Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee Meeting

November 7, 2001

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


             7             BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 

             8    7th day of November 2001, there came on to be 

             9    heard matters under the regulatory authority of 

            10    the Parks and Wildlife  Commission of Texas, in 

            11    the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and 

            12    Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis 

            13    County, Texas, beginning at 9:35 a.m., to wit:


            17    Chair:   Katharine Armstrong Idsal, San Antonio, Texas
                           Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas
            18             John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas 
            19             Carol E. Dinkins, Houston, Texas (absent)
                           Joseph Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, 
            20                   Committee Chair    
                           Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
            21             Philip Montgomery, III, Dallas, Texas 
            22             Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
                           Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
            24             Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and 
                  other personnel of the Parks and Wildlife 
            25    Department.


                                   NOVEMBER 7, 2001
             2                         *-*-*-*-*

             3               REGULATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING

             4                         *-*-*-*-*

             5                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  The meeting is 

             6    called to order.  Before proceeding with any 

             7    business, I believe Mr. Sansom has a statement to 

             8    make.

             9                  MR. SANSOM:  Madam chairman and 

            10    members of the Commission, a public notice of this 

            11    meeting containing all items on the proposed 

            12    agenda has been filed in the office of Secretary 

            13    of State, as required by Chapter 551 of the 

            14    Government Code and referred to as the Open 

            15    Meetings Law. 

            16                  I would like for this action to be 

            17    noted in the official record of the meeting. 

            18                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  All right.  What's 

            19    next, Andy?  I turn it over to the regulations 

            20    committee.  Is that right?

            21                  MR. SANSOM:  Yes, ma'am. 

            22                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Joseph, with that.  

            23    I'm going to hand the meeting over to you.  

            24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

            25    madam chair.  The regulations committee -- first 


             1    item on the agenda for the regulations committee 

             2    is the approval of the committee minutes from the 

             3    previous meeting.

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I have one 

             5    correction or clarification.  Item 2, deer 

             6    management permit proclamation and the 

             7    presentation by Doctor Jerry Cooke.  In the end of 

             8    the first paragraph, there's reference to the 

             9    release date of April 1st being amended regarding 

            10    the deer management permit.  In the next paragraph 

            11    it suggests that the April 1 date also refers to 

            12    the deer management permits. 

            13                  In consulting with Doctor Cooke, I 

            14    believe what was intended is that that second 

            15    April 1st date in the second paragraph relates to 

            16    Triple T.  If that can be made clear, then those 

            17    two paragraphs will read correctly. 

            18                  Anyone else have any changes to the 

            19    minutes of the regulations committee? 

            20                  Okay.  None.  I need a motion to 

            21    approve the minutes. 

            22                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I so move with 

            23    the suggested amendment.

            24                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Second.

            25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All in 


             1    favor?  All opposed in same sign. Motion carried.

             2                  And the next item will be the 

             3    chairman's charges.

             4       AGENDA ITEM NO. 1: BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S 

             5       CHARGES.

             6                  MR. SANSOM:  I would only like to 

             7    point out, Mr. Chairman, that a couple of the 

             8    items on your agenda today relate directly to 

             9    authority given the department by the 77th 

            10    Legislature, those being the closed season for 

            11    crab traps and the floating cabins. 

            12                  In addition, I want to make you 

            13    aware that as a result of direction from the 

            14    Sunset deal, the coastal fisheries division is 

            15    continuing its examination of the shrimp industry, 

            16    particularly with respect to economics.  And we 

            17    anticipate reporting to you on that in due time.  

            18    Thank you. 

            19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

            20    Andy.  Now, as to the second -- or third item on 

            21    the agenda, "Closed Season for Crab Traps in Texas 

            22    Coastal Waters.  Hal?

            23       AGENDA ITEM NO. 2: BRIEFING "CLOSED SEASON" 


            25                  MR. OSBURN:  Thank you, Mr. 


             1    Chairman, members.  I'm Hal Osburn, coastal 

             2    fisheries division director.  I'd like to present 

             3    to you for final action proposed rule changes for 

             4    the crab trap fishery. 

             5                  These rules are primarily intended 

             6    to address the problem of abandoned or lost traps.  

