Presenter: Mike Berger
Commission Agenda Item No. 3
2008-2009 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
I. Executive Summary: This item apprises the committee of proposed changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for the 2008-2009 seasons.
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 potential changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation are based upon statutory requirements, Commission policy, 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. The Regulations Committee at its January 2008 meeting, authorized staff to publish the proposed 2008-2009 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed rules appeared in the February 22, 2008, issue of the Texas Register (33 TexReg 1499). 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 consider the proposed motion:
"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §§65.9-65.11, 65.42, 65.60, 65.62, and 65.72, concerning the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 22, 2008, issue of the Texas Register (33 TexReg 1499)."
Attachments - 2
Commission Agenda Item No. 3
Summary of Proposed Changes
2008-2009 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Mule Deer -
- Implement a nine-day, buck-only mule deer season in Andrews (east of U.S. Highway 385), Martin, and Gaines counties. There is no current open season for mule deer in Andrews (east of U.S. Highway 385), Martin, or Gaines counties. Implementing a nine-day, buck-only season would offer increased hunter opportunity without adversely impacting mule deer reproduction or distribution. Scientific literature suggests that the implementation of a buck-only season will not have any measurable impact on herd productivity or expansion; however, a measurable change in the age structure of bucks is anticipated as a result of harvest pressure on a previously unhunted population.
- Implement a 16-day, buck-only general season and a 35-day buck-only archery season for mule deer in Sherman and Hansford counties. There is no current open season for mule deer in Sherman or Hansford counties. Each county has low-density populations of mule deer in pockets of suitable habitat. The scientific literature suggests that the implementation of a buck-only season will not have any measurable impact on herd productivity or expansion; however, a measurable change in the age structure of bucks is anticipated as a result of harvest pressure on a previously unhunted population. The surrounding Panhandle counties that have an open general season also have a 35-day archery-only season in addition to the 16-day general season. The proposal, therefore, includes a 35-day archery season in Hansford and Sherman counties during which harvest is restricted to buck deer. The hunter success rate for archers is statistically insignificant and the biological impacts of that harvest are negligible when harvest is restricted to buck deer. Implementation of the proposal is expected to result in increased hunter opportunity with no measurable effect on reproduction or distribution of mule deer populations.
- Start the pheasant season in the Panhandle one week later than the current opening date and extend the total length of the season by seven days. Currently, pheasant season in the Panhandle opens on the first Saturday in December and runs for 30 consecutive days. In Dallam, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, and Sherman counties, the deer season runs from the Saturday before Thanksgiving for 16 consecutive days, meaning that in those counties the deer and pheasant seasons overlap. The proposal is to start the pheasant season the second Saturday in December and run it for 37 consecutive days. The proposal would allow for independent enforcement of open deer and pheasant seasons and would create additional opportunity. There are no expected biological implications.
- Extend the statewide quail season to run concurrently with the period of validity for Level 2 and 3 Managed Lands Deer Permits (MLDP). Currently, the quail season runs from the Saturday closest to October 28 through the last Sunday in February, while the period of validity for Levels 2 and 3 MLDPs extends to the last day in February. In one out of every seven years, the last Sunday in February will also be the last day in February; in the remaining years, the last Sunday in February will fall before the last day in February. The proposal is to extend the quail season through the last day in February. This would mean that once every seven years, the quail season would end on a Saturday. The proposal is intended to reduce hunter confusion, create additional opportunity, and simplify regulations. The proposal has no expected biological implications.
Archery equipment -
- Eliminate the minimum draw weight requirement for archery equipment. Currently, the minimum draw weight for compound bows, recurved bows, and longbows is 40 pounds. Staff believes that the elimination of the minimum draw weight requirement would make bowhunting more accessible to younger hunters and others who might have difficulty drawing a 40-pound bow.
Tagging and Documentation Requirements -
- Allow certain department-issued tags to function as proof-of-sex documentation for harvested deer. Current rules require that proof-of-sex remain with deer, turkey, or antelope until reaching either the possessor's permanent residence or a cold storage/processing facility. For deer, proof of sex consists of the unskinned head, a receipt from a taxidermist, or a signed statement from the owner of the land where the deer was killed. The proposal would allow Managed Lands Deer Permits, Landowner Assisted Management Permits, antlerless mule deer permits, special permits on wildlife management areas and state parks, and Antlerless and Spike-buck Control Permits to function as proof-of-sex documentation. The proposal would reduce duplication of effort on the part of hunters.
