Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., August 28, 2002

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. 2002-2003 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation-Late Season
Staff: Vernon Bevill
3. Scientific Breeders Regulations Disease Testing and Monitoring Measures
Staff: Jerry Cooke
4. Alternative Licensing Rules
Staff: Jerry Cooke
5. Nongame Commercial Permit Regulations
Staff: John Herron
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
May 29, 2002

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 29th day of May 2002, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas beginning at 9:02 a.m., to-wit:


Ernest Angelo, Jr., Chair
Phillip Montgomery, III
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
John Avila, Jr.
Joseph Fitzsimons
Alvin L. Henry (absent)
Donato D. Ramos
Kelly M. Rising
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. OPENING STATEMENT: Chairman Idsal called the meeting to order.

III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Motion by Commissioner Ramos; second by Commissioner Montgomery.



The chair recognized Executive Director Robert L. Cook. Mr. Cook addressed the department's efforts to implement the requirements of sunset legislation enacted during the most recent legislative session. Mr. Cook reported that the charges of the sunset legislation will be projects for the Natural Leaders program. Mr. Cook further reported on the status of a comprehensive five-year study of shrimp resources and the shrimping industry. Commissioner Angelo asked about the department's regulatory authority with respect to importation and antibiotics used on farm-raised shrimp. Hal Osburn, director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, responded that the regulatory responsibility for those issues resided with other agencies.


The chair recognized Mr. Vernon Bevill, director of the game bird program. Mr. Bevill reported that the proposed dove seasons would be identical to those of the previous year, adjusted for calendar shift. Mr. Bevill then proceeded to review the various opening dates and season lengths for species of early-season migratory game birds. He apprised the committee of the possibility that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service might curtail the early teal season, and noted that were the season to revert to a nine-day season, the traditional commission policy in the past has been to open it on the third Saturday in September. Commissioner Fitzsimons inquired as to the population status of teal. Mr. Bevill responded that the teal population had been declining slightly after reaching all-time highs in previous years, probably owing to the effects of prolonged drought in parts of Canada. Commissioner Fitzsimons then asked about public opinion regarding last year's late dove seasons. Mr. Bevill responded that public comment on the topic had been light, compared to previous years.


The chair recognized Mr. Jerry Cooke game branch chief. Mr. Cooke reviewed the requirements of Government Code that mandate periodic review of agency regulations, noting that the department review had identified several regulations for which the original justifications could not be verified at the present time. Mr. Cooke informed the committee that should the commission adopt the proposed rule changes, the regulations in question would cease effectiveness in September of 2003 unless findings of fact indicated otherwise.


