Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter:  Jason Hardin

Action
Statewide Hunting Proclamation
March 31, 2011

I.       Executive Summary:  This item presents the proposed 2011-2012 Statewide Hunting Proclamation for adoption.  The proposed amendments would:

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.  Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 67, requires the Commission by regulation 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.  The changes to the rules are based upon statutory requirements, Commission policy, staff recommendations, and suggestions from the regulated community, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable.  The 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.

At its January 2011 meeting, the Regulations Committee authorized staff to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the February 25, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 1238, 1239).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III.     Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion:

      “The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §65.34 and §65.64, concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 25, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 1238, 1239).”

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Hunting Rules

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit A

STATEWIDE HUNTING PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department, or TPWD) proposes amendments to §65.34, concerning Managed Lands Deer Permits (MLDPs)—Mule Deer, and §65.64, concerning Turkey.

          The proposed amendment to §65.34 would stipulate that MLDPs for mule deer are valid during the archery-only seasons specified in §65.42(c) as well as during the general season. When the mule deer MLDP program was created in 2005, the department created a period of validity for the permits that was concurrent with the white-tailed deer season. In establishing that period of validity, the department did not intend to prevent the hunting of mule deer by means of archery equipment during the archery-only seasons established under §65.42(c). The proposed amendment would clarify that MLDPs for mule deer are valid during the archery-only open season; however, the means of take is limited to lawful archery equipment.

         The proposed amendment to §65.34 also would clarify that a harvest recommendation for mule deer could be restricted to bucks or antlerless deer. The current rule provides that a harvest recommendation specify “a harvest quota for both buck and antlerless mule deer or antlerless mule deer only. The proposed amendment would reword the provision to read “a harvest quota for buck and/or antlerless mule deer.” The change is nonsubstantive and is intended to eliminate ambiguity in interpretation.

         The proposed amendment to §65.64 would close the season for Eastern Turkey in Cherokee, Delta, Gregg, Hardin, Houston, Hunt, Liberty, Montgomery, Rains, Rusk, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker counties in response to low population and harvest numbers. Closure is necessary for the resumption and success of stocking efforts, should future habitat conditions allow.

         The proposed amendment to §65.64 also would alter the spring season dates for the take of Eastern turkey. The current season runs from April 1 to April 30. The proposed new season would open April 15 and close May 14. The change is intended to prevent harvest until the majority of hens have begun incubating, which is expected to result in higher breeding success and a reduction in accidental harvest of hens. The change will also allow harvest during the second peak in gobbling activity, which is expected to result in greater hunter satisfaction.

         The proposed amendment to §65.64 also would alter the bag composition during the spring season for Rio Grande turkey in all counties with a bag limit of four turkeys. The current bag composition for turkey during the spring season is gobblers only. The department has determined that the Rio Grande turkey population in Texas is large and stable. Since bearded hens are estimated to constitute less than 5% of the total hen population, allowing harvest of bearded hens during the spring season would not have a negative impact on the population and would allow for the harvest of surplus hens.  Another dimension of the proposed amendment would be to reduce accidental illegal harvest. Under the current bag composition, a hunter who takes a bearded hen by mistake (thinking that because it is bearded, it is a gobbler) has committed an illegal act, albeit by accident. The proposed amendment would have the additional benefit of making such harvest legal.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Mr. Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Wolf also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the dispensation of the agency’s statutory duty to protect and conserve the wildlife resources of this state, the duty to equitably distribute opportunity for the enjoyment of those resources among the citizens, and the execution of the commission’s policy to maximize recreational opportunity within the precepts of sound biological management practices.

         (B) There will be no adverse economic effect on persons required to comply with the rule as proposed.

         (C) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small and micro-businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that the proposed rule will not directly affect small businesses or micro-businesses.  The proposed amendments to §65.34 and §65.64 affect the regulation of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest mule deer and turkey, respectively. The proposed amendments would not directly regulate any business and would not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; affect sales, profits, or market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services by small businesses or microbusinesses. Therefore, the department therefore has not prepared the economic impact statement or regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (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.

         (E) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules) does not apply to the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments also may be submitted via the department’s website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/.

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 42, which allows the department to issue tags for animals during each year or season; and Chapter 61, which requires the commission to regulate the periods of time when it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the means, methods, and places in which it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life may be hunted, taken, or possessed.

         The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapters 42 and 61.

         §65.34. Managed Lands Deer Permits (MLDP)—Mule Deer.

                 (a) MLDPs for mule deer may be issued only to a landowner who has a current wildlife management plan (WMP) in accordance with subsection (b) of this section that specifies a harvest quota for [both] buck and/or [and] antlerless mule deer [or antlerless mule deer only]. A WMP is not valid unless it is:

                         (1) consistent with Parks and Wildlife Code, §§61.053 and 61.056; and

                         (2) signed by a Wildlife Division biologist or technician authorized to write wildlife management plans. A WMP is valid for one year following the date of such signature.

                 (b) (No change.)

                 (c) An MLDP issued under this section permits the take of antlerless and/or buck mule deer, as specified on the permit. An MLDP issued under this section [paragraph] is valid:

                         (1) only on the property for which it is issued (as described in the WMP); and

                         (2) during the archery-only open season established by §65.42 of this title (relating to Deer); however, the lawful means of take is restricted to lawful archery equipment only; and

                         (3) from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January, during which time any lawful means may be used.

                 (d) – (j) (No change.)

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

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on

         The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61, which requires the commission to regulate the periods of time when it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the means, methods, and places in which it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life ay be hunted, taken, or possessed.

         The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61.

         §65.64. Turkey.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Rio Grande Turkey. The open seasons and bag limits for Rio Grande turkey shall be as follows.

                         (1) – (2) (No change.)

                         (3) Spring season and bag limits.

                                  (A) In Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell, Borden, Bosque, Briscoe, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Coke, Coleman, Collingsworth, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Ector, Ellis, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Hartley, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Howard, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, Llano, Lynn, Martin, Mason, McCulloch, McLennan, Menard, Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Moore, Motley, Nolan, Ochiltree, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, Reagan, Roberts, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Travis, Upton, Ward, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson, Wise, and Young counties, there is a spring general open season.

                                          (i) Open season: Saturday closest to April 1 for 44 consecutive days.

                                          (ii) Bag limit: four turkeys, gobblers or bearded hens[only].

                                  (B) In Aransas, Atascosa, Bandera, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brewster, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Comal, Crockett, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Hidalgo, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kenedy, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, LaSalle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Nueces, Pecos, Real, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Webb, Willacy, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties, there is a spring general open season.

                                          (i) Open season: Saturday closest to March 18 for 44 consecutive days.

                                          (ii) Bag limit: four turkeys, gobblers or bearded hens[only].

                                  (C) (No change.)

                         (4) (No change.)

                 (c) Eastern turkey. The open seasons and bag limits for Eastern turkey shall be as follows. In Angelina, Bowie, Brazoria, Camp, Cass, [Cherokee, Delta,] Fannin, Fort Bend, Franklin, Grayson, [Gregg, Hardin,] Harrison, Hopkins, [Houston, Hunt,] Jasper, Lamar, [Liberty,] Marion, Matagorda, [Montgomery,] Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, [Rains,] Red River, [Rusk,] Sabine, San Augustine, [San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith,] Titus, Trinity, [Tyler,] Upshur, [Walker,] Wharton, and Wood counties, there is a spring season during which both Rio Grande and Eastern turkey may be lawfully hunted.

                         (1) Open season: from April 15 through May 14[April 1 for 30 consecutive days].

                         (2) – (3) (No change.)

                 (d) (No change.)

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

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


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