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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-01-26                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 26, 2017
TPWD Proposing Changes to Hammerhead Shark and Grouper Regulations
AUSTIN --The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is seeking public comment on proposed modifications to hammerhead shark and grouper regulations. The proposed changes would alter the current size and possession limits for hammerhead sharks and grouper to be consistent with federal regulations. This will reduce confusion for anglers fishing in state and federal waters and enhance compliance, administration and enforcement. All public input will be considered prior to any action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 23 public hearing.
The proposed changes to the 2017-18 Statewide Saltwater Recreational Fishing regulations include:
--Increasing the minimum size limit to 99 inches for scalloped, smooth, and great hammerhead sharks;
--establishing a 24-inch minimum size limit and a 4 fish per day bag limit for black grouper;
--establishing a bag limit of catch and release only for Nassau grouper and;
--increasing the minimum size limit to 24 inches for gag grouper.
Additional details on these proposals will be published in the Texas Register and available for review in February and in narrated presentations to be archived on TPWD's website.
Comments on the proposed great hammerhead shark and grouper regulations may be submitted by phone or email to Tiffany Hopper (512) 389-4650; e-mail: tiffany.hopper@tpwd.texas.gov , Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department's Internet web site tpwd.texas.gov once the proposals have been published in the Texas Register.
A live online public hearing via webinar will also be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Details and instructions for participation in the online public hearing webinar will be made available on the TPWD website
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 26, 2017
TPWD Closing Oyster Harvest in St. Charles Bay
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is closing TX-31 in St. Charles Bay to commercial and recreational oyster harvest on Monday, Jan. 30. 2017.
This closing is based on samples collected in January 2017 by TPWD in response to concerns expressed by the oyster industry.
Chapter 76, Parks and Wildlife Code, and the Oyster Management Proclamation, Section 58.21(c)(1), provide for the emergency closure of an area to oyster harvesting when it can be shown that the area is being overworked or damaged.
TPWD and the Oyster Advisory Workgroup, a group of Texas commercial oyster fishermen and dealers, have established criteria based on the abundance of market-sized oysters (greater than 3 inches) and the percentage of small oysters (2-2.9 inches) for determining when an area should be closed.
"This closure is designed to provide some protection to undersize oysters so they can reach legal sizes. The area will be closely monitored by TPWD and will reopen when criteria thresholds are met," says TPWD's Coastal Fisheries Deputy Division Director Lance Robinson.
Maps showing these areas can be found on the Department of State Health Services web site (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/default.aspx).
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 26, 2017
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Catch, Ticket and Release
A Val Verde County game warden responded to a call from a landowner concerning trespassers that were fishing on his private pond. The individuals had been warned several times previously that the pond was private and that fishing there was prohibited. The warden cited the individuals for fishing without consent of landowner. All fish were released back into the water.
Shooting Off the Roost
Game wardens in Trinity and Angelina counties investigated a tip about hunters roosting ducks after legal shooting hours along the Neches River, but by the time they arrived on the scene the shooting had stopped and they were unable to locate the suspects. Based on the tip, there were two groups hunting after hours; one on each side of the Neches River. Believing the suspects might attempt to repeat their actions the following evening, Trinity County game wardens set up surveillance on the Trinity County side of the Neches and an Angelina County game warden Wood set up on the Angelina County side of the river. Wardens waited and listened for shots and once the shooting began again well after legal hours wardens were able to pinpoint the suspects' location on the Trinity County side. All three wardens converged and made contact with four individuals. Cases for hunting waterfowl after legal hours, possession of lead shot, and no hunter's education were filed as well as civil restitution. It was determined that this was one of the groups hunting late the day before.
Registered Offender
A Shelby County game warden received a call about duck hunters trespassing and hunting without landowner consent. Upon the warden's arrival, the hunters quickly fled the area but left behind decoys on the water and a small vessel. Further inspection of the scene revealed empty lead shotshells, which are illegal for hunting waterfowl. The warden also found corn scattered around the area, indicating illegal baiting of waterfowl. A quick call to dispatch returned a registered owner and address for the vessel, which wasn't far from the scene. The warden was able to quickly locate and make contact with the subjects. Charges and restitution are pending for trespassing, hunting over bait, hunting waterfowl with unplugged shotguns, and illegal use of lead shot.
Lost and Found
A Houston County game warden was contacted by the Houston County Sheriff's Office one evening in regards to a lost hunter. The hunter had been out all day and failed to return to his hunting camp in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Since the temperature was below freezing, a Department of Public Safety helicopter was called to assist in the search. The helicopter located the subject at 2 a.m. and kept a spotlight on the subject while the game warden and another first responder walked in to make contact. The hunter had injured his ankle and was very cold, but otherwise OK. Paramedics were called to the scene to assess the hunter.
Failed to Mention
A Frio County game warden patrolling an area for illegal road hunting activity came upon a vehicle driving slowly and erratically. After observing the driver periodically position his vehicle broadside in the road and shine his headlights into ranch pastures, the warden made a traffic stop. The driver had a loaded rifle in the seat next to him and admitted to hunting from the road, but denied shooting anything. The warden issued a citation for hunting from a public roadway and cut him loose. A few hours later, the warden received a call from a ranch manager and advised that he had found a dead 10-point buck that appeared to have been shot from the same road where he had just issued a citation. The warden made contact with the road hunter and during the interview the driver admitted to shooting the buck the night before and had gone back out in hopes of shooting another buck. Charges and civil restitution pending.
Heads or Tails?
