BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 2nd day of November 2011, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
1 1 PROCEEDINGS 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, 3 everyone. We'll call the meeting to order at 9:16. And 4 before I turn it over to Carter, I would just like to 5 welcome our newest Commissioner, Commissioner Bill 6 Jones. Appreciate you being here. Commissioner Jones 7 has a long and distinguished history of service to this 8 state and certainly has a passion for all of the things 9 that we're interested in and that we're entrusted with. 10 So it's great to have you, we're lucky to have you, and 11 appreciate it. Looking forward to it. 12 COMMISSIONER JONES: Thank you. It's 13 good to be here. 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And we'll go 15 ahead with public notice. Mr. Smith. 16 MR. SMITH: Okay, great. Thank you, 17 Chairman. Public notice of this meeting containing all 18 items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the 19 Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 20 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open 21 Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in 22 the official records of the meeting. 23 Also, just real quickly, I want to 24 acknowledge we've got a new court reporter and she's 25 joining us for the first time, Paige Watts, right over Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 2 1 there diligently taking notes. I don't want to 2 interrupt her too much. She's with the firm Sunbelt 3 Reporting. We're delighted to have her here with us. 4 Just as she's taking notes on the stenograph, I just 5 would remind everybody if y'all would remember to speak 6 in the microphone, that would help her a lot in terms of 7 being able to pick up everything said so she could have 8 that documented. So, Ms. Watts, welcome. All of us 9 look forward to working with you. 10 THE REPORTER: Thank you. 11 MR. SMITH: So thanks for being here 12 today. 13 Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Terrific. Now I 15 call the Regulations Committee meeting to order. First 16 order of business is approval of the previous Committee 17 meeting minutes from the August 24th, 2011, meeting, 18 which have already been distributed. Do I have a motion 19 for approval? 20 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So moved. 21 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by 22 Commissioner Scott. 23 COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second by 25 Commissioner Hixon. All in favor? Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 3 1 (A chorus of ayes) 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? 3 Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you. 4 Committee Item No. 2 is an update on 5 permits to control protected wildlife causing 6 depredation, Clayton Wolf. 7 MR. SMITH: You need to -- 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Oh, I'm sorry. 9 Excuse me, yeah. 10 MR. SMITH: Yeah. 11 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yeah, okay, I got 12 ahead of myself. Committee Item 1, which is our update 13 on progress and implementing the land and water plan. 14 MR. SMITH: Yeah. Thank you, 15 Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it. I'm going to pass out a 16 handout first. Let me just pass this around. Let me 17 hand that to you. One of the things that we do on an 18 annual basis is Ross puts together a stocking report, 19 all that our inland and coastal and wildlife divisions 20 have done with respect to stocking fish and game in our 21 state's lands and waters. 22 And I think you're going to find it's a 23 fascinating report. There's a long and rich history of 24 the Department being involved in stocking game to help 25 provide opportunities for our hunters and anglers and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 4 1 there's a little bit of history here that I think also 2 for some of the newer Commissioners, that I think you 3 will enjoy reading, you know, going back to the 20s when 4 the Department started stocking turkey around the state 5 and the 30s, deer and all of the trapping on the King 6 Ranch that went in that populated so many parts of the 7 state with deer. Inland Fisheries has been doing this 8 since the 40s, of course, coastal fisheries and all of 9 the great work on stocking our bays with Redfish over 10 time. You know, I think it's something like 600 million 11 fingerlings in the last 30 or 40 years. So a lot of 12 that -- a lot of that history. 13 This report also in addition to giving 14 you that and kind of a snapshot of what all we did in 15 2007 -- or '11 with respect to stocking game, also gives 16 you a little bit of sense of kind of priorities going 17 forward. And so, you know, for instance on coastal 18 fisheries y'all are aware that, you know, we're looking 19 to trying to shift some of our efforts to help be in a 20 position to stock more Spotted Seatrout. We're also 21 looking at how we expand our flounder stocking efforts, 22 still very much in its formative stages; but our team 23 has done a great job on that. 24 Inland is certainly holding steady. Been 25 doing a great job obviously with the Florida Largemouth Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 5 1 Bass. I do think it's important to note too, 2 particularly in this time of drought, that water for our 3 hatcheries to continue our fish production is likely to 4 be more limited in the future and so that's going to 5 impact our ability to do more on our winter trout 6 stocking programs around the state. That's a very, very 7 popular program in communities around the state and just 8 depending on what happens with the drought, our hatchery 9 production, particularly on the inland side, may be 10 significantly impaired depending on water availability. 11 So I just want to -- I just want to forecast that. 12 On the wildlife side, you know, we've got 13 plans to go back and trap Bighorn sheep up in the Baylor 14 and Beach mountains in the Diablo's and look at some 15 additional stocking there at Black Gap Wildlife 16 Management Area, but also at Big Bend Ranch State Park. 17 And so, you know, we're looking at this at least for the 18 short term as potentially being the last stocking of 19 sheep at Black Gap for the short term and we've had a 20 lot of success there. We've had a lot of success with 21 this initial stocking of sheep there at Big Bend Ranch 22 State Park. 23 As y'all will recall, I think we stocked 24 46 -- I'm looking at Mitch Lockwood for confirmation and 25 I see a general nodding of the head yes and so I think Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 6 1 my numbers are mostly right, Mitch. And thankfully, 2 really we hadn't had a lot of mortality with those 3 sheep. We've had a few lion kills out there at Big Bend 4 Ranch, which is kind of to be expected, but not a lot. 5 Also, you know, our biologists put satellite 6 transmitters on those sheep and, you know, they were 7 doing what we all expected them to do, which is some of 8 those sheep are moving back and forth between Mexico. 9 So, you know, that speaks to the importance of having 10 kind of a bi-national look at the habitat on both sides 11 of the river there. 12 So again, that stocking report I hope you 13 find useful. Ross put that together working with our 14 divisions and if you've got any questions on that going 15 forward, please do visit with him and hopefully you'll 16 enjoy reading through that. 17 The other item that I want to report on 18 and this is a matter that gained some notoriety in 19 September with the sentencing of a deer breeder in 20 Cherokee County that had been the subject of literally a 21 four-year investigation. This individual knowingly and 22 willingly smuggling, you know, 37 deer from multiple 23 states into Texas. So knowingly and really wantonly 24 violating the State laws against smuggling live deer 25 into the state and then selling those animals and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 7 1 animals that had been in pens with those animals to 2 other breeders without those breeders knowing what was 3 going on. 4 So, you know, this individual knowingly 5 exposed other deer breeders to risk. Also, you know, 6 potentially in bringing deer in from out of state, 7 created a potential where, you know, wild deer could 8 have been exposed to diseases that we're concerned about 9 and trying to keep outside of our borders, like TB and 10 chronic wasting disease. And our special ops team did a 11 great job working on this. Convicted under the Lacey 12 Act, which is a very, very high bar for someone to 13 receive a Lacey Act violation. I mean, that's the most 14 egregious and most significant of wildlife violations. 15 And so this individual was formally 16 sentenced in September, had to pay a $1 million fine to 17 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also, a half 18 million dollars in restitution to Parks and Wildlife, 19 which we've distributed out to various programs and also 20 had to forfeit a lot of his stock, really all of his 21 stock of froze semen straws that he still had remaining. 22 So, you know, I want y'all to know we still take this 23 directive very, very seriously to do everything we can 24 to protect our borders. Our special operations team is 25 working very, very hard to catch and apprehend people Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 8 1 that are trying to just brazenly, brazenly violate those 2 laws and in doing so, put our wild game at risk; but 3 also other breeders that are unknowingly purchasing deer 4 from someone taking those risks. So I wanted to share 5 that with you, and give you that report. 6 Commissioners, if you've got any 7 questions, I'll be happy to answer any of them. 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? 9 Thanks, Carter. I appreciate it. 10 MR. SMITH: Thank you, uh-huh. 11 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Committee Item 2, 12 Update on permits to control protected wildlife causing 13 depredation. Now we're ready for you, Clayton. How are 14 you? 15 MR. WOLF: Doing well. 16 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good. 17 MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and 18 Commissioners, for the record, my name is Clayton Wolf 19 and I'm the Director of the Wildlife Division. And this 20 morning, I'm going to give a brief presentation to you 21 on depredation permits. That's permits to control 22 wildlife that would otherwise be protected by the Parks 23 and Wildlife Code for numerous purposes, but 24 specifically this morning my presentation is going to 25 focus on crop depredation and permits that we issue for Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 9 1 depredation of agricultural -- commercial agricultural 2 crops and even specifically depredation on these crops 3 that is being caused by White-tailed deer. 4 For the benefit of some of our newer 5 Commissioners and as a refresher, I do need to -- I 6 think I need to provide a little bit of history. Back 7 in 2004, the Agency was receiving quite a few complaints 8 about crop depredation, primarily up in the San Angelo 9 area and primarily on cotton. And so for several years, 10 we had a series of meetings. We were called up into the 11 area by elected officials and by farmers to explain the 12 statutes that govern depredation permits and how we 13 administer those permits. Folks weren't necessarily 14 pleased with the way we were administering those permits 15 and there were several major points; but one of those 16 was the process at that time, prior to 2009, was 17 cumbersome. 18 An individual actually couldn't apply 19 directly to the Department. They had to go through the 20 County judge or the mayor and oftentimes the judge or 21 the mayor, they weren't quite sure why they were even 22 involved in this process. Also, this process required 23 that our biologists go out and assess the damage and 24 confirm the damage out there and then make 25 recommendations to alleviate that damage. But most Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 10 1 importantly, the applicant had to certify that they had 2 implemented our recommendations before we could issue a 3 permit. 4 And just simply put, for 99 percent of 5 the cases our recommendation was the construction of a 6 high fence. Our biologists feel like really the only 7 long-term solution to crop depredation is to erect a 8 high fence at the interface of rangeland and cropland to 9 keep the deer out and then at that point, any deer that 10 get in or that remain on the cropland side we would 11 issue a permit for. Those recommendations weren't 12 necessarily well received by a lot of farmers out there. 13 During that time, there were certain market things going 14 on. The price of steel was going up. Fencing prices 15 were going up. Profit margins for farmers was going 16 down. 17 So nonetheless, there was still quite a 18 bit of consternation and displeasure with our 19 recommendations. So at that time, Representative Scott 20 Campbell was the representative out of the San Angelo 21 area. He asked that we implement a pilot program in Tom 22 Green County only and the sum and substance of that was 23 to dispense with the high fence recommendation and just 24 let's see what happens if we don't recommend a high 25 fence and we issue permits. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 11 1 However, we got -- we only got two 2 participants and I'll report some of the harvest or the 3 kill data on this a little bit later, but it still 4 wasn't -- we didn't receive a lot of reception, and only 5 issued two permits. By April of 2008, Representative 6 Drew Darby was the State Representative up there who had 7 inherited this issue and so we held -- we -- at his 8 request, we held a meeting in Wall, Texas, and basically 9 did a one-stop shop for permit issuance. We brought in 10 the County judge. We solicited -- with the help of 11 Representative Darby, brought in a lot of farmers and 12 we, in that process, issued 25 permits in an attempt to 13 get a lot of permits out there and just monitor and see 14 what would happen as a result of that. 15 It was not that effective and at that 16 point, an individual started really blaming carcass 17 utilization as a barrier as opposed to receiving the 18 permit because then and now, the statutes just do 19 require that the carcass be kept in edible condition and 20 then donated to a needy individual or a charitable 21 organization. 22 So in 2008, I pulled together a deer 23 depredation working group and we met in Lowake, Texas. 24 Commissioner Duggins came to that meeting up there and 25 enjoyed a steak with us at the famous Lowake Steak House Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 12 1 and as a result, we compiled recommendations from the 2 working group. We provided those to Representative 3 Darby and he and Senator Seliger coauthored House Bill 4 1965 that was enacted in 2009; and then on the heels of 5 that at our August Commission meeting in Fort Worth, 6 this Commission adopted new rules associated with the 7 program. 8 The major changes at that time from the 9 statutes and the regs, the County judge and the mayor 10 were removed from the process and the applicant could 11 apply directly to us. We were given rule-making 12 authority, which we previously did not have. We 13 maintained status quo for species such as Pronghorn, 14 Bighorn, and Mule deer; but the big change was that the 15 applicant did not have to implement recommendations 16 necessarily and for White-tailed deer purposes only, the 17 process was expedited. 18 We are actually required to issue the 19 permit in ten days. Our staff is still notified. Our 20 staff in all cases right now is still notified, and we 21 do -- we have held up at least one permit. But the 22 bottom line is we do not -- we do not make a high fence 23 recommendation in most cases and the permit is expedited 24 and goes out the door and then we monitor. 25 So I'm going to show you a series of Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 13 1 slides from 2005 to 2011, and the format of the slides 2 is all the same. The green counties that are 3 highlighted are the counties that received crop 4 depredation permits and the number inside that county is 5 the number of permits they received and then the total 6 deer taken is in the top left. The other colored 7 counties, those are public safety permits. Those are 8 basically permits to airports that we issue, and the 9 kill on those from those permits is negligible. 10 So in 2005, we had those two permittees 11 that we signed up through our pilot program and they 12 killed six deer. In 2006, we actually dropped down to 13 one permittee in Tom Green County and that one permittee 14 killed 14 deer. And in 2007, we had one permittee that 15 killed 32 deer. If you remember in 2008, then that's 16 when we did our second phase and we signed up 25 17 permittees and they reported killing 109 White-tailed 18 deer in Tom Green County. And then in 2009, that's when 19 the statutes and the regs changed and you'll see that we 20 issued permits over a much broader area, 35 in total is 21 what you have on your screen, 35 crop depredation 22 permits in total. And in 2009, those permittees 23 reported taking 305 White-tailed deer. 24 And we did have one permit out there in 25 Pecos County for Mule deer and we used our conventional Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 14 1 protocol. It was basically a vineyard that had a high 2 fence around it and a hole in it and so the applicant 3 had to first fix the hole and then also made an attempt 4 to run as many animals out as possible and then after 5 that point, we issued a permit to take the rest of the 6 animals that it couldn't get out of there. So that was 7 our normal process; but for the rest of these, no high 8 fence recommendations. 