Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Presenter:  Kevin Kraai

Action
2011-2012 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Late Season Provisions
August 25, 2011

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

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.  The proposed regulations (located at Exhibit A) appeared in the May 27, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 3265). Following the issuance of early-season frameworks by the Service on June 23, 2011, the Executive Director on July 12, 2011, issued Executive Order 011-004, which adopted those portions of the proposal affecting early-season species (§§65.315 and 65.319, located in Exhibit A).  The Notice of Adoption effecting that action appeared in the July 29, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 4801-4805), located at Exhibit B.  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 (located at Exhibit A) as published in the May 27, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 3265).”

Attachments – 2

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Late-Season Provisions
  2. Exhibit B – Notice of Adoption:  Early-Season Provisions

Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit A

2010-2011 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Late Season Provisions
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

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

         The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issues annual frameworks for the hunting of migratory game birds. Regulations adopted by individual states may be more restrictive than the federal frameworks, but may not be less restrictive

         The proposed amendment to 65.318, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Late Season, retains the season structure and bag limits from last year; however, the season dates for geese in the Eastern Goose Zone and ducks in all zones have been shifted to occur one week later in comparison to last year. Prior to 2009, the department followed hunter preference and selected season dates that run to the last day of the federal frameworks. Beginning in 2009, the department adopted seasons that closed with one week left in the framework in an attempt to increase nesting success. This season structure is not popular with waterfowl hunters, especially if adjustments based solely on calendar shift cause the season to open in late October. Therefore, the department proposes a season this year that would begin in November, in an attempt to balance the preferences of waterfowl hunters with preserving the opportunity for the resource to benefit from some time without hunting pressure prior to migration to the nesting areas. The proposed amendment would adjust the remaining late-season migratory game bird seasons to account for calendar shift.

         The proposed 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 to reflect calendar shift and will be one week later than last year.

         The proposed amendment to §65.321, concerning Special Management Provisions, would adjust the dates for the conservation season on light geese so that they occur one week later, for reasons explained in the discussion of the proposed amendment to §65.318.

         The proposed amendments are generally necessary to implement commission policy to provide the greatest hunter opportunity possible, consistent with hunter and landowner preference for starting dates and segment lengths, under frameworks issued by the Service. The Service has not issued regulatory frameworks for the 2011-2012 hunting seasons for migratory game birds; thus, the department cautions that the proposed regulations are tentative and may change significantly, depending on federal actions prior to the release of the early-season frameworks in late June and the late-season frameworks in August. However, it is the policy of the commission to adopt the most liberal provisions possible, consistent with hunter preference, under the Service frameworks in order to provide maximum hunter opportunity.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director, 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 rules as proposed.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Wolf also has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed rules 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 for the use and enjoyment of the public, consistent with the principles of sound biological management.

         (B) 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 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. 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 rules regulate various aspects of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest migratory game bird resources in this state and therefore do not directly affect small businesses or micro-businesses. Therefore, neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

         There also will be no adverse economic effect on 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 2008, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 or 1-800-792-1112 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us).

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 proposed amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

         §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  (only two of which may be hens); three wood ducks; two scaup (lesser scaup and greater scaup in the aggregate); two redheads; two pintail; one canvasback; and one “dusky” duck (mottled duck, Mexican like duck, black duck and their hybrids) during the seasons established in subparagraphs (A)(ii), (B)(ii), and (C)(ii) of this paragraph.   For all other species not listed, the bag limit shall be six. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than two hooded mergansers.

                         (A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit:

                                  (i) all species other than “dusky ducks”: October 29-30, 2011 and November 4, 2011 – January 29, 2012[October 23-24, 2010 and October 29, 2010 – January 23, 2011].

                                  (ii) “dusky ducks”: November 7, 2011 – January 29, 2012[November 1, 2010 – January 23, 2011[November 1, 2010 – January 23, 2011].

                          (B) North Zone:

                                  (i) all species other than “dusky ducks”:  November 5 –  27, 2011 and December 10, 2011 — January 29, 2012[October 30 – November 28, 2010 and December 11, 2010 — January 23, 2011].

                                  (ii) “dusky ducks”: November 10–27, 2011 and December 10, 2011 – January 29, 2012[November 4, 2010 – November 28, 2010 and December 11, 2010 – January 23, 2011].

