Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, August 26, 2009

Will Rogers Memorial Center
Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall
South Texas Room/Cactus Room Area
3400 Burnett Tandy Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76107

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 – Permission to Publish Rules Related to Implementation of Legislation during 81st Texas Legislature
    • Retired Firearms Legislation
    • Annual Public Hunting
    • Rapid Response Patrol Boats
    • Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs (NACLEC)
    • Zebra Mussels
    Staff: Carter Smith
  2. Listing of Certain Mussel Species as State-Threatened - Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register
    Staff: Wendy Gordon
  3. Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact - Permission to Publish Proposed Rules in the Texas Register
    Staff: David Sinclair
  4. Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
    • Early Season Regulations Update
    • Late Season Migratory Regulations - Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes (Action Item No. 17)
    Staff: Vernon Bevill
  5. Harmful or Potentially Harmful Fish, Shellfish, and Aquatic Plants - Special Provision - Water Spinach Regulations - Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes (Action Item No. 20)
    Staff: Earl Chilton
  6. Crop Depredation - Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes (Action Item No. 19)
    Staff: Mitch Lockwood
  7. Deer Breeder Rules - Possession of Deer from Out-of-State Sources - Permission to Publish Proposed Rules in the Texas Register
    Staff: Mitch Lockwood, Kevin Schwausch

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
August 26, 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: Wendy Gordon

Regulations Committee
Threatened Species - Freshwater Mussels
August 26, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks permission to publish proposed changes in the Texas Register to regulations governing threatened species. The proposed changes would add 15 species of freshwater mussels to the state's list of threatened species.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 67, the commission is required to establish any limits on the taking, possession, propagation, transportation, importation, exportation, sale, or offering for sale of nongame fish or wildlife that the department considers necessary to manage the species. Chapter 67 defines nongame wildlife as fish and wildlife that are not classified as game animals, game birds, game fish, fur-bearing animals, alligators, native shrimp, oysters, or endangered species. Under the authority of Chapter 67, the department has promulgated rules designating certain species of fish and wildlife as threatened, which is defined by rule as "likely to become endangered in the future." By rule, a threatened species may not be taken, possessed, propagated, transported, imported, exported, sold, or offered for sale.

Freshwater mussels (unionids) are an important component of healthy aquatic ecosystems, both as a food source for many other aquatic and terrestrial organisms, and as an important indicator species. In early life stages, mussels are food sources for a variety of aquatic insects, small fishes, and water birds; as they mature they become significant food sources for larger fishes, waterfowl, and terrestrial animals. Protection of this resource preserves and enhances the hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities that are a part of Texas heritage.

Freshwater mussel populations have declined throughout North America. They are sensitive to disturbance because they are relatively immobile organisms, sometimes staying in a single spot for their entire lives. Mussels are very long-lived animals, some living over 100 years, and are very slow-growing. They have a complex life cycle that is easily disrupted, causing reproductive failure. Habitat alteration and loss, illegal and over harvesting, and competition from introduced species are some of the factors in their decline.

Nationwide, more species of freshwater mussels are listed as threatened and endangered than any other group of animals. Of the nearly 300 species known to have lived in the U.S., 18 are believed to be extinct, and 60 are currently listed as federally endangered or threatened, including one species occurring in Texas (the Ouachita rock-pocketbook mussel). Texas is home to more than 50 species of freshwater mussels.

Staff has identified 15 species of freshwater mussels that meet the department's criteria for listing as threatened species by virtue of being habitat-limited, sensitive to water quality degradation, and known to occur only in specific, limited geographical areas. Staff recommends that the 15 species be placed on the list of threatened species in order to afford them further protection.

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – List of Candidate Species

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

Candidate Species For Threatened Species

1. False spike (Quadrula mitchelli)

The false spike is known from only two disjunct populations, one in central Texas and the other in the Rio Grande drainage. Nearly all records of this mussel from the Rio Grande are of subfossil and fossil specimens. The only evidence that the species may still persist in Texas was the discovery of recently dead specimens in the lower San Marcos River in 2000 (Howell 2001b). Several subsequent survey efforts have failed to produce additional evidence of live false spikes in the aforementioned river.