9 In 2010, the permit numbers went down to 10 23. Remember, 2010 we had a little bit more moisture 11 out there and that seems to be the pattern. When we 12 have drier years, we have more crop depredation problems 13 or complaints. And those 23 permittees to date report 14 killing 256 deer now. The permitting -- or the permits 15 are valid for a full year and so all of those permits 16 have yet to expire and so we will probably get a few 17 more reports, but I suspect this is probably the bulk of 18 the kill for 2010. 19 And then 2011, of course, we have no 20 harvest reports that are required at this point; but the 21 number of permits that we've issued is 41, which is the 22 most we've ever issued. So we probably anticipate just 23 a little bit with the drought that we're in, a lot of 24 depredation on irrigated crops; but like you can see in 25 Tom Green County, not many permits because dry land Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 15 1 cotton didn't even come up and so where the permits were 2 issued moves around a little bit. 3 If we look at a summary of reported kill 4 for those reports that are already due to us and have 5 been turned in for 2009 and 2010, you'll see the 6 majority of the recipients report killing no animals. 7 And then as you see on the chart there, ten of them 8 reported killing one to five and then five reported 9 killing six to 25 and on up and then we have two 10 recipients in that time frame that reported killing in 11 excess of 100 deer. I can tell you that's less than 150 12 deer. But I don't want to leave you with the impression 13 that that's -- that those statistics are necessarily 14 going to reflect what happens in 2011, because we have a 15 pretty extraordinary year. 16 As I've said, the reports are not due 17 yet; but law enforcement did, as just a matter of some 18 fact gathering for this Commission meeting, sent the 19 game wardens in Uvalde County out to do a spot-check 20 because our permittees have to keep a log of what's been 21 taken up to that point and they have to keep that on 22 them. And so our game wardens went out in Uvalde County 23 and checked the six permittees in Uvalde County. Three 24 of them reported not even utilizing the permit yet, 25 hadn't killed a single animal. But the other three had Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 16 1 reported killing a total of 301 deer. And in fact, 2 really one of them reported killing 150 and the other 3 one 130. 4 And so I think we can -- with that, we 5 can expect that our kill for 2011 probably will be as 6 high as we've seen. We probably will still see quite a 7 few that don't use the permit at all; but because of the 8 drought and particularly on irrigated crops, I would 9 suspect that we're going to see our highest kills per 10 permit out there for 2011. 11 And with that, I would be glad to answer 12 any questions. 13 COMMISSIONER JONES: Might I ask a 14 question, Mr. Chair? 15 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please. 16 COMMISSIONER JONES: I assume the permits 17 aren't limited to deer season. It's whenever you see 18 the animal, if you have a permit you can take it? 19 MR. WOLF: That's -- that is -- that is 20 correct. In fact, we do encourage folks to utilize deer 21 hunters and deer seasons. But for our warm season crops 22 particularly, cotton and some of the produce that's out 23 there, the depredation is occurring during the summer 24 months and so that's when they really need those 25 permits. We do issue some permits on winter wheat and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 17 1 oats across the state, but cotton almost comprises about 2 50 percent of our permit recipients. They're the ones 3 that report growing cotton. 4 COMMISSIONER JONES: And are the permits 5 issued to an individual who can then issue them to 6 hunters that they invite to their place, or are they 7 specifically for the individual shooter? 8 MR. WOLF: The permit is issued to the 9 individual, but they name shooters on the permit and we 10 have to get some specific data. They have to turn that 11 into us. And so there are named individuals and only 12 the named individuals that we have on record are allowed 13 to shoot and they also must keep a harvest log and then 14 turn that into the applicant. 15 COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. 16 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton, 17 what's -- just to get a sense and seeing it move around 18 by county, what's working well with the program? What 19 is not working as well in terms of, you know, original 20 intent? 21 MR. WOLF: Well, we -- 22 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And what would we 23 alter? 24 MR. WOLF: Well, we talked about this a 25 little yesterday. As far as at my level, at Mitch's Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 18 1 level, Alan's level, we're not -- we're not receiving 2 the complaints that we were receiving prior to 2009. We 3 were spending quite a bit of time going out there. 4 Our -- the way we administered that program was 5 perceived to be pretty restrictive and so that -- those 6 complaints have really dwindled. Now, we are still 7 getting complaints. Harmony Garcia is our person in the 8 Permit Office that issues those permits and she says she 9 does still get complaints from farmers about carcass 10 utilization. But as y'all may recall, you know, we had 11 a person come to our annual public hearing and complain 12 about their neighbor who they heard was killing 200 deer 13 and that was in Uvalde County and so that's why we 14 wanted to check Uvalde and just see if we had permittees 15 that were killing quite a few deer. 16 And so I suspect that now the pendulum 17 will swing and those folks that are adjacent to these -- 18 to this farmland are the ones that are not going to be 19 happy if they have a hunting operation if they believe 20 some of the more valuable animals are being killed, I 21 suspect that that's where we'll start getting more 22 complaints from. But as far as crop depredation, when 23 we investigated this prior to 2009, we had some of the 24 most restrictive -- the most restrictive program. Many 25 other states are fairly liberal. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 19 1 And so we -- I guess we used it as a 2 backdrop to know that we were at one end of the spectrum 3 and we've moved that bar some. It's -- it was a big 4 change for us. Folks are -- like I said, this is a very 5 unique year; but I don't doubt now if we have hunting 6 operations that are adjacent to some of these farmlands 7 and there's not much forage out there on the rangeland, 8 that some of our cooperators, our deer hunters, are 9 going to see some significant changes in the deer 10 population out there on adjacent properties. So there's 11 some -- I would say there's going to be some 12 repercussions that probably won't fair well for our 13 hunting public. 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's helpful 15 background. I appreciate it. Any other questions? 16 Mr. Bass. 17 COMMISSIONER BASS: Clayton, the permits 18 allow the permittees to hunt at night -- 19 MR. WOLF: That's correct. 20 COMMISSIONER BASS: -- correct? And do 21 they still require them to notify the local warden when 22 they're going to be activating the permit? 23 MR. WOLF: Yes, there still is a 24 notification requirement. 25 COMMISSIONER BASS: And are there any Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 20 1 protocols for what happens to antlers? 2 MR. WOLF: The antlers have to be 3 destroyed. So they have to be -- they have to be cut in 4 two and they also have to report to us or keep on the 5 log some dimensions on the antlers. But to be honest 6 with you, I can't remember if that's just points and 7 spread or what that is. But, you know, one thing we 8 wanted to see is were there trophy animals being taken, 9 which are obviously the more valuable animals and so 10 those data are to be recorded on the log. But they are 11 not to keep the antlers. The antlers are to be 12 destroyed. 13 At least to this point and we've done 14 some asking, law enforcement has been monitoring the 15 program very well, and we have had a few violations. 16 One permittee that actually wasn't growing a commercial 17 crop and there was some lack of documentation on 18 donation of the meat. But other than that, all the 19 reports are everybody else's paperwork is in order; so 20 they're keeping accurate records as a whole. 21 COMMISSIONER BASS: Thank you. 22 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: One other quick 23 one, Clayton. What would be some examples, other than 24 fencing, of recommendations for, you know, 25 recommendations for compliance or in the -- obviously, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 21 1 we don't do that now, right? 2 MR. WOLF: We can still do that. In 3 fact, we had one and this is -- you know, there was a 4 fear initially that I guess we might not monitor this as 5 closely. When Harmony gets an applicant, an application 6 for a permit, the first thing she does is notify the 7 biologist and that permit is going to go out the door in 8 ten days unless our biologist says stop. We had at 9 least one case where the biologist did go out on site 10 and look and most of the depredation appeared to be 11 feral hogs and the permitee was in the process of 12 constructing a low net wire fence and so we held up the 13 permit. Our recommendation was finish the net wire 14 fence. We want to see if you're still -- if you still 15 have deer depredation out there or if this is just hog 16 depredation. And so we held up it up until the fence 17 was done and there was still some deer depredation, so 18 we issued the permit. 19 But as far as other recommendations out 20 there, you know, there's folks concocting up certain 21 recipes to repel deer and noise makers. But in short, 22 you know, the deer get used to that, doesn't last very 23 long. And even different mechanisms for electric fences 24 have been tried with some degree of success, but 25 probably more limited degree. So really the only -- the Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 22 1 only fail-safe is to construct a fence. And even when 2 we looked up in Tom Green County and looked at some of 3 the prices for cotton, in some cases when the 4 depredation was so severe, it would -- you know, the 5 fence would pay for itself, you know, within ten years 6 easily if the data that was being provided to us and the 7 market sustained itself as it was at that time. 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. Any other 9 questions? Commissioner Duggins. 10 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we spot-check 11 any of the permittees who are reporting zero kills? It 12 seems sort of odd to me that you would be concerned 13 enough that you would go apply for a permit and then 14 have 35 people not report a single kill. 15 MR. WOLF: I -- I don't -- I won't be 16 able to answer that one. Law enforcement may be able to 17 add to that, but I do know that Scott Vaca and David 18 Sinclair sent out a request and at least from the 19 information I saw, it looks like our game wardens are 20 monitoring these permits closely. 21 When we did our pilot project in Tom 22 Green County, a large number -- first, a large number 23 didn't report and we had to follow up and the reason 24 they didn't report is they didn't kill anything. We 25 believe strongly that folks think it's pretty easy to go Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 23 1 out there and shoot deer on their field and so they 2 think that getting the permit is an easy solution. And 3 it might be easy one night or two, but then it becomes a 4 chore and a task. And in some cases, those deer are 5 not -- you know, they're not out there when they drive 6 out there. So, you know, I find it reasonable that 7 folks think that's the solution and then when they go 8 attempt it, it doesn't work out that way. 9 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other 10 questions for Clayton? Thank you. 11 MR. WOLF: Thank you. 12 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it. 13 All right. Committee Item 3, Implementation of 14 Legislation during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session - 15 Senate Bill 498 - regarding permits to trap, 16 transport -- transplant and process, TTP, surplus 17 White-tailed deer, request permission to publish rules 18 in the Texas Register, Mr. Alan Cain. 19 MR. CAIN: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, 20 Commissioners, for the record, I'm Alan Cain, the 21 White-tailed Deer Program Leader and this morning, I'll 22 be presenting a proposal to amend the trap, transport, 23 and process regulations to define the conditions under 24 which a qualified individual may be issued a TTP permit, 25 a Trap, Transport, and Process permit. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 24 1 Under current regulation, the TT -- 2 permit -- P permit is available only to property owner's 3 associations or political subdivisions and private 4 landowners may not apply for a TTP permit unless they do 5 so through a property owner association or a 6 governmental subdivision such as a County Commissioner's 7 Court or a County judge. 8 Senate Bill 498 was enacted by the 9 Legislature this session, and that defines a qualified 10 individual as an individual who has a wildlife 11 management plan approved by the Department. The bill 12 also requires the Commission to adopt regulations or 13 rules to determine the circumstances under which the TTP 14 permit may be issued to that qualified individual or 15 that they may obtain that TTP permit. 16 So staff propose the following rule that 17 would allow a TTP permit to be issued to a qualified 18 individual if that individual has been in reasonable 19 compliance as determined by the Department with a -- 20 with the recommendations of the wildlife management plan 21 for two years immediately proceeding the TTP application 22 and that wildlife management plan must recommend the 23 harvest of 100 deer in the year of the application for 24 the TTP. 25 The intent of these requirements is to Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 25 1 encourage the use of traditional management methods, 2 including hunting, to lower deer population before more 3 drastic measures are taken to remove those -- lower 4 those deer populations. In addition, it would limit the 5 applicability of this rule to landowners who do not have 6 the option to apply for a TTP through their property 7 owner's association or political subdivision. So 8 essentially these places where you've got a property 9 owner's association, a small acreage landowner, and he 10 perceives there to be a deer problem, you know, two or 11 three acres and he wants to remove those deer, this 12 would limit his ability to do that as a qualified 13 individual. 14 Essentially, staff wanted to leave these 15 difficult questions concerning deer management within 16 the property owner's association in these small places 17 up to these elected officials. In addition, the 100 18 deer minimum would also limit the applicability of this 19 rule to those types of individuals. I would also like 20 to point out that during the 2011 -- or '10 and '11 21 season last year, the Department issued 23 TTP permits. 22 The average number of deer requested to be removed on 23 those permits was 192 individuals and that ranged 24 from -- the range was from 12 to 505 individuals. And 25 of the 23 permits, there was 18 that had a request to Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 26 1 remove 100 deer or more and only five less than that and 2 those ranged from 12 to 70 animals, so. 3 And in summary, you know, this rule 4 creates a mechanism for individual landowners to obtain 5 a TTP permit; but only after they've made a bona fide 6 attempt to meet management recommendations of the 7 wildlife management plan that defines clear goals and a 8 strategy to reach those goals. So essentially, we 9 wanted folks to focus on their management plans and the 10 goals of deer management, rather than the tool that they 11 use to get there. You know, a lot of times folks are 12 coming after a permit and not necessarily looking at the 13 bigger picture. So that's part of what we were trying 14 to accomplish there. In addition, we want to encourage 15 the use of the additional hunting in times when hunter 16 recruitment is an important issue. We want to make sure 17 that we're encouraging that where we can. 18 However, keep in mind that individuals 19 that do not meet the requirements of this qualified 20 individual may still apply for a TTP permit through the 21 normal regulatory mechanisms that exist now. So they 22 can still go get one, but it would have to work through 23 the property owner's association or a County judge or 24 another political subdivision in those situations. 25 And that concludes my presentation. I Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 27 1 would be glad to answer any questions if y'all have any. 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Alan. 3 Any questions? Commissioner Duggins. 4 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What do you mean 5 by reasonable compliance versus, say, substantial 6 compliance? 7 MR. CAIN: That's a good question. I 8 think the intent when the White-tailed Deer Technical 9 Committee met this summer was that we wanted folks not 10 just to have a plan that they stick on the shelf and 11 forget about. They needed to be working towards 12 implementing some of the habitat management practices or 13 attempting to meet harvest management recommendations. 