                         (C) South Zone:

                                  (i) all species other than “dusky ducks”: November 5 –  27, 2011 and December 10, 2011 — January 29, 2012[October 30 – November 28, 2010 and December 11, 2010 — January 23, 2011].

                                  (ii) “dusky ducks”: November 10–27, 2011 and December 10, 2011 – January 29, 2012[November 4, 2010 – November 28, 2010 and December 11, 2010 – January 23, 2011].

                 (2) Geese.

                         (A) Western Zone.

                                  (i) Light geese: November 5, 2011 – February 5, 2012[November 6, 2010 – February 6, 2011]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                  (ii) Dark geese: November 5, 2011 – February 5, 2012[November 6, 2010 – February 6, 2011]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, to include not more than one white-fronted goose.

                         (B) Eastern Zone.

                                  (i) Light geese: November 5, 2011 – January 29, 2012[October 30, 2010 – January 23, 2011]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                  (ii) Dark geese:

                                          (I) White-fronted geese: November 5, 2011 – January 15, 2012[October 30, 2010 – January 9, 2011]. The daily bag limit for white-fronted geese is two.

                                          (II) Canada geese: September 10 – 25, 2011 and November 5, 2011 – January 29, 2012[October 30, 2010 – January 23, 2011]. The daily bag limit for Canada geese is three.

                 (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, 2011 — February 5, 2012[November 6, 2010 — February 6, 2011]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

                         (B) Zone B: November 25, 2011 — February 5, 2012[November 26, 2010 — February 6, 2011]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

                         (C) Zone C: December 24, 2011 — January 29, 2012[December 18, 2010 — January 23, 2011]. The daily bag limit is two. The possession limit is four.

                 (4) Special Youth-Only Season. There shall be a special youth-only waterfowl season during which the hunting, taking, and possession of geese, 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. Season dates are as follows:

                         (A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 22-23, 2011[October 16-17, 2010];

                         (B) North Zone: October 29-30, 2011[October 23-24, 2010]; and

                         (C) South Zone: October 29-30, 2011[October 23-24, 2010].

         §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, 2012[January 24 — February 7, 2011];

                         (C) South Duck Zone: January 30 — February 13, 2012[January 24 — February 7, 2011].

                 (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. 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 (WRD) from the person who killed the birds. A properly executed WRD satisfies the tagging requirements of 50 CFR Part 20. The WRD 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 WRD 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 — March 25, 2012[January 24 — March 27, 2011], 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 6 — March 25, 2012[February 7 — March 27, 2011], the take of light geese is lawful in the Western Zone as defined in §65.317 of this title .

         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

2011-2012 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Adoption Preamble

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §65.315 and §65.319, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, with changes to the proposed text as published in the May 27, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 3265).  The proposed text as published in the May 27, 2017 issue of the Texas Register also included amendments to §§65.318, 65.320, 65.321.   The proposed amendments to §§65.318, 65.320, 65.321 will be considered for adoption by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (commission) on August 25, 2011.  After consideration of the remaining sections by the Commission, a separate notice of adoption will be published.  Because of the timing of the seasons and bag limits established in §65.315 and §65.319, these amendments have been adopted by order of the department’s executive director as authorized by Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022, and 31 TAC §65.313(d).

         The change to §65.315, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Early Season, adds the season dates for the early-season take of Canada geese.

         The amendment to §65.315, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Early Season, retains the season structure and bag limits from last year and adjusts the season dates for early-season species of migratory game birds to account for calendar shift (i.e., to ensure that seasons open on the desired day of the week, since dates from a previous year do not fall on the same days in following years).

         The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issues annual frameworks for the hunting of migratory game birds. Regulations adopted by individual states may be more restrictive than the federal frameworks, but may not be less restrictive. Prior to 2009, September 20 was the earliest day that the South Zone dove season could be opened under frameworks issued by the Service, except the four days of half-day hunting in the Special White-winged Dove Area (SWWDA). Since hunter and landowner preference historically has been for the season to open on the earliest date possible, irrespective of where that day falls during the week, this structure resulted in the periodic occurrence of opening day on days other than a Friday, the preferred choice of hunters and landowners for opening the season. In 2009, the Service authorized the department to open the South Zone on the Friday nearest September 20, but no earlier than September 17.  The intent was to insure that the season always opened on the Friday closest to September 20. However, this formulation results in the periodic occurrence (including 2011) of the Friday closest to September 20 falling on September 23. To address this anomaly the department requested Service approval to set the opening day for the South Zone dove season on the Friday before the third Saturday in September. In this fashion, the season would always open on a Friday and would never open later than September 20. The Service did not approve the requested change and the season will therefore open on September 23, as proposed.