             7    We do estimate that we have tens of thousands of 

             8    these derelict traps in our bays that continue to 

             9    kill crabs and other species. 

            10                  They make a navigational hazard and 

            11    they also are an eyesore.  Law enforcement has 

            12    been able to clean up several thousand of these 

            13    traps every year, but it is very labor intensive. 

            14                  And to aid the department, the 

            15    Legislature this year provided the Commission new 

            16    authority.  We're going to establish a ten to 30 

            17    day closure of the trap fishery.  And during that 

            18    time, volunteers can aid the department in the 

            19    trap removal. 

            20                  Staff worked with members of the 

            21    crab and fin fish fishery that are affected by 

            22    this rule earlier this summer.  And we developed a 

            23    consensus on how the program should be structured.  

            24    The proposals that we had for you are basically a 

            25    16-day coast-wide closure of all crab traps, both 


             1    commercial and recreational. 

             2                  During the first seven days of the 

             3    closure, only game wardens would be able to 

             4    legally remove abandoned traps from the waters.  

             5    But during the last nine days, abandoned traps 

             6    would be defined as litter and they could be 

             7    removed by anyone. 

             8                  Staff also concurs with the crab 

             9    industry members and their request to delete the 

            10    30-day dating requirement on the trap gear tag.  

            11    This will increase their efficiency without 

            12    compromising any of our conservation efforts.

            13                  We held six public hearings along 

            14    the coast.  We got input from 23 people.

            15                  There was widespread support for a 

            16    closure, but the majority of comments we received 

            17    did favor shortening the closure to the minimum of 

            18    ten days to reduce the disruption of the fresh 

            19    crab markets.  However, a vast majority of the 

            20    comments did favor removing the gear tag date 

            21    requirement.

            22                  After reviewing these comments, 

            23    staff continues to recommend the originally 

            24    proposed rule changes.  We believe that an 

            25    effective trap removal program during the first 


             1    year will require us to have two weekends at a 

             2    minimum to take advantage of the volunteer 

             3    efforts, and that would require a 16-day closure. 

             4                  We have already begun advanced 

             5    planning for the cleanup program.  We anticipate 

             6    that we're going to have hundreds of volunteers.  

             7    And we're looking forward to a successful effort.  

             8    We will review the success of this first year, if 

             9    you approve this. 

            10                  And we will report back to you on 

            11    the successes and the impacts and any 

            12    modifications that we might need to make.  That 

            13    concludes my presentation.  I'll be happy to 

            14    answer any questions. 

            15                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  What kind of 

            16    input did you feel like you got from the crabbing 

            17    industry?  I mean, that wasn't very many people, I 

            18    guess, or did that represent a fairly 

            19    significant --

            20                  MR. OSBURN:  Actually, the only 

            21    one -- we had six hearings, and I believe three of 

            22    them had no shows.  And the majority of folks came 

            23    to the one in Sea Drift, our Asian-American 

            24    crabbers attended that with about 16 people. 

            25                  But we think that most of our 


             1    efforts with the industry, beginning basically 

             2    last winter before the legislative session and 

             3    working through the legislative session to get the 

             4    bill passed, and then this summer when we met 

             5    several times with the advisory committee, and 

             6    those folks outreached back to their own 

             7    communities, provided the best input that we had. 

             8                  And so I interpret the low turnout 

             9    at the public hearings as really sort of, it's a 

            10    done deal.  We really don't need to do much on 

            11    this.

            12                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  So even though 

            13    the impression might be that we didn't get a lot 

            14    of input, you actually had a lot of input and --

            15                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

            16                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  -- another 

            17    conclusion could be that they're satisfied 

            18    generally with what we're proposing to do.

            19                  MR. OSBURN:  I believe they are.  

            20    Certainly, there's some concerns being the first 

            21    year.  But I think given that this will be the 

            22    first ever closure of crabbing in Texas waters, 

            23    that we actually have got a phenomenal amount of 

            24    support in going forward with this.  And I 

            25    anticipate that some of the industry members will 


             1    be here tomorrow to testify in favor. 

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Is it fair 

             3    to say that the shorter closure would not be an 

             4    effective or representative test of this program? 

