Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

May 30, 2001

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744


           6             BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 30th day  

           7   of May of 2001, there came on to be heard matters under 

           8   the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife 

           9   Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of 

          10   Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, 

          11   Travis County, Texas, beginning at 9:05 a.m., to wit: 

          12   APPEARANCES: 

          14   Lee M. Bass, Ft. Worth, Texas, Chairman 
               John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas 
          15   Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas 
               Carol E. Dinkins, Houston, Texas, Vice-Chair 
          16   Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas 
               Katharine Armstrong Idsal, Dallas, Texas 
          17   Mark E. Watson, Jr., san Antonio, Texas 
               Phil Montgomery, III, Dallas, Texas 
          18   Joseph Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas 


          20   Andrew Sansom, Executive Director 
               Other personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department 





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           1                  REGULATIONS COMMITTEE 

           2                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           3                       MAY 30, 2001 

           4                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           5                        9:05 A.M. 

           6                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           7                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good morning.  I would like 

           8   to call to order the committee meetings of the Parks and 

           9   Wildlife Commission.  Welcome our two new appointees to 

          10   join us this morning.   

          11             Mr. Sansom, will you read our opening statement? 

          12                  MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman, a public notice 

          13   of this meeting containing all items on the proposed 

          14   agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of 

          15   State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code.  

          16   This is referred to as the Open Meetings Law, and I would 

          17   like for this action to be noted in the official record of 

          18   the meeting and to welcome Mr. Montgomery and 

          19   Mr. Fitzsimons, as well. 

          20                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  First order of business 

          21   will be the regulations committee.  And I would like a 

          22   motion for approval of the committee minutes from our 

          23   previous meeting, if there are no comments on such. 

          24                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  So moved.   

          25                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second. 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion and a second.  All 

           2   in favor?  Any opposed?  Thank you. 

           3                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Sansom, will you give 

           4   us a briefing on the committee charges, please. 

           5              BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES 

           6                  MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman, one of the 

           7   things that you asked to us to do during this biennium was 

           8   to increase the environment of our advisory committees and 

           9   to streamline the authority by which we manage with the 

          10   advisory committees.  And this morning, we have the 

          11   pleasure of having Mr. Bob Corrigan, who's the Chairman of 

          12   our Migratory Bird Advisory Committee who will participate 

          13   in this regulations committee discussion.  And Mr. John 

          14   Kelsey will be with us later, who is the Chairman of the 

          15   Hunting Advisory Committee.  And this is, I think, a step 

          16   in the right direction toward involving these people who 

          17   volunteer their time and services into our official 

          18   policy-making meetings. 

          19             You have asked us to optimize license management 

          20   in marine commercial fisheries.  And I'm happy to report 

          21   to you that as of May 11, 2001, 450 commercial fin fish 

          22   licenses have been issued, and the records indicate that 

          23   about 1,000 individuals are eligible to purchase a 

          24   license.  So we're about halfway done. 

          25             To maximize recreational opportunity, which was 

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           1   a major charge to this committee, the Real Texas 

           2   Adventures, which we've briefed you on, has received over 

           3   4500 entries as of this date.  And as I'll remind you that 

           4   the program will feature four premier fishing 

           5   opportunities in both fresh and saltwater available at 

           6   very low costs to all Texans.  So that concludes the 

           7   charges this morning. 

           8                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right, then.  We'll do 

           9   the migratory bird proclamation first.  Vernon, if you 

          10   would come forward. 


          12                  VERNON BEVILL:  Mr. Chairman, members of 

          13   the Regulations Committee, my name is Vernon Bevill.  I'm 

          14   the Program Director of the Game Bird program.  And today 

          15   we are here to discuss with you the proposals for the 

          16   early season species as well as adopt rules in this 

          17   process for the general regulation of governing migratory 

          18   bird seasons of 2001-2002.   

          19             We'll be making several changes.  Of course, 

          20   every year we make adjustments related to the calendar.  

          21   This year you will be considering a change in the dove bag 

          22   limit and season length.  And I would note to you now that 

          23   we're going to hold off on our decision making for 

          24   sandhill cranes until the late season process so that we 

          25   have more clarity by that time and what the light goose 

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           1   conservation order might entail this coming year. 

           2             For teal and snipe, woodcock, rail, those 

           3   seasons will basically be the same as last year.  As you 

           4   recall for teal, the special teal season, last year we 

           5   started on a Friday in order to gain the full 16 days.  

           6   This year, Saturday the 15th of September will give us 

           7   that -- that same option.  And we have -- so we have that 

           8   little calendar adjustment to go back to opening the teal 

           9   season on Saturday.   

          10             And -- and for rail and gallinule and those 

          11   species, we try to set those seasons as best we can to 

          12   mirror opportunity to hunt during other migratory bird 

          13   seasons like water fowl and special teal season.  So those 

          14   adjustments are made like that. 

          15             For white-wing dove, we are again proposing the 

          16   special white-wing season in the Valley to commence on the 

          17   first full weekend in September and cover the two -- the 

          18   first two weekends of September. 

          19             As you know, we went out to considerable effort 

          20   to gather public input toward consideration of a change 

          21   that would take us back to the pre-1994 regulations for 

          22   mourning dove that did establish a 12-bird bag within a 

          23   70-day season.  And we have looked at that both on a zone 

          24   basis and a state-wide basis with a survey effort and 

          25   through gathering public comment.   

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           1             Through the mail survey that we sent out and 

           2   received about 3,000 responses to in a one-mailing survey, 

           3   one point I would bring to your attention is that when 

           4   asking Texas hunters about their satisfaction with 

           5   mourning dove hunting in general, we get high marks for 

           6   the -- for the mourning dove hunting opportunity that 

           7   exists in Texas. 

           8             And in the opinion survey, we looked at two -- 

           9   basically, two parameters:  Whether to maintain a 15-bird 

          10   bag in a 60-day season or a 12-bird bag in a 70-day 

          11   season.  As you can see from the survey results, the 

          12   central and south zone respondents favored going back to 

          13   the 12-bird bag in a 70-day season.  In the north zone, 

          14   about one percentage point difference; no statistically 

          15   significant difference, obviously; that -- about a 50/50 

          16   split with a slight favor toward 15 and 60. 

          17             We received more public input this year on the 

          18   dove proposal than any previous time by a wide margin.  We 

          19   had received about 475 comments as of late last week when 

          20   we had to put this slide together.  And as of yesterday, 

          21   it had inched up a little bit more into, I think, 483 

          22   comments.  You will note that from a statewide 

          23   perspective, dove hunter comments slightly favored 15 and 

          24   60.  But when we look at it on a zone basis, the central 

          25   and south zone both indicated the same results that we 

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           1   found in the mail survey in favoring going back to 12 and 

           2   70, but a wide margin exists in the north zone with 

           3   staying with the 15 and 60 season that they have had these 

           4   past number of years. 

           5             When we look at where we would put the ten extra 

           6   days, if you make the decision to go back to 12 and 70, 

           7   interestingly, north zone hunters chose to have a winter 

           8   season.  And it's interesting in that the north zone 

           9   season has always run a straight-through season even when 

          10   it was a 70-day season.  So that was a point of interest 

          11   to us. 

          12             In the central zone, we basically looked at 

          13   three options:  Adding the ten days back to the end of the 

          14   first season, which was where we took them from when we 

          15   made the change to go to 15 and 60; add days at the 

          16   beginning of the second season in December - that would be 

          17   prior to Christmas - or adding those days at the end of 

          18   that second split and run it further into January.  Texas 

          19   is the only state in the country that is allowed to go as 

          20   late as the 25th of January in the south zone, actually.   

          21             And in that south zone, again, we see that -- 

          22   basically the same question.  And in the south zone, the 

          23   preponderance of response was for the days to be added 

          24   late.  And I would like to go back and just point out two 

          25   things here.  When we look at these data, we -- we -- from 

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           1   a staff perspective, we basically looked at what the 

           2   preponderance of response was and based our suggestion on 

           3   that.  But when you look at combining the interest of 

           4   having a set of some days prior to -- or at the beginning 

           5   of the second split and some days at the end of the second 

           6   split, you see that 70 percent of the hunters in both the 

           7   central and the south zone indicated an interest in those 

           8   late days.  And I know that's been a concern to all of you 

           9   as to where to put these days, if you make this change. 

          10             So when we put the recommendation together for 

          11   your consideration, we basically, as I said, looked at 

          12   what the preponderance of response was and put all ten 

          13   days where that response was. 

          14             Because of the interest of staying with 15 and 

          15   60 in the north zone being as high as it was and public 

          16   comment, we are recommending that you consider staying 

          17   with 15 and 60 in the north zone.   

          18             But because of the 12 and 70 interest in the 

          19   central and south zone was so clearly in favor of that -- 

          20   that -- going back to the longer season, we are suggesting 

          21   you consider changing back to that.  And -- and in this 

          22   particular option, we suggested putting the extra ten days 

          23   in the central zone at the end of the first season, and 

          24   the extra ten days in the south zone at the end of the 

          25   second season.  But that's just a suggestion that is one 

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           1   option for you to consider.  And there are these other 

           2   options of splitting days between the front end and the 

           3   back end of a segment or in the case of the central zone, 

           4   putting some days back in at the end of the first split 

           5   and then other days at the end of the second split.  I 

           6   think that's -- you know, all those options are open to 

           7   your consideration. 

           8             And, then, Mr. Chairman, that ends my 

           9   presentation.  I would be happy to entertain any questions 

          10   or call on Mr. Corrigan for comments from the Advisory 

          11   Board. 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes.  I would like to hear 

          13   from Bob at this time.  Good morning. 

          14                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Good morning. 

          15                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  First I would like to thank 

          16   you for coming and -- 

          17                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Thank you.   

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- and the effort that you 

          19   and your board have put into this.  Interested to hear 

          20   your comments.   

          21                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  We first addressed this 

          22   issue about five years ago and looked at this more as an 

          23   issue of opportunity, an issue of regulations.   

          24             The south -- our original proposal was asking 

          25   that this change primary affect -- well, only affect the 

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           1   south zone, not realizing that we are going to get as much 

           2   support as we would out of the central zone.   

           3             We feel like that -- and I think some of our 

           4   statistics will prove it -- is that we have a larger 

           5   population of birds later in the season than early season.  

           6   It also gives us the opportunity to involve the families 

           7   more in dove hunting.  You know, most of our kids, once 

           8   football season starts and once the college kids get off 

           9   to school, the opportunity to hunt is -- is slim to none.  

          10   Around the Christmas season, it gives the family an 

          11   opportunity to get together and enjoy the resource. 

          12             As I'm sure Mr. Kelsey is going to -- I hope 

          13   will relate to you this afternoon, hunting opportunity is 

          14   a critical issue.  We're finding now that less than 

          15   nine percent of our hunters are under the age of 18.  

          16   Three percent of the hunters are in -- of a college age.  

          17   We have a situation where we have a relatively flat number 

          18   of hunting license -- licenses, but a significantly 

          19   increasing population.  So our hunters are actually 

          20   representing less than 50 percent of where they did ten 

          21   years ago.  And so anything that we can do to improve the 

          22   opportunity, we think is very beneficial. 

          23             Another thing is -- is with respect to the Type 

          24   II hunting property that's available throughout the state, 

          25   it is one of the few opportunities where the -- someone 

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           1   who maybe can't afford a hunting lease can get outdoors.  

           2   And so that's -- we figure that probably - and they say 

           3   figures lie and liers figure - but somewhere between 35 

           4   and 45 percent of the people that buy a hunting license 

           5   participate during the year in dove hunting.  So any more 

           6   opportunity we can give those people to get in the field, 

           7   and especially on Type II properties, the greater our 

           8   chance is of retaining, I feel, the hunting heritage.   

           9             We think this is a very important issue.  It's 

          10   really more in the area of opportunity than just simply 

          11   bag limits. 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  So, basically, your 

          13   committee would be in support of the general staff 

          14   recommendation of going to -- to the 12 and 70 in the 

          15   central and southern zones and leaving it at 15 and 60 in 

          16   the north? 

          17                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Very much so. 

          18             With respect to the ten days, though, there's 

          19   been comments should it be at the beginning, should it be 

          20   at the end and so on. 

          21                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  That was my next question. 

          22                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  And I queried -- heck, 

          23   we met just last week.  Our feeling is that probably you 

          24   just add the ten to the days and let staff move that 

          25   extra -- move the whole season as it maximizes benefit to 

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           1   the public.  Saying it has to come five days before 

           2   Christmas, when that turns out to be a Monday, may not be 

           3   the best use of it.  You may actually want to back it up 

           4   eight days one year, so you put another week in it.  And 

           5   tying it to just five days before or five days after, all 

           6   at the beginning or all at the end, may not create the 

           7   real results we're looking for. 

           8                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  May I ask a question, 

           9   Mr. Chairman?   

          10                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes, please.  

          11                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I'm trying to track 

          12   your earlier comments with regard to hunter 

          13   participation -- 

          14                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Yes, sir. 

          15                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  -- with the extension.  

          16             Did your committee favor -- in looking at that, 

          17   did they favor one over the other in terms of extended 

          18   participation?  You mentioned football players and college 

          19   people going back to school and all.   

          20             If that's the case, it would seem that there 

          21   would be more weight given to the earlier additions than 

          22   the later additions.  Am I missing something here?  Are 

          23   you following me? 

          24                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  There -- there -- Yes, I 

          25   think I do.  Let me see if I can answer it, and if I'm 

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           1   not, slow me down. 

           2             We asked to go back to 12 and 70 because it 

           3   would increase the number of opportunity days.  The 

           4   average dove hunter in the State of Texas harvests 3.1 

           5   birds a day.  Over 85 percent of the people that go out 

           6   hunting do not get their limit.  So we're using up a lot 

           7   of days when very, very few people are benefiting from it.  

           8   And so the question was brought up under the federal 

           9   regulations -- the federal guidelines say that we can do 

          10   one of two things:  We can either have 15/60, which is 15 

          11   birds in a 60-day season, or we can go 12 birds to a 

          12   70-day season.  The federal regulations allow us to pick 

          13   which one of those.  That's the only options we've got.  

          14   And we can move those days any way we want.  Okay? 

          15             There was very few people that really wanted to 

          16   add those to the first season, but there was a lot who 

          17   wanted to add them to the second season.  The question 

          18   seems to keep arising as to what do we do?  Where do we 

          19   put those ten days in the second season?   