         The amendment to §65.315 also implements a 16-day statewide teal season to run from September 10-25, 2011, which is the maximum allowable time under the federal frameworks.

         The amendment to §65.315 also implements a 16-day early season for Canada geese. Populations of non-migratory Canada geese have been growing in northeast Texas, primarily in and along the Red River valley. Non-migratory geese are geese that do not exhibit the characteristically long north-south seasonal migration flights, instead remaining resident in a single general area on a year-round basis. In other parts of the country, particularly in the Atlantic Flyway, populations of non-migratory geese have exploded, causing nuisance damage, navigation hazards, crop depredation, and other undesirable effects. Although Canada geese populations in Texas are not at levels similar to those in the Atlantic Flyway, they have become numerous enough to justify a 16-day September Canada goose season in the East Goose Zone, to run concurrently with September teal season. The intent of the new season is to manage Canada geese while creating additional hunting opportunity. The season was proposed as an amendment to §65.318, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Late Season, which was also published in May 27, 2011, issue of the Texas Register (36 TexReg 1265).  The season is being adopted as part of §65.315 because if it were to be adopted along with the rest of the provisions affecting late-season species in late August, it could not take effect in time to take advantage of the dates offered under the federal frameworks.

         The proposed amendment to §65.319, concerning Extended Falconry Season — Early Season Species, adjusts season dates to consolidate, where possible, seasons for woodcock, gallinules, rails, and moorhens with the extended falconry season for ducks. The amendment adjusts falconry seasons for dove to reflect calendar shift.

2. Justification for the Rules.

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

4. Summary of Public Comment.

         The department received 13 comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for doves in the North Zone. Six commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a split season is unnecessary because there are not enough birds to hunt. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter surveys indicate a preference for a split season and that there is no biological evidence that dove populations are at a status that prevents sustainability. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         Three commenters opposed adoption and stated that the first segment should run to October 31. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas holiday break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. The department also notes that removing a week from the winter segment would reduce holiday hunting opportunity. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should open sooner. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the season opens on the earliest day allowable under federal frameworks. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the winter segment should open on December 26 rather than December 23. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         The department received 57 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received 12 comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for doves in the Central Zone. Nine commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

          Three commenters opposed adoption and stated that the first segment should run until October 31. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas holiday break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. The department also notes that removing a week from the winter segment would reduce holiday hunting opportunity. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the dates should be the same as in 2009. The department assumes the comment is intended to oppose the opening of the winter split before Christmas (in 2009, the winter segment opened the day after Christmas, otherwise there is no difference between the 2009 and 2011 seasons, other than calendar shift). The department disagrees with the comments and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas holiday break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. The department also notes that removing a week from the winter segment would reduce holiday hunting opportunity. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

            Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that the winter segment should open on December 26 rather than December 23. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should open sooner. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the season opens on the earliest day allowable under federal frameworks. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the opening day should be later because there are no birds on September 1. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter and landowner preference is for the season to open on the earliest day possible under the federal frameworks. The department also notes that because the migratory behavior of doves is partially the result of reaction to highly variable environmental factors, there is no way to select an opening date, in advance, that will result in perceived favorable hunting opportunity. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that both segments of the split season are too short and should be lengthened. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the season as adopted represents the maximum number of days that the federal frameworks allow for dove hunting in Texas. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         The department received 61 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received 29 comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for doves in the Central Zone. Twenty-three commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