Common Carp -
- Introduce bag limits for common carp on Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake; Travis County). Harvest regulations for common carp on Lady Bird Lake would be changed from the current no daily bag limit and minimum length limit to a daily bag limit of one common carp 33 inches or larger per day. Harvest of common carp less than 33 inches would remain unrestricted. "Trophy" carp will be given some protection from potential harvest, and hopefully, this will increase the perception that trophy carp are a valuable fish. This may also lead to increased promotion of trophy carp fishing in Texas and of Lady Bird Lake as a trophy carp fishing destination. Length limit is based on "trophy" size calculation from Gabelhouse that sets trophy length at approximately 75 percent of world record length.
Largemouth Bass -
- Alter harvest regulations on Lake Nacogdoches to implement a 16-inch maximum length limit. Fish 24 inches or longer could be retained for weighing, but would have to be released unless accepted in the ShareLunker program. Current harvest regulations consist of a 14-21 inch slot limit and a five-fish daily bag limit. Lake Nacogdoches is a 2,212 acre reservoir that currently supports a high-quality largemouth bass fishery. It has demonstrated trophy largemouth bass potential. A maximum length limit that allows retention of only ShareLunker bass (greater than 13 lbs) should increase contributions to the ShareLunker program. Allowing harvest of bass less than 16 inches could decrease intra-specific competition and increase growth rates.
- Alter harvest regulations on Lakes Raven (Walker County) and Purtis Creek (Henderson and Van Zandt counties) to increase the minimum length limit for temporary retention (for weighing and either release or acceptance to the ShareLunker program) from 21 inches to 24 inches, and eliminate references to department weigh stations on the lakes. Lakes Raven and Purtis Creek are catch-and-release only lakes and the length limit for temporary retention is similar to that being proposed for Lake Nacogdoches.
Spotted bass -
- Eliminate the 14-inch minimum length limit for spotted bass on Lake Texoma (Cooke and Grayson counties) and revert to the standard statewide limit (no length limit). The 14-inch minimum length limit for spotted bass on Lake Texoma was the only exception to the statewide spotted bass limit and was in place to create uniform limits for black basses on both the Texas and Oklahoma sides of Lake Texoma. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is also proposing to remove both the length limit for spotted bass on Lake Texoma.
- Eliminate harvest regulation exceptions (no daily bag or minimum length limit) for red drum on lakes Nasworthy (Tom Green County) and Colorado City (Mitchell County). Harvest regulations would revert to standard statewide limits (20-inch minimum length limit and 28-inch maximum length limit and three fish daily bag). Viable populations of red drum no longer exist in either lake.
- Restrict anglers to the use of only two poles to take fish in those waters designated as Community Fishing Lakes (CFL) except for CFLs within state parks. Community fishing lakes are defined as all public impoundments 75 acres or less in size located totally within an incorporated city limit or a public park, and all impoundments of any size lying totally within the boundaries of a state park. TPWD expends significant effort managing these fisheries, which because of their proximity to urban areas are among the most heavily utilized public fisheries in Texas. Limiting anglers to two poles will alleviate crowding concerns and result in a more equitable distribution of fishing enjoyment and success.
- Allow the continued use of lawful archery equipment to take catfish for an additional three years (September 1, 2008 through August 31, 2011). Existing minimum length limits (12 inches for blues and channels; 18 inches for flatheads) and bag limits (25 for blues and channels; 5 for flatheads) would remain in effect for bow anglers. The current rule allowing the use of lawful archery equipment, including cross bows, to take catfish is due to expire August 31, 2008. The department is still in the process of evaluating the impact of the regulation on catfish populations.
- Establish a total allowable catch (TAC) for menhaden in the Texas Territorial Sea (TTS), which are the waters off of Texas out to nine nautical miles. The proposed TAC would be 31,500,000 lbs. per year, based on the approximate average of the five-year period from 2002-2006. Currently the menhaden fishery in Texas is managed through a season that runs from the 3rd Monday in April to November 1st. There is a restriction on mesh size and also a restriction that prohibits harvest within half of a mile of the shoreline and extends to one mile at jetties and passes. The proposal would provide a precautionary ecosystem-based approach to the management of the menhaden fishery in Texas waters. The current status of the menhaden fishery in the gulf is that it has been under a long-term landings monitoring program and the current stock assessments indicate the fishery is not undergoing overfishing. Trends in our bay and gulf sampling program also indicate that the fishery is showing increasing trends in abundance. Due to the current status of the menhaden fishery in Texas, the proposed rule would establish a cap or TAC on the current landings. The proposal would prevent any expansion of the menhaden fishery in state waters. The proposal keeps the current fishery and thus the associated at current levels. The current bycatch is estimated to be approximately one percent by number of total landings, which equals approximately 415,000 organisms per year.