14 So, you know, if they're working with that biologist, 15 they're going to be active in a sense that they're doing 16 maybe some grazing management or they're implementing 17 some of these practices with the biologists out there 18 working with them. And in addition, to make sure that 19 they're trying to meet harvest goals through traditional 20 methods, through hunting versus, you know, just applying 21 for this and trying to remove deer. 22 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Your thought is 23 that the bar ought to be reasonably low, fairly low; so 24 if you're making a good-faith effort to comply, that's 25 sufficient rather than actually implementing the -- Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 28 1 MR. CAIN: Well, I think there needs to 2 be some -- well, that's a good point. There needs to be 3 some implementation. And it's not just something we -- 4 we don't want to have a plan, and then them not do 5 anything. But we don't have a standard like they need 6 to meet 50 percent of the management practices. We 7 haven't defined that or don't want to. 8 The individual biologist will have the 9 discretion to, you know, determine if that's a 10 reasonable attempt to meet management recommendations. 11 However, there will obviously be oversight by the Big 12 Game Program, myself, or Clayton in situations where 13 there is a concern that either we're being too lenient 14 or too harsh maybe in those situations. 15 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. 16 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: (Inaudible)? 17 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If that's what 18 they recommend, yeah. I mean, it seems to me if you 19 want to ensure that there's more follow through as 20 opposed to effort, you would use the word "substantial." 21 But if you -- if you and the Committee believe it ought 22 to be more flexible, then I think "reasonable" is a 23 better choice of word, a better word. 24 MR. CAIN: Flexibility is important I 25 think because each individual landowner is obviously Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 29 1 different in what they can accomplish, you know, with 2 their means and what their habit -- what exists out 3 there and what can be done. So I think the flexibility 4 is important, but that's a good point. I appreciate 5 that very much. 6 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think it is a 7 good point. I think, you know, if we could just -- if 8 staff could take a look at, you know, how -- how we 9 comply or how the permittees comply and how when they 10 don't comply, what are the reasons for it. You know, it 11 would be good to have a little bit of detail on that to 12 better understand the motivations. You know, whether 13 there -- it could be anything. It could be weather, 14 drought, obviously all of the things we're dealing with 15 this year in particular. But just to get a sense that 16 it's being done, conducted in the proper spirit of the 17 permit system. 18 MR. CAIN: We can do that, thank you. 19 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. 20 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Are these permits 21 being issued for Mule deer also, or just While-tailed? 22 I know White-tailed we're talking about here. 23 MR. CAIN: I believe it's just 24 White-tailed. 25 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yes. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 30 1 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yeah, it's just 2 White-tailed. 3 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But there was 4 discussion about -- I mean haven't we talked about doing 5 that? Expanding it to Mule deer? 6 MR. CAIN: I don't know. 7 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, I'm sorry. 8 I'm confused. I was thinking about crop depredation. 9 MR. CAIN: The depredation -- 10 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Forget it. 11 MR. CAIN: Yes, sir. 12 MR. SMITH: Chairman, I just want to make 13 sure we understand kind of this direction with respect 14 to kind of the reasonable effort. Are you comfortable 15 with us just kind of monitoring that as we go forward 16 and then kind of coming back to y'all and let you know 17 what our biologists are seeing as they're applying kind 18 of reasonable discretion in the field and if we feel 19 like at some point we need to come back with some 20 recommendations to tighten that up and further define 21 it, would that be an appropriate course? 22 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's fine. 23 MR. SMITH: Okay. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes. I mean, I'm 25 comfortable if staff is comfortable and we're actually Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 31 1 looking at it and assessing the reasons for compliance 2 or lack of compliance; but I don't think we need to 3 necessarily come back to the Commission unless we... 4 MR. SMITH: See something? 5 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Right. Unless we 6 see something that's, you know, not in keeping with the 7 intent of it. 8 MR. SMITH: Okay. 9 COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I ask just a 10 couple of threshold questions? I assume when you get 11 permission -- get permission to do this program, you 12 have to have a place to put the wildlife. You have 13 to -- you have permission to trap, but then I assume -- 14 MR. CAIN: These deer will be processed. 15 So once they're caught on a ranch -- 16 COMMISSIONER JONES: Oh, okay. 17 MR. CAIN: -- they'll be killed and then 18 the meat is donated to a charitable organization. 19 COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. So it's not a 20 move? 21 MR. CAIN: No. 22 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: No, they have to 23 be transported to a central location. 24 MR. CAIN: A processing facility. 25 COMMISSIONER JONES: Got it. Okay, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 32 1 that's different. That's different, all right. 2 MR. CAIN: Yes, sir. 3 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Alan. 4 Any other questions? Thank you. 5 MR. CAIN: Do we need to -- just a point 6 of clarification. Do I need to request to publish this 7 in the Texas Register? 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes. 9 MR. CAIN: Okay. 10 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I was just there. 11 If there is no further discussion, I'll authorize staff 12 to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register 13 for the required public comment period. Thank you. 14 MR. CAIN: Thank you. 15 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 4, 16 threatened and endangered nongame species - de-listing 17 of the Brown Pelican and clean-up of the threatened 18 species list, request permission to publish proposed 19 changes in the Texas Register. Wendy Connally, good 20 morning. 21 MS. CONNALLY: Good morning. Thank you, 22 Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is 23 Wendy Connally. I'm the Rare Species Program Lead in 24 the Wildlife Division. Staff requests your permission 25 to publish proposed amendments to the Department's list Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 33 1 of state threatened and federally endangered nongame 2 wildlife found in Texas Administrative Code Section 3 65.175 and 65.176, respectively. 4 My presentation today outlines the few 5 proposed amendments to both the threatened and 6 endangered species list. Currently on the threatened 7 species list, we have the scarlet snake. We would like 8 to clarify that as the only two subspecies of scarlet 9 snake which occur in Texas. So we're adding the 10 subspecies epithet to those -- to that name. Also on 11 the threatened species list, we already have the 12 northern cat-eyed snake. We would like to clarify that 13 only one subspecies occurs in Texas. So we would like 14 to add the subspecies epithet to that list. 15 On the endangered species list, we would 16 like to add two aquatic animals, the Comal Springs 17 riffle beetle and the Comal Springs dryopid beetle. 18 These are already on the federal list of species. We 19 would also like to update nomenclature for two 20 endangered species, the Houston toad and the 21 golden-cheeked warbler based on recent scientific 22 research into their taxonomy. And lastly, we would like 23 to also showcase a little bit of recovery, a success 24 story, and promote its removal from the federal 25 endangered species list and the state compatible list. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 34 1 In the nearly 40 years between federal 2 listing and de-listing, Brown Pelican breeding in Texas 3 went from nearly zero to over 6,000 breeding pairs, 4 which represents about half of the detected breeding 5 pairs throughout its entire Atlantic and Gulf Coast 6 ranges. The Brown Pelican de-listing is the result of 7 the restoration and protection work of many hard working 8 people and groups. 9 One project which continues to contribute 10 significantly to the long-term stability of the Brown 11 Pelican population in Texas is the North Deer Island 12 Salt Marsh and Rookery Island in Galveston Bay. TPWD 13 accepted the Presidential Coastal America Partnership 14 award in 2009 on behalf of a large coalition of public 15 and private partners who contributed to that particular 16 project. 17 That is it. I will entertain any 18 questions, please. 19 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions? Thank 20 you very much. Appreciate it. 21 MS. CONNALLY: Thank you. 22 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. I'll 23 authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the 24 Texas Register for the required public comment period. 25 Item 5, nuisance alligator control rules, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 35 1 request permission to publish the proposed changes in 2 the Texas Register, Mitch Lockwood. Good morning, 3 Mitch. 4 MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning. 5 Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, for the record, 6 my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program 7 Director and believe it or not, my presentation this 8 morning has nothing to do with deer or deer permits. 9 Instead this morning I'll present some proposed changes 10 to the way in which we handle nuisance alligator 11 complaints. 12 Much like the Brown Pelican success story 13 that Ms. Connally referenced in her presentation, the 14 once endangered American alligator is doing very, very 15 well in Texas today. Too well by some folk's standards. 16 In 2007, we estimated approximately 150,000 alligators 17 just within a three county area of prime habitat in the 18 upper coast. Hurricane Ike did have a big impact, a 19 negative impact on nesting activity in this area; but 20 anecdotal information indicates that the population had 21 not been adversely impacted. 22 In fact, the number of nuisance alligator 23 complaints that we've received from the mid and upper 24 coasts has not declined any in the past five years. And 25 as y'all know, this area is an urban, industrial area. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 36 1 To say the least, it's an area that has a lot of people, 2 a lot of alligators, and it's a perfect recipe for 3 wildlife/human interactions or conflicts. 4 The Department filtered approximately 5 1,100 complaints in each of the last few years and under 6 our current procedures, the cost associated with 1,100 7 complaints is in the neighborhood of $121,000 of staff 8 time. That's just salary. That doesn't include 9 operating expenses such as fuel cost, equipment cost, or 10 administrative cost. When we get a cost -- when we get 11 a call, we first must determine whether or not it is, 12 indeed, a nuisance alligator situation. This typically 13 requires a site visit, which consumes about four hours 14 of staff time. 15 If it is determined to be a nuisance 16 alligator situation, then we contact a nuisance control 17 hunter who contracts directly with the Department. They 18 pay the department a per foot price for each alligator 19 taken. But there are only 28 people in the state who 20 are willing to conduct nuisance alligator control 21 activities. Quite frankly, there's very little, if any, 22 incentive for them to do so. The alligator market has 23 not been good in the last several years and this fee 24 that they pay the Department, this contract fee, cuts 25 into their profits. And quite frankly, if the alligator Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 37 1 is not large enough or if it's too far away, then 2 they're not likely to respond and in that case, the 3 Department ends up removing the alligator, which eats up 4 a lot of time and resources. 5 All alligator removals are authorized on 6 a case-by-case basis by the Department, and we simply 7 cannot afford to continue to operate in this inefficient 8 and costly process. The proposed rule would implement a 9 market driven approach that would allow control hunters 10 to contract directly with the landowners where this 11 nuisance alligator problem occurs. 12 We hope that this would incentivize more 13 people to become nuisance control hunters because this 14 proposed process would still allow them to process or 15 sell the alligators as they're currently allowed to do. 16 So if they contract directly with the landowners, they 17 could cover their overhead costs, their cost of going 18 out on site, making that site visit, capturing the 19 alligator, and then actually make a profit when they 20 sell the alligator. 21 The Department would still respond in all 22 emergency situations. Since Department staff would not 23 be directly involved in a case-by-case basis, we do 24 believe that it would be important to ensure that all 25 nuisance control hunters are adequately trained. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 38 1 They're qualified to do this. We need to make sure that 2 they're qualified to determine whether or not the 3 alligator is, indeed, a nuisance alligator. We would 4 like to be sure that they minimize all threats to human 5 safety and that all nuisance alligators are treated 6 humanely. 7 For this reason, the proposed rule would 8 require prospective permittees to complete a Department 9 administered course in the proper methods of alligator 10 control and to pass a test to assess that knowledge 11 before a permit could be issued. So under this 12 proposal, the Department could refuse permit issuance 13 if, in the Department's determination, an individual 14 lacks the skill, the experience, or the aptitude to 15 adequately perform these nuisance alligator control 16 activities. The proposal limits the take to bona fide 17 nuisance alligators, which is defined as an alligator 18 that is depredating or a threat to human health or 19 safety. The proposal does not modify the current 20 tagging requirements. 21 By federal law, alligators cannot be 22 exported from any state that is not approved for export 23 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. And 24 to be approved for export, the State must require that 25 all harvested alligators are tagged with a CITES tag, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 39 1 which is an identification marker that allows lawfully 2 taking crocodilian species to be differentiated from 3 protected look-alike species. The proposed rule would 4 prescribe the reporting, notification, and recordkeeping 5 requirements for nuisance control hunters. 6 It would prohibit nuisance control 7 activities without the written authorization of the 8 landowner. The rule would also require each control 9 hunter to maintain a daily log of all nuisance control 10 activities, which would include the case number of the 11 nuisance alligator complaint. So every one of these 12 calls would still have to come through one of our law 13 enforcement offices, and the dispatcher would have to 14 issue a case number in every one of these cases. So if 15 they go directly to the nuisance control hunter first, 16 then that person would advise them to contact the 17 Department and get this case number; so we will be able 18 to trace all of these -- any complaint. So this log 19 would include the case number, the date and the location 20 of each nuisance alligator captured, the sex and the 21 length of each alligator captured, and the disposition 22 of each alligator captured. 23 The rule would also require control 24 hunters to retain an invoice or a receipt for each 25 alligator that's taken that is eventually sold or Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 40 1 otherwise transferred to another individual. And the 2 rule would continue to require control hunters to 3 complete an alligator hide tag report immediately upon 4 the take of a nuisance alligator and to submit it to the 5 Department within seven days of take. That's a current 6 requirement that we have and we would continue with it 7 and we would also continue to require the quarterly 8 reports, that they submit quarterly reports of all 9 nuisance control activity. 10 As has been established with other 11 permitting programs, we propose that the decision to 12 issue a permit should take into account an applicant's 13 history of convictions involving the capture and 14 possession of live animals and major violations of Parks 15 and Wildlife Code, your Class B and Class A misdemeanors 16 and felonies. The denial of such a permit would not be 17 automatic. It would be within the discretion of the 18 Department. Factors that may be considered by the 19 Department in determining whether or not to refuse 20 permit issuance would include the seriousness of the 21 offense, the number of offenses, the existence or 22 absences of a pattern of offenses, the length of time 23 between the offense and the permit application, the 24 applicant's efforts towards rehabilitation, and the 25 accuracy of information provided by the applicant Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 41 1 regarding the applicant's prior permit history. 