          20             And so -- am I doing all right?   

          21                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Uh-huh. 

          22                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  And so our 

          23   recommendation was it's just like what staff does now with 

          24   teal.  There is -- there's -- I guess, Vernon, 

          25   September the 1st is the first day you could be open?  

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           1   Right. 

           2                  VERNON BEVILL:  Yeah. 

           3                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  But what they do is they 

           4   look at the timing.  And we know on September 1st, there 

           5   aren't many teal down anyhow.  And so what they do is they 

           6   pick the weekend closest to where they anticipate the 

           7   flight to begin.   

           8             So we're recommending something along this same 

           9   line with respect to dove by saying it allows staff the 

          10   opportunity to move those dates to best service -- serve 

          11   the needs of the hunter and the opportunity. 

          12                  MR. WATSON:  Well, Bob, it seems like to me 

          13   what you said, though, would indicate that we would get 

          14   more opportunity in the central zone with the kids home 

          15   from school and things like that if we did the second 

          16   season rather than the beginning of the second season.  

          17   Because, you know, they're not going to be home before, 

          18   you know, -- not much before Christmas. 

          19                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Uh-huh. 

          20                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  The way Christmas 

          21   holidays are going now, they don't go back until the 

          22   middle of January.  And it looked like to me that, you 

          23   know, that you're saying that that might be the bird 

          24   selection just as you've -- staff's recommended for the 

          25   south zone. 

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           1                  VERNON BEVILL:  Mr. Commissioner, I think 

           2   the paradox of this whole issue is where to put the days.  

           3   In the central zone, when the season was shortened, we 

           4   took those days out of the end of the first split.   

           5             The common thread of interest that we've heard 

           6   the most since that time is, "Give us those days back in 

           7   October."  But, yet, when you looked at the survey 

           8   results, while that was probably the highest percentage 

           9   indicated that preference, you looked at the two 

          10   percentages for putting those days late and -- and that 

          11   represented more than 50 percent of responses.  So the 

          12   paradox is how to do this is going to be meaningful to 

          13   everybody, realizing there are going to be people who are 

          14   not going to be satisfied with any aspect of this 

          15   decision. 

          16                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  That's the one constant of 

          17   dove regulations.  In the 12 years I've been associated 

          18   with it is there will definitely be people who are not 

          19   happy and will be back next year wanting a change.   

          20             Let me throw a concept out that's come up in 

          21   discussions I've had with people, and I think it addresses 

          22   some of these issues of maximizing school vacation 

          23   opportunities and some of this calendar shift that goes 

          24   along with that, because, I think, you know, all of us 

          25   having kids in various schools, sometimes Christmas 

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           1   vacations kick off the 16th or something of December and 

           2   other times it's the 23rd, just kind of the calendar shift 

           3   of what days of the week the actual Christmas holiday 

           4   falls on.   

           5             And I think part of where this particular 

           6   argument would come from is that dove seasons and the 

           7   opening of dove season has really been kind of a tradition 

           8   amongst Texans, whether it's central and north zone, that 

           9   it's September 1st.  No matter what day of the week it is, 

          10   people take the time off, get together with their 

          11   traditional hunting group and friends, family, and go, 

          12   whether it be Wednesday or Saturday.  And since we have 

          13   had this winter season, for as long as I can remember, 

          14   it's opened the 26th.  So you kind of have -- people have 

          15   it in their head, "It's the day after Christmas.  I can 

          16   dove hunt," at least in the central and south zones.   

          17             And one -- one idea that I've talked to some 

          18   people about, and it's come up in some discussions, is to 

          19   try to keep with a tradition that people always know, 

          20   "Okay.  Such and such a date is when the winter season 

          21   starts," but, yet, accommodate for this -- this school 

          22   vacation issue, whether it be high school or college.  And 

          23   that it's -- it's this:  That it would open the Saturday 

          24   prior to Christmas.  So some years that may be the 24th; 

          25   some years that could be, I guess, as early as the 18th or 

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           1   something.  I haven't figured the math, but something 

           2   about that.  But that would almost always certainly catch 

           3   when the vacations start.  Because if Christmas falls on a 

           4   Saturday, almost all schools will let out at least four or 

           5   five days ahead of that. 

           6             The other -- other times when Christmas may fall 

           7   on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, they may go to the Friday of 

           8   the preceding week.  But if you always started the 

           9   Saturday prior to Christmas and then ran for the allotted 

          10   number of days, you would -- you would catch the bulk of 

          11   the early before Christmas school holidays.  And then by 

          12   starting it on a Saturday, you would always maximize the 

          13   number of weekends that you had in this allotted 25 or six 

          14   days that we're allocating to the winter split, which I 

          15   think is another goal, Bob, that you pointed out that we 

          16   all -- we should always try to maximize the number of 

          17   weekends in an allocated season. 

          18                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Right.   

          19                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  So as to optimize 

          20   opportunity. 

          21             So, you know, that would be one approach that 

          22   would establish a traditional starting date, provide for 

          23   the calendar shift as Christmas Day moves around of what 

          24   day of the week it is and try to increase the opportunity 

          25   for school kids over what we have now.  And then -- 

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           1   without wasting those days by having it open before 

           2   they're out of school and then letting it run as late into 

           3   January as we can, because there are obviously, you know, 

           4   some -- some -- quite a -- quite a few people who are 

           5   interested in seeing it run as late into January as it 

           6   can.  It's kind of a way to split the middle of a lot of 

           7   these survey results by doing that.  But that's one 

           8   approach that I've -- that's come up in some conversations 

           9   I've had, which seems to have as much rationale to it as 

          10   any.  But... 

          11                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  I don't think we have 

          12   any problem at all accepting that recommendation.  Our 

          13   wishes were to add ten days for more opportunity.  We 

          14   wanted to leave to staff how those days should be used.  

          15   From the input you've received if -- I mean, it sounds 

          16   like a great idea to me, because you do know when the 

          17   season starts.   

          18             We're going to have a few times where maybe 

          19   Christmas is on Sunday and so there's not going to be that 

          20   much opportunity on Saturday.  Mama doesn't like us 

          21   leaving into Christmas Eve.  But I feel very comfortable 

          22   in saying I think that our committee would support that. 

          23                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I just heard rumblings from 

          24   one mother who said she would like them out of the house 

          25   on Christmas Eve. 

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           1                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  I also looked at my 

           2   palm pilot, and in 2005 Saturday is the 24th. 

           3                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  It's good to keep moving 

           4   around.   

           5                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Maybe you have several 

           6   years to try a concept such as that.   

           7                  VERNON BEVILL:  When Christmas is a Sunday 

           8   or a Monday or something like that, probably the deadest 

           9   hunting day of the year is that Saturday, prior to 

          10   Christmas.  But, I mean, like you say, you've got that 

          11   adjustment just going on. 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Maybe it will encourage 

          13   people to shop early. 

          14                  VERNON BEVILL:  Well, that's another way to 

          15   look at it. 

          16                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  You know, another issue I 

          17   know that's come up that we haven't touched on here is by 

          18   going this direction is that as far as -- for as long as 

          19   I'm aware of, and maybe since there was a dove season in 

          20   Texas, we've had a uniform bag limit statewide.  And some 

          21   concern that -- that having different bag limits for 

          22   different zones would create some potential law 

          23   enforcement issues and unintended or -- you know, I would 

          24   call them benign violations rather than ones that were 

          25   malicious.  But, you know, frankly, I think most people 

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           1   who intend to shoot over their limit are going to end up 

           2   with more than 15 birds in the first place, or at least 

           3   they hope to. 

           4             We really haven't -- haven't touched on that.  I 

           5   know that, you know, one of the -- the -- the goals that 

           6   we've had from a regulatory point of view for many years 

           7   around here is to simplify things, make it as easy for 

           8   hunters and fisherman to follow the rules as possible by 

           9   having as few rules as possible. 

          10             We've also had this -- this ongoing goal of 

          11   maximizing opportunity.  And, frankly, this seems to be 

          12   where the two of those come in conflict to some degree, 

          13   where we're complicating it by having different bags and 

          14   in zones in order to maximize opportunity.   

          15             It has come up in some discussion, but, you 

          16   know, all the ones I've been party to, at least, people 

          17   have felt like that the max -- the increased opportunity 

          18   was well worth the slight complication of bags.  And, 

          19   after all, we have different bag limits in different duck 

          20   zones, goose zones, you know, the turkey, deer limits 

          21   differ statewide.  So once there was an adjustment period 

          22   where people got used to it, that it really wouldn't be an 

          23   issue.  But I'm just kind of bringing that up to see if 

          24   there are any comments that anybody feels they want to 

          25   throw into the mix from that perspective. 

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           1                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Could I address that for 

           2   the moment?   

           3             Two of the members of our committee are, our 

           4   ex-Commissioner Bill Graham and Mark Bevins, both from the 

           5   Panhandle area -- we wanted to propose something.  Our 

           6   original proposal was we wanted to propose something that 

           7   we thought would be acceptable.  The input we received 

           8   from staff and two of our members were - I say this 

           9   facetiously - what the north zone would really like is 

          10   they would like 25 birds in ten days, because by the 15th 

          11   of September, most the birds are gone. 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah. 

          13                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  I mean, if they really 

          14   had their way.  We had no opposition, Mr. Chairman, to 

          15   standardizing it.  We just fell that it would probably 

          16   hurt our proposal.   

          17             We were extremely surprised how close the call 

          18   was in the north zone.  We didn't anticipate it being that 

          19   at all and how many people proposed that the ten days go 

          20   on the second season, which is even -- seems like there's 

          21   further -- fewer birds.  But that's just to give you some 

          22   insight on why we did what we did, because the original 

          23   input we received was just so much in favor of don't touch 

          24   the north zone.  Their season is so limited in reality, 

          25   that adding days isn't going to help them any. 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  You know, it was 

           2   surprising, this -- some of this data about -- it seemed 

           3   to indicate some interest in a second season in the north 

           4   zone.  And I'm not quite sure what geographic areas that's 

           5   coming from that they think they have birds then.  But -- 

           6                  VERNON BEVILL:  We could actually look at 

           7   that by zip code, but I don't -- I don't know that we 

           8   would have enough specific data to tell anything from it. 

           9                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  It may be something 

          10   worthwhile since most people up there feel by 

          11   September 15th the birds are gone.  That's an 

          12   exaggeration, but --  

          13                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Right.  

          14                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- for all practical 

          15   purposes -- but certainly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, 

          16   we don't feel like we can use 60 days.  But it may be 

          17   something that when we go out for public comment in the 

          18   next regulatory cycle that will begin this fall, that we 

          19   might actually try to gauge where that interest is coming 

          20   from or at least what seems to be an interest, you know.   

          21             Is there a real interest in the north zone for 

          22   some limited second season?  And, if so, you know, where 

          23   is it coming from and how much support is there? 

          24             This is kind of contradictory. 

          25                  VERNON BEVILL:  Yeah.  We were actually, 

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           1   Mr. Chairman, surprised that the mail survey result from 

           2   the north zone were as close as they were, considering the 

           3   kind of public comment we have received from the north 

           4   zone over the years and the preponderance of comments so 

           5   strongly favoring 15 and 60 in this current information.   

           6             So -- you know, in speaking to your uniform bag 

           7   limit point, I would probably -- had the public comment 

           8   been closer to 50/50, had it been 60/40, with the mail 

           9   survey being basically a dead heat, I would probably would 

          10   have encouraged a uniform bag limit.  But when we looked 

          11   at it, those two sets of data, they were so different -- 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah. 

          13                  VERNON BEVILL:  -- that we felt like we 

          14   needed to consider a split bag limit. 

          15             And I believe that most people who hunt between 

          16   zones probably are more cognizant of regulations of one 

          17   zone to the other, than people who basically hunt just one 

          18   zone. 

          19                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  May I ask a question 

          20   about -- are there doves in the Panhandle in December and 

          21   January? 

          22                  VERNON BEVILL:  There are doves in the 

          23   Panhandle, and there is some empirical information that 

          24   indicates that that wintering population is slightly 

          25   increasing. 

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           1             The problem with late dove hunting in the big 

           2   expansed areas like that is when you organize a group of 

           3   people to go out and hunt, you get on the field where 

           4   they're at and you get round of shooting, and they pick up 

           5   and they go five miles away and there's nobody over there 

           6   to run them back to you.  That's why just slightly over 

           7   seven percent of the total dove harvest takes place late 

           8   in the -- in that late segment, anyway. 

           9                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Do you see an increase 

          10   in the dove population in north central Texas? 

          11                  VERNON BEVILL:  I don't know that we can 

          12   tell that from -- we don't have any specific surveys.  It 

          13   would just be somewhat educated observation. 

          14                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I would -- I would be 

          15   surprised if we don't have some public comment on this 

          16   tomorrow at our -- at our Commission meeting.  So I'm sure 

          17   we'll get some more input.   

          18             Any further comments or discussion that anybody 

          19   would like to make at this time concerning any of these 

          20   issues?  Please. 

          21                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Can I add something, 

          22   Mr. Chairman? 

          23                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes. 

          24                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  First, I would like to 

          25   thank you and the prior Chairman for letting me serve as a 

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           1   Chair of this committee.  I guess it's been nine years.  

           2   In fact, I think we were the first advisory committee, 

           3   weren't we, Andy?  It has been a real privilege. 

           4             And I would like throw one thing in, because I 

           5   am very are concerned about license sales, hunter 

           6   opportunity, public access and things like that, that I'm 

           7   not going to try to tie any value to dove hunting as far 

           8   as license sales.  But I do feel very comfortable in 

           9   saying that 35 to 45 percent of hunters do dove hunt. 

          10             There is some question kind of milling around in 

          11   Washington that says maybe we ought to reduce the bag 

          12   limit and reduce the days of hunting.  Very typical.  I'm 

          13   sounding kind of cynical.  When they can't prove things 

          14   are good or bad, they just ratchet down on us until we 

          15   prove that things are good.  That's the way the migratory 

          16   system works.   

          17             It has been, Vernon, I guess, 15 or 20 years 

          18   since we've done any really extensive banding and call 

          19   count surveys.  We know pretty well -- Vernon, would you 

          20   agree with me that probably the places they're sitting now 

          21   to listen to call counts are underneath a telephone pole 

          22   next to an office building?  That's just because you've 

          23   got to go back to the same place every year.   