2. Golden orb (Quadrula aurea)

The golden orb is endemic to the Guadalupe-San Antonio and Nueces-Frio systems. Only seven extant populations of this mussel have been noted from the upper and central Guadalupe River, central San Antonio River, lower San Marcos River, and Lake Corpus Christi (Howells 2006; Burlakova and Karatayev 2008). Surveys conducted over the past 20 years have failed to locate any additional populations of the golden orb. The species' limited distribution makes it particularly susceptible to decline as a result of habitat degradation and reduced flow levels. Four golden orb populations are downstream from a rapidly expanding urban center (San Antonio) with a fifth population dependent on an aquifer impacted by municipal water demands (Howells 2009). NatureServe ranks the golden orb as critically imperiled across its range.

3. Louisiana Pigtoe (Pleurobema ridellii)

Louisiana Pigtoe ranged from eastern Texas drainages into Louisiana (Howells et al. 1996; Howells et al. 1997; Vidrine 2008). The species is currently listed as a species of concern in Louisiana. Louisiana pigtoe was once more numerous in Texas waters (R.G. Howells unpublished database), but has been exceptionally rare in recent decades. Since the mid-1990s, small numbers of living specimens have been found in the Neches River (Howells 2006), Village Creek, a Neches River tributary in Hardin County (Bordelon and Harrel 2004; Howells 2006; Karatayev and Burlakova 2007a), and the Angelina River (Karatayev and Burlakova 2007a). In all cases, only a few living individuals have been found at any given time; no large populations are known to occur anywhere in Texas (Howells 2009). NatureServe ranks the Louisiana pigtoe as critically imperiled across its range.

4. Mexican fawnsfoot (Truncilla cognata)

The Mexican fawnsfoot is endemic to the central Rio Grande drainage. Live specimens of this mussel were collected near Del Rio in 1972. Following that discovery, additional living Mexican fawnsfoot would not be observed for another 30 years. In 2003, a single live Mexican fawnsfoot was located near Laredo, followed by one additional specimen in the area some weeks later (Howells 2007), and the eventual collection of five others in 2008 (Burlakova and Karatayev 2008). Mussel surveys and collections throughout the Rio Grande drainage since 1972 have failed to produce any additional living specimens, even at sites where the species had been previously recorded. Extensive historical and current environmental modifications along the Rio Grande of Texas and Mexico suggest any surviving populations are likely at risk (Howells 2004). NatureServe ranks the Mexican fawnsfoot as critically imperiled across its range.

5. Salina mucket (Potamilus metnecktayi)

The Salina mucket, endemic to the central Rio Grande drainage, has potentially been extirpated from its range in New Mexico and Mexico and undergone dramatic declines in Texas (Howells 2009) . The Salina mucket has a very limited distribution in Texas with live specimens found only from the southern-most point of Big Bend to the mouth of the Pecos River (Howells 2006). This stretch of river has experienced major silt deposition in recent years and is at risk of dewatering associated with flow restrictions in Mexican rivers upstream. Elsewhere in the Rio Grande and its tributaries, including those in Mexico, only dead shell material has been found in recent decades with no indication of existing populations (Howells 2001a). NatureServe ranks the Salina mucket as critically imperiled across its range.

6. Sandbank pocketbook (Lampsilis satura)

The sandbank pocketbook is known from southern portions of the Mississippi interior basin and western Gulf drainages of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The species is considered rare in all states from which it has been recorded. The only significant population of this mussel known to exist in Texas was from the central Neches River. However, a gravel bar where this population was centered has been lost (Howells 2009). Small numbers of individuals remain in the Sabine and tributaries of the Neches (Ford and Nicholson 2006; Howells 2006; Karatayev and Burlakova 2007a, Karatayev and Burlakova 2007b; Randklev and Kennedy 2008), but abundances at these sites have declined dramatically and there is only limited evidence of successful reproduction. NatureServe ranks the sandbank pocketbook as imperiled across its range.

