting and Transplanting Game Animals and Game Birds Rule Amendments (Action Item No. 10)
    Staff: Alan Cain
  5. 2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation - Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register
    Staff: Robin Riechers, Ken Kurzawski, Clay Brewer, Clayton Wolf

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Carter Smith

Regulations Committee
Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
January 21, 2009

I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Carter Smith will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency's efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the Plan).

II. Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wild. Code §11.104). In November 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. The Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Carter Smith will update the Regulations Committee on TPWD's recent progress in achieving the Plan's Goals and Objectives as they relate to the Regulations Committee.

The Plan consists of 8 Goals and a total of 56 Objectives. The Goals stated in the Plan are as follows:


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Ann Bright

Regulations Committee
Rule Review - Permission to Publish Proposed Changes
January 21, 2009

I. Executive Summary: Section 2001.039 of the Texas Government Code requires state agencies to review each rule under its jurisdiction at least once every four years. TPWD staff is requesting permission to publish proposed changes to TPWD rules that have been reviewed.

II. Discussion:In November 2008, the Commission authorized Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff to review the follow chapters of Title 31 of the Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 57, Fisheries; Chapter 65, Wildlife. Staff now requests permission to publish the following proposed changes in the Texas Register for public comment:


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Ann Bright
Walt Dabney

Regulations Committee
Rule Review-Permission to Publish Proposed Changes
January 21, 2009

I. Executive Summary: Section 2001.039 of the Texas Government Code requires state agencies to review each rule under its jurisdiction at least once every four years. TPWD staff is requesting permission to publish proposed changes to TPWD rules that have been reviewed.

II. Discussion: In August 2008, the Commission authorized Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff to review the following chapters of Title 31 of the Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 53, Finance; Chapter 59 Parks; Chapter 69, Resource Protection. In November 2008, TPWD staff presented several recommended changes to the Chapters and requested permission to publish these changes in the Texas Register. However, after further review of these Chapters, staff is now recommending a more extensive revision of the rules, especially the rules in Chapter 59, State Parks. As a result, staff is re-presenting a request for permission to publish proposed changes to Chapters 53, 59, and 69.

Staff requests permission to publish the following proposed changes in the Texas Register for public comment:

Chapter 53, Finance:
Chapter 59, Parks
Chapter 69, Resource Protection - No change

Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenters: Robin Riechers
Ken Kurzawski
Clay Brewer
Clayton Wolf

Regulations Committee
2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changed
January 21, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks permission to publish proposed changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for the 2009-2010 seasons in the Texas Register for public comment.

II. Discussion: Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, and means and methods for taking wildlife resources is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61. The potential changes are based upon suggestions from the public, statutory requirements, and Commission policy, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable. The potential changes are intended to increase recreational opportunity, decrease regulatory complexity where possible, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state.

Attachment - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Summary of Proposal

Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

Coastal Fisheries

Flounder

As briefed at the August Commission meeting, Coastal Fisheries believes that long-term downward trends in the fishery warrant consideration of proposed regulations that will reverse the downward trend in abundance. The list of options being considered as proposals by Coastal Fisheries to address the issue has narrowed by removing area closures and size limit changes. At this point the proposal considers closures during the fall, which could include October, November, and December. The closure could be a complete closure of the fishery or closures of certain segments. In addition, bag limit reductions are also still being considered.

Federal Consistency

Coastal Fisheries staff continues to look at several species managed jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to become more consistent in terms of bag and size limits.

Sharks

This item will change the minimum length limit for lawful species from 24 inches total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose, Blacktip, and Bonnethead sharks, which will retain the current 24-inch minimum length limit. For lawful shark species the bag limit will remain one fish per person per day, with a two-fish possession limit. In addition, a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following shark species:

Prohibited List (Zero Bag Limit)
Shark Species
Common Name Scientific Name
Atlantic angel Squatina dumerili
Basking Cetorhinus maximus
Bigeye sand tiger Odontaspis noronhai
Bigeye sixgill Hexanchus vitulus
Bigeye thresher Alopias superciliosus
Bignose Carcharhinus altimus
Caribbean reef Carcharhinus perezi
Caribbean sharpnose Rhizoprionodon porosus
Dusky Carcharhinus obscurus
Galapagos Carcharhinus galapagensis
Longfin mako Isurus paucus
Narrowtooth Carcharhinus brachyurus
Night Carcharhinus signatus
Sandbar Carcharhinus plumbeus
Sand tiger Odontaspis taurus
Sevengill Heptranchias perlo
Silky Carcharhinus falciformis
Sixgill Hexanchus griseus
Smalltail Carcharhinus porosus
Whale Rhincodon typus
White Carcharodon carcharias
Other Species

The proposed amendments include species determined to be in an overfished condition or are undergoing overfishing. The proposed changes include: increasing the minimum size limit for Greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34 inches TL and establishing minimum size limits of 14 inches for Gray triggerfish and 22 inches for Gag grouper. The bag limit for Gray triggerfish would be 20 per person and for Gag grouper it would be set at two per person with a possession limit of twice the daily bag limit.