          24             I'm hoping that this committee will -- or this 

          25   Commission will give our committee the opportunity to come 

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           1   back to you all with a proposal for long-term dove 

           2   management.  We think it's critical.  Unfortunately, it's 

           3   not something that's going to just involve us.  It's going 

           4   to involve everybody in the central management unit and 

           5   maybe even the eastern management unit.  It's something 

           6   that needs to be done.  I think if we all of a sudden wake 

           7   up one day and we've got ten birds in 30 days when, in 

           8   fact, we don't need to, we're going to have a problem.  

           9   And so I'm just -- and thank you for letting me throw that 

          10   comment in. 

          11                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I agree with you.  It's 

          12   well-founded.  And -- and I think there would be support 

          13   for the Commission level for -- for a review of how we're 

          14   doing our surveys.  I know Vernon brought that up several 

          15   times -- 

          16                  VERNON BEVILL:  We are -- 

          17                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- in earlier presentations 

          18   and to some degree has been fighting the federal system 

          19   above us to get some recognition of new data sets.  But... 

          20                  VERNON BEVILL:  And Mr. Chairman, we are, 

          21   in fact, currently engaged in a research project with 

          22   Texas A&M to look at the call count survey routes and try 

          23   to understand those variables that exist on those routes 

          24   today and their influence on our observer's ability to 

          25   hear doves.  And so we should have some answers as to some 

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           1   of the weaknesses and strengths of our current survey 

           2   system within a couple years.  I mean, that's the key.   

           3             There is a nationwide initiative to look at the 

           4   kinds of research that dove need conducted for future 

           5   management emphasis.  So hopefully -- and Texas is such a 

           6   big player in any migratory bird initiative, since we have 

           7   about 19 to 20 percent of all migratory bird hunters in 

           8   the country who hunt in Texas.  We are a pivotal state in 

           9   that interest group.   

          10                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Bob, on a personal note, I 

          11   would like to thank you for at least the last six years of 

          12   your leadership -- 

          13                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Thank you. 

          14                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- of the Advisory 

          15   Committee.  And you all have done a good job, steady 

          16   advice that's always been sound and well thought out. 

          17                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Thank you. 

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  And I appreciate it.  It's 

          19   been helpful. 

          20                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Thank you very much.  

          21   Appreciate it. 

          22                  VERNON BEVILL:  Here, here. 

          23                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  Thank you. 

          24                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  If there's no further 

          25   comment on -- or discussion on that one, I would propose 

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           1   moving it to the agenda tomorrow for further 

           2   consideration. 

           3             Jerry Cooke, deer management issue. 


           5                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and members, 

           6   my name is Jerry Cooke.  I'm Game Branch Chief in the 

           7   Wildlife Division.  I'll be presenting to you some 

           8   proposed changes relative to the deer permit programs in 

           9   Texas.   

          10             During the most recent legislative session 

          11   HB-2710 was filed, which identified a number of issues of 

          12   concern to those constituents, such as allowing scientific 

          13   breeder permit bucks to be used as a temporary buck in the 

          14   deer management permit detention pens; greater flexibility 

          15   for Triple T transfers of deer for genetic purposes; 

          16   increases in the number of Parks and Wildlife staff who 

          17   could approve the Triple T permits to trap, transport and 

          18   transplant permits, and to provide a formal appeals 

          19   process for denials of Triple T permits. 

          20             Staff was directed to look at laying out 

          21   proposals to the various regulations that it could a 

          22   accommodate as many of these issues as possible in the 

          23   Texas Administrative Code, so long as the programs 

          24   remained incentive-based and habitat-focused, as has been 

          25   our goal throughout on the deer permit programs.  But all 

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           1   Parks and Wildlife personnel would be responsible for 

           2   approval or disapproval of all permits, and that deer 

           3   confined under a deer management permit could be not be 

           4   trapped and moved under a Triple T permit and that, 

           5   wherever possible, the rules that would be proposed would 

           6   be fence neutral -- fence type neutral. 

           7             One issue that could not be addressed that was 

           8   included in the bill was creating a single permit for all 

           9   these various activities, because only the legislature can 

          10   do that.  However, we can accommodate a single application 

          11   process for multiple permits, and we certainly can 

          12   accommodate that. 

          13             The changes would be -- required to address 

          14   these issues would be in three different proclamations:  

          15   The Triple T proclamation, the deer management permit 

          16   proclamation and the permit -- the proclamation for the 

          17   scientific breeder permit. 

          18             Many of the resource concerns could be 

          19   alleviated in some of these issues if we used existing or 

          20   previous -- previous -- previous reviews and approvals in 

          21   existing permit programs.  For example, if a property had 

          22   been approved for a Level 3 MLD permit and if they had 

          23   renewed this and the requests were for doe deer only, so 

          24   long as the number of does that were to be trapped from a 

          25   piece of property was no more than the number of MLD 

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           1   permits that were issued to the property, then it would -- 

           2   could not be a resource issue to move those animals. 

           3             Also, so long as releases on the property did 

           4   not exceed the population size larger than the target 

           5   population size identified in the management plan, then, 

           6   again, that could not be a resource issue. 

           7             Also, if there was a reduction in the herd to a 

           8   accommodate a release, depletion could not be an issue so 

           9   long as the population was not reduced more than half the 

          10   increment below the target population size. 

          11             Currently, Triple T permits can only be approved 

          12   or denied by Manager IIs, which is our district leaders in 

          13   the Wildlife Division.  We would propose that our senior 

          14   biologists and our senior technicians be included in that 

          15   approval regulation.  This would provide more personnel to 

          16   do the reviewing. 

          17             On appeals process, that was included in the 

          18   proposal, was fairly straightforward.  If a permit is 

          19   denied, it could be appealed to the supervisor -- direct 

          20   supervisor immediately.  If the landowner doesn't feel as 

          21   though they had an appropriate review, they could appeal 

          22   it to a panel and that panel would be made up of the 

          23   District Leader, Regional Director, the White-tailed deer 

          24   statewide coordinator, me, and the Divisional Director.  

          25   The Divisional Director is an amendment to what was 

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           1   published earlier. 

           2             If there is any -- if the results of those 

           3   denials remains a denial and the landowner wishes to 

           4   suggest, perhaps, a rule change would be in order, then we 

           5   would review that with all of our advisory committees, as 

           6   we always -- as we always have. 

           7             Within the deer management permit proclamation 

           8   changes would have to be made to allow a scientific 

           9   breeder buck to be temporarily detained in that breeding 

          10   facility and removed prior to opening the pen to the other 

          11   deer.   

          12             Obviously, removing that scientific breeder buck 

          13   would have to be -- would have to accommodate the welfare 

          14   of the other deer in the pen.  In other words, hovering a 

          15   helicopter over a 10-acre pen to net a scientific breeder 

          16   buck would not be a good method. 

          17             Also, the scientific breeder permit proclamation 

          18   would have to be amended to allow for the temporary 

          19   transfer to the DMP pen. 

          20             Other changes that was proposed for the 

          21   scientific breeder permit proclamation would be to define 

          22   an authorized agent.  And, basically, an authorized agent 

          23   is whoever the landowner says it is -- I mean, whoever the 

          24   scientific breeder says it is, as we do in all of our 

          25   other programs.  We would require that invoices used for 

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           1   temporary transfers for whatever purpose be retained on 

           2   both ends of the transaction for the Law Enforcement 

           3   Divisions' inspection. 

           4             Also, for the annual report, instead of 

           5   providing all of the originals of permits and invoices, we 

           6   would require photocopies of those permits and invoices so 

           7   that the originals could remain with the breeder and that 

           8   the requirement for all deer to be ear-tagged within the 

           9   facility would correspond to the same day as the annual 

          10   report which would be March 31 as opposed to March 1st, as 

          11   it currently is.   

          12             Also, one amendment to the proclamation that we 

          13   would suggest is in the notification section that the 

          14   Department needs to be notified of moving a deer within 

          15   ten days prior to or during a hunting season.  Currently 

          16   the wording is scientific breeder only.  There are other 

          17   people who may move deer under this program at that time.  

          18   We need to change the wording of that to include all 

          19   individuals who might be moving animals.   

          20             We had public hearings on these issues in Tyler, 

          21   Bryan, Brownwood, Uvalde, Fredericksburg, Victoria and 

          22   Falfurrias.  We had 92 people attending these hearings.  

          23   Fifty of those were in Fredericksburg, which is normal.  

          24   Any time we show up in Fredericksburg, there will be a 

          25   large crowd.  In those 92 attendees, we had 30 comments.  

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           1   Basically, all were supporting these proposals.   

           2             We had one petition with 72 names on it that 

           3   suggested that the DMP proclamation be amended such that 

           4   deer could not be released from a breeding facility prior 

           5   to April the 1st.  I mean, this -- this would be the day 

           6   after we stopped trapping under the Triple T.  In other 

           7   words, this would absolutely mean that deer retained could 

           8   be not be trapped under the Triple T proclamation. 

           9             We also had one resolution from the Gillespie 

          10   County Commissioner's Court opposed to the proposed 

          11   changes, the scientific breeder proclamation and general 

          12   opposition to the deer management permit entirely.   

          13             That concludes my presentation.  If you have any 

          14   questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them. 

          15                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Jerry, what's the feeling 

          16   on the petition stipulating that the April 1 release date? 

          17                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Basically, the 72 people 

          18   who signed that petition were scientific breeders.  They 

          19   were concerned about the possibility of a scientific 

          20   breeder buck being placed in a DMP pen, breeding the does, 

          21   removing the buck, releasing the does and then trapping 

          22   them with a Triple T and basically selling them as bred 

          23   does.  That was their concern that they expressed.   

          24             Coincidentally, the section that includes that 

          25   date is not open currently.  So if -- if the Commission 

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           1   wanted to take action on that, it would require a 

           2   publication and further action in August.  So that other 

           3   than -- other than suggesting we publish, that's not 

           4   something we can adopt at this time. 

           5                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Is the answer to 

           6   the Chairman's question the explanation for the Gillespie 

           7   County opposition? 

           8                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  No. 

           9                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Can you explain 

          10   the Gillespie County opposition?                

          11                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  I have a copy of the 

          12   resolution.  And basically what it says is that they're 

          13   concerned about the use of wild deer in that way.       

          14             Basically, the permit exists because it's a 

          15   statutory provision, and we have rules that accommodate 

          16   that.  But the Gillespie County Court Commissioners 

          17   opposed the scientific breeder proposals because it had to 

          18   do with the deer management permit, and they're opposed to 

          19   the deer management permit in its entirety, all aspects of 

          20   it. 

          21                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  For what reason? 

          22                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Philosophical. 

          23                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  It's philosophical.  

          24   Basically -- basically, I believe that their opinion is 

          25   that this would be an inappropriate use of a wild deer, 

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           1   capturing it and placing it in a pen for breeding.  As I 

           2   said, I would be happy to provide you with a copy of their 

           3   resolution. 

           4                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  In that regard, it's 

           5   a high probability that none of this would not exist if 

           6   the legislature had not mandated it.  Correct? 

           7                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  That is my feeling, yes. 

           8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Jerry, on the 

           9   scientific breeder permit change - I guess it's the last 

          10   bullet point there - "Allow scientific breeder permit 

          11   bucks to be temporarily transferred to a DMP pen, is that 

          12   an adjacent or contiguous DMP pen or is that any DMP pen 

          13   the department -- 

          14                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Any DMP pen. 

          15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  With no 

          16   consideration as far as animal health testing, 

          17   tuberculosis, just they can do -- 

          18                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  The only time -- the only 

          19   time under the current Texas Animal Health Commission 

          20   rules, the only time those testing requirements would come 

          21   into play is in a voluntary program within their facility 

          22   for herd certification and for bringing an animal into the 

          23   State of Texas from outside the State of Texas.  Other 

          24   than that, there is no testing requirement within the 

          25   state that I am aware of. 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  So similar movements happen 

           2   every time there's a transaction between scientific 

           3   breeders that -- 

           4                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Yes, as far as the 

           5   movement is concerned.   

           6             Now, taking a deer out of a pen, doing something 

           7   with it and putting it back into a pen, that's a bit of a 

           8   different disease issue than simply transferring it. 

           9                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  But am I correct 

          10   that that's less restrictive than the tuberculosis 

          11   requirements on livestock and presumably they're going to 

          12   be on the same land. 

          13                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  I'm sorry.  I'm not 

          14   familiar with the livestock requirements.  I'm not.  I can 

          15   check into that for you, though, and see, because I have 

          16   not read the rules as they relate to livestock; only as 

          17   they relate to deer. 

          18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Presumably, 

          19   they're going to be -- in a lot of instances be on the 

          20   same ground. 

          21                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Yes, one would expect. 

          22                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And it is the 

          23   same strain of tuberculosis between cervid and bovine?   

          24                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  It is. 

          25                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other questions on 

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           1   this? 

           2                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I guess one of the 

           3   things I wondered about, is this -- do you consider that 

           4   this simplifies the process, streamlines it, or what are 

           5   going to be the primary benefits of these changes from the 

           6   overall picture? 

           7                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  It will not simplify the 

           8   wording of the proclamations.  In some respects, it will 

           9   streamline some processes.  For instance, on those Triple 

          10   T proposals that fall within the guidelines of the 

          11   management plan for a Level 3 MLD, we would not go and 

          12   look at those pieces of property again.  I mean, their 

          13   management program is part of their management plan.  In 

          14   that respect, it would -- it would streamline the process 

          15   in that respect.  In other ways, it complicates things. 

          16                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The people are 

          17   involved primarily in the programs, though; these are 

          18   changes they wanted, are they not? 

          19                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  Absolutely.  I mean, 

          20   the -- particularly the scientific breeder positions, 

          21   because they were virtually all -- virtually all of the 

          22   attendees at the hearings other than Fredericksburg were 

          23   scientific breeders that supported the proposed changes en 

          24   masse. 

          25                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  And it appears that the 

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           1   groups that supported HB-2710 are supportive of those 

           2   changes -- 

           3                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  I'm sorry.  I didn't -- I 

           4   wasn't -- I wasn't clear in that. 

           5                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah. 

           6                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  When I said that the 

           7   scientific breeders at the hearings were in support, 

           8   virtually all of them identified themselves as Texas Deer 

           9   Association members on their -- on their registration 

          10   cards.   