             5                  MR. OSBURN:  The -- yes, sir.  You'd 

             6    be putting all your eggs in one basket on that one 

             7    weekend where the weather, of course, in February, 

             8    March is very unpredictable.  If we got a front 

             9    through or high winds, we wouldn't -- the boats 

            10    wouldn't be able to get out. 

            11                  And so there's also -- obviously, 

            12    this will be the highest level of abandoned traps 

            13    we ever encounter, we hope.  The limited entry 

            14    program and a few other things should basically 

            15    diminish the number of abandoned traps in the 

            16    future. 

            17                  So this will be the first year we've 

            18    had a lot of enthusiasm.  And we don't want to 

            19    have everybody ready to go but no time to go.

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Any 

            21    further questions from Mr. Osburn?  If there are 

            22    no further questions or discussion, without 

            23    objection, I'll place this item on the Thursday 

            24    commission meeting agenda for public comment and 

            25    action. 


             1                  Next, floating cabins.  Dennis?


             3                  MR. JOHNSTON: Thank you, Mr. 

             4    Chairman, committee members.  My name is Dennis 

             5    Johnston, chief of marine enforcement.  The 77th 

             6    Legislature through Senate Bill 1573 delegated to 

             7    Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission the authority to 

             8    regulate floating cabins moored in coastal waters. 

             9                  The statutory requirements for the 

            10    issue of these permits included eligibility, 

            11    application requirements, fees, criminal and civil 

            12    penalties, location restrictions, and a cabin 

            13    removal process. 

            14                  Senate Bill 1573 also provides 

            15    regulatory authority to the Commission for 

            16    implementation of this program.  Proposed 

            17    regulations to implement this program were 

            18    published in the Texas Register for public comment 

            19    on October the 5th, 2001. 

            20                  Two public meetings were conducted, 

            21    one in Dickinson, Texas and one in Corpus Christi, 

            22    Texas, and were attended by 93 persons.  And 

            23    additional comments were taken on the web page, 

            24    Texas Parks & Wildlife web page. 

            25                  Comments on the proposals were 


             1    generally positive only minor changes were 

             2    requested from these comments at these hearings 

             3    and on the web page.  These public comments have 

             4    been incorporated in the proposed rules and I will 

             5    tell you about those when we come to them.

             6                  Proposed language in 31 TAC 55200 

             7    floating cabins will establish an annual permit 

             8    period of September 1 through August 31.  Renewal 

             9    will require an application and renewal within 90 

            10    days of expiration.  Rules will require 

            11    notification of department prior to the sale of 

            12    the cabin and require the new owner to submit a 

            13    transfer application to the department upon 

            14    purchase of that cabin.

            15                  And we've also established a 

            16    relocation process to include a department 

            17    application and requirement to restrict the 

            18    location to two times a year except on show of 

            19    cause acceptable to the department. 

            20                  Cabin owners may remove floating 

            21    cabins from coastal water for repairs and relocate 

            22    upon threat of natural disaster.  We did go back 

            23    based on comment from these hearings and clarify 

            24    the ability to move those cabins when there is 

            25    imminent threat of a tropical storm, anything that 


             1    would damage those cabins.  And they do not need 

             2    to seek permission to do it.  They can move it at 

             3    that time.  And then once that threat is gone, 

             4    replace it back at the permitted location at that 

             5    time.

             6                  We will restrict floating cabins 

             7    from relocating within 500 feet of a floating 

             8    cabin or structure permitted by the Natural 

             9    Resource Commission under Chapter 33 and not 

            10    within 250 feet of a pipeline. 

            11                  There is a change in the restriction 

            12    from location within 500 feet of a floating cabin 

            13    we had originally requested 1,000 feet.  Comments 

            14    were generally that that is too restrictive.  They 

            15    all felt like there should be some restriction, 

            16    where there is none now.  But they felt like a 

            17    thousand feet was too restrictive and it would 

            18    cause some of them, especially in the areas of 

            19    bath and bay, to be have to be placed in areas 

            20    that might create some hazard to navigation.  So 

            21    we changed that part of it. 