2 The proposal also provides a mechanism 3 for persons who have been denied a permit, who have been 4 denied permit issuance to have the opportunity to have 5 such decisions reviewed by Department managers. The 6 proposed new subsection is intended to help ensure that 7 the decisions affecting permit denial are well founded. 8 This is an established process that has been in effect 9 for various deer permit programs for the last few years. 10 This review panel would consist of the 11 following individuals or their designees: The Deputy 12 Executive Director for Natural Resources, the Director 13 of the Wildlife Division, and the Deputy Division 14 Director of the Wildlife Division. A request for this 15 review must be submitted within ten days of notice, of 16 the notice of the denial, and then the review must be 17 scheduled within ten days of the Department receiving 18 that request. 19 And finally, we propose an annual permit 20 fee of $252, which is identical to the current fee for 21 an alligator farmer's permit. We currently -- as I 22 mentioned a while ago, we currently have 28 people in 23 this state who are willing and who are authorized to 24 conduct these nuisance alligator control activities. We 25 do expect this number to increase with this proposal Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 42 1 because we think it does provide some additional 2 incentive for people who are engaged in this activity. 3 But currently with those 28 individuals, our annual 4 revenue is approximately $9,800. 5 If we were to continue, if we were to 6 move forward with this new process and continue to have 7 only 28 nuisance control hunters, then our annual 8 revenue would only be around $7,000; but we would no 9 longer have $121,000 of staff time dedicated to this 10 activity. But again, we do expect there to be large 11 growth in this program because of this market driven -- 12 market based approach and so we anticipate additional 13 revenue as well. 14 And that concludes my presentation. I'll 15 be glad to answer any questions you might have. 16 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mitch, you may 17 have said it. But the conditions for permit denial and 18 also the conditions for the review process are similar 19 to other permits that we have; is that right? 20 MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. They're similar 21 to some of our deer permits, our deer breeder permit 22 program, our DNP, Triple T, TTP, and I'm probably 23 leaving some out; but we follow this same process. And 24 again, one thing I did try to emphasize is something 25 that we've emphasized over the last few years with Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 43 1 respect to our deer permitting programs, a conviction -- 2 even a conviction to say Chapter 43, Subchapters C, E, L 3 or R, does not automatically result in subsequent permit 4 denial. It still does depend on a number of those 5 factors I mentioned, such as the egregiousness of the 6 violation and the number of offenses, etcetera. 7 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks. Any 8 questions? 9 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You propose that 10 there be no fee for the control tag? 11 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I'm sorry? For 12 the tag? 13 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: For the tag, yeah, 14 under N on Page 46 of the book. But you do have a fee 15 on all the other tags. 16 MR. LOCKWOOD: I think that's a little 17 misleading in the way it's written in that I think it 18 implies that we currently charge for a fee for these 19 tags for nuisance control alligators and we do not. But 20 you're right, we do have a fee for other alligators that 21 are harvested, alligators that are harvested by hunters. 22 Alligator farmers do have to pay a fee for their tags. 23 But our current process does not require a fee for 24 nuisance control alligators, for those gators to be 25 tagged. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 44 1 And as you've noted, we propose not to 2 add a fee at this time. And, Commissioner, the main 3 reason -- we did spend a good bit of time talking about 4 that and trying not to come up with a process that's 5 going to result in a loss of revenue. It's very 6 important to us that we try and incentivize more people 7 to get involved in this activity so that we can truly 8 depend on the private sector to help us with these 9 problems. 10 So again, just to reiterate. You're 11 right that we're not proposing -- we're proposing that 12 there is no fee for those tags, but that's not a change 13 from our current process. 14 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If this program 15 expands the way you hope it will, can we come back and 16 look at this again as a tagging factor, there's no fee 17 for the tag? 18 MR. LOCKWOOD: Absolutely. I think for 19 one, we want to monitor and make sure that we are 20 recovering our costs associated with administering this 21 program and so that's something we're going to want to 22 keep a close eye on as we move forward anyway. We're 23 also going to want to keep a close eye on these reports, 24 these logs that they're required to keep and these 25 reports, monitor the take, and make sure that we're not Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 45 1 leading -- you know, don't end up with any resource 2 concerns either. And so we want to look at all aspects 3 of this closely as we move forward, including whether or 4 not we need to eventually charge a fee and if this $252 5 annual permit fee is adequate as well. 6 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good, thank you. 7 COMMISSIONER HIXON: Is the tag -- is it 8 a CITES tag for everything? I mean for farmers, for -- 9 you know, depredation, for -- is it all the same tag? 10 MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, ma'am. Again, for 11 Texas to be qualified to be approved to export 12 alligators, then any alligator harvested in the state 13 has to have a CITES tag. 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Obviously, this 15 is part about departmental efficiency with no measurable 16 impact on the resource, negative impact on the resource; 17 so certainly the principal seems to -- 18 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: There's plenty of 19 them. We've -- I've got to get some -- we've got a 20 bunch of property in that little red circle down there 21 on the Neches River and we killed -- well, my nephew got 22 one over 13 feet last year and so -- and there's houses 23 that back right up to it; so I mean I know exactly what 24 he's talking about, you know, they get up in the yard. 25 So Ralph and I were briefly talking what makes a lot of Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 46 1 sense to me is to get the thing going and try to get 2 more people involved, you know, so we just basically 3 save money in the Department. That's the way that I see 4 it. 5 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Makes the swim in 6 the pool kind of interesting. 7 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah. 8 MR. LOCKWOOD: If you think about it -- 9 COMMISSIONER JONES: You'll go a lot 10 faster. 11 MR. LOCKWOOD: -- it's not a lot 12 different, in my opinion, than the direction we went 13 with White-tailed deer back around 1990 and -- 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes. 15 MR. LOCKWOOD: -- the Department decided 16 to get out of the trapping business and return it to the 17 private sector. 18 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Mitch. 19 Any other questions? Okay, I'll authorize staff to 20 publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for 21 the required public comment period. 22 MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you. 23 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it. 24 Item 6, 2012-2013 statewide hunting proclamation 25 preview. I guess we're starting with Alan Cain and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 47 1 Robert Perez. 2 MR. CAIN: All right. There we go. For 3 the record again, I'm Alan Cain, White-tailed Deer 4 Program Leader and today I'll be presenting several 5 potential changes regarding White-tailed deer hunting 6 regulations. And, obviously, Robert Perez, my 7 co-presenter, will be addressing some potential 8 regulate -- or potential changes regarding game bird 9 regulations. 10 Last year the Department received a 11 petition for rule-making from State Representative Jodie 12 Laubenberg requesting archery only season, deer season, 13 in Collin and Rockwall Counties. And in the process of 14 formulating staff recommendations to the petition for 15 rule-making request, staff determined that there was -- 16 that hunting opportunity could be provided in these two 17 counties. In addition, Dallas County could be 18 potentially considered in there, which adjoins Rockwall 19 County. 20 Currently the Wildlife Division staff 21 monitors deer populations that are resource management 22 unit scale, determine impacts of the harvest regulations 23 on those deer populations. However, in urban and 24 suburban areas that are characterized by highly 25 fragmented habitats containing isolated and very -- and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 48 1 variable deer populations such as Collin, Rockwall, and 2 Dallas County, monitoring efforts in those areas are 3 essentially meaningless. They just wouldn't provide any 4 valuable data. 5 In addition, populations in closed 6 counties, which would include Collin, Rockwall, and 7 Dallas right now are not monitored either. Seasons have 8 been closed in Collin, Rockwall, and Dallas for 9 approximately 25 years or maybe a little longer, 10 presumably on the assumption that there lacks a 11 sustainable deer population in those areas because 12 there's a lack of native habitat available to support 13 those deer populations obviously. In a situation -- in 14 these areas, staff do realize that there is some small 15 pockets of habitat in these counties obviously with a 16 few deer. For example, the photo that you see on the 17 slide there on your screen, that's a buck that an 18 individual from Collin County sent in and just giving us 19 an example of the type of deer that are available in 20 some of these small pockets up there and so they wanted 21 those opportunities to potentially hunt those animals. 22 The situation in these counties is 23 similar to nearby Grayson County, where the majority of 24 that county wouldn't support deer populations except in 25 the narrow band along the Red River and Lake Texoma and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 49 1 the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge up there. Grayson 2 County has had an open season, restricted archery only 3 since -- well, I guess for -- since the early 60s. And 4 in analyzing Representative Laubenberg's petition for 5 rule-making, staff determined that there was no 6 biological reason not to allow hunting in Collin and 7 Rockwall County, however small that hunting opportunity 8 may be; but it was a chance to allow for that. 9 In addition, it would provide an 10 additional method for addressing nuisance deer issues 11 where the use of archery equipment wasn't prohibited by 12 county or municipal ordinances out there. So it may be 13 used as a tool to address some of these urban deer 14 issues that may arise in there. In addition, staff also 15 determined that Dallas County, obviously next to it, was 16 suitable for a deer season in this urban hunting unit 17 type approach, you know, where it's not a resource 18 management unit where we monitor the population, more 19 this urban hunting unit style approach. And for 20 simplicity sakes and avoidance of law enforcement issues 21 resulting from potential different regulations that we 22 could put in those counties, staff proposed that the 23 Grayson County season structure should be employed in 24 all four of these counties that currently exist in 25 Grayson County. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 50 1 Staff also note that traditional 2 biological rationals that we use to monitor deer 3 populations to justify season lengths and bag limits are 4 moot in the case of these particular counties, given 5 that the continued urbanization of these counties and 6 the sparse deer habitat that exists will likely decline 7 in the future and, in fact, by urbanization. So staff 8 suggests these potential changes, which is to implement 9 the season structure in Collin, Rockwall, and Dallas 10 County that currently exists in Grayson County, which 11 would include a special and general archery season with 12 a four deer bag limit to include two bucks and two 13 antlerless deer and antler restrictions would apply for 14 bucks. 15 In addition, staff recommend removing the 16 permit requirements for harvest of antlerless deer in 17 Grayson County and then that would not be required in 18 Collin, Rockwall, or Dallas Counties either. Again, the 19 chosen season structure is to provide uniformity in 20 regulations and ease of enforcement. Not necessarily 21 biological management of the resources in these 22 particular counties. 23 Galveston County is another closed county 24 that has a closed season, but contains fragmented 25 habitats that support deer populations and currently all Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 51 1 counties surrounding Galveston County, including Harris 2 which is Houston, have an open general deer season. 3 These counties are similar in characteristics to 4 Galveston in that they have or are characterized by 5 fragmented habitats and small but huntable deer 6 populations are located throughout those areas. You 7 know, Fort Bend, Harris, Brazoria County. 8 Staff determined that like map, more 9 Texas counties -- there's no biological reason not to 10 allow for a deer season in Galveston County and it could 11 be provided under the current regulatory structure of 12 the surrounding counties that are there. Galveston 13 County fits within Resource Management Unit 12, which is 14 a unit that we do monitor the deer population in. Staff 15 do not see a biological reason to prohibit hunting in 16 this area and the regulation is not expected to have a 17 negative impact on the resource, but should provide 18 additional hunter opportunity where available in these 19 areas and also give folks a chance to manage their deer 20 populations in these small but isolated pockets of 21 habitat. 22 Additional hunting opportunity would 23 consist of an archery-only season, a general deer 24 season, and a special late muzzleloader season. The bag 25 limit would be four deer. Two bucks, antler Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 52 1 restrictions, and then two antlerless deer. And a 2 permit would be required after Thanksgiving on and 3 essentially so they would have -- up front, they would 4 have a 23- or 27-day doe season up there where a permit 5 would not be required; but it would be -- that's what 6 staff would -- potential changes we're looking at. 7 Before we get to questions, a couple of 8 points. You'll probably notice in your agenda that 9 there was an item under the nonsubstantive, housekeeping 10 changes referring to clarification of LAMPs counties. 11 Staff looked at that a little bit closer. We determined 12 that the changes for that particular clarification were 13 unnecessary, and so there's no discussion on that item. 14 And then in addition, I wanted to give 15 you a quick update. In response to requests for 16 permission, we are conducting a survey of West Texas 17 landowners and hunters to gauge their interest in the 18 extension of the Mule deer/MLD season in that country 19 out there. We mailed opinion surveys to Mule deer/MLD 20 cooperators and on, Mule deer/MLD landowners in those 21 areas, Mule deer/MLD agents and Mule deer hunters in 22 those areas and they just went out I think October 21st 23 or somewhere around there. We're expecting the results 24 back in about two months, and we'll be able to present 25 those results to the Commission hopefully at that time Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 53 1 after we've had a chance to analyze that information. 2 And if you have any questions about the 3 deer proposal, I'll be happy to try and answer those. 4 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Quick 5 clarification, Alan. So Grayson County currently is not 6 full season either sex, but it would be in addition to 7 the other three counties; is that right? 8 MR. CAIN: It's -- 9 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: No? 10 MR. CAIN: It has an archery season and a 11 general season. 12 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes. 13 MR. CAIN: And it's restricted obviously 14 to archery equipment only. And the thing we're changing 15 in Grayson County is we're moving -- is to harvest an 16 antlerless deer, you have to have MLD permits and we're 17 taking that requirement out. Like Collin, Rockwall, and 18 Dallas, there's just there's so few deer and they're 19 limited just to certain pockets there. It's not a 20 resource concern, and we want to be consistent with the 21 regulation for law enforcement issues. 22 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good, thanks. 23 Commissioner Duggins, yes, sir. 24 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: When we had -- I 25 guess three years, two or three years ago when there was Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 54 1 a push to open up Grayson season to rifle and we had 2 those meetings up there, there was a very vocal group of 3 landowners and hunters and so my question is is there 4 any reason to run this proposed change by any of those 5 folks or have you done so? 6 MR. CAIN: We haven't run it by the 7 public up there. The law enforcement and our biologists 8 are aware. They all were okay with these proposals. 