          11                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  The basic concerns of that 

          12   have been addressed here --  

          13                  MR. JERRY COOKE:  In my -- 

          14                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- therefore, obviating the 

          15   need for any statutory changes. 

          16                  MR. BOB CORRIGAN:  In my opinion.  I'm sure 

          17   they'll comment tomorrow.  

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any further discussion on 

          19   this?  Without objection, I would move this to tomorrow's 

          20   agenda for public comment and consideration.  Thank you. 

          21             Gary Graham, you're going to do a quail briefing 

          22   for us, please, sir. 

          23   BRIEFING - QUAIL 

          24                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Morning, Chairman, 

          25   members of the Committee.  I'm Gary Graham, Director of 

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           1   the Wildlife Division.  And today we are privileged to 

           2   have three speakers that will discuss the quail initiative 

           3   with us, the quail issues, some of which were brought up 

           4   at our last commission meeting. 

           5             When I first started three years ago, this was 

           6   one of my first lessons on the job.  And several people in 

           7   meetings I attended said, "Pound for pound, quail is the 

           8   most important game species in Texas."  And that was 

           9   emphasized at a Southwestern Cattlemen's meeting that I 

          10   attended, where I anticipated people would be talking 

          11   about the black-tailed prairie dogs for two hours, but 

          12   instead they wanted to talk about quail for two hours.  So 

          13   there is a great deal of interest in this species.   

          14             It's very important economically to the state 

          15   and very important with respect to the hunters.  And so it 

          16   is with pleasure that I will introduce the three speakers.  

          17   We're going to start off first with Dr. Nova Silvy from 

          18   Texas A&M.  And Dr. Silvy is going to discuss some of the 

          19   scientific aspects of the quail issues.  He will be 

          20   followed by Steve DeMaso of our staff, who is going to 

          21   talk about the role of that Parks and Wildlife is playing 

          22   with quail conservation.  And then, finally, Dr. Fred 

          23   Guthery here from Oklahoma will talk about some of 

          24   applications of the science and some of the challenges 

          25   that we're faced with with respect to quail management and 

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           1   conservation.  So I'm happy to introduce mister -- Dr. 

           2   Nova Silvy.                               

           3                  DR. SILVY:  Mr. Commissioner, 

           4   Commissioners.   

           5                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Nice to have you.  Welcome. 

           6                  DR. SILVY:  Thank you.  My name is Nova 

           7   Silvy, as Gary said.  I'm a professor in Wildlife and 

           8   Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University.  I need some 

           9   water here.   

          10             What I would like to do here is talk about the 

          11   quail decline, the methods used by various people to 

          12   document the decline, talk about the pros and cons of 

          13   those methods and then kind of give you my idea for what 

          14   may be going on.   

          15             So, basically, the quail decline surveys:  What 

          16   do they really mean?  Because we're getting different 

          17   opinions from different people.  The two major surveys 

          18   being used, the breeding bird survey which is a national 

          19   survey and the Texas Parks and Wildlife quail survey.  The 

          20   breeding bird survey has been run since 1966, so it's a 

          21   longer duration.  There are fewer transects in the State 

          22   of Texas because that covers all of the United States.  

          23   Therefore, there's more variability in counts.  When you 

          24   have fewer surveys, you're going to have greater 

          25   variability.   

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           1             With the Texas Parks and Wildlife quail 

           2   transects they have been around since 1978.  There are 

           3   more transects per unit area of Texas and, therefore, less 

           4   variability in the surveys. 

           5             Another problem when we're comparing the two 

           6   surveys is that the TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION 

           7   ecoregions and the Breeding Bird Survey strata are 

           8   different.  Let me just give you an example.  You're all 

           9   familiar with the map of Texas and the ecological areas of 

          10   Texas.  If we look at the Breeding Bird survey and how 

          11   they break down Texas, they break it down somewhat 

          12   differently.  I'll put them on the same slide and you can 

          13   kind of see.  They've got different zones in different 

          14   parts of the state.   

          15             So when you are trying to compare, say, South 

          16   Texas with the Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys and trying 

          17   to compare South Texas with the Breeding Bird surveys, 

          18   different land areas are being covered, and we've got to 

          19   keep that in mind when we're talking about these survey 

          20   methodologies. 

          21             Now, the other thing we've got to look at is 

          22   Breeding Bird surveys cover all breeding birds in the 

          23   United States, not just quail.  So the first thing we've 

          24   got to do is sort out only those surveys in the United 

          25   States that quail are heard or seen on.  And this gives 

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           1   you an example of that for the United States. 

           2             Now, with Texas Parks and Wildlife's surveys, we 

           3   also have a situation that occurs.  Here we have the 

           4   various ecological regions of Texas and the surveys in the 

           5   Blackland Prairies, there's 13 there that have bobwhite on 

           6   them, but zero have scaled quail.  We go on down there to 

           7   the South Texas plains, there's 32 that have bobwhite that 

           8   are heard on and only 19 that have scaled quail on them.   

           9             One of the problems when people interpret these 

          10   data, they may lump all the surveys together for South 

          11   Texas and then see what the scaled quail is doing.  Well, 

          12   three-fourths of them have zero and always will have zero, 

          13   so that brings the number down.  These should be separated 

          14   out when we're looking at the surveys.  And I'm going to 

          15   point some of this out to you. 

          16             Looking at the some of Breeding Bird survey and 

          17   national survey - this is on quail - if you start at the 

          18   upper left, you can see the dark represents more quail.  

          19   You go to the lower left, another 10-year interval, you 

          20   can see less quail even in South Texas.  And you go to the 

          21   upper right, again, less quail.  So, basically, the 

          22   Breeding Bird surveys are showing us there is a quail 

          23   decline and it's over the range of the bird. 

          24             If we look at two graphs showing the U.S. as a 

          25   whole, you can see the decline has been steady.  If you 

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           1   look at the Breeding Bird survey just for the Texas 

           2   transects, you can see that it was level for a while and 

           3   then started down.  Also, you see more variability.  We 

           4   have fewer transects in Texas, so the dots bounce up and 

           5   down a lot more. 

           6             Now, let's look at some data for what we can get 

           7   from the Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys.  This here is 

           8   for South Texas.  You can see we have year-to-year 

           9   variability.  The dark line is bobwhite; the light color 

          10   line is scaled quail.  But they kind of mirror one 

          11   another.  You have less scaled quail in the South Texas 

          12   area, because they're found on fewer transects.  Bobwhite, 

          13   they're found on more, so you have more numbers when you 

          14   average them out over the whole.  However, if we were to 

          15   just pick the transects with the scaled quail on them, 

          16   those numbers would come up.  But this is some of the data 

          17   that we can get here.  This is probably controlled more, 

          18   year-to-year variation, by weather. 

          19             These data have been presented.  This here is 

          20   for the Rolling Plains of Texas.  Here the bobwhite, which 

          21   mirrors, by the way -- if I overlay the bobwhite data over 

          22   the south plains data, they mirror the ups and downs.  So 

          23   the weather is a factor.  The scaled quail earlier in the 

          24   period was mirroring the bobwhite data for both South 

          25   Texas and the scaled quail data for South Texas.  But all 

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           1   of a sudden, it's going down.  You can see the scaled 

           2   quail seem to be in trouble in the Rolling Plains of 

           3   Texas, some of the data that we can get. 

           4             Now, when we want to compare Breeding Bird 

           5   surveys with Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys, one of the 

           6   problems we've got, we have a longer period of data for 

           7   the Breeding Bird surveys.  And so when you start putting 

           8   a regression line through, we take all those values for 

           9   the Breeding Bird survey.  And in this case, we have a 

          10   significant decline when we look at the Breeding Bird 

          11   survey.  We look at the Texas Parks and Wildlife survey, 

          12   when the line goes through there -- I didn't put one 

          13   through there, because it's nonsignificant for South 

          14   Texas.   

          15             If we compare South Texas bobwhites just in 

          16   those periods where they overlap for the Breeding Bird 

          17   survey and the Texas Parks and Wildlife survey, just going 

          18   back to '78 for the Breeding Bird survey, we get a better 

          19   idea of what's going on.  But, again, you can see here the 

          20   Breeding Bird survey shows a decline, but the Texas Parks 

          21   and Wildlife survey does not.   

          22             What are the differences here?  Slopes are 

          23   different when using all the available data, going back to 

          24   1966.  Slopes are different when you just use the same 

          25   period.  The Breeding Bird survey slope is different from 

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           1   zero.  In other words, something is going on.  It's not 

           2   remaining stable where the -- it's decreasing, where the 

           3   Texas Parks and Wildlife slope is zero, which means a 

           4   stable population is showing up. 

           5             Now, samples in bobwhite surveys in South Texas 

           6   plains.  Here are the number of samples, the number of 

           7   surveys.  You can see that Texas Parks and Wildlife uses a 

           8   lot more surveys.  The Breeding Bird survey numbers have 

           9   been increasing.  They've been adding more surveys, but it 

          10   hasn't caught up with the number that Texas Parks and 

          11   Wildlife has been using.  That's the reason we get less 

          12   variability and, in my opinion, a better data set.   

          13             Comparison of bobwhite surveys in Texas, I put 

          14   this back in here again just to show you that long-term 

          15   they're saying we've got a problem, but when we just use 

          16   our data, we don't.   

          17             Here's another problem, though, when we're 

          18   looking at for all of Texas -- that last was.  Here's -- 

          19   when we look at the number of samples for all of Texas and 

          20   for what Texas Parks and Wildlife uses.  Now, here becomes 

          21   a problem with the Texas Parks and Wildlife data.  Earlier 

          22   on, there were a lot more surveys being used by Texas 

          23   Parks and Wildlife.  And then because of budget 

          24   constraints, the number of surveys were reduced.  That may 

          25   be causing some kind of problem when we're looking at the 

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           1   whole state.  So when people are using Texas Parks and 

           2   Wildlife surveys and trying to predict what's going on for 

           3   the whole state, if we reduce surveys in the parts of the 

           4   state - and that's what happened - east of 35 where we had 

           5   low numbers, they were all low.  Don't get me wrong.  

           6   Piney Woods always had low number of birds.  But now we 

           7   remove those surveys out and try to predict what's going 

           8   on for the total State of Texas, the total State of Texas 

           9   may look better than it really is, because we now have 

          10   removed the low transects.  And so we've got to be careful 

          11   when we're doing that.   

          12             We look at bobwhite harvest data produced by 

          13   Texas Parks and Wildlife, it shows a decrease.  Now, they 

          14   have some problems, because if you've got reduced number 

          15   of hunters or different conditions or whatever, but 

          16   generally, they tend to mirror what's going on.  So, 

          17   basically, we may have a problem there.   

          18             Let's look at the scaled quail data for the 

          19   whole of Texas.  And here, I just compared it with the 

          20   Breeding Bird survey for the period that we've got the 

          21   Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys.  And, basically, here 

          22   neither one have any significant trends.  They're showing 

          23   no -- for the whole State of Texas.   

          24             I showed you earlier for the Rolling Plains we 

          25   do have a problem.  But for the whole State of Texas, the 

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           1   scaled quail does not appear to have a problem.  We're 

           2   better off with the scaled quail surveys for Texas Parks 

           3   and Wildlife data.  There, those transects were kept 

           4   pretty relatively stable over times.  We're using the same 

           5   data set.  I think we're getting a better data set.  Also, 

           6   the scaled quail data set, say, for the Breeding Bird 

           7   survey remained pretty stable, so it's more comparative 

           8   over time.   

           9             The scaled quail harvest, though, is showing a 

          10   decline.  Now, is that a true decline or is that less 

          11   hunters or what?  We really -- that's hard to -- that 

          12   needs to be teased out.  Right now, people would say it 

          13   does show a decline.   

          14             The other thing that we've got to look at - and 

          15   this is getting into my stat background a little bit -- we 

          16   need to look at the power of these tests.  To tell the 

          17   difference between one dot and the next, we need to know 

          18   how -- and that's based on variability.  If we've got a 

          19   lot of variability between surveys, we've got very little 

          20   power to tell these dots are different from one another.  

          21   So what I've done here -- and I'll just summarize it.    

          22             The line to the upper left is the Gulf Prairies 

          23   and Marshes.  And data sets on the Gulf Prairies and 

          24   Marshes has more power.  In other words, if we look over 

          25   there -- commonly for statisticians, say, if we can have 

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           1   an 80 percent predictability -- and so on the left axis 

           2   you'll see 80 percent up there and a line coming across 

           3   and you drop down, that means if the population changes by 

           4   30 percent -- in other words, if you had ten and now 

           5   you've got 13, we can tell the difference 80 percent of 

           6   the time.   

           7             If we've only got a 50 percent predictability 

           8   that means we just as well flip a coin to see if those 

           9   numbers are different or not.  So to get out there to get 

          10   100 percent predictability, we've got to be out there 

          11   where we have a 70 percent chance.  In other words, we've 

          12   got to go from 10 birds on a survey to 17 birds to have 

          13   about 100 percent -- to say if those numbers are real.  So 

          14   the power of the test makes a big difference.   

          15             For bobwhite, it's pretty good, but -- and we 

          16   can use it on these particular dots here. 

          17             The big drops, those are differences.  But the 

          18   smaller differences -- they're probably no difference at 

          19   all; just random survey error.   

          20             With the scaled quail, we've got much less 

          21   power, we've got fewer transects.  And you can see, it 

          22   takes -- we need to get out to about 60 percent increase 

          23   or decrease before we can even get an 80 percent 

          24   predictive power.  So the scaled quail we have a little 

          25   more difficulty trying to predict what's going on from 

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           1   year to year with the scaled quail.  But you've got a 

           2   long-term trend, like we had in the Rolling Plains, we may 

           3   have problems.   

           4             Again, the scaled quail and the Trans-Pecos, we 

           5   can see we've got a significant decline there.   

           6             Conclusions are quail have declined over time, 

           7   probably since the 1800s continually, due to habitat loss.  

           8   Quail numbers change yearly.  That's where you get those 

           9   up and down fluctuations depending on weather.  And they 

          10   may be down for two or three years.  We had -- two or 

          11   three years of drought that we've had.  Hopefully we'll 

          12   have a better year this year.  The Breeding Bird survey is 

          13   good for large areas; like take, all the United States or 

          14   all of Texas.  It's not good getting on down to the region 

          15   area.   