            22                  Marking requirements will consist of 

            23    the permit number with the prefix FC followed by a 

            24    three-digit permit number and a validation sticker 

            25    on two opposite sides of the cabin. 


             1                  For safety purposes, we will require 

             2    an orange reflector measuring a minimum of three 

             3    inches to be mounted on each side -- on each end 

             4    of each side of the cabin.  That's a total of 

             5    eight reflectors. 

             6                  We did receive a comment on based on 

             7    you're original proposal that reflected nine 

             8    square inches of reflection, which is three inches 

             9    by three inches.  And they felt like that was -- 

            10    they would be hard to find.  The round three-inch 

            11    reflector is readily available at any hardware 

            12    store anywhere that they look.  So we did make a 

            13    change there to meet those comments.

            14                  Regulations provide for our cabin 

            15    purchase program with an open bid period as set by 

            16    the department, provides criteria to determine 

            17    established maximum value based on the size of the 

            18    cabin, previous bid offers, and established market 

            19    prices. 

            20                  We also defined in these proposals a 

            21    marine sanitation device to be a device designed 

            22    to facilitate the transport of sewage for lawful 

            23    on-shore disposal. 

            24                  We require permanent installed 

            25    marine sanitation devices to be constructed to 


             1    prevent overboard discharges and removal of 

             2    liquid-type container for an on-shore disposal. 

             3                  We also restricted the pumping of 

             4    sewage to legally authorize pumpout facilities.  

             5    Anything that's certified by the Health Department 

             6    as far as a sewage system, pumpout facilities, or 

             7    conveyances that are in the business for pumping 

             8    out these facilities would be able to do this if 

             9    they are -- if they meet the requirements.

            10                  We have received a total of 150 

            11    applications for floating cabin permits and 

            12    identified approximately 33 that we do not have 

            13    applications for.  We are in the process of -- at 

            14    this time, of conducting the final inspections of 

            15    these applications.  And at the end of this 

            16    commission hearing, we should start issuing 

            17    permits by the end of the month to the cabin 

            18    owners. 

            19                  We will be attempting to determine 

            20    the ownership of the cabins that are in violation 

            21    of the statute and notify -- if we can determine 

            22    who the owners are, and notify them that they are 

            23    in violation, that the cabin is about to be 

            24    removed.  We will place notices on the cabins to 

            25    make sure that anybody sees them, knows it is a 


             1    violation to use those cabins or be on them. 

             2                  That concludes my comments.  I'd be 

             3    happy to answer any questions. 

             4                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I have a question, 

             5    Joseph.  Can you tell me something about those 33 

             6    cabins that have not put in their applications?  

             7    Are they different in way?  Are they run down?  

             8    Are they abandoned?  Can you give me some kind of 

             9    idea? 

            10                  MR. JOHNSTON: I would say the 

            11    majority of them are in disrepair, appear not to 

            12    be used.  There may be -- the way we determined 

            13    that was we had the game wardens go back out and 

            14    check every cabin on the coast from one end of 

            15    Texas to the other and determine what was there 

            16    and take pictures; take GPS coordinates, again, of 

            17    where they were and send those in. 

            18                  And we tried to compare the pictures 

            19    that we got back with the applications that we 

            20    got.  And some of the applications that we 

            21    received had photographs that were taken some 

            22    years back.  They didn't take new ones.  They sent 

            23    in old photographs.  And it was -- we were not 

            24    able to determine for sure that some of that 33 

            25    may not be -- we could have applications for some 


             1    of that 33.  But at this time, that appears to be 

             2    the number that's out there.  And it's really less 

             3    than we anticipated.

             4                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I also want to 

             5    comment on the change in the numbers from the last 

             6    meeting.  And this is a significant rise in the 

             7    number of applications.  I think there was some 

             8    concern expressed.

             9                  MR. JOHNSTON:  It is.  There were a 

            10    number of cabins that were built to meet the 

            11    deadline.  There are brand-new cabins out there.  

            12    The value of the cabins is going to be more in the 

            13    future because it's limited to this number.  There 

            14    will never be more than 150 cabins out there, 

            15    so...

            16                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Thank you.