9 There was some concern by staff there might be a little 10 hesitancy by the folks up there in Grayson County 11 removing the requirement for MLD permit; but again, it's 12 to be consistent with the regulation. We're not sure 13 that there's a resource concern in those areas up there. 14 But I mean, I would expect as we go forward that through 15 public comment and public hearings that we get feedback 16 from the public and can adjust. 17 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I just would 18 encourage maybe some communication with them so they 19 don't hear about it through the Texas Register. 20 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's a good 21 idea. 22 MR. CAIN: That's a good point. 23 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: They are vocal 24 and -- yeah. 25 MR. SMITH: Yeah, we'll be especially Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 55 1 sensitive about that. Absolutely. And we -- there's 2 some good points of contact up there in Grayson County 3 in terms of kind of who are the influence leaders there 4 that we can certainly reach out to and start to have 5 substantive discussions on this, make sure they 6 understand what the proposal is, and bring that feedback 7 back to you in January. 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Prior to the 9 proposal formally -- 10 MR. SMITH: Oh, sure. 11 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Informally prior 12 to the proposal in the Texas Register? 13 MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah. 14 MR. CAIN: Yes. 15 MR. SMITH: Yeah, we're still just being 16 in scoping phase; so absolutely. 17 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good, good idea. 18 Good. Any other questions for Alan? Please. 19 MR. SMITH: I guess, Chairman, before we 20 leave deer, just a couple of things I would like to 21 bring up and Alan's mention of a survey that we're doing 22 on the MLDP Mule deer permit holders and kind of 23 attitudes about seasons and so forth. It's probably an 24 opportune time just to mention that internally, we have 25 started some discussions about the MLDP program as a Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 56 1 whole. Just I want to make sure the Commission knows 2 that this program has grown I think beyond our wildest 3 dreams. Very, very successful. 4 At the same time, you know, I will 5 confess that we've got a little permit fatigue and we're 6 also seeing in some cases a departure from how all this 7 started, you know, with working with landowners on how 8 we manage habitat and accomplish landowner's goals with 9 respect to their deer management and wildlife 10 management. And the MLDP was an important tool to help 11 accomplish that. 12 What a lot of our biologists are seeing 13 now are people coming and just wanting immediately to 14 start talking about the permit and how many deer permits 15 can they get, when am I going to get it, how quickly can 16 I get them, why can't I get them; and I think it's 17 probably a good time that we step back with the volume 18 of interest here and take a close look at that and work 19 with our biologists and stakeholders, have a discussion 20 with the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee to give us 21 some kind of counsel and input on that program and look 22 at some improvements and refinements that should be 23 made. 24 Because again, ultimately we want -- we 25 want our substantive conversation with private Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 57 1 landowners to be about wildlife habitat and helping them 2 realize their goals. And we've got a lot of permit 3 related tools to help landowners; but rather than having 4 the conversations always start at this permit or that 5 permit, let's figure out a way to maybe we start back at 6 some of the basics. So I just wanted to kind of 7 forecast those discussions that are coming in that our 8 desire, Mr. Bass, to kind of talk to the White-tailed 9 Deer Advisory Committee and get some counsel and 10 strategic direction on that. 11 COMMISSIONER BASS: Carter, if I'm 12 correct -- and correct me if I'm not -- but the number 13 of biologists that we have in the field and available to 14 go visit with private landowners today, is the same 15 number we had in the field before the MLD permit was 16 ever instituted. So we've gone from zero MLD acres and 17 associated tasks for the biologists, to 20 something 18 million acres and I don't know how many permittees that 19 is; but it's a bunch. 20 MR. SMITH: Do you know, Alan? 21 MR. CAIN: It's about 7,400, somewhere in 22 there. 23 MR. SMITH: Yeah. 24 COMMISSIONER BASS: And we still have the 25 same number of biologists in the field, I believe. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 58 1 MR. SMITH: Yeah. 2 COMMISSIONER BASS: Which is, I don't 3 know, less -- 4 MR. CAIN: There's probably -- if you 5 look at the district biologists and the bulk of that, 6 it's probably 85 or 90 and then you have folks in the 7 WMAs that do assist a little bit. 8 COMMISSIONER BASS: So the workloads on 9 that group of biologists is exponentially expanded; 10 therefore, their ability to engage each landowner in 11 meaningful discussion of what are your goals, what do 12 you want to do, here's how we can help you, here's what, 13 you know, I've run the gamut. The ability for those 14 biologists to be hands on is -- you know, they're spread 15 pretty thin. 16 MR. SMITH: Absolutely. 17 COMMISSIONER BASS: And that's obviously 18 a, you know, some kind of a weak link in this whole 19 thing at this point. 20 MR. SMITH: Yeah. 21 COMMISSIONER BASS: What you do about it 22 is another question because it really (inaudible). 23 MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But that's a good 25 point of consideration for this review, I think. That's Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 59 1 a very good point -- 2 MR. SMITH: I think, Mr. Bass, you -- 3 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- process to go 4 through. 5 MR. SMITH: If y'all are in support of 6 that, we would like to do that. I think you nailed it, 7 Mr. Bass, and I think, you know, it becomes a question 8 of what's the highest and best use of our biologist's 9 time and where it's evolved into more of issuing 10 permits, you know, one, again I'm not sure we're having 11 the depth of conversations we could have to work with 12 landowners who are really committed to improving habitat 13 on their property. Also, to be fair, it becomes a job 14 satisfaction issue for our biologists. 15 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Sure. 16 MR. SMITH: And I want to make sure that 17 we're mindful and cognizant of that as we think about it 18 and so -- 19 COMMISSIONER BASS: If there's ways we 20 can restructure systems so that they spend less time at 21 their computer doing paperwork, whether it be digital or 22 physical, and more time in their truck and with the 23 landowners, you know -- 24 MR. SMITH: That's success. 25 COMMISSIONER BASS: -- that's better job Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 60 1 satisfaction, better customer delivery, and there may be 2 some ways that we can do that. 3 MR. SMITH: Yeah. 4 COMMISSIONER BASS: I don't know. But 5 that type -- that type of thing, it probably should have 6 been part of this. 7 MR. SMITH: Good, good. 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: When you look at 9 the growth in MLDs, I mean you look at a WMP application 10 as kind of a leading indicator of what's in the pipeline 11 for future -- potentially future MLDPs, correct? 12 MR. CAIN: Yes. 13 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And what is 14 that -- how is that trending as an indication of what we 15 can expect in terms of growth over the next couple of 16 years? 17 MR. CAIN: If you look at just the trend, 18 it's a steady growth rate. And I don't know -- you 19 know, percentage, it's probably growing 5 or 10 percent 20 a year. 21 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But it's doing 22 that? 23 MR. CAIN: But it's doing that. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So it 25 continues to underscore the popularity of the program? Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 61 1 MR. CAIN: Yeah. 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And the interest 3 in the program, so that's good. 4 MR. CAIN: Yes, sir. 5 COMMISSIONER BASS: And I think, you 6 know, we have to at some level be mindful of the 7 integrity of the program. You know, these programs are 8 based on, you know, habitat related issues and if we're 9 not able to deliver the expertise to the landowner and 10 also some kind of audit function that, you know, yes, 11 things are really happening, there is compliance; then 12 at some point, you know, I think we need to be worried 13 that the integrity of the program gets undermined. It 14 takes a lot of time to do a bite count survey and that 15 type of thing and it's valuable information; but, you 16 know, we still have -- you know, we have the same number 17 of guys -- 18 MR. SMITH: Same number of biologists. 19 COMMISSIONER BASS: -- doing it and a lot 20 more acreage to cover, so it's... 21 MR. SMITH: Yeah, we just -- 22 COMMISSIONER BASS: It's an issue. 23 MR. SMITH: Yeah, it's timely. 24 COMMISSIONER BASS: And has been -- 25 MR. SMITH: Yeah. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 62 1 COMMISSIONER BASS: -- for a long time. 2 MR. SMITH: I think we just want to bring 3 this to the fore and really think through thoughtfully. 4 I mean I guess, Alan, the statistics I'm aware of is 5 about eight years ago we had seven or 8 million acres 6 under wildlife management plans and today, we have 7 almost 27 million acres of land and just a steadily 8 escalating demand, you know, for a variety of services. 9 And as Alan said, I don't see that 10 changing. You know, the individuals that are buying 11 land today are largely attracted to the land because of 12 their interest in recreation and wildlife. And our 13 biologists provide I think an extraordinary service and 14 counsel to landowners who want to seek that out. But we 15 certainly well exceeded the capacity component now, and 16 look forward to kind of working on this with you. 17 COMMISSIONER BASS: Is there any -- I 18 mean it's one out every 6 acres in Texas basically. 19 That's a bunch. 20 MR. SMITH: Pretty extraordinary, yeah, 21 yeah. Anything else on that, Chairman? Any other 22 direction or -- 23 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's exactly 24 right, and I think those are good points. I think 25 people are increasingly -- landowners are increasingly Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 63 1 understanding of and educated with regard to the 2 importance of habitat and the connection that habitat 3 management has as a backbone to wildlife and other 4 recreational resources, so I agree. I think it's -- 5 growth is a great thing, but it also sometimes poses 6 some challenges, so I think it is time we take a look at 7 that. I agree with that. 8 MR. SMITH: Good, good. Chairman, if I 9 could, just one other issue real quickly. I don't have 10 a lot of detail on this. But Commissioner Martin, who 11 was hoping to be here, you know, had asked me about, you 12 know, what's the legality of using suppressors as a 13 legal means to hunt White-tailed deer. Obviously, our 14 rules do not allow that. Now you can use a suppressor 15 to hunt feral hogs and coyotes. You know, there are 16 some states that allow that. Alaska and Kansas and 17 Mississippi come to mind. You know, states that have 18 had an interest in that with respect to being able to 19 use a rifle to hunt in kind of near urban areas to just 20 to help, you know, muffle the sound and for hearing 21 protection and so forth. 22 And so she did ask if we would look into 23 that and get some more information for the Commission, 24 and I just -- I wanted to let you know that we'll 25 explore that. So I just wanted to make sure you're Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 64 1 aware of that. 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. 3 Questions for Alan? Robert. 4 MR. PEREZ: Okay. Good morning, 5 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For record, I am in fact 6 Robert Perez. I am the Upland Game Bird Program Leader, 7 and I'll be presenting the game bird portion of the 8 Wildlife Regulation's preview. The first potential 9 change is in regard to pheasant, which would be the 10 elimination of pheasant season in three coastal counties 11 in response to an absence of population. Those counties 12 in yellow are Chambers, Jefferson, and Liberty. These 13 are the only coastal counties with a current pheasant 14 season. 15 Back in 2003, the Commission adopted 16 closure of the pheasant season in Wharton, Fort Bend, 17 Brazoria, and Matagorda Counties for the same reason, 18 absence of population shown there in black. These 19 populations were the result of over 17,000 pheasants 20 stocked by the Department in the 1970s and 80s. 21 Populations have gradually blinked out over time as 22 these birds are not well adapted to the climate and 23 available habitat present day. This potential change 24 would effectively close the pheasant season on the Texas 25 coast. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 65 1 Next is a recommendation regarding Lesser 2 prairie chicken. In 2005, the Commission adopted rules 3 to created a managed lands permit approach for the 4 harvest of Lesser prairie chicken, which allowed for the 5 harvest only on lands with approved wildlife management 6 plans. Prior to this time, Lesser prairie chicken had a 7 two-day season, general season with a special permit. 8 These 2005 rules were adopted in response to long-term 9 data and to declining population for Lesser prairie 10 chicken. 11 Then in 2009, the Commission adopted -- 12 the Commission suspended the season, which effectively 13 closed any opportunity for Lesser prairie chicken 14 harvest in Texas; and since that time, populations have 15 continued to decline. It now appears that the 16 resumption of prairie chicken hunting will not take 17 place in the foreseeable future. Because there's no 18 longer need for the rules, staff recommends the repeal 19 of the language which sets forth the requirements for 20 the harvest of Lesser prairie chicken on managed lands. 21 The final item for preview is in regard 22 to quail. The potential change would be the 23 reconfiguration of the current quail season structure. 24 Over the next few months, the Wildlife Division's 25 Upland's Game Bird staff and technical committee will Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 66 1 review season length, bag limits, and the possibility of 2 regional differences or zones for the Texas quail season 3 and determine if modifications to the 2012-2013 season 4 are warranted. 5 Current drought conditions across Texas 6 have had significant impacts on wildlife habitat. These 7 conditions coupled with the long-term decline in quail 8 and predictions that the drought could continue through 9 the spring breeding period, may necessitate changes to 10 the existing season structure for quail. Staff 11 recommendations will be submitted for review by the 12 Upland Game Bird Advisory Committee and formal 13 recommendations will be presented to the Commission in 14 January. 15 According to National Breeding Bird 16 Survey, Bobwhite quail have significantly declined in 17 Texas. Over the past four decades, they've declined at 18 a rate of about 2.8 percent per year. There are, 19 however, major differences in trends among Texas 20 ecological regions. The Rolling Plains, for instance, 21 had the lowest count on record this year. While the 22 Gulf Coast observed quail numbers well above average in 23 suitable habitat. Other regions, like the Piney Woods, 24 have not had huntable numbers of Bobwhites for the most 25 part in decades. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 67 1 Harvest has declined along with 2 populations. Quail hunters also mirror this trend. 3 There's been decline of over 75 percent in harvest and 4 hunters since the mid 1980s. Quail face many challenges 5 for their survival, but these are the big ones -- lack 6 of fire, improper grazing, exotic grasses, habitat loss 7 and fragmentation, and more recently long-term drought. 8 Harvest regulations alone will not reverse quail 9 declines. But under the current climatic conditions, 10 they will likely help some birds make it through tough 11 years that may not have otherwise. 12 In addition to potential regulatory 13 changes, the Department will continue its conservation 14 efforts and expand its programs for quail and grassland 15 birds. Here are a few of our current activities as 16 outlined in the Upland Game Bird strategic plan. On the 17 ground, field staff directly interact with landowners 18 and managers to restore and conserve native habitats and 19 our wildlife management area staff work diligently to 20 create and maintain habitat on state lands. Manpower, a 21 newly created conservation delivery specialist position 22 with the Oaks and Prairie joint venture, which when 23 filled, will target building cooperatives and 24 partnerships to help native grasslands and Savannahs in 25 this key area of the state. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 68 1 Incentives, like our pastures for Upland 2 Birds Program help landowners kill out exotic species 3 like Bermuda and replace them with native grasses. 4 Educational opportunities, this includes ongoing 5 intensive game bird management workshops directed for 6 field staff and, of course, landowner field days. We 7 also have a newly created quail web page with plenty of 8 great information and links. 