7. Smooth pimpleback (Quadrula houstonensis)

This endemic mussel is restricted to the Colorado and Brazos River drainages. In the Colorado River, the smooth pimpleback's distribution has historically been restricted to the Highland Lakes area downriver to Colorado and Wharton Counties. Shell material has been documented in the Brazos basin as far upriver as Shackelford and Young Counties and downstream at least as far as Fort Bend County. Surveys conducted from 1980 to 2006 have noted steep declines in the number of extant populations in both river systems (Howells 2009). Recent surveys of the Colorado River system failed to locate surviving populations of the smooth pimpleback (Howells 2009). At present, the Brazos River drainage hosts the only surviving populations of this freshwater mussel (Karatayev and Burlakova 2007b; Randklev and Kennedy 2008; Howells 2009). NatureServe ranks the smooth pimpleback as imperiled across its range.

8. Southern hickorynut (Obovaria jacksoniana)

Distributed across a wide swath of the southern United States, the southern hickorynut is considered rare and a species of conservation concern in seven states (Oesch 1984; Williams et al. 1993; Harris et al. 1997; Parmalee and Bogan 1998; Garner et al. 2004). This mussel species has never been abundant in Texas, with most in-state collections made prior to the mid-1980s. The only recent observation of southern hickorynut in Texas was made in Village Creek in 2001-2002 (Bordelon and Harrel 2004). Subsequent surveys of Village Creek have failed to produce any additional specimens of this species (Howells 2006; Karatayev and Burlakova 2007a). The southern hickorynut appears to have been lost elsewhere in the state and, if the species still occurs in Texas at all, may only persist at the Village Creek site. NatureServe ranks the southern hickorynut as imperiled across its range.

9. Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata)

The Texas fatmucket historically occurred in the Colorado and Guadalupe basins of central Texas (Howells et al. 1996; Howells et al. 1997). Over the past thirty years, a combination of natural and human-induced stressors has lead to the dramatic decline of this species in both river systems (Howells 2009). Only six populations of the Texas fatmucket have been documented since 1992 (Howells et al. 2003). Several of these populations have since declined or been eliminated completely (Howells 2006; Burlakova and Karatayev 2008). Recent surveys indicate that only four of the six known Texas fatmucket populations still survive (Howells 2009). The populations that remain are at risk from scouring floods, dewatering, and poor land management practices. NatureServe ranks the Texas fatmucket as critically imperiled across its range.

10. Texas fawnsfoot (Truncilla macrodon)

The Texas fawnsfoot historically occurred in the Colorado and Brazos drainages of central Texas. This species has been considered rare since its formal description in 1859; only 250-300 specimens have ever been collected (Howells 2009). Live Texas fawnsfoot have not been observed in the Colorado River since 1999. A recently discovered population in the Brazos River between Possum Kingdom and the mouth of the Navasota River represents the only known surviving population of this species (Howells 2009). NatureServe ranks the Texas fawnsfoot as imperiled across its range.

11. Texas heelsplitter (Potamilus amphichaenus)

The Texas heelsplitter is restricted to the Sabine, Neches, and Trinity rivers of Texas. There is historical evidence the species may have once occurred in Louisiana and Oklahoma. In recent years, only a small number of survivors have been found in the upper Sabine River (Howells 2006) and the Angelina River upstream of Sam Rayburn Reservoir (Karatayev and Burlakova 2007a). A significant population did persist in B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir and the Neches River immediately below Town Bluff Dam (Howells 2006; Howells 2007). However, that Texas heelsplitter population may have experienced significant reduction recently due to habitat loss (Howells 2009). A recovering population was found in the Trinity River upstream of Lake Livingston in 1996 (Howells 1997). NatureServe ranks the Texas heelsplitter as critically imperiled across its range.