            17                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I have a 

            18    question.  What is the penalty for violating the 

            19    regulation? 

            20                  MR. JOHNSTON: It's a Class C 

            21    misdemeanor.  After two violations, it becomes -- 

            22    the second violation becomes a Class B 

            23    misdemeanor.

            24                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And do we also 

            25    have the right to physically remove a cabin that's 


             1    in violation? 

             2                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Yes, we do.  We can 

             3    place the owners on suspension, suspend the permit 

             4    in those cases.  And once they have received 

             5    notice to remove those cabins and don't do it, 

             6    then we have, under the statute, have the 

             7    ability -- the Commission has the ability to 

             8    impose a thousand dollar a day penalty for failure 

             9    to remove that cabin, plus it is a criminal 

            10    violation to also not remove that cabin.

            11                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you.

            12                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Would you speak 

            13    to the change in distance requirements that you 

            14    spoke to a moment ago from a thousand back to 500?  

            15    And I was wondering, what is -- what is reasonable 

            16    and how -- what is the final decision -- how is it 

            17    being received? 

            18                  MR. JOHNSTON: The 500 feet was 

            19    acceptable.  There were a few comments that we 

            20    request 300 feet.  But most of them felt like a 

            21    thousand feet was too far. 

            22                  At the present time, there is no 

            23    requirement for a distance.  They can put them 

            24    within ten feet of the next cabin to them.  A 

            25    thousand feet was really an arbitrary figure 


             1    that -- based on comments that we had put together 

             2    for the proposal.  In talking to --

             3                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  That was my 

             4    concern, cutting it in half.  I wondered what the 

             5    impact of that would be, and it seemed to be 

             6    fairly substantial, a substantial reduction.

             7                  MR. JOHNSTON: And they seemed to be 

             8    agreeable to that.  There were several comments 

             9    that they felt like that was -- they wanted some 

            10    separation but not as much as a thousand feet. 

            11                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  So the 500 was 

            12    acceptable, you think, for the majority? 

            13                  MR. JOHNSTON:  I feel like it's very 

            14    acceptable, yes. 

            15                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Thank you.

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Dennis, at 

            17    our last committee meeting, there was quite a bit 

            18    of discussion about inspection upon transfer of 

            19    any of these permits from one holder to the other.  

            20    Has that changed? 

            21                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Yeah.  We require 

            22    them to -- an application from them.  Of course, 

            23    the statute allows them to transfer that at any 

            24    time, basically, is what the statute allowed. 

            25                  We are, through regulation, 


             1    requiring them to notify us before the owner sells 

             2    it and also the purchaser has to send us an 

             3    application with all the information that we would 

             4    need to continue that permit. 

             5                  We can inspect the cabins at any 

             6    time and will continue to inspect them to make 

             7    sure that they fit all those regulations.

             8                  As far as the condition of the 

             9    cabin, there is no regulatory authority to take 

            10    condition of the cabin.  But as far as 

            11    inspections, yes, we can do that every time we get 

            12    an application for a transfer.

            13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So just as 

            14    a policy matter, you can --

            15                  MR. JOHNSTON: That's correct.

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  As a 

            17    practice and policy, you can do an inspection 

            18    before the transfer.  Because that was a concern 

            19    of some of the commissioners at the last meeting, 

            20    that some of these would be transferred under a 

            21    condition that didn't meet the requirements.

            22                  MR. JOHNSTON: And they will have to 

            23    meet those requirements at all times, and we will 

            24    continuously inspect those cabins to see that they 

            25    do that. 


             1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Okay.  And 

             2    one last question.  It's a $1500 bond.  Is that 

             3    right? 

             4                  MR. JOHNSTON:  A $1500 bond was 

             5    initially required to be submitted by August 31st.  

             6    That's correct.  

             7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All right. 

             8    So the cost of removing and disposing of the 33 

             9    that presumably will not be permitted will be -- 

            10    obviously, they don't have $1500 bond.  That will 

            11    have to be absorbed by --

            12                  MR. JOHNSTON:  That's correct.  That 

            13    money will have to be generated from gifts and 

            14    donations.  There was no money provided to do 

            15    that.  The legislative intent under clarification 

            16    on the $1500 deposit is that that deposit stays 

            17    with that cabin as long as the original owner owns 

            18    that cabin.  Once it is transferred to a new 

            19    owner, then that $1500 becomes eligible to be used 

            20    to remove cabins.