9 Partnerships, we are working at the 10 national, state, and regional level with a variety of 11 partners. And we also continue to work with the Upland 12 Game Bird Advisory Committee and the relatively new 13 group, the Quail Roundtable. The Quail Roundtable was 14 established in the spring of 2010. Commissioner Duggins 15 and landowner Randy Rogers played a key role in the 16 inception of the Roundtable, whose primary purpose is to 17 act as a clearinghouse of information where ideas can be 18 exchanged and activities coordinated among the many 19 quail interests in Texas and also avoid -- and also to 20 avoid duplication of efforts. The Department plays a 21 lead role in this group, which has met four times to 22 date. Membership includes resource agencies like NRCS, 23 Texas AgriLife, research institutions like Caesar 24 Kleberg and Texas Tech, conservation landowner 25 organizations, and ranchers and quail enthusiasts. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 69 1 This concludes my presentation. If you 2 have any questions, I'll take those at this time. 3 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner 4 Scott. 5 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just out of 6 curiosity, on your first deal on the Chambers, 7 Jefferson, and -- like those counties, you know, on the 8 pheasant deal. How does that work on people that -- I 9 know there's one, I don't know how many others -- where 10 they actually, you know, they buy the birds. It's not a 11 native wild pheasant like we're used to, you know, up in 12 the Panhandle. How does any of that apply? I mean, if 13 there's people still buying and selling those kind of 14 hunts and the birds get loose, which they will, you 15 know, what is law enforcement supposed to do at that 16 point or is there anything that they do? 17 MR. PEREZ: There is a private bird 18 hunting area license and underneath that license, all 19 birds are banded, whether it be pheasant or quail, in 20 any county and that activity can be conducted year-round 21 and so that's a permit process where you can apply and 22 get one of these. Your boundary would be marked 23 according to that permit, and you could harvest those 24 birds still in those counties. Outside of that, it's my 25 understanding that the season will be closed to that Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 70 1 species. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay, I'll have to 3 think about that one. 4 MR. SMITH: I think the issue, 5 Commissioner, is that it's a great point because what we 6 don't want to do is inadvertently penalize somebody. 7 There haven't been wild pheasants in years on the coast. 8 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Right. 9 MR. SMITH: It does become a little bit 10 of a credibility issue for us having a pheasant season 11 in counties with no pheasants, and so folks that want to 12 come out and -- yeah. So I think we're just trying to 13 kind of remedy that, you know, an obvious hunter that 14 lives over there and sees that they can hunt pheasant in 15 Chambers County and then they go to look for opportunity 16 to do that and, you know, then we say, well, there are 17 no pheasants and, well, why do you have a pheasant 18 season. So I think we're hoping that the private bird 19 hunting area license can help, you know, resolve issues, 20 yeah, where you have folks lawfully handling that. And 21 so that's the intent to still allow that. 22 COMMISSIONER BASS: Was your point what 23 happens to ones that wander off the marked property? 24 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, what I heard 25 is you can't shoot him legally, so. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 71 1 COMMISSIONER BASS: Whereas currently you 2 can; but it doesn't really provide a -- 3 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Correct. 4 COMMISSIONER BASS: Is there a way to 5 declare them an exotic in that county to where if you 6 see one, you can shoot it? 7 MR. SMITH: That's a good question. 8 Yeah, you know, that's a very good question, Mr. Bass. 9 I'm not sure about a -- thing about a precedent. Let us 10 look into that, yeah, yeah. 11 COMMISSIONER BASS: You know, if my 12 neighbor keeps releasing them and they end up in my 13 barnyard and I hate the damn things, (inaudible). 14 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Kind of like 15 Giddings, you know. 16 COMMISSIONER BASS: I see your point. I 17 never thought of it. 18 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I have a question 19 for Robert. As far as a bag limit on quail, have we 20 observed or do you observe that landowners tend to kind 21 of set the bag limit based on the availability of the 22 number of birds that are out there? Right now, state 23 bag limit really -- I think it's 15 right now; is that 24 correct? 25 MR. PEREZ: Correct. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 72 1 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Is there a need to 2 lower it or just don't the landowners kind of comply 3 with the number of birds they have? If they have birds, 4 they hunt. If they don't have birds, they don't hunt as 5 many? 6 MR. PEREZ: I think quail hunters as a 7 group are very good at self-regulating and that amount 8 or degree in which they self-regulate varies across the 9 state. For instance, some areas like South Texas, we 10 see a high degree of self-regulation. In poor years, we 11 see fewer hunts, areas closed to hunting, reduced bags 12 or limited number of hours, only one covey rise, 13 shooting birds only from the covey rise and not chasing 14 singles. We see a lot of cases where landowners and 15 even lease operations are self-limiting far beyond the 16 State fixed liberal regulations, yes. 17 COMMISSIONER BASS: Are there areas that 18 are the other end of the spectrum of that? 19 MR. PEREZ: I believe so. I believe 20 there are other areas of the state where especially if 21 someone is paying for a lease out of state coming from 22 some place and they want to get the maximum benefit of 23 that property, we see that in other regions of the state 24 where maybe we'll see an area that receives over 25 harvest. That's -- Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 73 1 COMMISSIONER BASS: Less active lessees. 2 MR. PEREZ: Correct. 3 COMMISSIONER BASS: Or lessors. 4 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other 5 questions or discussion for Robert? 6 COMMISSIONER JONES: If this trend 7 doesn't reverse, this doesn't look particularly good for 8 quail hunting in Texas, does it? 9 MR. PEREZ: It doesn't look good for 10 quail. There have been major droughts in the past, in 11 the 50s. There have been major catastrophic fires in 12 the Panhandle in the 1960s. And it's amazing how 13 resilient and how quick the species does recover in 14 areas of suitable habitat. I think the greater concern 15 is we have fewer and fewer areas of suitable habitat. 16 That's the big issue. 17 MR. SMITH: I think Robert hit that well 18 in terms of our concern of what's happening on the 19 ground; but also, you look rangewide at what's happening 20 with quail, I mean the declines are precipitous. 21 They're very, very sobering. And this is, you know, 22 unquestionably one of our most prized, if not the most 23 prized game bird in the state. And, you know, we just 24 want to make sure that we're having substantive 25 discussions with the Commission about, you know, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 74 1 engaging in this and making sure that we're playing a 2 leadership role here in helping to arrest this and 3 address it. Make sure hunters and landowners are 4 absolutely as informed as possible about what they can 5 do to help us address kind of this quail conservation 6 issue. 7 And this drought has really, really 8 exacerbated things and if ever there was a sense of 9 urgency and a time to act in a variety of ways, you 10 know, now is the time. And so we wanted to have this 11 preliminary conversation with y'all and look forward to 12 coming back in January with more feedback and more 13 concepts to explore. 14 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. I think 15 it -- 16 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I have one comment. 17 And I think Reed probably knows Randy Lane down in 18 Houston. He's head of that big quail -- one of the -- 19 they resurfaced it. But my comment would be we know a 20 few people and I know there's a lot of others; but this 21 quail deal is such a huge issue that when we come up 22 with some ideas, we might ought to send out some 23 invitations and get some communication going with people 24 that are really serious about managing their asset. 25 Because as you say, you know, people I know are very Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 75 1 serious about not overhunting and any of that and so if 2 we keep -- get some of them in the loop, perhaps that 3 would be -- 4 MR. SMITH: Absolutely. 5 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Get their input 6 anyway. 7 MR. SMITH: Yeah. And, Commissioner, 8 it's a great point. I mean there's so many very serious 9 quail enthusiasts who are very concerned about this and 10 obviously like Robert said, we've got some regional 11 differences around the state, but -- and we want to 12 start trying to acknowledge those as we think about this 13 issue. But, you know, where there are individuals that 14 y'all think would be prudent for us to kind of reach out 15 to and make sure we're getting input on that, please do 16 let us know. Yeah, absolutely. 17 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I agree. And I 18 think it would be very helpful for the Commission to 19 have a good -- a better understanding of regional 20 differences, population dynamics, other factors that 21 contribute to, you know, these overall aggregate 22 declines that we see so that we can manage it on a 23 regional basis perhaps. But I would look forward to 24 receiving more information about that. 25 MR. PEREZ: Okay, thank you. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 76 1 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks. Thank 2 you both. All right, Item 7 is the 2012-13 statewide 3 recreational and commercial fishing proclamation 4 preview. Starting out with Ken. 5 MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, 6 Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski with Inland 7 Fisheries Division, and I'm here today to go over some 8 of our potential changes to our freshwater fishing 9 regulations. We have these in three broad categories. 10 First, we are modifying some existing 11 regulations on four reservoirs. Aquilla, Fort Phantom 12 Hill, Proctor, for largemouth bass; and Possum Kingdom 13 reservoir for striped bass. Our staff is constantly 14 looking at what regulations we have on our water bodies 15 and when we determine that those regulations can be 16 changed to improve the fishing or simplify the 17 regulations, we're always looking at that. 18 Also, we typically implement some 19 regulations on newly opened waters to ensure that we 20 have quality fishing after those waters are opened. And 21 finally, we have some gear restrictions on that one new 22 water body, Naconiche, and also on some of our state 23 parks. 24 Starting out on Lake Aquilla, which is a 25 reservoir that was impounded in 1982 by the Army Corp. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 77 1 Over time, the habitat has deteriorated there. We 2 have -- aquatic vegetation is scarce. There's some 3 standing timber, but most of it is in shallow water. 4 The current regulation there is an 18-inch minimum 5 length limit for largemouth bass, and that was enacted 6 in 1984. At that time, we saw some indications in the 7 population that there were some characteristics that we 8 could -- growth characteristics, abundance 9 characteristics, that we could, with that regulation, we 10 wanted to increase propensity of those largemouth bass 11 and provide anglers a greater opportunity to catch a 12 bass greater than 18 inches. 13 Since then, we've seen few population 14 benefits to the bass population with -- since the 15 18 inches have been implemented. Over time, angling 16 effort for bass is very low. Not many anglers fishing 17 there, very few bass being harvested. The major problem 18 there is with poor habitat sedimentation and is 19 decreasing the volume and available habitat. Looking at 20 the situation there, what we're potentially discussing 21 is reverting back to the 14-inch minimum length limit, 22 which is our statewide regulation. That would simplify 23 the regulations. It wouldn't have any impact on the 24 population itself. We would retain the five fish bag, 25 and our staff is looking at some more projects there to Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 78 1 improve habitat in the reservoir. 2 Next, we have a couple of lakes out in 3 West Texas, Fort Phantom Hill and Proctor. Both of 4 these reservoirs are subject to water level changes as 5 is typical of our many West Texas reservoirs, and now 6 we're seeing a lot of that around the state in other 7 parts. We've tried a number of 16-inch minimum length 8 limits for largemouth bass out there. Phantom Hill has 9 had that on since '94, and Proctor was implemented in 10 2002. And our goals were there to increase the 11 abundance and catch of those bass between the statewide 12 14-inch minimum and 16 inches. A lot of times we're 13 looking to take advantage of when we have good year 14 classes produced with the rising water levels to see if 15 we could get some better fishing out of that, out of 16 those increases. 17 What we've seen over time, abundance in 18 catch rates have varied at those 14, 16-inch bass; but 19 there's few positives between the pre-regulation and the 20 post-regulation changes. Populations have pretty much 21 remained the same and what our staff are looking at out 22 there, the ongoing investigation of what are the impacts 23 of the water level changes in time to the bass 24 populations. What we've seen there, we've looked at 25 Fort Phantom Hill for an extended period of time to do Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 79 1 some analysis. We've determined that 92 percent of the 2 variation in our catch rates in the lake fishing of 3 bass, eight -- 8 inches or less, have resulted or can be 4 correlated through water level variables. So water 5 levels in certain times a year and also the water levels 6 from over the winter, winter months. 7 And when we look at bass populations in 8 area lakes with a 14-inch limit under similar water 9 regimes, we see that the populations are responding in a 10 similar fashion. So based on that, we think we -- the 11 benefits from the 16-inch, we can simplify the 12 regulation there and go back to the 14-inch limit. 13 On Possum Kingdom Reservoir, it's had a 14 tough decade here. Fish populations have been decimated 15 by Golden Alga starting in 2001; and when those events 16 were happening, we reduced the statewide bag for striped 17 bass from five to two with special regulation there. 18 And our goal there was to protect some of the striped 19 bass in the population while providing some harvest for 20 anglers because striped bass were an important species 21 in Possum Kingdom. Currently, we're still having 22 periodic fish kills there. We still are stocking 23 striped bass. Let me get to the next slide here. 24 Unfortunately with those periodic kills, few fish are 25 being harvested and the bag is really not having any Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 80 1 impact on the population structure. 2 So what we're proposing there is going 3 back to the statewide bag of five fish striped bass. 4 That bag is not really having any impact. We're hoping 5 maybe when we do have an opportunity where we have a 6 number of good years of no Golden Alga and it does 7 produce some fish, that this will allow the anglers to 8 take those fish. 9 In lake -- we have a new lake, Lake 10 Naconiche in Nacogdoches County. It was recently 11 impounded. Not a real large reservoir, a little under 12 700 acres. We've done our typical fish stocking there. 13 Stocked some threadfin shad, various other species 14 including Florida largemouth bass; and that's set to 15 open in angling in 2012. And typically what we do on 16 new reservoirs, we try and implement some regulations to 17 protect that developing fishery. Typically, angling 18 effort is high. You have naive fish in there that, in 19 many cases, can be easily caught; so we usually try and 20 implement some sort of regulations to limit that 21 harvest. And what we wanted -- we have a good -- that 22 lake has the potential to be a good bass lake; so we 23 want to protect those 14- to 18-inch bass from harvest 24 and ensure that good quality population is established. 25 So what we're proposing there is to implement an 18-inch Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 81 1 limit and a five fish bag for largemouth bass and also 2 additionally we're going to prohibit some of the passive 3 gear there -- jug lines, throw lines, trotlines. It's a 4 little, small reservoir. Probably a lot of high use and 5 some of those things will interfere with some of those 6 activities and also removing those initially will help 7 some of our catfish populations develop. 8 Last change, we have some potential gear 9 restrictions in State Parks. We're having user 10 conflicts in those areas with limited space, such as 11 manmade structures such as docks, piers, and jetties. 12 People using multiple rods to sort of dominate that 13 space, prevent use by other people. So we're 14 considering, based on State Park's input on that, 15 limiting the number of fishing poles to two as we do as 16 on our community fishing lakes, which have some of our 17 small reservoirs where we have the same issues of 18 limited space and trying to allow as many people to fish 19 there as possible. 