          16             The Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys are good 

          17   for the ecoregions, but again, not by county and not by 

          18   ranch.  Okay?   

          19             Cannot survey quail by county or ranch using 

          20   these methods, and we need long-term data sets and we need 

          21   to be consistent.  We can't be changing those surveys.  

          22   We've got to keep them consistent if we're going to be 

          23   able to predict what's going on from time to time.  

          24             I would like to acknowledge DeMaso and Marcus 

          25   Peterson and Ben Wu, who provided a lot of the data sets.  

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           1   And I think probably we'll wait for questions after 

           2   everyone's through, or do we want to open for questions? 

           3                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Why don't we go ahead and 

           4   let everybody speak, and then we can have maybe a short 

           5   Q&A at the end of that, if it's appropriate.  Thank you. 

           6                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Good morning, 

           7   Mr. Chairman, Committee members.  My name is Steve DeMaso, 

           8   and I'm the Upland Game Bird Program Coordinator in the 

           9   Wildlife Division for Texas Parks and Wildlife.   

          10             My part of the -- of today's briefing will cover 

          11   two different sections.  First of all, I would like to 

          12   address some of the quail-related questions from the April 

          13   Commission meeting.  And then the second part of my 

          14   discussion, I would like to talk about some of Texas Parks 

          15   and Wildlife's responsibilities concerning quail. 

          16             Concerning differences in the nesting chronology 

          17   between north Texas and South Texas, there really is no 

          18   difference when looking at data from the wings of 

          19   harvested quail.  You can back-date how old quail are 

          20   based on the molt patterns on the wings.  And when you 

          21   look at the time a nest building occurs, different 

          22   percentages when the hatch are completed; total days in 

          23   the nesting season, when 90 percent of the juveniles are 

          24   at least 90 days old, we see there are no really big 

          25   changes from the Rolling Plains to South Texas. 

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           1             And past research by Texas Parks and Wildlife 

           2   has shown that once quail reach the age of 90 days, that 

           3   they're pretty acceptable in size and weight to the 

           4   quail-hunting public.   

           5             Looking at some more recent radiotelemetry 

           6   research on quail from South Texas which is the South 

           7   Texas Quail Project being conducted in Brooks County, and 

           8   then looking at the -- some data from the Panhandle area, 

           9   the Pack Saddle Quail Study, which is being conducted by 

          10   the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, to note 

          11   that the Pack Saddle area is about 30 miles straight east 

          12   of where the Gene Howe Wildlife Management is in the 

          13   Panhandle.   

          14             Again, this slide illustrates, really, no 

          15   difference in the distribution of nests through the spring 

          16   and summer months in north -- in northern latitudes and 

          17   southern latitudes in Texas. 

          18             The next question concerned the survival of 

          19   chicks hatched later in the nesting season compared to 

          20   chicks hatched earlier in the nesting season.  And this 

          21   slide shows that really chicks' survival is greater for 

          22   checks that are hatched later in the nesting season, 

          23   because those chicks have to survive less time to reach 

          24   the fall hunting population.  So you've got to account for 

          25   that time lag in there, which gives them a higher survival 

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           1   rate later in the year. 

           2                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Steve, this data is 

           3   survival as of what?  I mean, they're alive on what day, 

           4   what calendar based on this chart? 

           5                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  This is daily survival 

           6   rates.  And it was -- the research we did -- this was from 

           7   some of the Oklahoma research.  We estimated chick 

           8   survival from hatching to 21 days.  And then we estimated 

           9   chick survival from 21 days to 39 days.  Our telemetry 

          10   research showed that the brood rearing period was about 39 

          11   days for quail.  If my memory serves me right, the 

          12   survival from hatching to 20 days was about 36, 

          13   37 percent.  The survival rate from 21 days to 39 days 

          14   really jumped up to about 92, 93 percent, because by three 

          15   weeks of age the birds could fly a little bit and were 

          16   better able to get away from predators.  And then the 

          17   overall survival rate from hatching to 39 days was 

          18   38 percent.   

          19                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  So in other words, this -- 

          20   does this chart -- that's survival versus hatch date to 38 

          21   days? 

          22                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Right.  That would be 

          23   the average chick survival for chicks that were hatched in 

          24   May, after survival for chicks that were hatched in June 

          25   and so forth. 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Survival to 38 days? 

           2                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Right. 

           3                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you. 

           4                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Next, I would like to 

           5   talk a little bit about some of the responsibilities that 

           6   Texas Parks and Wildlife has concerning quail in the 

           7   state, and Texas Parks and Wildlife does a lot for quail.  

           8   It's done a lot for quail in the past.  It does a lot for 

           9   quail in the present and will continue to do so for quail 

          10   in the future.   

          11             Texas Parks and Wildlife has more quail-related 

          12   responsibilities than any other institution in the State 

          13   of Texas.  Like Dr. Silvy talked about, we're responsible 

          14   for monitoring the quail populations in the State of 

          15   Texas, and we do this through August roadside survey and 

          16   then also through a harvest survey that's conducted after 

          17   quail hunting season. 

          18             And if we look at some of the data, with the 

          19   green line being our quail survey route and the yellow 

          20   line being our estimated harvest from our harvest survey, 

          21   you can see these two surveys track each other really 

          22   nicely.  And this roadside survey is a real useful tool 

          23   when you're having to make a quail forecast prior to the 

          24   hunting season.  You can see where the lines track each 

          25   other and are very correlated.  It's a very useful tool. 

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           1             Looking at some of our harvest data, in 1981, we 

           2   estimated that about 244,000 quail hunters harvested about 

           3   2.1 million quail in the State of Texas.  In 1999, we 

           4   estimated that about 118,100 quail hunters harvested just 

           5   over about a half a million quail.  If you plot this data 

           6   on the map, you can see that the distribution of quail 

           7   hunters and where quail hunting occurred from 1981 to 1991 

           8   has changed pretty drastically.  There -- back in the 

           9   '80s, there was a lot more quail hunting that went on in 

          10   north-central over into northeastern Texas than what is 

          11   currently taking place. 

          12             Also, Texas Parks and Wildlife is responsible 

          13   for managing the hunting season and setting quail season 

          14   dates and bag limits.  Texas Parks and Wildlife manages 

          15   quail habitat on public hunting areas throughout the 

          16   state.  We provide technical guidance and technical 

          17   assistance to landowners throughout the state.  We also 

          18   provide training to field staff, technical guidance 

          19   biologists and staff from other agencies to promote quail 

          20   management and to provide the most current results 

          21   concerning methodologies concerning quail management.   

          22             Currently, Texas Parks and Wildlife is involved 

          23   in eight quail-related research projects that are -- an 

          24   estimated cost of these projects is about $175,000.  Parks 

          25   and Wildlife staff conducts habitat field days throughout 

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           1   the state.  We do have quail-related presentations at 

           2   various functions throughout the state.  Staff is 

           3   currently working on updating many of our quail-related 

           4   publications in the Department.   

           5             And that concludes my part of the briefing this 

           6   morning.  And I would be happy to try to answer any 

           7   questions. 

           8                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Thank you, Steve.  We'll 

           9   go ahead and introduce Fred Guthery, who will close the 

          10   presentation on quail, talking about some of the practical 

          11   aspects of how we conserve and manage these species.   

          12                  MR. FRED GUTHRY:  Mr. Chairman and members 

          13   of the committee, my name is Fred Guthery.  I'm 

          14   (inaudible) Chair in Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State 

          15   University.  I was asked to address what are the solutions 

          16   to the quail decline.   

          17             And we might start by answering this question 

          18   with a question.  What are the problems?  And to answer 

          19   the question, we might review some of the history of the 

          20   quail decline in America.   

          21             In 1855, there's a massive collapse of bobwhite 

          22   populations in Wisconsin and probably the northeastern 

          23   U.S. in general.  The collapse occurs because a decade of 

          24   mild winters is followed by a series of severe winters.   

          25             In 1880, California quail begin to decline 

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           1   because of market hunting, over-grazing and fire 

           2   suppression.   

           3             About 1880, bobwhites experience optimal 

           4   conditions in Iowa and subsequently begin to decline, 

           5   according to Paul Arrington and Frederick Hamerstrom.  

           6             About 1890, masked bobwhites go extinct in 

           7   southern Arizona because of drought exacerbated by 

           8   over-grazing.  

           9             In 1920, bobwhites in Pennsylvania begin a steep 

          10   30-year decline that bottoms out at practically nothing in 

          11   1950.   

          12             In 1935, Val Lehman documents how conversion of 

          13   native land to farm land, clean farming and intensive 

          14   grazing extirpated coveys in central Texas.   

          15             In 1943, L.G. Duck (phonetic) and Jack B. 

          16   Fletcher observed that despite prolonged drought 

          17   associated with the dust bowl, bobwhites have increased in 

          18   western Oklahoma because of the abandonment of farms.   

          19             In 1949 a survey of Phil Goodrum indicates 

          20   bobwhites are declining in 15 of 40 states surveyed.  In 

          21   other words, 50 years ago bobwhites were declining in an 

          22   estimated 60 percent of America.   

          23             The quail decline's more than a century old in 

          24   some parts of the United States.  The decline has 

          25   continued more or less unabated through high and low fur 

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           1   prices and through the presence and absence of DDT.  The 

           2   problem is that landscapes in America have chronic wasting 

           3   disease.  They suffer from the ongoing loss and 

           4   fragmentation of suitable habitat.  Bobwhites and other 

           5   quails must have permanent cover to which they are 

           6   adapted.  They must be able to walk through it, fly over 

           7   it, partake of the foods in it and ride out heat waves and 

           8   cold spells in it.  This type of permanent cover is 

           9   sometimes called usable space.  If you erase usable space 

          10   with crop land, improved pastures, over-grazing and 

          11   urbanization, you erase quail.   

          12             America has lost vast quantities of usable 

          13   space.  Call it habit loss for simplicity.  Since the 

          14   Pilgrim's landed at Plymouth Rock and accordingly, it's 

          15   lost vast quantities of bobwhites.  Yet, where suitable 

          16   permanent cover still occurs in fairly vast quantities, 

          17   there is no quail decline.  Populations go up and down 

          18   with the weather, but they show no long-term population 

          19   trend.  We just saw some data on that.  South Texas, North 

          20   Texas and western Oklahoma have vast quantities of usable 

          21   space, and accordingly, their populations -- bobwhite 

          22   populations are not now in jeopardy.   

          23             I want to stress that piddling amounts of usable 

          24   space aren't usable.  Scientists estimate that a bobwhite 

          25   population with high odds of persisting for 100 years 

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           1   needs enough habitat for 800 individuals.  This represents 

           2   a minimum of 4,000 acres and perhaps, more realistically, 

           3   a minimum of 8,000 acres of suitable habitat, which brings 

           4   us to the solution to the quail decline. 

           5             About 20 years ago, I visited a group of 

           6   landowners in Nacogdoches, in the Piney Woods of East 

           7   Texas.  They wanted to do something for bobwhites.  The 

           8   countryside consisted of improved pastures and matured 

           9   timber, no usable space.  Late in the day, our group 

          10   visited a 20-acre patch consisting of scattered oaks with 

          11   blue stem ground cover, usable space.  This was the only 

          12   bobwhite habitat we saw all day, and perhaps miraculously, 

          13   the patch usually supported a covey, I was told.  It's 

          14   miraculous that such a small area could support a covey.   

          15             The solution to the quail decline in east Texas 

          16   is to take that patch and multiply it 200 to 400 times 

          17   over to get enough usable space for a viable population.  

          18   Indeed, the only solution to the quail decline in any 

          19   region is to reclaim thousands of acres of land that once 

          20   supported bobwhite populations.  I realize I'm dreaming 

          21   here.  But the dream is biologically meritorious, if 

          22   fiscally and socially quixotic.   

          23             Spot treatments with food plots, disk strips, 

          24   arteries, buffer strips, weedy fence lines and so on are 

          25   not going to create viable bobwhite populations in 

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           1   landscapes with chronic wasting disease.  These practices 

           2   on those landscapes are tantamount to hospice biology.  

           3   The treatments are, at best, palliatives for a dying 

           4   population.  So the quail decline is a problem of land 

           5   use, and its resolution is a problem of community.   

           6             I want to introduce what I'll call the Code of 

           7   5,000 as pneumonic for the solution of the quail decline.  

           8   And the code asserts simply that for every 5,000 acres of 

           9   usable space saved or created, a viable population of 

          10   bobwhites will be saved or created -- saved or created.  

          11   These 5,000 acres need to be in the block of countryside 

          12   or in a set of smaller blocks that are well interconnected 

          13   with permanent travel corridors.   

          14             Let me conclude with a few words on harvest 

          15   management relative to population viability and quail 

          16   declines.  One must view management of the quail harvest 

          17   from two perspectives, that of the state and that of a 

          18   particular ranch or management area.   

          19             From the perspective of the state and the 

          20   state's quail population, harvest regulations are less 

          21   like technology and more like tradition.  Bag limits, 

          22   season lengths and shooting hours don't make much 

          23   difference to the total state harvest unless they're 

          24   extremely restricting.  For example, reducing a bag limit 

          25   from 15 to ten quail per day would have virtually no 

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           1   noticeable impact on total state kill.  On the other hand, 

           2   reducing the bag limit from two to one quail per day would 

           3   have a noteworthy impact.  From the perspective of a 

           4   specific ranch or management area, it doesn't matter how, 

           5   when or how many quail are harvested if that harvest takes 

           6   the population to a breeding objective.  This objective is 

           7   a density of birds expected to be relatively productive or 

           8   to otherwise optimize harvest relative to a manager's 

           9   objectives.  Managers of specific areas should desire 

          10   maximum flexibility in the harvest regulations promulgated 

          11   by a state.  And that concludes my statement. 

          12                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Thank you, Fred.   

          13             Would you like to ask the three participants or 

          14   presenters questions now? 

          15                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Sure.  I think it would be 

          16   appropriate to open it to questions from the Commission on 

          17   any of this. 

          18                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman, all of 

          19   us have received a number of letters and comments 

          20   throughout the year on the declining quail population.  I 

          21   think, listening to the participants, it doesn't sound too 

          22   encouraging with regard to the -- what's going to happen 

          23   in the future in this regard as we become a more urban 

          24   state.  That's the break-up of the farms and all.  It 

          25   doesn't sound encouraging at all, or am I overreacting? 