            21                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And a new 

            22    bond is put up by the new owner.

            23                  MR. JOHNSTON:  No.  There's no 

            24    requirement for a new bond.

            25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Does that 


             1    mean that you could end up with more unbonded 

             2    cabins to remove, then? 

             3                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  So let me 

             4    understand this.  Every time you transfer 

             5    ownership, you forfeit the bond money that is 

             6    attached to that cabin.

             7                  MR. JOHNSTON: That's correct.

             8                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  So that's 

             9    forfeited to the State.

            10                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Forfeited to the 

            11    State.

            12                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  No new bond is 

            13    required.  So there could be unbonded cabins out 

            14    there in the future.

            15                  MR. JOHNSTON:  That's correct.  That 

            16    $1500 bond was for the original permit to be 

            17    issued.  It had to be placed into that account for 

            18    that issue.  But there was no provision to require 

            19    a $1500 bond once it's transferred to someone.

            20                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Can you enlighten 

            21    us on why that might be?

            22                  MR. JOHNSTON:  I wish I could.  I 

            23    really don't have any idea.

            24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So it 

            25    sounds as if you better keep that first 1500 until 


             1    your -- until the final disposition of the cabin.

             2                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Is that going to 

             3    the State's general fund or into some specific 

             4    fund? 

             5                  MR. JOHNSTON: It stays in an account 

             6    of the general fund --

             7                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  But it does stay 

             8    in the account.

             9                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  So it will be 

            10    segregated?

            11                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Yes, it is.

            12                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Okay.

            13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So that 

            14    ought to work.

            15                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Yeah.  They have 

            16    indicated some very -- some concern about making 

            17    sure that that stays in that fund and how that 

            18    fund was -- account was set up.

            19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Any 

            20    estimate in the cost removal and disposing of one 

            21    of these?  Obviously, it depends on the size of 

            22    the --

            23                  MR. JOHNSTON:  There is so much 

            24    difference in one cabin to another.  There are 

            25    some that are steel barges that are very large.  I 


             1    understand the CCA was involved in getting a 

             2    grant, $500,000 grant in removing one, and I heard 

             3    an estimate of $75,000 to have it removed.  I 

             4    don't know that that's true.  But there could 

             5    be -- some of these could be very expensive to 

             6    remove.

             7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, it 

             8    reads to the next question, which is, I presume 

             9    that we can sell them, salvage them if that --

            10                  MR. JOHNSTON:  The purchase program 

            11    is to purchase the cabin, and you get the permit 

            12    along with that cabin.  It has to be removed and 

            13    Texas Parks & Wildlife can use their normal 

            14    process for destroying that or whatever, selling 

            15    it.

            16                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Is there any 

            17    reason why we could not forfeit the cabin in place 

            18    and then sell it in place to avoid the cost of 

            19    removing it, when it's going to go right back.

            20                  MR. JOHNSTON:  I'm sure that would 

            21    be a possibility.

            22                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Then you would 

            23    eliminate the cost of having to move it and put it 

            24    back in.

            25                  Now, the next question is, if, in 


             1    fact -- I guess if someone forfeits his cabin, you 

             2    necessarily forfeit that location.  Correct?  And 

             3    then how do you go about in assigning that?  First 

             4    come, first serve? 

             5                  MR. JOHNSTON: Locations are first 

             6    time, first served.  That's correct.  Where they 

             7    are now, if they decide to relocate, they give up 

             8    where they are.  They don't have a right to go 

             9    back to that location. 

            10                  So they -- in a relocation process, 

            11    they will notify us where they want to go, give us 

            12    the GPS coordinates, then we will survey that 

            13    location to make sure that it's not a threat to 

            14    the resources.  And then once we okay it, then 

            15    that's where they have to move it and we'll check 

            16    it to make sure that it's where it's supposed to 

            17    be.

            18                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And we have a 

            19    mechanism in place to where you give notice to the 

            20    record owner prior to forfeiture any certain 

            21    procedure that we follow? 

