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March 26, 2009
TPWD Proposals Would Increase Dove Bag, Extend Season
AUSTIN, Texas — Changes proposed for the 2009-10 Texas dove season include a 70 day season and 15 bird daily bag statewide, pending adoption of federal guidelines. Additionally, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced a proposal to move the South Zone opening to the Friday nearest Sept. 20, but no earlier than Sept. 17, which means it will open on Sept. 18 this year if approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late June.
TPWD staff announced the proposed dove season changes during the Regulations Committee meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Wednesday, March 25.
The changes to season length and bag limits reflect anticipated implementation of new federal guidelines for dove management based on the Adaptive Harvest Model (AHM) now being applied to doves as it has been for ducks for the last decade. AHM harvest management uses variables such as monitoring data, population data and harvest information from band recoveries to develop season structures.
The Service has developed three options for mourning dove bags, all based on a 70 day season, including a 22-bird liberal bag, a 15-bird moderate bag and an 8-bird restrictive bag. Application of this new approach in a mock format using data from the past 30 years demonstrated that the moderate package would have been in place all during that period.
The Service has evaluated factors affecting mourning doves and concluded the Central Management Unit, which includes Texas, will be in the Moderate Package (15 birds) for the next three years. Final adoption by the feds is expected in late June.
Under this season structure, changes will be an increase from 60 to 70 days in season length in the North Zone and an increase from 12 to 15 birds in the daily bag in the Central and South Zones.
The proposed dove season in the North and Central Dove Zones would run Sept. 1-Oct. 25 and reopen Dec. 26-Jan. 9, with a 15-bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves.
TPWD is also looking at altering the South Zone opener to offset calendar shifts that have penalized Texas hunters in the past. Currently, federal frameworks prohibit Texas from opening the South Zone prior to Sept. 20. TPWD Commission policy has been to open the dove season on the first Friday after Sept. 20, unless the 20th falls on a Saturday. So, in effect, in most years Texas’ South Zone has opened an average of three days later than federal frameworks allow and as late as Sept. 25.
This year, TPWD is proposing the South Zone open on the Friday nearest Sept. 20, but no earlier than the 17th. The Central Flyway Council approved the recommendation last week and TPWD migratory game bird staff has been discussing this proposal with the Service technical staff since last fall and it has been well received. If formally approved in late June b, the South Zone would open on Sept. 18 this year. Next year, the 20th falls on a Monday, so TPWD would propose opening on Friday, Sept. 17, 2010.
Under the proposal, the South Zone would run Sept. 18-Nov. 3, reopening Dec. 26-Jan. 17 with a 15 bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves. Possession limit is twice the daily bag for all migratory game birds except light geese which currently does not have a possession limit.
The Special South Texas Whitewing Area would open to white-winged dove afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting Sept. 5-6 and 12-13 and reopen Sept. 18-Nov. 3 and again from Dec. 26-Jan. 13. The daily bag limit is 12 birds, not more than four mourning doves during the first two weekend splits and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens the aggregate bag limit will be 15.
The Service is also reviewing a proposal to give TPWD the option to adjust a portion of the boundary of the special whitewing area. This potential change would remove portions of Jim Hogg and Starr counties. These areas are not as high a quality white-winged dove habitat as other portions of the area. If removed, these portions would fall under the South Zone dates and bag. TPWD plans to hold a public hearing prior to the May 27 commission meeting to evaluate public support of this proposal.
TPWD is proposing no changes to other early migratory game bird seasons other than to reflect calendar shifts.
If Texas gets a 16-day September teal season, the dates would be Sept. 12-27, while a nine-day season would run Sept. 19-27.
The proposed season for rail and gallinule is Sept. 12-27 and Oct. 31-Dec. 23; for snipe, Oct. 31-Feb. 14; and for woodcock, Dec. 18-Jan. 31.
The public is encouraged to provide comment on these proposals by visiting the TPWD Web site or by writing TPWD Public Comment, attn. Corey Mason, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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