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           1                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How many landowners 

           2   come to Parks and Wildlife biologists or employees looking 

           3   for help in improving their habitat?  Have we gotten -- do 

           4   we get much of that?  And, if not, what could we do to 

           5   increase that interest? 

           6                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Well, thank you.  I don't 

           7   know the actual number that come to us asking for 

           8   assistance, but I know a number of them do.  A number of 

           9   them go to their wildlife management areas and look at 

          10   how -- the demonstrations of how we manage quail habitat.  

          11   But that actually brings up what I was going to summarize 

          12   with, which is there is no -- there is no magic bullet for 

          13   this.  The landscape scale issues that Dr. Guthery pointed 

          14   out I think are very real and point, in my opinion, to the 

          15   paramount role of technical guidance, which is an area 

          16   that we excel in.  And providing information to 

          17   landowners, we can manage at the appropriate scale.  And 

          18   in some places in Texas, now, that's going to require 

          19   working cooperatively with your neighbors.  If you're 

          20   going to get to a 5,000 or an 8,000 scale, you're going to 

          21   have to do it cooperatively.  And that's the reason why we 

          22   do spend a lot of time working with wildlife coops is to 

          23   get that scale that you can effectively manage, long-term 

          24   manage some of these game populations. 

          25                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But do you think, 

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           1   though, that landowners in general, realize, first of all, 

           2   that there is a problem?  And, secondly, that the -- there 

           3   are some resources out there to help them?   

           4             I mean, are we -- is there more we could do to 

           5   interact with the landowners? 

           6                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Yes.  I think they are 

           7   very much aware, judging by the comments at the 

           8   Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association meeting.  It was 

           9   very much aware of the issue and aware of the sources of 

          10   information both from us and from the Ag Extension 

          11   Service.  They're aware that they can get information from 

          12   there.   

          13             But can we do more?  I would say absolutely yes, 

          14   we can do more, and we should be striving to do more.  

          15   That's one of the reasons why I recommended and you, the 

          16   Commission, approved hiring a -- basically, a quail 

          17   specialist to work with our technical guidance people to 

          18   further provide more information to landowners.  And 

          19   that's Robert Perez, who's here in the audience. 

          20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Gary, how many 

          21   wildlife coops do we have in the state; do you know? 

          22                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Last I heard, it was 

          23   around 82.  There may be more than that now, but as of 

          24   about six months ago, that was the number 

          25                  COMMISSIONER AVILA:  We don't have an 

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           1   awards program for that, do we?  Do we have one? 

           2                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Uh-huh.  Yeah.   

           3                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Part of the land 

           4   stewards.  

           5                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Part of the land stewards 

           6   program is there is a category for coops. 

           7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Gary, do we have 

           8   any data from the wildlife management plans, which is how 

           9   acres now, 12? 

          10                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Twelve million, six 

          11   hundred thousand -- 

          12                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  About 12-and-a-half, 

          13   13 million. 

          14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Of those 

          15   12-and-a-half million acres, how many of those 

          16   cooperators, landowners identified quail habitat as an 

          17   objective? 

          18                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  I don't know the answer 

          19   to that.  We could -- we could do some -- some inquiries 

          20   with our staff to get a better handle on that. 

          21                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  One thing I think that that 

          22   brings up is that we have 12-and-a-half, 13 million acres 

          23   actually enrolled in the department in wildlife management 

          24   plans.  And primarily that is driven by those landowners' 

          25   desires to partake in special programs available if you're 

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           1   in a wildlife management plan. 

           2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  It's a deal 

           3   breaker. 

           4                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  And to date, the only 

           5   species -- game species driving that is deer.  And 

           6   those -- all the special programs really relate to deer 

           7   management.  You know, I'm confident that there are a lot 

           8   of other acreages out there that are being managed for 

           9   wildlife and have plans, landowners' plans, that have been 

          10   developed in conjunction with our extension people in many 

          11   instances and maybe others, maybe ones from universities 

          12   or et cetera.  They're not -- they don't show up in that 

          13   12-and-a-half, 13-million-acre figure, because there's no 

          14   kind of an official log for them to go sign up in.  

          15   There's no impetus for them to kind of officially be 

          16   registered, even though they're accessing technical 

          17   guidance and -- and doing something.   

          18             You know, I think in many instances what's been 

          19   helpful about our wildlife management programs that are 

          20   driven by deer is a lot of what is good for the deer in 

          21   certain ecoregions is also good for a lot of other game 

          22   species, including quail; if nothing else, just keeping it 

          23   in native habitat as opposed to improved grasses or grow 

          24   crops.  But there are a lot of -- a lot of types -- of 

          25   vegetative types that deer like and quail don't.  So it's 

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           1   not a complete match there.   

           2             But, you know, I would encourage ways to try to 

           3   continue to figure out programs to get people and -- with 

           4   species interests other than strictly deer to more 

           5   formalize a two-way street, a deal, that provides an 

           6   incentive for them to come and --  

           7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  The direct quail 

           8   program -- 

           9                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- to say, "Okay.  If 

          10   you'll do this, then you get to do that."  And it's -- 

          11   it's -- deer has been the easy one and it's been 

          12   successful.  And it's going to be tricky to figure out how 

          13   do you do that with quail or with turkeys or other things.  

          14   But -- 

          15                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  I think you're right on 

          16   the mark.  In fact --  

          17                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  And part of that may be, if 

          18   nothing else, just make it a -- you know, something that 

          19   every time somebody wants to sign up for a deer-driven 

          20   management plan, part of what our technical guidance is 

          21   making them aware of what they could be doing for the 

          22   non-target species, because a lot of them would rather 

          23   have quail than not have quail than show up at our 

          24   doorstep because of a deer-driven issue. 

          25                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  We -- we -- I think 

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           1   you're correct.  And we have significantly recently added, 

           2   expanded our technical guidance capacity with respect to 

           3   waterfowl.  The Texas Care Initiative was all about 

           4   technical guidance and providing additional information.  

           5   And so it's basically a hook for increasing awareness and 

           6   participation.   

           7             And if I hear you correctly, we need to do 

           8   something like that with quail, something that can define 

           9   the initiative in a way that will get more people 

          10   interested in it and then have some kind of incentives for 

          11   landowners to be more actively engaged. 

          12                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Probably many 

          13   questions based on ignorance.  So if I'm asking the 

          14   obvious, don't let me take up your time.   

          15             But do we have a policy?  Do we have a set of 

          16   goals?  And if not, should we ask to have some developed 

          17   in this area given the trend lines here that are not good? 

          18                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Do we have population 

          19   goals for quail? 

          20                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, just an 

          21   overall management goal and policy for how we're going to 

          22   deal with the situation, recognizing it's not completely 

          23   in our power but that we can do some things about it. 

          24                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  We don't have a quail 

          25   management plan, per se, at this point in time.  And 

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           1   perhaps that's what you're getting at -- 

           2                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Shouldn't we? 

           3                  MR. GARY GRAHAM -- is through developing a 

           4   long-term quail management plan, then you could identify 

           5   those goals and policies in that type of a plan. 

           6                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Again, I'm 

           7   completely new to this, so it really -- I am coming from 

           8   ignorance.  But what I hear is reactive research and 

           9   monitoring, but I don't hear proactive plans specifically 

          10   targeting or dealing with this problem.  Shouldn't we 

          11   develop one, have one, and isn't that clearly what the 

          12   data is screaming for us to do? 

          13                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Currently, there is a 

          14   group of quail biologists in the southeastern United 

          15   States that's writing a bobwhite recovery plan.  And what 

          16   I'm hoping to do -- both myself and Robert Perez are being 

          17   involved in writing the range land sections of that plan.   

          18   And what I'm hoping to do is take that plan and step it 

          19   down to a state level and an ecoregion level and look at 

          20   some of the population goals that are set up in that 

          21   national plan and look at how much land we could 

          22   potentially recover that's not been lost to urban sprawl 

          23   or crop land that could be potentially converted back to 

          24   quail habitat and try to set up some long-range goals like 

          25   you're talking about, population goals and also acreage 

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           1   restored to quail habitat.   

           2                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman, I have a 

           3   question of Andy.   

           4             Andy, from time to time we get letters from 

           5   individuals here in the state, excuse me, who make 

           6   specific recommendations with regard to addressing this 

           7   problem.  

           8             Are those recommendations given to these guys?  

           9   And, if so, are they looked into or -- you know, not too 

          10   long ago, I remember we got one concerning using three 

          11   counties as a test area and a series of recommendations 

          12   with regard to what we could do in those counties.  Are 

          13   those kinds of situations -- 

          14                  MR. SANSOM:  Yes, sir. 

          15                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  -- to what extent do 

          16   we address those? 

          17                  MR. SANSOM:  Yes, sir.  And, as a matter of 

          18   fact, those kind of discussions go -- often involve 

          19   Mr. Cooke and myself.  They can involve the Division 

          20   Directors and the field biologists, just depending on 

          21   the -- but on this one particularly, we've had a number of 

          22   meetings with the interested -- both landowner 

          23   constituents and academic community over the last year on 

          24   this very issue.  And we always pass those suggestions 

          25   along. 

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           1                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Gary, what is your 

           2   feeling, positively or negatively, about released birds? 

           3                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  From a recreational 

           4   perspective, I think that they are filling a gap.   

           5             Is it a solution to quail conservation?  I don't 

           6   personally think so, but let me address -- or ask quail 

           7   (sic) who is more the expert and has dealt with this at a 

           8   larger scale than Texas.  What's the consensus? 

           9                  MR. STEVE DEMASO:  Pretty much all of the 

          10   scientific research results say that pen-reared birds and 

          11   translocating birds have very little impact on restoring 

          12   quail populations.  It all boils down to habitat on that 

          13   piece of property and, like Dr. Guthery said, having 

          14   enough available habitat to sustain a viable quail 

          15   population.   

          16             I get this question a lot about pen-reared 

          17   birds.  And I think in quail hunting and the shooting 

          18   sports there probably is a place for pen-reared birds in 

          19   shooting preserve management, dog training, et cetera, et 

          20   cetera.  But when you really get down to the nuts and 

          21   bolts and the hardcore part of wildlife management, 

          22   there's probably some other things that you could do that 

          23   would be more financially and you get more bang for your 

          24   buck with regard to quail management other than pen-reared 

          25   birds. 

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           1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Mr. Chairman, I'm 

           2   intrigued by the issue of habitat and how that relates to 

           3   native plant species and exotics.  If you just listen to 

           4   what's been said, it sounds as if, well, if you just let 

           5   things go follow up, everything will be fine; the birds 

           6   come back. 

           7             At least in South Texas, where I'm familiar with 

           8   management, the issue of -- we used to call them improved 

           9   grasses; now we call them exotic or invasive, which I 

          10   think shows our change of mentality about what's important 

          11   to us now.   

          12             What role does that play in the reintroduction 

          13   of native species and being able to really build a 

          14   significant -- a critical mass of native seed to work 

          15   with. 

          16                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Well, I think it's a very 

          17   crucial issue, one of which we are currently doing some 

          18   work with.   

          19             We have a native -- restoration of native 

          20   grasslands project in central and east Texas that we're 

          21   working on now to look at taking bermuda grass, for 

          22   instance, and replacing it with native species.  And we'll 

          23   monitor that to see how effective that is in some of the 

          24   restoration work.  So I think you're absolutely right. 

          25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, is that an 

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           1   option or possibility to work towards -- as the Chairman 

           2   pointed, it's the sort of programs that might be available 

           3   to people who were interested in that with wildlife 

           4   management plans?  Because I've heard a lot of different 

           5   groups of native -- South Texas Native Plant Restoration 

           6   Group, Parks and Wildlife, TX-DOT, and there seems to be a 

           7   lot of different groups going different directions, but 

           8   they haven't focused on the issue of, I think Dr. Guthery 

           9   called it, usable space and the preservation and 

          10   reintroduction, conservation of native species.   

          11             Dr. Guthery, is that part of your research or... 

          12                  DR. GUTHRY:  Well, I can make a few 

          13   comments with regard to the issue of alien plants and 

          14   animals.  It's become a religious issue, so everybody is 

          15   looking for the bad parts of it nowadays.   

          16             I've seen -- in Ricky Garrison and Cynthia Rand 

          17   we count about three bobwhites per acre in 1986 in what 

          18   was primarily buffle grass.  Your place is a buffle grass 

          19   mix, nice structure.   

          20             In Sonora, Mexico, mass bobwhites probably 

          21   persist simply because there's buffle grass there and it's 

          22   a tough grass.  So we're all -- we're all -- all of us 

          23   biologists are a little bit carried away about this notion 

          24   about adversity and what aliens and exotics are doing, not 

          25   to say that it's not bad.   

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           1             To a bobwhite, it's a structural question.  It 

           2   has to do with the structure of the ground cover, and 

           3   that's just what it looks like, a bunch of grass versus 

           4   other types of grass.  And it also relates to the amount 

           5   of woody cover present.  And within that framework, they 

           6   can do pretty well.  They're a pretty tough bird.  So I'm 

           7   not so concerned about exotics as -- with respect to 

           8   bobwhites. 

           9             On the other hand, if you take 1,000 acres of 

          10   mesquite brush land and put in bermuda grass, you've got a 

          11   problem. 

          12                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Monocultural. 

          13                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Again, I'm going 

          14   to have to be briefed later if I'm asking things that 

          15   everybody knows.  But I still want to hear how this 

          16   relates to the priorities and plans of the wildlife 

          17   management program and department.  What is our program 

          18   and what are we doing? 

          19                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  Well, in a nutshell, the 

          20   technical guidance program is an integrated program.  We 

          21   will approach a landowner, if that landowner is interested 

          22   in quail, deer, turkey, and we'll use that interest to get 

          23   at a healthy management of the ecosystem and the habitat, 

          24   not just for a single species. 

          25                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  It's a lot -- largely 

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           1   customer-driven.  Basically, voluntary.  So what people 

           2   show up interested in is -- 

           3                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  In a proactive 

           4   sense on this issue, what is our priority and what is our 

           5   goal? 

           6                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  To continue doing what 

           7   we've done and have done very well.  I mean, if you look 

           8   at the growth and the acreage under wildlife management 

           9   plans, it's growing because, in fact, of our ability to be 

          10   opportunistic, to take that interest from the landowner 

          11   and work with he or she towards habitat management goals.   