            22                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Yes, that's required 

            23    in statute. 

            24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And to 

            25    follow up Commissioner Dinkins' lead, refer to 


             1    them as permittees rather than owners.

             2                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Well, they're 

             3    owners of the cabin. 

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  She made 

             5    it pretty clear they don't have a property right.

             6                  Any other questions on this -- on 

             7    the subject of floating cabins? 

             8                  Then no further questions or 

             9    discussion, without objection, I'll place this 

            10    item on the Thursday commission meeting agenda for 

            11    public comment and action.

            12                  Thank you very much, Dennis. 

            13                  MR. JOHNSTON:  Thank you. 

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Next is a 

            15    preview, briefing on statewide hunting and fishing 

            16    regulations.  Phil Durocher and Hal -- they've 

            17    misspelled your name here.  I don't know how -- 

            18    Hal Osburn and Gary Graham.  



            21                  MR. DUROCHER:  Mr. Chairman, 

            22    commissioners, for the record, my name is Phil 

            23    Durocher.  I'm with the inland fisheries division. 

            24                  The proposals that we are going to 

            25    bring to you today are a year-long process that we 


             1    go through in our division to review these 

             2    proposals.  They are originally brought forth by 

             3    the staff and they go through an intensive peer 

             4    review.  If they make it through that review, they 

             5    are reviewed by the senior staff and the advisory 

             6    board. And once they make it through that review, 

             7    then they are generally consulted with the 

             8    constituents. 

             9                  Before talking about specific 

            10    issues, specific proposal, I'd like to spend a few 

            11    minutes discussing harvest regulations and their 

            12    use.  Harvest regulations are one of the most 

            13    valuable management tools we have to manage 

            14    fisheries in inland fisheries.  There's really 

            15    only three things that we can do to manage a 

            16    fishery: harvest regulations, stocking, and 

            17    habitat manipulation. 

            18                  Although we do some habitat 

            19    manipulation work, that's generally the thing we 

            20    have less control over.  Things like water quality 

            21    and water availability, which we have absolutely 

            22    no control over.  And the two main tools that we 

            23    use are stocking and regulations.

            24                  Now, we use regulations to 

            25    restructure populations, fish populations towards 


             1    goals.  And these goals are based on fish 

             2    population dynamics and angler catch rates.

             3                  Since bass are the most important 

             4    species in the state, they are the species that's 

             5    preferred by about 60 percent of our anglers, I'm 

             6    going to talk a little bit about bass management 

             7    and our strategies.

             8                  Our bass regulations are designed to 

             9    address one of four strategies.  The first one is 

            10    optimum sustained catch and harvest, which is 

            11    basic.  Emphasis here on harvest, allowing some 

            12    harvest.

            13                  The second strategy is optimum 

            14    sustained catch and harvest with enhanced quality.  

            15    And here we're trying to produce just a little bit 

            16    larger fish, but still the focus is on harvest.

            17                  The third one, which is -- the last 

            18    two are less emphasis on harvest, is quality bass 

            19    fishing with enhanced trophy potential. 

            20                  And the last one, of course, is 

            21    maximize trophy potential.  Under strategy 1, 

            22    optimum sustained catch and harvest, the 

            23    regulations that we use to try to achieve that 

            24    goal are 14-inch and 16-inch minimum length 

            25    limits.  The 14 inch is the statewide regulation.  


             1    And this picture gives you what a bass population 

             2    would ideally look like under a 14-inch minimum.

             3                  The second strategy is optimum 

             4    sustained catch and harvest.  Again, focus on 

             5    harvest with enhanced quality.  The regulations 

             6    that we use to reach the goal of that strategy are 

             7    the 18-inch minimum, the 14- to 18-inch slot limit 

             8    and the new regulation you approved last year, no 

             9    minimum limit, with only two under 18 inches.

            10                  Again, this chart shows ideal bass 

            11    population under a 14- to 18-inch slot limit.  

            12    But, again, the focus here is on harvest and some 

            13    measure of quality. 