Game wardens conducting surveillance along a county road one night observed a pickup driving slowly and making several U-turns. The vehicle came to a stop on the side of the road about 100 yards from where the wardens were set up. Wardens then heard a shot fired, followed by sounds of a tailgate open and then close a few minutes later. After the vehicle pulled back onto the roadway and began speeding away from the scene, wardens initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver, who admitted to shooting the 8-point buck loaded in the truck bed. He claimed the passenger in the truck was his girlfriend and had not assisted him in any way. Another warden approached the girlfriend and asked if she held the antlers or legs while loading the buck? She indicated that she had held onto the antlers while they loaded the deer into the truck. The wardens educated the couple, ages 21 and 17, about the multiple violations they'd committed. Charges and civil restitution for the 8-point buck are pending for both hunters.
Following a Paper Trail
A Jack County game warden observed a deer hanging from a skinning rack at a residence and upon entering the property observed five hunters and nine additional deer on the ground nearby. A huge case of shuffling paper trails followed. Initially, it was determined that four of the deer had not been tagged. When the warden then asked to see hunting licenses which, coincidentally, all five said they had left inside the residence, the situation turned sideways. After a short while, one of the subjects exited the home with a completed tag for one of the deer and explained that he had filled it out in the field but forgot to attach it to the deer. The only problem was that the guy failed to allow the ink to dry before handing the tag to the warden. At that point the warden confronted the others inside of the home where they were scrambling to fill out tags and harvest logs. The warden collected all the paperwork and began to sort through it. During his investigation, the warden determined that of the five remaining deer, three were falsely tagged by a hunter who had lost his license and decided to use his brother's tags instead. Two other hunters were attempting to use tags belonging to individuals that weren't present and another hunter couldn't explain why a buck tag was missing from her license because she had only harvested a doe earlier in the season. Her husband then confessed to harvesting an illegal buck on opening weekend and using her tag. He then admitted to harvesting a larger buck the following weekend and tagging it with his tag. The other individual not present was then contacted by phone and asked why he had left his hunting license behind. He stated that he no longer had a need for it and left it behind for the others to use. In total, 20 citations/warnings were issued in addition to numerous verbal warnings including: untagged deer, improperly tagged deer, failure to display hunting license, harvest log violation, illegal buck harvest, allowing another to hunt under a license, and hunting under the license of another. Cases are pending.
Game Cameras and Facebook; Part 1
A Comanche County game warden received a call in December from a man who said he found signs that someone was poaching on his property. The warden suggested he put up a game camera and shortly thereafter, the game warden received an email from the landowner showing a clear image captured by the game camera of a man holding a rifle. The landowner posted the image on Facebook asking for information and within an hour had the suspect's name and address. That night the suspect called the warden and said that it was him in the picture. Case is pending for trespassing with a gun.
Game Cameras and Facebook; Part 2
A Jim Wells County game warden received a call from a landowner who had seen an image on a Facebook post of his neighbor posing with a white-tailed buck. The photo showed a blood trail from the deer to a fence and two rifles leaning against that fence. The landowner expressed concern that the neighboring hunters had killed the deer on his property. He also stated that this was an ongoing problem. While interviewing the hunters, they admitted to shooting the deer and stated that the deer had jumped the fence onto their property and taken a few steps before one of them shot it in the neck. They then stated that the buck turned around, jumped back over the fence and died immediately upon landing on the other side. Further investigation and trail camera footage showed that this was not the first time that the hunters had trespassed or harvested a deer on their neighbor's property. Cases and restitution are pending.
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 26, 2017
TPWD Unveils Hunting Season Regulation Proposals for 2017-18
AUSTIN - Increased dove hunting opportunities across South Texas and expanded landowner-managed pronghorn permitting in the Panhandle highlight this year's slate of proposed regulation changes for the 2017-18 Texas hunting seasons.
TPWD will be taking public comment on the following proposed changes to the 2017-18 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, with input to be considered prior to any action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 23 public hearing:
--Increasing dove hunting opportunity by expanding the early September 4-day Special White-winged Dove Area hunting season to the entire South Zone boundary.
--Modify the age for the youth-waterfowl participants for 15 to 16 years of age.
--Extend the landowner-managed pronghorn buck experimental permit system for four more years and expand the option into three new pronghorn management areas in the northern Panhandle.
--Frameworks for the 2017-18 migratory game bird hunting seasons.
Additional details on these proposals will be published in the Texas Register and available for review in February, as well as in narrated presentations to be archived on TPWD's website.
Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald at 512-389-4775, robert.macdondald@tpwd.texas.gov, or in writing to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, attn. Wildlife Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department's Internet web site www.tpwd.texas.gov once the proposals have been published in the Texas Register.
Public hearings are being scheduled for Dalhart and Pampa (time and date TBA) to provide a forum for input on the proposed extension and expansion of the experimental pronghorn permit project. For more information about the project contact Shawn Gray, TPWD mule deer and pronghorn program leader, at 432-832-2051 or shawn.gray@tpwd.texas.gov .
A live online public hearing via webinar will also be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Details and instructions for participation in the online public hearing webinar will be made available on the TPWD website.
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 26, 2017
Texas Game Warden Heath Bragg Named SEAFWA Officer of the Year
AUSTIN-- Texas game warden Heath Bragg was recognized as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Officer of the Year award recipient at today's Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting. This is the 47th year that this award has been presented to a Texas game warden.
Game warden Bragg has been with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for 17 years and his stations in East Texas through his career include Tyler, Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.
Bragg's knowledge of fish and wildlife enforcement and understanding of how types of fish and wildlife crimes are committed has been a huge contribution to his career, evident by his apprehension of more than 15 different groups of illegal netters and more than two dozen boating while intoxicated arrests.
During his tenure as a game warden, Bragg was awarded the 2005 National Wild Turkey Federation Officer of the Year, is a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCLOE) and Firearms instructor, and a law enforcement officer water survival instructor.
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