          12             That flexibility of being able to take advantage 

          13   of opportunities when they present themselves is very 

          14   important.  If you direct it at a specific area, then I 

          15   think it will come out of the cost of being able to take 

          16   advantage of opportunities elsewhere.   

          17             So the goal, I think, is more habitat-based than 

          18   specific species-based.  The more acreage we have in 

          19   wildlife management plans that are actively being managed 

          20   under our guidance, the better all wildlife species will 

          21   be. 

          22             And, in fact, the quail issue -- one of the 

          23   intriguing parts about it is it's not just quail.  There 

          24   are a lot of other grassland species that are in similar 

          25   situations.  And if you're managing habitat for structure, 

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           1   just like Dr. Guthery pointed out, then a lot of other 

           2   species that are not game species will also benefit from 

           3   that.  And the same thing can be said for deer and a lot 

           4   of the other species that are target species with respect 

           5   to management. 

           6                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Gary, this is obviously a 

           7   topic that has, I think, a higher level of interest at 

           8   this point in time than probably a decade ago.  There's -- 

           9   there are more people focused on -- on concern of -- of 

          10   are there long-term trends that are potentially 

          11   devastating to something that people -- types of 

          12   recreation and wildlife -- that a lot of people are very 

          13   attached to. 

          14             So it's also something that I think is very hard 

          15   for us to get our hands around right now.  I don't think 

          16   we've quite unraveled, you know, all of the riddles to the 

          17   quail as well as we have the largemouth bass or 

          18   white-tailed deer.  But -- so it's more of a challenge.   

          19             I think this discussion could go on for another 

          20   hour and be productive, but unfortunately, I'm going to 

          21   cut it short.    

          22             I think what I'm hearing today is from a data 

          23   point of view, you know, we need more data.  You know, 

          24   it's hard to really extract from the data we have 

          25   definitive answers to our questions.  But when you get 

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           1   down to kind of the back 40, where everything, you know, 

           2   either happens or doesn't happen, what Dr. Guthry's, I 

           3   think, pointing out is that it's a habitat issue and 

           4   perhaps a larger scale habitat issue than most people 

           5   realize.  You know, we're talking five, 8,000-acre chunks 

           6   rather than 2500-acre chunks to be supportive of long-term 

           7   viable populations.   

           8             And it's going to be habitat issues, like most 

           9   of our stuff is.  And if nothing else, maybe the key thing 

          10   is, you know, let's keep what we've got and figure out 

          11   strategies to do that, and then start working on how to 

          12   get back some of the ground we have lost, which is going 

          13   to be far more difficult and expensive than just keeping 

          14   what we've got is going to be.  But... 

          15                  MR. GARY GRAHAM:  The good news is there is 

          16   a huge amount of economic interest in this species.  

          17   There's (inaudible) restoration. 

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  There's -- there's a lot -- 

          19   there's a lot of money chasing each one of those little 

          20   birds.  So there is -- 

          21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That's good news.   

          22                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah, that's the good news. 

          23   I would personally like to thank Dr. Guthery for coming 

          24   down from far north Texas.  Welcome back.  And appreciate 

          25   your comments, as well as our other speakers from more 

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           1   nearby locales.   

           2             Any other -- any other comment before we move 

           3   on? 

           4                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Briefly, 

           5   Mr. Chairman, I think what I hear from our constituents 

           6   and I guess what I feel as an avid quail hunter myself is 

           7   that people would like to see a little more high profile 

           8   effort on our part.   

           9             It's not so much that what we may not be 

          10   doing -- we're certainly not doing enough.  But I don't 

          11   think the average person that's concerned about the quail 

          12   realizes that we're doing much of anything. 

          13                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think that's true. 

          14                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We need to do a 

          15   better job of getting out to the interested public what it 

          16   is we are doing and then raise the level of what we're 

          17   doing.   

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  And I think, you know, it 

          19   also ties back into some of our discussion on the dove 

          20   issues.  Those R&D dollars are not very high profile, but 

          21   in the long run they're very valuable.  And we need to be 

          22   mindful of that and not skimp.  And it's a long-term 

          23   investment, which we need to make.   

          24             Thank you all very much. 

          25                  MR. SANSOM:  Thank you both very much. 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Let's move on to our 

           2   Aquaculture MOU, and then we've got one piece of other 

           3   business, a report from a HuntIng Advisory Committee. 

           4                  MS. RAENELL SILCOX:  Good morning, 

           5   Chairman, Commissioners.  My name is Raenell Silcox.  I'm 

           6   an attorney with the Resource Protection Division, and I'm 

           7   here to talk to you about the memorandum of understanding 

           8   between Parks and Wildlife, Texas Natural Resource 

           9   Conservation Commission and the Texas Department of 

          10   Agricultural regarding the coordination of the regulation 

          11   of aquaculture.   

          12             Parks and Wildlife already had an MOU regarding 

          13   the coordination of aquaculture with TNRCC that was signed 

          14   by both agencies in 1996.  And both agencies adopted it as 

          15   a rule in 1997.   

          16             Then in 1999, the legislature passed SB-873 that 

          17   mandated a new MOU regarding aquaculture between Parks and 

          18   Wildlife, TNRCC and TDA.  The three agencies met several 

          19   times and amended the existing MOU to make the necessary 

          20   changes to -- in order to implement SB-873.   

          21             The significant changes from the existing MOU 

          22   are that it incorporates TDA's regulatory role; it 

          23   establishes an application review committee; it 

          24   establishes procedures for evaluating applications; it 

          25   requires Parks and Wildlife to identify the information it 

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           1   believes it needs to properly evaluate applications, and 

           2   requires Parks and Wildlife to develop sensitive aquatic 

           3   habitat guidelines. 

           4             The new MOU's already been signed by all three 

           5   agencies.  It was adopted by TNRCC as a rule in January.  

           6   And the first time we did this MOU, the way we did it was 

           7   we passed a new Section 57.135 that just adopted by 

           8   reference the rule that TNRCC had already adopted.  So 

           9   that what we propose to do this time, as well.  And we -- 

          10   so we propose to amend Section 57.135 to adopt the same 

          11   rule that TNRCC -- adopt by reference the same rule that 

          12   TNRCC adopted in January, and that proposal was published 

          13   in the Texas Register on April 27th.  The comment period 

          14   closed yesterday, and we received no public comment.  So 

          15   I'll be happy to answer any questions. 

          16                  MR. LARRY MCCANE:  Before we go to 

          17   questions, Mr. Chairman and members, I'm Larry McCane, 

          18   Senior Director of Aquatic Resources.  I did want to make 

          19   one comment.   

          20             I thought it was interesting we received no 

          21   comments, because I think a number of you weren't here --  

          22   like the Chairman was when we went through this issue.  I 

          23   think it's something really to point out the issue of 

          24   aquaculture along our Texas coast was an extremely 

          25   divisive issue; it was a hot one.  And I wanted to 

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           1   recognize, I think -- in fact, in other places in the 

           2   world where this has taken place, the impact has been 

           3   ecologically devastating.  We've destroyed whole 

           4   ecosystems in other areas.   

           5             But because, I think, due to the work of folks 

           6   like Mike Ray and Raenell Silcox, You Shang Wong, who's 

           7   our coordinator on the coast, Jodie Gray and others, we 

           8   took a lead in putting together a process to look at these 

           9   facilities and integrate them into those coastal area.  

          10   And over the last several years, they -- you know, they've 

          11   made money, they've operated in competition with the 

          12   shrimping industry but not to their detriment.  And I 

          13   think it's been a terrific model of how to make those 

          14   things work.   

          15             And the staff here in the department had a lead 

          16   in looking at how to put that together.  It's been looked 

          17   at as a model around the world now.  So we can be proud of 

          18   the work that they've all done.  And this is kind of the 

          19   next stage to make sure that we don't drift into that kind 

          20   of situation again down the road.  I think this is -- it's 

          21   a good step forward. 

          22                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I agree with you.  It was a 

          23   very contentious issue for a quite a while.  In fact, my 

          24   first confirmation hearing, that was -- 

          25                  MR. LARRY MCCANE:  I forgot about that.  

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           1   That was -- that was that.  That certainly was. 

           2                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- that was about 30 

           3   minutes of an intense conversation about topics which I 

           4   knew nothing.  So it was a very one-sided discussion.   

           5             But, no, I think it's a good example of where 

           6   the departments work cooperatively with the industry, with 

           7   the constituent group, have been flexible where we could 

           8   to meet their needs and be -- be sensitive to their needs.   

           9             On the other hand, being firm in the areas that 

          10   we felt we had to be, of where we needed to draw the line 

          11   on something that we felt had to be a part of any 

          12   agreement.  And it's been a good formula that's worked 

          13   here, as well as -- as well as most other places that it's 

          14   ended up with no comment.  So that's good news. 

          15                  MS. RAENELL SILCOX:  Yes.   

          16                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  It doesn't -- no comment 

          17   doesn't mean no one cares. 

          18                  MS. RAENELL SILCOX:  Right. 

          19                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.   

          20             Under other business today, John Kelsey's here 

          21   as Chairman of the Hunting Advisory Committee. 

          22                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Excuse me, 

          23   Mr. Chairman.  Do we want to consider this for consent 

          24   agenda tomorrow since there was no comment, or was that 

          25   something you want -- 

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           1                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think it would be better 

           2   if, without objection, we just to move it to the agenda in 

           3   case there is some public comment in keeping with 

           4   considerations of the Sunset. 

           5             As I said, John Kelsey is here this morning to 

           6   give us a briefing on some of the activities that the 

           7   Hunting Advisory Committee has undertaken in the last year 

           8   and a half or so. 

           9                  MR. JOHN KELSEY:  Thanks for an opportunity 

          10   to be here, Commissioner Chairman Bass.  It's a lot easier 

          11   to get here without going through the political process.   

          12             I think I've got some slides here, but I'm not 

          13   all going to go through every one of them.  There we go.   

          14             All right.  This is an opportunity to make a 

          15   presentation and a report from the Hunting Advisory 

          16   Committee to the Commission.  And we have the charge of 

          17   the -- of the committee here before us.  And one of the 

          18   things that isn't on the charge is after we've done all 

          19   the work and done what we're going to do, what are we 

          20   going to do with it later?   

          21             And so that's kind of the purpose of this report 

          22   is to update the Commission on what we've done and some of 

          23   the ideas we have and the work we're going to do in the 

          24   future. 

          25             We've got 26 members representing all aspects of 

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           1   the hunting community.  We've had very good attendance by 

           2   the -- by the group over the year.  We've had five 

           3   different meetings.  The last one is not on this schedule.  

           4   And one thing we've discovered is it's very difficult to 

           5   carry out these meetings during sessions of the 

           6   legislature because of the fact that staff is very much 

           7   committed to the Commission's and the Department's 

           8   legislative process.  Perhaps if it wasn't a Sunset year, 

           9   that won't be quite as much of a problem.  But it 

          10   certainly should bear thinking about in terms of any of 

          11   these committee's activities during legislative sessions. 

          12             The first job of our committee was to review the 

          13   status of all the primary huntable wildlife species in 

          14   Texas, because obviously, if there was going to be a 

          15   shortage of opportunity, it would show up in -- it would 

          16   certainly be affected by populations of -- huntable 

          17   populations of wildlife.  And so we had a series of 

          18   meetings, all of one and part of several others, in which 

          19   we assessed the status of the primary wildlife species in 

          20   Texas.  And without going into the details of this, I 

          21   would say that we only came up with two areas in which we 

          22   think that there are problems that need to be addressed by 

          23   the Commission to preserve the huntability of those 

          24   species, one of which is quail.  And you've already had 

          25   quite a bit of information on quail today.  And I'll only 

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           1   briefly mention some of our thoughts on that. 

           2             But the other one was mourning doves.  And the 

           3   issue there is not the population and not what seems to be 

           4   the empirical population, huntable population of birds, 

           5   but the fact that the bird surveys that are utilized by 

           6   the federal government in order to determine the 

           7   huntability of migratory species are showing a decline of 

           8   doves.  And the Fish & Wildlife Service is bound by a 

           9   standard of very conservative review when it uses those 

          10   surveys to determine the season and bag limits available 

          11   to the different states to allocate to their hunters. 

          12             The Department needs to conduct research to 

          13   prove, in effect, that the current and past survey routes 

          14   and survey methods are outdated and need to be 

          15   restructured in such a way to show what the true 

          16   population of doves are in Texas.  And we feel like this 

          17   is a very important survey for the Department to support 

          18   and should allocate as much in the way of resources to 

          19   this study as it can in order to be sure that we have 

          20   rebuttable evidence to present to Fish & Wildlife in the 

          21   event this issue comes up.   

          22             The second item is quail.  And we had extensive 

          23   work on quail.  I was really pleased to see this on the 

          24   agenda here today.  I think that the committee had about 

          25   five hours of hearings on -- and presentations on quail.  

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           1   And some of the members of the committee have attended a 

           2   number of other seminars on quail, so we have put together 

           3   quite a bit of information on the quail decline.   

           4             One of the things -- I think Professor Guthry's 

           5   comments on quail this morning in which he discussed quail 

           6   declines on a more historical and nationwide basis were 

           7   very important and shows how much decline there has been 

           8   on a nationwide basis.  We need to look very carefully, 

           9   though, at the quail decline in the southeastern United 

          10   States and how it seems to be moving in the direction of 

          11   Texas.  And I would only quote a few statistics.   

          12             But in 1980, there were two-and-a-half million 

          13   quail harvested in the state of Mississippi, and in 1999, 

          14   there were only 150,000.  And if you look at Steve 

          15   DeMaso's numbers of 2.1 million harvested in Texas in 1980 

          16   and 600,000 or so harvested in 1999, you're basically 

          17   looking at the same trend line. 

          18             Now, the beauty that -- of Texas is we started 

          19   out with much higher quail populations than many of these 

          20   other states.  So despite the fact that we have had a 

          21   decline, we still have huntable populations which may 

          22   delude us into thinking we're not going to end up with the 

          23   same problem of these other states.  And I don't think 

          24   that as -- as the speakers clearly describe, there's no 

          25   certain solution to the problem. 