         Eleven commenters opposed adoption and stated that the season should begin on September 16. The department agrees with the comments but responds that the earliest opening date allowed under the federal frameworks is September 23. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should open on September 17. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that that the earliest opening date allowed under the federal frameworks is September 23. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         Four commenters opposed adoption and stated that the opening segment should be longer, even if it means making the winter segment shorter. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that season structures have historically been set in such a fashion as to allow greater hunting opportunity during the Christmas break, when more people, especially youth, are able to take advantage of opportunity, and that hunter preference is to have a late segment that is roughly 15 days in length. The department also notes that removing a week from the winter segment would reduce holiday hunting opportunity. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that the season should open earlier. The department agrees with the comment but responds that the earliest opening date allowed under the federal frameworks is September 23. No changes were made as a result to the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should begin on the first day that hunting is allowed under the federal frameworks. The department agrees with the comment and responds that this year, the earliest day that hunting is allowed under the federal frameworks is September 23. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should open on a Friday closer to the middle of the month. The department agrees with the comment but responds that the earliest date allowed under the federal frameworks is September 23.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should begin September 30. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter and landowner preference is for the earliest opening date possible under the federal frameworks.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season should open September 1. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that under the federal frameworks, the earliest day that the season can open in the South Zone is September 23.

         The department received 52 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received four comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for doves in the Special White-Winged Dove Area. Two commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that dove season should be open in all counties. The department agrees with the comment and responds that there is a dove season in every county in Texas. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the season in the Special White-winged Dove Area should be the same as the rest of the South Zone. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter and landowner preference in South Texas favors the special white-winged dove season, which is a longstanding tradition in that part of the state. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         The department received 39 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received 15 comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for teal. Nine commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the teal season should be eliminated and the 16 days added to the end of duck season. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that hunter preference favors an early teal season and the 16 days of teal season cannot be added to the end of the duck season because duck seasons in Texas are already at the maximum number of days allowed under the federal frameworks. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         Nine commenters opposed adoption and stated that a nine-day season is preferable to a 16-day season if the seven days are applied to the regular duck season. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that hunter preference favors a 16-day season (if offered by the Service) and teal season opportunity cannot be added to the end of the duck season because duck seasons in Texas are already at the maximum number of days allowed under the federal frameworks. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that tree ducks and whistling ducks should be added to the bag limit. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that under the federal frameworks, the only species that can be hunted during the early teal season are teal ducks. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that teal season days should not lead to a reduction in the length of the regular duck season. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that hunting opportunity for teal in Texas does not affect the number of days offered for duck hunting under the federal frameworks. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that teal season should be in early October, there should be a six-bird daily bag limit, and that whistling ducks should be part of the bag composition. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that under the federal frameworks, the early teal season cannot run past September 30, the bag limit cannot exceed four birds, and the season must be for teal ducks only. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

         The department received 72 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received four comments opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for doves in the Central Zone. Nine commenters articulated a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department’s response to each, follow.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that rail seasons should be concurrent with duck season.

         One commenter opposed adoption and stated that snipe season should be concurrent with early teal season.

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

         The department received one comment opposing adoption of the portion of proposed §65.315 that establishes season dates and bag limits for the take of early-season species by means of the falconry; however, the commenter did not offer a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption.

         The department received 10 comments supporting adoption of the proposed amendment.

         The department received one comment opposing adoption of the early Canada goose season; however, the commenter did not offer a specific reason or rationale for opposing adoption.

         The department received six comments supporting adoption of the early Canada goose season.

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.

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

                 (a) Rails.

                         (1) Dates: September 10–25, 2011 and November 5 – December 28, 2011.

                         (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 23, 2011 and December 23, 2011 – January 8, 2012.

                                  (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 23, 2011 and December 23, 2011 – January 8, 2012.

                                  (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.

                         (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 – October 30, 2011 and December 23, 2011 – January 23, 2012.

                                  (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.

                         (4) Special white-winged dove area.

                                  (A) Dates: September 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2011.

                                          (i) Daily bag limit: 15 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: 30 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 – October 30, 2011 and December 23, 2011 – January 19, 2012.

                                          (i) Daily bag limit: 15 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: 30 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, 2011 and November 5 – December 28, 2011.

                         (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, 2011.

                         (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, 2011 — January 31, 2012. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

                 (h) Wilson’s snipe (Common snipe): November 5, 2011 – February 19, 2012. The daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is 16.

                 (i) Canada geese: September 10 – 25, 2011 in the Eastern Goose Zone as defined in §65.317(b) of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species). The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

         §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 16 – December 22, 2011.

                         (2) rails and gallinules: January 30 – February 13, 2012.

                         (3) woodcock: January 30 – February 13, 2012.

                 (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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