20 Those are all the changes we are 21 considering at this time. We did discuss all those 22 except the State Park one with our Freshwater Fisheries 23 Advisory Committee and they did give us approval on 24 those changes and I'd be happy to take any questions at 25 this time if you have any. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 82 1 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for 2 Ken? 3 COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm just curious. 4 What's the largest number of poles that you've had 5 reported somebody trying to dominate a fishing area? 6 MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, I've seen people 7 use 15 to 20 poles. I'm sure, you know, game wardens or 8 State Parks have seen more. There is no limit. It's 9 100 hooks, so you could use pretty much -- that's quite 10 a few poles and it does become -- you know, if you have 11 limited space, people can certainly dominate that space. 12 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ken, I've got one 13 question. On Possum Kingdom since it does not have any 14 fish right now, with the limit is two, why do we want to 15 raise it back to five if there's not any fish right now 16 anyway? What's the rational? 17 MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, there's really -- 18 it's -- you know, there's so few fish, you know, being 19 produced, it's really not having any -- it's not having 20 any -- you know, when they do produce some fish, there's 21 so few to catch that we really don't see that's having 22 any impact on the population at all when we do produce. 23 Like I say, if we do produce some fish, we might as well 24 have anglers catching them because there's a good chance 25 unfortunately that Golden Alga is going to come in and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 83 1 limit that population in the future. 2 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are you looking at 3 any ways to deal with the algae problem and the impact 4 of salt? As I understand it, the salt, double salt in 5 the two tributaries from the Brazos are very high in 6 salt, what we might do to work with the -- I guess it 7 would be the Brazos River Authority on water quality? 8 Isn't that a big part of the Golden Algae problem? 9 MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, we have -- we've 10 been, you know, have a number of studies looking at that 11 and we haven't really gotten any real clear impact 12 there. We've implemented some things on our hatcheries 13 to eliminate those problems; but on a big systemwide 14 basis, we haven't seen anything that's really going to 15 have an impact at this time. 16 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think we ought 17 to keep that in mind because I think that the salinity 18 of that lake -- when the salinity levels go up, it seems 19 like the problems go up from what I've observed over the 20 years. I don't know what you-all have seen. 21 MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, like I said, we 22 don't -- you know, we spent a lot of time and a lot of 23 research and have looked at that and we haven't found 24 anything real definitive and it's something we're 25 continuing to look at because we sure would like to -- Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 84 1 we would sure like to solve it and be able to -- 2 especially like for Possum Kingdom, get the fishery back 3 to what it was in the past there. 4 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Water would help. 5 MR. KURZAWSKI: Yeah, water. Fish have 6 this thing about water. They really need that, too. 7 MR. SMITH: Commissioner, the Brazos 8 River Authority has applied for a system operations 9 permit throughout its entire basin. The TCEQ, kind of 10 the first of its kind that I think we're aware of, have 11 been very involved over the last few years working with 12 the Brazos River Authority to try to address inflows, 13 environmental flows, and flow levels at different gauge 14 stations throughout the basin. And so we were able to 15 come to a meeting of the minds on that with BRA. 16 Now that permit is being reviewed by TCEQ 17 and so we have some folks that have been working very, 18 very directly on this and could probably address some of 19 these issues with respect to salinity regimes and flow 20 regimes. But we've had a very, very good relationship 21 with BRA over the last couple of years working through 22 this in an in-depth fashion and I'll get Cindy or 23 Colette to get with you to kind of brief you on that. 24 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you. 25 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Ken. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 85 1 Appreciate it. Robin Riechers. 2 MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, 3 Commissioners -- 4 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, how 5 are you? 6 MR. RIECHERS: -- Chairman. For the 7 record. My name is Robin Riechers from the Coastal 8 Fisheries Division and I'm here to present to you today 9 the 2012-2013 coastal fisheries scoping items. The 10 first item I would like to present will be a 11 clarification of the proclamation regarding take during 12 a freeze event. And then the second one will be an 13 expansion of seagrass protection through a state 14 scientific area designation. And then lastly, I want to 15 update you on some progress we've made in regards to 16 looking at some recommendations from a workshop that the 17 Harte Institute held in Corpus Christi that was titled 18 "Sharing and Conserving Our Bays" and we're looking at 19 those recommendations and I'll just share with you the 20 progress in that respect. 21 As a reminder, we have the ability to 22 close certain areas during freeze events. These thermal 23 refuges where fish basically congregate, and we used 24 that authority for the first time last February. That 25 event occurred from February 2nd through the 5th. We Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 86 1 put out news releases on the 2nd and 3rd. On the 4th, 2 we had to extend that closure because the cold period 3 was extending for a longer period of time. And in 4 addition as we did that, of course, we displayed signs 5 at these access points trying to inform people of these 6 closed areas. 7 I might also mention because I believe it 8 was brought up the last time we discussed this, barge 9 traffic also was halted February 3rd in the land cut 10 area in regards to any ICWW in kind of an informal 11 agreement that we have with the barge companies in 12 halting that traffic to try to save fish in the ICWW as 13 well, the intercoastal. Obviously, as we went through 14 this and reviewed the first time that we used the 15 closure, we do have a few lessons learned. 16 The first was we had very good coverage 17 of our initial announcement about the closure. Got the 18 news releases out, got it up on the website, and were 19 able to do that fairly well. We did have a little bit 20 of difficulty in our extension, as that occurred on a 21 Friday when we tried to get that news release out 22 regarding that extension. I can say that basically 23 because there were only about four of us in this 24 building -- Carter and Ross and myself and a couple of 25 others -- it was difficult to get notice out for us. It Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 87 1 was also difficult for people who we were trying to have 2 receive that notice because they weren't at their 3 offices as well. 4 This is a place probably where social 5 media will help us in the future as far as getting that 6 word out and so we're going to find better ways to do 7 that, but we realize that we didn't do as good a job 8 there as we could. Another thing we noticed was at our 9 sites, we're going to try to have some more distinct and 10 better signage so that people can really identify the 11 area and the boundary and we're working on that to be 12 prepared in case that happens this year. 13 And the last thing, of course, is the 14 clarification of the rule that is actually the 15 rule-making part of this. And what we would like to do 16 is to clarify the language there in 57.975. The 17 language there is in blue and we want to have it read 18 now "No person shall take or attempt to take any aquatic 19 life by any means in an effected area." Even though dip 20 nets are not a legal take device, people were using dip 21 nets and we just want to clarify to everyone that during 22 that time during those areas, we would prefer that you 23 not take any of those fish. The Department of State 24 Health Services warns you not to take those fish, and we 25 also would like to go ahead and make sure that people Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 88 1 don't do that. 2 I'll pause there and if anyone has any 3 question about the freeze or language, we can have that 4 here and then I'll go to the next section. 5 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for 6 Robin so far? 7 MR. RIECHERS: The next thing I would 8 like to talk to you about is expansion of seagrass 9 protection by state scientific area of designation. As 10 indicated and brought to you in 2010, we basically 11 redesignated the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. We 12 visited with you at that time about a lot of the results 13 that we saw in that area to give you a brief history, of 14 course, of that. 15 That started in 2000. When the area was 16 designated in 2005, it was renewed. In 2006, we went 17 from a voluntary no-prop zone to a no uprooting seagrass 18 regulation. And since that time, we've been under that 19 regulation and been monitoring that area. As you may 20 all remember when we presented this in 2010, we had an 21 extensive education and outreach program in that area, 22 trying to make people aware of the regulation. We hit 23 over 10 million impressions, as they call it, where we 24 touched somebody with that message throughout that 25 entire time. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 89 1 Key findings from some of the surveys 2 that we did of people who were using the areas, 3 85 percent were aware of the regulation -- greater than 4 85 percent and also greater than 85 percent actually 5 changed their boating behavior during that time period. 6 Probably most importantly was that 45 percent -- we saw 7 a 45 percent reduction in scarring during that time 8 period. So we actually met the consvervation goal that 9 we were trying to meet there. 10 And then another important kind of 11 conservation fact is that we actually saw scar recovery 12 from year to year of 53 percent and 86 percent. That is 13 quite a bit higher than the previous literature 14 suggested where they suggested it would take seven or 15 eight years for scar recovery to occur. So we were -- 16 that was an important finding for us as well. 17 Lastly, obviously, because this is a 18 rule, there's a law enforcement component as well. And 19 as of August 21st of 2011, there have been 17 citations 20 in the area. Fifteen were convictions, and two were 21 pending at that time. So, you know, a lot of success in 22 that story and that's why you asked us to go find other 23 areas and that's what we're bringing to you today. 24 When we looked at trying to go forward 25 and figure out where we could expand seagrass Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 90 1 protection, we looked to basically create a matrix of 2 things that we would look at in determining which area 3 we should expand this to. And the first was obviously 4 seagrass coverage. Do you have seagrass in the area 5 and, you know, is there seagrass there to protect? 6 Most of the time that occurs in shallow 7 water areas, so that was something we were looking at. 8 Most of the time if we have damage, it's actually in 9 fairly close proximity to high pressure or high boating 10 access and so that's where we would look at that as 11 well. The proximity to a Gulf pass, that's actually a 12 component that we brought in because of the biological 13 nature of seagrass, protection of larvae, and you get 14 ingress and egress of larvae in small juvenile fish at 15 those Gulf passes; so that would rate it a little bit 16 higher in regards to needing prosection. 17 And then lastly, is did you have scarring 18 in those areas? Are you witnessing issues in those 19 areas that were identified? We started out with 15 20 sites. We have narrowed that to these five sites you 21 see here -- Galveston Island State Park, an area right 22 off of Galveston Island, Christmas Bay, the Matagorda 23 Island Wildlife Management Area, Upper Laguna Madre near 24 the JFK Causeway, and the Mexiquita Flats in South Bay. 25 It's not to say that all of these aren't in need of some Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 91 1 protection or in need of us looking at them, but we have 2 narrowed it down to going forward with one item at this 3 point. 4 We're going to go forward with education 5 in efforts of making people aware and continued efforts 6 with working with partners in the other areas. But our 7 recommendation to you today is that we scope the area 8 near the JFK Causeway. It would encompass about 15,500 9 acres. It is a heavy boat traffic area with many access 10 points, and I'll show you that in a moment. It has 11 extensive shallow seagrass flats there. One of the 12 reasons we're choosing this particular area is it is 13 highly -- out of the 15,500 acres, there's about 14,000 14 acres of seagrass that we were able to document with 15 ariel photography. In addition to that, obviously, we 16 have staff in the area who has worked with this 17 protection of seagrass. We've got partners in the area 18 who've already worked with us, and we've had extensive 19 outreach efforts already in that area; so we think we 20 can build on all of that. 21 To show you that proximity and why we 22 believe that proximity will help us in that, the Redfish 23 Bay State Scientific Area is there north. Again, that's 24 32,000 acres and the proposed site is down south there, 25 listed as proposed site JFK 15,500 acres. You'll see as Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 92 1 the crow flies, they're only about ten miles apart. So 2 a lot of people using the Redfish Bay State Scientific 3 Area may also access this area in their fishing 4 activities and we think we can, you know, utilize that 5 to our benefit in protecting seagrass there. 6 Looking at that area with a little closer 7 up view, you can see that there's a -- the red dots are 8 access points, boat ramps; and you can see that there to 9 the east of -- or to the east of that, there's about 18 10 miles of developed canals there. There's apparently 11 eight miles of undeveloped canals over there. And then 12 on the west side, there's about three miles of developed 13 canals. So there's a lot of access to this site, but 14 there's also already some marking by TNC, in Corpus 15 Christi bays and estuary program, have already marked, 16 helped mark some of the ingress -- or run lanes that 17 we'll call them. We have to be careful. Some people 18 use different terminology than we do. But basically, 19 the lanes that allow you to get in and out of the area. 20 So, you know, we believe that's certainly a good area 21 where our partners are already trying to do some of that 22 work and we can help with that. 23 So with that, that's certainly our 24 recommendation regarding extension of the seagrass area 25 or seagrass protection. Obviously, again, what we will Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 93 1 have to do is designate it a state scientific area and 2 we would propose that we scope the no uprooting 3 regulation as we have in the other area. Both of the 4 proposals -- it's mentioned here for this one, but both 5 went to our CRAC on October 5th, and were both 6 unanimously supported. 7 Is there any questions about that area or 8 that scoping item? I'll answer those now, and then move 9 on to just the briefing portion. 10 As indicated, there's no formal proposal 11 here; but I did want to take a moment to brief you on 12 kind of our efforts in looking at these recommendations 13 that came out of this workshop that was hosted by the 14 Harte Research Institute and we were also a partner, 15 several of the partners just mentioned in the previous 16 presentation were there as partners as well. 17 Again, the notion of that workshop was to 18 get waders, kayakers, hunters, airboat folks, 19 motorboats, anglers, bird watchers all in the same room, 20 especially down in that area, high traffic area, get 21 them all in the same room and talk about how are we 22 going to use and share our bays basically. They 23 basically came out with workshop results that had over 24 50 recommendations and 14 best practices. 