Presenters: Ken Kurzawski
Commission Agenda Item No. 5
2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes
March 26, 2009
I. Executive Summary: This item presents the proposed 2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for adoption. The proposed amendments and new rules are as follows:
Blue Catfish - Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County)
Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Proposed changes would consist of a 25-fish daily bag limit with a 30- to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches would be allowed.
Largemouth Bass - Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties)
Harvest regulations for largemouth bass are currently a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and a five fish daily bag (only one bass 24 inches or greater may be retained each day). Proposed changes would consist of the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).
Alligator Gar - Statewide
Alligator gar populations are believed to be declining throughout much of their historical range, which includes the Mississippi River system, as well as coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas to northern Mexico. The proposed amendment would limit anglers to one alligator gar per day.
Recent meetings between fisheries and law enforcement staff from TPWD and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation resulted in two proposed changes to fishing regulations on Lake Texoma. The proposals are part of an ongoing effort to standardize regulations on the reservoir where management is shared by both states.
- Alligator gar - Change daily bag limit from no limit to one alligator gar per day and create a closed area surrounding spawning grounds at the Hagerman National Wildlife Area.
- Blue and channel catfish - Change harvest regulations for blue channel catfish from a 15 per day bag limit to a 15 per day bag limit of which only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater may be harvested per day.
Coastal Fisheries believes that long-term downward trends in the fishery warrant consideration of regulations intended to reverse the downward trend in abundance. The proposed amendment would reduce the recreational daily bag limit from 10 fish to five fish, reduce the commercial daily bag limit from 60 fish to 30 fish, and close Texas waters for the take of flounder during the month of November.
The proposed amendments would alter bag and size limits for certain species that are managed jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
The proposed amendment would change the minimum length limit for lawful species from 24 inches total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose, Blacktip, and Bonnethead sharks, which would remain at the current 24-inch minimum length limit. For lawful shark species, the bag limit would remain one fish per person per day, with a two-fish possession limit. In addition, a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following shark species:
- Atlantic angel
- Squatina dumerili
- Cetorhinus maximus
- Bigeye sand tiger
- Odontaspis noronhai
- Bigeye sixgill
- Hexanchus vitulus
- Bigeye thresher
- Alopias superciliosus
- Carcharhinus altimus
- Caribbean reef
- Carcharhinus perezi
- Caribbean sharpnose
- Rhizoprionodon porosus
- Carcharhinus obscurus
- Carcharhinus galapagensis
- Longfin mako
- Isurus paucus
- Carcharhinus brachyurus
- Carcharhinus signatus
- Carcharhinus plumbeus
- Sand tiger
- Odontaspis taurus
- Heptranchias perlo
- Carcharhinus falciformis
- Hexanchus griseus
- Carcharhinus porosus
- Rhincodon typus
- Carcharodon carcharias
The proposed amendments also address other species determined to be in an overfished condition or are undergoing overfishing. The proposed changes include: increasing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34 inches TL and establishing minimum size limits of 14 inches for gray triggerfish and 22 inches for gag grouper. The bag limit for gray triggerfish would be 20 per person and for gag grouper it would be set at two per person with a possession limit of twice the daily bag limit.
Paddle Craft Licensing
The proposed amendment would allow paddle craft operators to receive an all-water fishing guide license by establishing alternative requirements to the current United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel license. The current USCG license requirements do not address the unique safety issues associated with paddle craft and also may be restricting the licensing of paddle craft guides due to the "sea time" requirement. The new requirements would allow issuance of a license upon certification or proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course, CPR/First Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association "Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring" and "Coastal Kayak Trip Leading" courses or the British Canoe Union "Three Star Sea Kayak" and "Four Star Leader Sea Kayak" courses.
The proposed amendments would make the following changes to white-tailed deer regulations:
- Implement the "antler restriction regulation" in 52 additional counties where yearling and 2.5-year-old bucks account for more than 55 percent of the total harvest.
- Increase the bag limit from one buck to two bucks in Baylor, Callahan, Haskell, Jones, Knox, Shackelford, Taylor, Throckmorton, and Wilbarger counties. This area of the state is characterized by relatively large tract sizes and light hunter density, and the deer population has grown over the years as habitat has become more favorable to white-tailed deer.
- Increase the bag limit from four deer to five deer (no more than three bucks) in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer. This change would increase hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern.
- Increase the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). This change would provide consistent hunting opportunity while increasing hunting opportunity. Counties affected: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.
- Increase the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Although white-tailed deer densities are highly variable in this part of the state, areas containing suitable habitat have become saturated with deer and whitetails are expanding into marginal to poor habitat. Browsing pressure is severe in these areas, where little woody vegetation exists within five feet of the ground. The proposal would provide additional hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern. Counties affected: Armstrong, Borden, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.
- Replace the current 16-day general season in Dallam, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, and Sherman counties with a full general season to run from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January, with no permit required for antlerless harvest.
- Implement a general open season and archery-only open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless).
- "Doe days":
- Increase "doe days" from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties;
- Increase "doe days" from ? 23 days (depending on when Thanksgiving Day occurs) to full-season either-sex in Cook, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties;
- Increase "doe days" from four days to16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties;
- Increase "doe days" from four days to ? 23 days (depending on when Thanksgiving Day occurs) in Cherokee and Houston counties;
- Increase "doe days" from no days to four days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties.
- Eliminate "doe days" in Grayson County (i.e., no antlerless harvest allowed, except by MLD permit).
- Expand the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the proposed season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.
- Implement a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthen the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and alter the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season. The season extension is not expected to have any adverse impacts on the resource. The proposal offers more hunting opportunity and creates consistency with other special seasons. Counties affected: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.
- Implement additional youth-hunting opportunity by extending the late youth-only season to run concurrently with other special late seasons (14 days beginning on the day following the close of the general season).
- Adjust and clarify antlerless deer permit requirements on lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and river authorities.
The proposed amendment would implement a nine-day open general season in Parmer County.
Lesser Prairie Chicken
The proposed amendment would suspend the two-day season on lesser prairie chicken until population recovery supports resumption. This was a recommendation of the Upland Game Bird Council, supported by staff.
The proposed amendments would make the following changes:
- Modify regulations regarding the applicability of tagging requirements for deer and antelope.
- Implement nonsubstantive changes to turkey regulations.
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. 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, 2009 meeting authorized staff to publish the proposed 2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed rules appeared in the February 20, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 1202). 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 the repeal of §65.42, amendments to §§65.3, 65.10, 65.56, 65.64, 65.72, and 65.73, and new §65.42, concerning the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 1202)."
Attachment - 1
- Exhibit A - Proposed Rules