The chair recognized Jerry Cooke, game branch chief. Mr. Cooke began by introducing Karl Kinsel of the Texas Deer Association and Dr. Ken Waldrup of the Texas Animal Health Commission, also noting that Commissioner Wood of the Texas Animal Health Commission was present, as well. Mr. Cooke then provided historical background to date on regulatory action taken and pending with respect to scientific breeder permit regulations and cervid disease. Dr. Waldrup then addressed the committee, providing a detailed analysis of the status of chronic wasting disease and efforts to detect and contain it, both in Texas and other states. Dr. Waldrup stated that as a result of much interaction between regulatory entities and the regulated community, the best approach in Texas seemed to be a voluntary herd monitoring program. He cautioned, though, that there must be a minimum level of participation by scientific breeders in order to provide the statistical validity necessary to be certain that disease could be detected readily and generally. Dr. Waldrup then outlined the particulars and protocols entailed in such a voluntary herd monitoring program. Mr. Kinsel then spoke, reviewing his organization's efforts to inform its members and encourage participation. He also noted which provisions were generally agreed with by the Texas Deer Association and those that were deemed problematic. Mr. Kinsel suggested that the department draft a clarification letter to address those concerns, especially with respect to depopulation and indemnity. He further noted that 31 members of the association had agreed to begin voluntary monitoring efforts, and that approximately 20 more had tentatively agreed to start, pending the suggested clarification letter from the department. Chair Idsal asked Mr. Kinsel to provide more detail on the progress towards involving more of the association's membership. Mr. Kinsel responded that much of his work involved explaining the science of the problem to skeptical members, who are understandably apprehensive, since many of them had considerable financial investments at stake. For example, Mr. Kinsel cited issues regarding tagging, chronological determination of herd status, and protocols regarding the testing of deceased animals. Dr. Wardrup stated that if the disease is detected, there are two choices, depopulation or quarantine. Commissioner Montgomery inquired about unified efforts to address the problem. Dr. Wardrup responded that a national group composed of federal agencies and state veterinarians had been formed. Commissioner Montgomery asked for more information on depopulation and quarantine. Dr. Wardrup stated that for quarantine, the likely requirement would be high-fenced facilities, and for free-ranging positives, an intensive sampling program. He also provided an explanation of statistics as they relate to epidemiological investigation and how that would translate into a sampling protocol. Commissioner Watson inquired as to what the department and the TAHC felt about the position of EWA. Dr. Wardrup responded that the scientific breeders were the primary receivers of imported deer and therefore a key to detecting disease. Mr. Kinsel added that EWA felt the closure of the borders was detrimental and probably encouraged the disease rather than discouraging it. Mr. Kinsel then addressed TAHC actions and the potential perception of hysteria, offering his association's efforts to inform and educate. Mr. Cooke then provided information on recent TAHC actions and their ramifications for the department. Commissioner Watson asked if CWD was capable of infecting axis or fallow deer. Mr. Cooke responded that so far, those species were not believed to be hosts for CWD. He also noted the existence and work of a disease team at the department many years before, and the fact that out of many deer analyzed, no deer brains were observed to exhibit any symptoms or characteristics of disease similar to CWD during that time. Commissioner Ramos asked Mr. Kinsel about his organization's feelings about the five-year monitoring program. Mr. Kinsel responded that TDA had no problem with it, but that the border closure was a problem when no disease had been detected in Texas yet. Commissioner Ramos then asked if TWA had done research or consulted with anyone who might dispute the position of the department or TAHC. Mr. Kinsel responded that EWA was looking into it, but that TDA was already conducting surveillance and identification and would start voluntary mortality testing when the department issued a clarification letter providing protocols. Commissioner Angelo asked about the testing process, associated costs, the qualifications of those conducting the tests, and the validity of the tests. Dr. Waldrup answered that Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Lab personnel had been trained by the USDA on the newest and best test, and that the test was extremely specific. He also reviewed the current test and its efficacy. He estimated the cost of the new test at approximately $25. Commissioner Angelo asked about the standard mortality in scientific breeder pens. Mr. Cooke responded that is roughly 12% annually. Commissioner Angelo then asked how quickly a deceased animal would have to be tested before the results would be degraded. Dr. Waldrup replied that weather and temperature played into that assessment and that it might be as many as three days in December or as little as 12 hours in August. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked Mr. Kinsel how many confirmed participants there were in the voluntary program. Mr. Kinsel replied that 19 were confirmed, with another 11 and another 13 waiting to do so, pending the clarification letter from the department. Commissioner Fitzsimons stated that he thought he'd heard the number put at 70 and asked for clarification. Mr. Kinsel responded that it was 11. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked what percentage of TDA membership was represented by the 30 members either confirmed or nearly confirmed. Mr. Kinsel responded that it was approximately 7%. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked how many had been confirmed in April. Mr. Kinsel replied that none had been confirmed at that time. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked if Mr. Kinsel was confident that 127 could be confirmed without some knowledge of the indemnification process. Mr. Kinsel responded in the affirmative. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked how long that would take. Mr. Kinsel answered that it would be within 60 days of the department's letter of clarification. Mr. Kinsel added that it would be helpful if the department would give him a list of all scientific breeders in the state, since not all breeders were members of his association. Mr. Cooke stated that it would be no problem. Commissioner Angelo stated that there needed to be an effort to contact all scientific breeders, not just those who were members of TDA. Commissioner Fitzsimons then asked Mr. Cooke about procedural particulars related to the Administrative Procedures Act were the commission to act in August. Mr. Cooke provided the information, adding that there would be no problems. Commissioner Fitzsimons then recommended deferral of action. Mr. Kinsel noted that his membership was uncomfortable with the open-ended nature of the program and requested that some sort of timeframe be specified, beyond which there would be no mandatory requirements, provided that CWD was not detected.

V. ADJOURNMENT: Commissioner Fitzsimons then adjourned the meeting.

Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Regulations Committee
Chairman's Charges
August 2002

(This item will be an oral presentation.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Regulations Committee
2002-2003 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Late Season Provisions
August 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 13.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Scientific Breeders Regulations
Disease Testing and Monitoring Measures
August 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 12.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Alternative Licensing Rules
August 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 11.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: John Herron

Regulations Committee
Nongame Regulations
August 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 14.)

Top of Page