25 We've created an interdivisional team, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 94 1 Coastal Fisheries and law enforcement, to look at these 2 and try to group and categorize these and we've also 3 been asked to -- not necessarily one of their 4 recommendations, but certainly one of the things that 5 came out of that workshop was a discussion about 6 low-impact fishing areas as well and we've been asked to 7 explore that and we're looking at that. 8 When we discussed that -- well, let me go 9 back. I'm sorry. As far as the 50 recommendations, we 10 first have gone through there and tried to group these 11 things by education and outreach kinds of things and 12 certainly best practices and that sort of notion as one 13 of those things. That may not -- it will require a lot 14 of work with Lydia and her shop, but it may not be a 15 regulation or a rule-making kind of notion. The other 16 thing, key item that they came out with is expanded 17 seagrass protection and, obviously, we're before you 18 today asking to go scope one of those areas. So that 19 was one of the key findings there. And then there were 20 other numerous recommendations, some of which we frankly 21 don't even have authority to do; but, you know, we're 22 trying to go through those and group those and figure 23 out -- our team is -- which ones of those are plausible 24 and which ones we might be able to move forward with. 25 When we do talk about low-impact fishing Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 95 1 areas and as we've found in discussing this, you know, 2 there are -- just to help everyone be on the same page 3 at least to what we think we're talking about, is that 4 they are open to all legal methods of fishing. They're 5 typically a lift-drift pole and troll type of area and 6 they, for the most part, will have some sort of marked 7 ingress and egress lane that allows people to get in and 8 out of the area. 9 Other considerations that have come up in 10 those discussions is you could have some sort of 11 seasonal component to that low-impact fishing area. You 12 could have it open for boating traffic at some times of 13 the year, and maybe closed at others. Another notion is 14 that you could, in that same low-impact notion, you 15 could have some sort of no-wake zone or some sort of 16 minimum idle speed or maximum idle speed that would 17 govern that area. 18 Lastly, as indicated, we are still kind 19 of in the development stage here. We've identified pros 20 and cons. We are identifying some studies that we could 21 do if we conducted a -- or if a low-impact fishing area 22 were put into place. We've discussed the concept with a 23 limited number of stakeholders. We've presented the 24 concept both really in two separate occasions before our 25 Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, more in general Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 96 1 terms because it's been in the context of the 2 presentation of the results of that workshop; and we've 3 agreed to take this back to them at their next meeting 4 and try to come back with some more specifics in regards 5 to what some of these low-impact fishing areas -- where 6 they might be, what they might look like. 7 With that, I appreciate the opportunity 8 to brief you on that and certainly will entertain any 9 questions. 10 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for 11 Robin? Commissioner Hughes. 12 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Robin, if we -- if 13 there was the movement for a low-impact fishing areas, 14 would we do -- would we do it like on a trial basis? 15 Say set up a three-year trial and just see how it's 16 working? Or a two-year or a five, whatever? 17 MR. RIECHERS: Well, certainly we've put 18 sunset provisions just like we had in the other state 19 scientific areas at one point; so there's always the 20 opportunity to put a sunset provision or a date certain 21 when it ends and you have to take action to make -- to 22 extend that. So that certainly is one thing that could 23 be built in to that sort of notion, yes. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? 25 Robin, thank you. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 97 1 MR. RIECHERS: Thank you. 2 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, Robert 3 Goodrich. 4 MR. GOODRICH: Good morning, 5 Commissioners. I'm Robert Goodrich. I'm the Assistant 6 Chief of Fisheries Enforcement for the Department. I 7 come before you this morning for a review of potential 8 regulation change. Currently in freshwater, most of the 9 unattended devices -- trotlines and jug lines -- all 10 require a gear tag. However, throw lines and minnow 11 traps do not require a gear tag. And as you well know, 12 those devices are left out there. 13 Under -- currently under a gear tag 14 requirement, that tag must contain legibly the name of 15 the person that set it out, their address, and the date 16 it was set out and then that device can remain with that 17 tag for 30 days. And after 30 days, it must be reviewed 18 and retagged and retagged with a new date; and that 19 allows -- that provides for that device to be attended 20 out there at some point and then it be picked up or 21 retagged and continue to be fished. 22 However, minnow traps and throw lines do 23 not have that requirement. And what happens sometimes 24 is those devices are left out there and because they are 25 not illegal at that point because they're not required Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 98 1 to be tagged, game wardens cannot pick up the devices. 2 So as you well have heard today about low water 3 situations in many of our lakes and rivers, a lot of 4 those devices like throw lines, which are attached to 5 limbs and to the bank sometimes, they become out of the 6 water, they continue to fish and impact the resource. 7 So what we're proposing is a regulation 8 in effect to require those devices to have a gear tag. 9 And that gear tag can be made out of any durable 10 material as durable as the line. And, you know, I kind 11 of brought one here today so that I could throw together 12 and show you. It could be made out of something as 13 simple as that Coke can right there. You can put all 14 that information on there and it's very durable and they 15 attach it to the line and it lets us know who's fishing 16 out there in that -- and who's responsible for making 17 sure that those lines are checked on a 30-day basis. 18 Again, there's a certain safety mount to 19 that, too, is those limb lines -- as water levels drop, 20 those are limb lines, those hooks are dangling there and 21 as people go by in boats or canoes or kayaks and this is 22 definitely a little bit of a safety issue; but more than 23 anything, they continue to fish and they pick up, you 24 know, wildlife, animals and fish, when they're not 25 attended. So that's our -- my review of that potential Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 99 1 regulation change. If you have any questions, I'd be 2 glad to answer them at this time. 3 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions? 4 Commissioner Scott. 5 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Out of curiosity, 6 what is the present ruling like on crab traps and 7 everything? Do they have that same requirement? 8 MR. GOODRICH: Right. And all of the 9 devices out in saltwater are required to be tagged, and 10 so everything -- in fact, even -- this is kind of a 11 clean up because a minnow trap in saltwater is required 12 to have a gear tag, but in freshwater it's not. 13 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's what I was 14 getting at. 15 MR. GOODRICH: Right. 16 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So it basically just 17 makes everything uniform. 18 MR. GOODRICH: This just makes everything 19 uniform. It's an unattended device out there that's -- 20 you know, when someone is fishing with a pole and a 21 line, they're usually there. But these devices do 22 remain out there, so this would make all those devices 23 required to be tagged. 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner 25 Duggins. Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 100 1 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is 30 days magic? 2 I mean, is there any reason it shouldn't be 14 days if 3 the goal is to try to have people check them more 4 frequently? 5 MR. GOODRICH: Well, I know that's always 6 been that way. I'm not, you know, saying that's 7 consistent with how we should be; but I think it's when 8 we set it up originally, I looked back on that and it 9 was -- like, that gave you about four weekends in a 10 period of time where people could put devices out on one 11 weekend and maybe during the course of that month they 12 could come back out on another weekend and run their 13 trotlines and -- you know, however, most of the people 14 that do run those, do them a lot more often than 30 15 days. 16 It's just that we've found that limb 17 lines -- we call them limb lines or throw lines -- those 18 tend to just get left and sometimes aren't monitored. 19 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, if people 20 are checking them more frequently than that and it's a 21 concern over limb lines, then you might look at whether 22 you want to move that time period -- shorten that time 23 period. 24 MR. GOODRICH: That sure is something we 25 could look at. I know I looked at some other states, Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 101 1 and they do that. They have -- 2 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Shorter period? 3 MR. GOODRICH: -- shorter two-day periods 4 and 24-hour periods. 5 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's more 6 consistent. You wouldn't -- 7 MR. GOODRICH: We can certainly look at 8 that. 9 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: What does Louisiana 10 have? 11 MR. GOODRICH: They don't have much 12 regulation. 13 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's a 14 rhetorical question. 15 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I was being nice 16 when I said that. I was trying to give our neighbors a 17 little credit. 18 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We knew that was 19 coming. 20 MR. GOODRICH: Oklahoma requires it. 21 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I've got a lot of 22 buddies over there. Don't worry, I tell them the same 23 thing. Don't worry about that. No, I was just curious. 24 I was just thinking if it was the same thing. 25 MR. GOODRICH: Oklahoma and Kansas and Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 102 1 even up in Ohio, they all require gear tags on 2 everything and some of them do limit the time. 3 COMMISSIONER JONES: I just -- to Ralph's 4 point, one of the things that you want to keep in mind I 5 suppose is the requirement on your staff and the 6 monitoring of it. If you give a person a month and you 7 go out and check it, you've got to go back I guess next 8 month to see if they've taken it off. So, I mean, I 9 don't know what the impact -- and, again, I'm saying 10 this without knowing what the answer is. I don't know 11 if it's easier on your staff if it's a shorter period of 12 time, or if it's easier on your staff if it's an 13 extended period of time. 14 MR. GOODRICH: Well, I think game wardens 15 are out there all the time. They're pretty aware of 16 who's fishing those devices when they're required to be 17 tagged, so this would bring that back in. We pretty 18 much know who's fishing that body of water; but with 19 limb lines or throw lines, we really don't know because 20 they aren't required to be tagged. This would actually 21 give us more of an identification and the other part is, 22 too, we can also run that name and address and find out 23 if they have a fishing license; so that gives us more 24 ability. But I'm not sure of a shorter period of time 25 because we pretty much check on that and when you pull Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 103 1 up somebody's trotline they've put out there and when 2 you've done it once and they may have gotten a citation, 3 they pretty much don't do that anymore. 4 So just having it tagged kind of makes 5 people realize they put their name out there on the 6 water on a device that's out there, so they do pay more 7 attention to it. 8 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I certainly don't 9 see an added burden to enforcement that -- 10 MR. GOODRICH: No. And in fact, this was 11 reviewed by the field -- 12 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I mean, that's 13 the intent that it's -- 14 MR. GOODRICH: Right. And this 15 recommendation came from the field because they see so 16 many of these throw lines that are left out there and it 17 was reviewed by staff in the field and they all 18 supported it. 19 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner 20 Morian. 21 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: What's the 22 definition of a throw line? 23 MR. GOODRICH: Well, the definition is a 24 line with five or less hooks attached at one end to a 25 fixed object at one end. So it's going to be five or Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 104 1 less hooks and have the line and it's going to be 2 attached at one end. If it was attached at both ends, 3 it becomes a trotline. 4 COMMISSIONER JONES: What if it has more 5 than five hooks? 6 MR. GOODRICH: It's not legal. 7 COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, got you. 8 COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And if this were 9 to pass and you find a throw line that's not tagged, do 10 you have the right to cut the thing and remove it? 11 MR. GOODRICH: Right. That's part of the 12 thing in the Parks and Wildlife Code, by statute we have 13 the ability to seize illegal fishing devices. But this 14 would make it illegal when it's not tagged and that's 15 what we do with trotlines and jug lines that we find out 16 there that are either untagged or out of date, we will 17 seize those and there's a process of destruction that we 18 have to go through where we put it up at the courthouse 19 for ten days, where it was seized, the location, and 20 then the County judge issues an order and the materials 21 are destroyed. So there's a process that we go through, 22 but we haven't been able to do that with throw lines and 23 minnow traps. 24 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Following up on 25 Ralph, it would be interesting to know what other states Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 105 1 do as far as time frame. You know, about limb lines. 2 MR. GOODRICH: Right. 3 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: If someone hasn't 4 checked that in 30 days, it's long abandoned. It makes 5 sense to have the ability to require people to make them 6 check them more often. 7 MR. GOODRICH: I know I've checked into 8 like one there in Ohio. They have a two-day date, and 9 another one had 24 hours; so there are some differences 10 I can sure look into that. 11 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: It would seem that 12 two weeks for throw lines or trotlines wouldn't make 13 sense. 14 MR. GOODRICH: Right. And throw lines 15 aren't legal on saltwater, so they can't use them down 16 there; but I can sure check into that. 17 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: If we could do 18 that for the January meeting and come back with a little 19 bit more information and some benchmarking, I think that 20 would be helpful. That's great. Any other questions? 21 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: The abandoned ones 22 they tie out to a limb and leave in the river 23 (inaudible). 24 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Right. 25 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, you know, like Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 106 1 there are two points. I mean, if somebody is fishing 2 and doing this, if they've left it a week or two weeks, 3 if anything is on it it's dead and eat up by something 4 else, right? So it's common sense. 5 MR. GOODRICH: Yeah. I think there's 6 going to be more of a trend not to leave it if they have 7 their name attached to it. 8 COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Or at least monitor 9 it. 10 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Hughes. 11 COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I've got one 12 clarification question. Now, if somebody leaves it out 13 over 30 days and you seize the -- whatever it is, the 14 trotline, whatever you're seizing -- does the person who 15 has the tag on there also get a citation for that or do 16 you just destroy the -- 17 MR. GOODRICH: Well, we will contact them 18 about that it's left out there and, you know, it's a 19 process. It becomes evidence in the case, and we will 20 go forward with the investigation. So it -- oftentimes, 21 they do get a citation. Because as I said, usually the 22 warden, once he sees all these tags out there, he knows 23 who's fishing in the area and he'll contact that person 24 and let them know that you've got a device out here that 25 we've seized. But it is an evidentiary process and, of Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN 107 1 course, we have to prove that that device is being 2 fished by them. And again, you've just got somebody's 3 name hanging on there. You really -- it gets a little 4 tough on proving that they were actually fishing it, but 5 we do contact them and a lot of times they'll -- hey, I 6 didn't tag it. And, you know, well, that's a citation. 7 And if we issue them a citation and they take care of it 8 in court, we return the fishing lines to them. 9 COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, 10 Robert. Appreciate it. Okay, that's the end of Item 7. 11 The Committee has completed its business, and I will now 12 call the Conservation Committee to order.
1 C E R T I F I C A T E 2 STATE OF TEXAS ) 3 COUNTY OF TRAVIS ) 4 I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand 5 Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby 6 certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as 7 hereinbefore set out. 8 I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such 9 were reported by me or under my supervision, later 10 reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and 11 control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, 12 and correct transcription of the original notes. 13 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my 14 hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of 15 ________________, 2011. 16 17 18 19 __________________________ 20 Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR CSR No.: 8311 21 Expiration: December 31, 2012 Firm Registration Number: 87 22 1016 La Posada Drive Suite 294 23 Austin, Texas 78752 Job No. 95402 24 25 Sunbelt Reporting & Litigation Services HOUSTON DALLAS/FT. WORTH CORPUS CHRISTI AUSTIN