Paddle Craft Licensing

Coastal Fisheries staff recommends a proposal to allow paddle craft operators to receive a saltwater guide license by establishing a different set of requirements other than a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel license. The current USCG license requirements may fail to address the unique safety issues associated with paddle craft and also may be restricting the licensing of paddle craft guides due to the "sea time" requirement. The proposal will create a paddle craft guide license. In order to receive the license, the guide will have to show certification or proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course, CPR/First Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association "Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring" and "Coastal Kayak Trip Leading" courses or the British Canoe Union "Three Star Sea Kayak" and "Four Star Leader Sea Kayak" courses.

Inland Fisheries

Blue Catfish – Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County)

Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Proposed changes would consist of a 25 fish daily bag limit with a 30 to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches would be allowed.

Largemouth Bass – Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties)

Harvest regulations for largemouth bass are currently a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and a five fish daily bag (only one bass 24 inches or greater may be retained each day). Proposed changes would consist of the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).

Alligator Gar – Statewide

Alligator gar populations are believed to be declining throughout much of their historical range, which includes the Mississippi River system, as well as coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas to northern Mexico. Although the severity of these declines is unknown, habitat alteration and over-exploitation are thought to be partially responsible. Observed declines in other states, vulnerability to overfishing, and increased interest in the harvest of trophy gar indicate a conservative management approach is warranted until populations and potential threats can be fully assessed. Staff will discuss possible regulation changes that will impact recreational and commercial harvest. The changes emphasize protection of adult fish and would allow limited harvest, which would ensure population stability while allowing utilization of the resource.

Lake Texoma

Recent meetings between fisheries and law enforcement staff from TPWD and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation resulted in two proposed changes to fishing regulations on Lake Texoma. The proposals are part of an ongoing effort to standardize regulations on the reservoir where management is shared by both states.

Wildlife

White-tailed Deer

Implementation of the "antler restriction regulation" in 52 additional counties where yearling and 2.5-year-old bucks account for more than 55 percent of the total harvest. Based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect, the rule has improved buck age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity. Affected counties: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.

Increase the bag limit from one buck to two bucks in Baylor, Callahan, Haskell, Jones, Knox, Shackelford, Taylor, Throckmorton, and Wilbarger counties. This area of the state is characterized by relatively large tract sizes and light hunter density, and the deer population has grown over the years as habitat has become more favorable to white-tailed deer.

Increase the antlerless bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer. This change would increase hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern.

Increase the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). This change would provide consistent hunting opportunity while increasing hunting opportunity. Counties affected: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.

Increase the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck in) selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Although white-tailed deer densities are highly variable in this part of the state, areas containing suitable habitat have become saturated with deer and whitetails are expanding into marginal to poor habitat. Browsing pressure is severe in these areas, where little woody vegetation exists within five feet of the ground. The proposal would provide additional hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern. Counties affected: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.

Replace the current 16-day general season in Dallam, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, and Sherman counties with a full general season to run from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January with no permit required for antlerless harvest.

Implementation of a general open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless).

Increase "doe days":

This proposal offers more hunting opportunity as well as making "doe days' more consistent within each resource management unit (a suite of counties with similar population and habitat characteristics). Data indicate that the deer populations can withstand the additional harvest pressure proposed.

Expand the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the proposed season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.

Implement a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthen the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and alter the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season. The season extension is not expected to have any adverse impacts on the resource. The proposal offers more hunting opportunity and creates consistency with other special seasons. Counties affected: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.

Implement additional youth-hunting opportunity.

Implement a general open season in Grayson County. Opening a general season would provide regulatory consistency with adjoining counties and is not expected to result in negative impacts to the resource. The proposed general season would also implement the "antler restriction regulation" and allow antlerless harvest by permit only instead of the current four "doe days."

Adjust and clarify antlerless deer permit requirements on lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and river authorities.

Allow for the issuance of Managed Lands Deer Permits (MLDP) in all counties and for the use of any lawful means on properties for which MLDPs have been issued.

Clarify regulations regarding the applicability of tagging requirements.

Mule Deer

Potential implementation of an open general season in Parmer County, contingent upon results of winter surveys.

Allow for the issuance of Managed Lands Deer Permits in all counties.

Lesser Prairie Chicken

Suspend the two-day season on lesser prairie chicken until population recovery supports resumption. This was a recommendation of the Upland Game Bird Council, supported by staff.


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