12. Texas hornshell (Popenaias popeii)

The Texas hornshell is regional endemic known only from discrete sections of the Rio Grand River in Texas and a short segment of the Black River in New Mexico (Howells 2001a; Strenth et al. 2004; Howells 2006; Carman 2007; Burlakova and Karatayev 2008). The discovery of 30 individuals in a Webb County portion of the Rio Grande River in 2003 provides the only evidence of an extant population in Texas (Howells 2004). NatureServe ranks the Texas hornshell as critically imperiled across its range. This mussel is currently listed as a candidate for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

13. Texas pigtoe (Fusconaia askewi)

The Texas pigtoe is a regional endemic limited to a relatively small area in Texas and Louisiana. The species has experienced a drop in numbers and a declining area of occupancy over the past decade (Howells 2009). Populations of the Texas pigtoe documented since 1990 include the Trinity River above Lake Livingston, a tributary of the West Branch San Jacinto River, and the Sabine River above Toledo Bend Reservoir. It was also reported alive in the Angelina River in 1984 and Neches River in 1986, but has not been observed in either location since (Howells et al., 1996). NatureServe ranks the Texas pigtoe as imperiled across its range.

14. Texas pimpleback (Quadrula petrina)

The Texas pimpleback is an endemic species confined to the Colorado and Guadalupe drainages. Over the past few decades, populations of this species have suffered steep declines. Live Texas pimpleback have been observed at only five sites since 1992 (Howells 2009). The species has apparently been eliminated from a tributary of the Colorado River in Runnels County and the main channel of the Colorado River upstream of Lake Buchanan. The only confirmed significant population in the Concho River persists, but has been badly reduced by dewatering (Howells 2009). NatureServe ranks the Texas pimpleback as imperiled across its range.

15. Triangle pigtoe (Fusconaia lananensis)

The triangle pigtoe is endemic to the Neches and San Jacinto Rivers and Village Creek in eastern Texas (Howells et al., 1996). It has been extirpated from Lanana Creek in Nacogdoches County. Extant triangle pigtoe populations are limited and the ecological security of most occupied sites is marginal. NatureServe ranks the triangle pigtoe as critically imperiled across its range.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: David Sinclair
Corey Mason

Regulations Committee
Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact Proclamation
August 26, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks permission to publish proposed rules that would make Texas a member state of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC).

II. Discussion: House Bill 3391, enacted by the 81st Texas Legislature (2009), authorizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact and take all actions necessary to implement new Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 92, including the adoption of rules and the delegation of authority to the executive director.

The IWVC is a multi-state compact that allows states to share information about wildlife violators and to deny licensure to persons who have failed to comply with conservation law in member states. For example, if a person has had his or her hunting, fishing or trapping privileges suspended in one member state, the suspension is recognized by all of the member states. There are currently 31 states in the compact.

Staff requests permission to publish proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Mitch Lockwood

Regulations Committee
Deer Breeder Rules - Deer from Out-of-State Sources
August 26, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item requests permission to publish proposed amendments in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed changes would reassert the current prohibition on the importation of white-tailed deer and mule deer into the state on the basis of continuing concerns about transmissible diseases.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter L, the commission is authorized to regulate the possession of deer held in captivity under a deer breeder's permit and the procedures and requirements for the purchase, transfer, sale, or shipment of breeder deer. Current rules do not allow for the importation of white-tailed or mule deer into the state. The current rule was promulgated in 2005 in response to concerns over Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease detected in wild and farmed populations of cervids (the family Cervidae, which includes deer, moose, elk, and caribou) in 11 states and 2 Canadian provinces.

In March of 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published proposed rules in the Federal Register that would create a single federal regulatory standard to replace the various state regulations imposed in response to CWD. The proposed federal rules have not been finally promulgated, but USDA maintains that these rules will preempt state rules concerning CWD when they go into effect. Although the department's current rule was promulgated to address CWD, by prohibiting the importation of white-tailed and mule deer it has also served the dual purpose of preventing other externally introduced disease threats that move through, incubate in, or affect deer. Staff has been concerned about other epidemiological threats, particularly, bluetongue virus (BTV), Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF), and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV), which are viruses that affect deer or can be transmitted by deer to other wildlife or livestock. Staff therefore recommends the continued closure of the state to the importation of white-tailed deer and mule deer in order to protect native wildlife resources from external disease threats.

Staff requests permission to publish proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.


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