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           1             We have some ideas, and I've certainly heard 

           2   some of the echoes of them from you guys in your questions 

           3   to the speakers.  One thing is a lack of focus.  There are 

           4   the Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Institute is a focus of quail 

           5   research, and they are running the South Texas Quail 

           6   Project.  Steve outlined -- DeMaso outlined the work that 

           7   the Department is doing in a broad basis.  But if you 

           8   looked at the budget that the Department has and you 

           9   looked at all the things that he said that the Department 

          10   is doing, it would give you a feeling that is actually a 

          11   fairly thinly supported effort on our part.  I mean, we've 

          12   got a big state and a big problem, and the budget we have 

          13   deployed for it is very thinly spread.  That's also true 

          14   at Cesar Kleberg. 

          15             I think the Department ought to consider 

          16   stepping up and being the leader of quail research or the 

          17   quail decline problem.  I think it was reported that the 

          18   quail decline initiative before the Texas legislature was 

          19   not funded except at a very low level, so it is not going 

          20   to provide any resources for this effort.   

          21             And I think Commissioner Angelo made a comment.  

          22   He said it seems like this needs a little leadership.  I 

          23   think having some leadership would be very important, and 

          24   we recommend, our committee does, that Parks and Wildlife 

          25   allocate the resources not to solve the problem - that's 

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           1   obviously too huge an effort - but to be a leader, 

           2   coordinate what everybody else is doing in the state, have 

           3   an inventory of research and try to help the joint efforts 

           4   of everybody else towards a solution of this problem. 

           5             One thing that might be considered is that next 

           6   year on January 22nd, Quail 5, which is the fifth biannual 

           7   conference on quail put together by the major quail pieces 

           8   of the -- quail parts of the wildlife agencies interested 

           9   in quail are going to meet in Corpus Christi.  And I think 

          10   that the Department ought to support that 

          11   enthusiastically.  We're going to have people involved in 

          12   the programming, and it would be helpful to have a bunch 

          13   of Commissioners and people interested in this subject 

          14   from our agency there. 

          15             So, now, there is -- I want to go over and 

          16   really hit a few slides pretty rapidly.  And our 

          17   presentation is available to people who would want to have 

          18   a hard copy of it.  And we actually have a short copy, a 

          19   long copy and an impossibly long copy.  And I think I just 

          20   spoke to these recommendations.  And I think this 

          21   allocation of resources -- remember that hunters provide 

          22   about 43 million dollars a year to Texas Parks and 

          23   Wildlife's annual resources.  And any business that is 

          24   that dependent on hunting and then, in particular, certain 

          25   species of hunting ought to pay a lot of attention to 

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           1   nurturing what's going on in those areas. 

           2             As far as the future of hunting's concerned, 

           3   it's clear that we are -- do have a declining proportion 

           4   of people that hunt relative to the overall population. 

           5             We have a -- hunting licenses sales are 

           6   relatively flat, even though revenues have gone up.  So, 

           7   in other words, it -- it's good to keep the revenue stream 

           8   going through to the Department, but if you don't have 

           9   increasing sales, eventually you could price a reduction 

          10   into the number of hunters.  Demographically, this slide 

          11   is one of the most powerful and scary of all, because that 

          12   circle outlines the fact that of the age groups, there is 

          13   a significant fall-off in recruitment of hunters recent -- 

          14   in more recent years in key age groups.  So we're losing 

          15   the recruitment of people that we need to have to create 

          16   license buyers in the future.   

          17             And you can see that the age of white-tail deer, 

          18   squirrel and rabbit hunters is all increasing.  The two 

          19   minor species are there because they generally provide the 

          20   foundation for recruitment for hunters into the larger 

          21   game species as the individuals mature.  And this bears 

          22   out that same fact. 

          23             And we haven't had a decline in hunters caused 

          24   by license fees.  And, indeed, Texas still has one of the 

          25   best bargains in license fees of any state in the nation.  

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           1   We need to spend some of that money to be sure we can 

           2   continue to have hunters.  It's just like watering your 

           3   own vegetable garden.   

           4             And I think that this is -- these are some areas 

           5   that I'm going to just hit a few slides on.  If you can 

           6   see that, of course, Texas is the second largest state in 

           7   terms of hunter revenues with a billion-and-a-half dollars 

           8   worth of retail sales.  And, of course, that doesn't 

           9   measure the lease revenues that Texans pay to landowners.  

          10   And because of the high percentage of private land, those 

          11   numbers would be -- put Texas well over the top in direct 

          12   out-of-pocket expenditures for hunting, hunting gear and 

          13   land to hunt on. 

          14             A substantial amount of the money, of course, is 

          15   spent in rural areas.  And that point was made in the 

          16   presentation on quail earlier this morning that this -- 

          17   this money and these lands are supported to a large extent 

          18   by hunting.   

          19             One of the presentations which I would recommend 

          20   that you try to get in a briefing is a presentation by 

          21   Texas A&M that we saw that talked about what the values of 

          22   Texas lands would be without hunting.  And they basically 

          23   had put together the valuation of the land as pure 

          24   agricultural or pasture land versus the value that it was 

          25   selling for in the market.  And, obviously, the implied 

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           1   difference would have to be there for recreational use.  

           2   And as I know Commissioner -- Chairman Bass once 

           3   commented, Texas is only place in the world that still 

           4   sells their land by the acre.  And that's basically 

           5   related to the way we think about our land as valuable for 

           6   hunting and recreation.   

           7             This chart demonstrates the amount of -- where 

           8   the majority of land is -- money is spent for -- in the 

           9   rural economy for hunting; demonstrates the individual 

          10   species impact.  And, of course, white-tailed deer is 

          11   definitely the largest. 

          12             I had already commented on the fact that hunting 

          13   provides 43 million dollars to the Department. 

          14             We did spend some time on barriers to hunting, 

          15   and it's interesting to see what some of those are.  

          16   People do comment on the increased cost of hunting as an 

          17   obstacle. 

          18             Regulation complexity is definitely a problem.  

          19   People are concerned to take it up, because they feel it's 

          20   too complex from a regulatory standpoint and they don't 

          21   want to get in -- in trouble for doing something 

          22   inadvertently illegal while they're hunting.  And I've 

          23   commented on the poor youth recruitment.  Obviously, we 

          24   have the urban concentration of Texans, and there are 

          25   other demographics working against hunting. 

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           1             We did spend a considerable amount of time 

           2   discussing hunter education, as to whether it was a 

           3   barrier to hunting.  And any obstacle to a new 

           4   recreational activity is a barrier of some type.  But the 

           5   feeling of -- of -- that hunter education was so important 

           6   to the ethics of hunting and to the activity of hunting 

           7   that it was not a barrier as just a cost that would have 

           8   to be undertaken by anybody and any -- hunting and, of 

           9   course, by our agency in supervising hunting.   

          10             These are some of the obvious competitions for 

          11   discretionary time that get in the way of hunting. 

          12             These are some of the -- we -- you can take 

          13   these to the deer camp or you can take these back to your 

          14   home, but the fact is that we have a relatively flat 

          15   population of hunters in the United States.  And a 

          16   conference in Washington I attended, the fact is on a 

          17   national basis if it wasn't for the dramatic increase in 

          18   women hunters in the United States -- the population of 

          19   women hunters as a percentage of hunters, according to the 

          20   Wildlife Management Institute, is up three times in the 

          21   last ten years.  And if it weren't for that, hunting would 

          22   have declined on a national basis, but it's remained flat 

          23   for the last ten years.  Texas, believe it or not, is one 

          24   of the smallest percentage of women hunters of any state, 

          25   and very good growth in that area. 

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           1             We have these issues that were mentioned by our 

           2   people -- by the people discussing quail.  And how do we 

           3   respond to these issues?  We're going to be doing more 

           4   work at our -- on our committee to try to come up with 

           5   some of these solutions or thoughts about this.  But 

           6   they're all things that are going to have to be discussed 

           7   and understood by this Commission in order to continue to 

           8   have hunting to supervise in the future. 

           9             I'm going to skip these slides.  They're a 

          10   little bit too busy. 

          11             This basically points out the changing market 

          12   for real estate, and I recommend that you have that 

          13   presentation here from A&M. 

          14             Hunters -- we went over all the organizations 

          15   that hunters have and how much they've done to contribute 

          16   to hunting nationally, and I won't spend a lot of time on 

          17   that. 

          18             There are going to be three major presentations 

          19   next year, wildlife-related conferences in Texas.  The 

          20   Quail 5 is not on this chart.  It's on -- in January 22nd.  

          21   The North American Wildlife Conference in Dallas -- and I 

          22   wanted to point this out.  There are a number of very 

          23   substantial conferences that take place annually regarding 

          24   wildlife.   

          25             The North American, it will be its 68th year 

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           1   next year, to give you some idea of how long it's been 

           2   going on.  It was in Washington last year.  I went up to 

           3   it.  I've never been so proud of our agency to see our 

           4   guys up there.  They got respected by every other wildlife 

           5   agency person, both federal and state, in the country.  

           6   The presentations were really kaleidoscopal; in other 

           7   words, you could -- you couldn't decide what to go to, 

           8   there were so many interesting presentations.  This is 

           9   going to be next year in Dallas.   

          10             And I don't know what the census of Parks and 

          11   Wildlife Commissioners is that have been to the North 

          12   American, but there ought to be a lot of them that go to 

          13   it every year.  And since it's going to be in Dallas next 

          14   year, I recommend that a number of people go. 

          15             And then in the fall, there is going to be the 

          16   7th Biannual Governor's Symposium on Hunting Heritage in 

          17   Houston.  And I didn't know this, that there's been a 

          18   group of people worrying about what's happening to 

          19   hunting, meeting on an international basis, people from 

          20   Mexico, Canada and the United States, every two years now 

          21   for 15 years and having two or three days of work on 

          22   what's going on with hunting.  And this is going to be 

          23   next year in Houston, November the 10th through the 13th 

          24   and Governor Perry is the sponsor of it.  Governor Bush 

          25   originally agreed to do that before he was elected 

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           1   President.  And we need to be a participant at that 

           2   program, also. 

           3             I would recommend -- our committee, in going 

           4   over these different conferences, actually has a 

           5   recommendation to this committee and to the Commission, 

           6   and that is that because of these various conferences, 

           7   Quail 5 and the Wildlife Society, the North American, 

           8   which is a major event, and the Governor's Symposium, that 

           9   next year be declared the Year of Texas Hunting Heritage 

          10   or Texas Hunting Heritage Year.  And that would be part of 

          11   the welcome that we would give to the delegates to each 

          12   one of these different events from around the country and 

          13   show the support Texas has for these programs and for 

          14   hunting.   

          15             Now -- and one other item that I really do 

          16   believe is important, that we have concluded that no 

          17   agency -- wildlife agency in the United States has, as 

          18   part of its policy, that it supports hunting; in other 

          19   words, a part of its mission to support hunting.  We all 

          20   take it for granted.  The other agencies take it for 

          21   granted.  The Hunting Heritage Symposium is developing a 

          22   statement to support hunting to be adopted by both 

          23   non-governmental organizations and by wildlife agencies to 

          24   show that they do support the heritage behind hunting and 

          25   the motivations and activities of hunters. 

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           1             Our committee recommends that the Commission 

           2   consider these -- this motion or this statement.  It could 

           3   have some input to this statement and that it adopt this 

           4   statement to show that we do have a commitment to hunting 

           5   in this state.  It's part of our heritage.  It's part of 

           6   the value of our state to its landowners, and it's a 

           7   critical part of this agency's mission.   

           8             And that concludes our report.  We are 

           9   continuing to have meetings.  And next week we are going 

          10   to have a meeting, and we are going to discuss opponent -- 

          11   we're going to have a one-day presentation on the 

          12   opponents of hunting of which there are many.  And we're 

          13   going to try to deal with privatization and some of the 

          14   other issues that affect hunting in future meetings over 

          15   the next year.   

          16             Be glad to take any questions.  Thank you for 

          17   your time. 

          18                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, John.  You all 

          19   have covered a lot of ground, and I think made some good 

          20   points.  You know, I would -- I would think it would be of 

          21   interest to the Commissioners to be sure to get notice of 

          22   your meetings as soon as they're scheduled in case any of 

          23   them have an opportunity or interest to attend and -- 

          24   what -- what your agendas might be might be helpful.  And, 

          25   as I say, I think you've made some very good points that 

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           1   that are additive to the process. 

           2                  MR. JOHN KELSEY:  Thank you very much.  And 

           3   I want to thank my committee members.  We've had a very 

           4   high percentage of people attend all of our meetings, and 

           5   that means that people are traveling all across the state 

           6   to be here and spending on the average of six hours of 

           7   hearings during the day going over these issues.  So 

           8   there's been a real commitment of time on the part of the 

           9   membership.   

          10             And I want to thank the staff, particularly 

          11   Jerry Cooke, who's had to mess with a lot of my 

          12   handwriting.  And -- but Gary and Kirby and all of the 

          13   members of the Wildlife staff has been very supportive.  

          14   Thank you very much. 

          15                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  Anybody have any questions 

          16   or comments for John while he's here?   

          17             Thank you.  Thank you for your leadership.  I 

          18   think that concludes our Regulations Committee.  Which --  

          19                  MR. SANSOM:  Finance. 

          20                  CHAIRMAN BASS:  I would like to move to 

          21   Finance.  We'll move to finance. 

          22                         (11:26) 




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           1   STATE OF TEXAS  ) 

           2   COUNTY OF TRAVIS) 

           3                 REPORTER'S CERTIFICATION 

           4             I, Rhonda Howard, Certified Shorthand Reporter in 

           5   and for the State of Texas, hereby certify that on May 30, 

           6   2000, I was present at the Texas Parks and Wildlife 

           7   Commission for committee meetings and that this is a true 

           8   and complete transcript of the proceedings. 

           9            I further certify that the proceedings were put 

          10   into writing by myself with the help of Lori Estrada of 


          12             I further certify that I am neither counsel for,  

          13   related to, nor employed by any of the parties or 

          14   attorneys in the action in which this proceeding was 

          15   taken, and further that I am not financially or otherwise 

          16   interested in the outcome of the action. 

          17             Certified to by me, this 28th day of June,  

          18   2001. 

          19                     _____________________________________ 

          20                       ____________________________ 
                                   RHONDA HOWARD, Texas CSR No. 4136 
          21                       Expiration Date 12/31/02 
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