            14                  Our third strategy is quality bass 

            15    fishing with enhanced trophy potential.  And the 

            16    regulations we use there are 14- to 21-inch slot 

            17    limit and catch and release.  Again, this chart 

            18    shows what a population -- what we hope a 

            19    population looks like under a 14- to 21-inch slot 

            20    limit.

            21                  And our last strategy is maximize 

            22    trophy potential.  And the regulations we use 

            23    there are the 14- to 24-inch slot and the 16- to 

            24    24-inch slot.  And, again, the chart shows a bass 

            25    population with the 14- to 24-inch slot.


             1                  Now, what this chart shows are the 

             2    numbers and percentages of the major reservoirs in 

             3    Texas that are currently managed under each of 

             4    these strategies.  We're sometimes accused of 

             5    managing for trophies in the state of Texas, but I 

             6    think the actual results here don't support that 

             7    contention. 

             8                  As you can see here, 92 percent of 

             9    the lakes in Texas, the reservoirs in Texas, are 

            10    managed to optimize catch and harvest.  And only 8 

            11    percent -- or 2 percent really are maximized 

            12    trophy potential. 

            13                  The four proposals that follow are 

            14    the ones that made it through the -- through our 

            15    annual process and are the ones on the table at 

            16    this time.  And let me just say, because we've had 

            17    some habitat changes, particularly in West Texas, 

            18    we had some reservoirs that caught some water this 

            19    past spring, we're still looking at one or two 

            20    other lakes that biologists are preparing 

            21    proposals, and we might add several lakes to the 

            22    list when we make our official recommendations to 

            23    you in January.

            24                  The first proposal this year, these 

            25    next two are the bass proposals, are at Gibbins 


             1    Creek Reservoir, which is a 2500 acre power plant 

             2    reservoir in Grimes County, we're recommending to 

             3    change the limit for large-mouthed bass from catch 

             4    and release only, which it is now to a 14- to 

             5    24-inch slot limit. 

             6                  And we're doing this at the request 

             7    of the Texas Municipal Power Agency who owns the 

             8    lake.  They are building -- they have plans to add 

             9    a lot of camping facilities at the reservoir, and 

            10    they would like anglers who fish there to be able 

            11    to keep a few fish to eat when they are camping.  

            12    So we have no problem with that and we are making 

            13    this recommendation at their request. 

            14                  The second is bass change Brushy 

            15    Creek Lake in Williamson County, a small 39-acre 

            16    lake.  And we're asking that this lake be opened 

            17    with an 18-inch minimum length limit for 

            18    large-mouthed bass. 

            19                  Again, the goal here is to protect 

            20    bass from initial overharvest that generally 

            21    occurs when a new lake is opened.  This is 

            22    standard that the regulation we apply on new lakes 

            23    as they're opened in Texas. 

            24                  The third proposal is for red drum.  

            25    And this is for Coleto Creek reservoir in Goliad 


             1    and Victoria Counties.  It's a 3100-acre 

             2    reservoir.  And what we're asking is to change the 

             3    current regulation on that reservoir from the 20- 

             4    to 18-inch reverse slot, which is the limit that's 

             5    on the coast for red drum, to a 20-inch minimum, 

             6    which is the standard regulation that we use on 

             7    red drum in fresh water lakes.  We have red drum 

             8    now that are being stocked.  And with the addition 

             9    of Coleto Creek, in seven lakes in the state of 

            10    Texas, and we generally manage those with a 

            11    20-inch minimum. 

            12                  There's no reproduction there and we 

            13    don't want people taking the fish when they're too 

            14    small. 

            15                  The last one on the table this year 

            16    is Purtis Creek State Park Lake.  It's in 

            17    Henderson County.  It's one of our more popular 

            18    fishing lakes at state parks.  And we're asking to 

            19    change the regulation on sun fish from a 7-inch 

            20    minimum 25 fish a day to a no minimum and no daily 

            21    bag. 

            22                  Our goal here is to simplify 

            23    regulations.  We experimented with this 7-inch 

            24    minimum to see if we could create a quality sun 

            25    fish fishery in this lake.  And after five years, 


             1    it has not done what we expected it to do, so 

             2    we're recommending that this be moved back to the 

             3    statewide regulation. 

             4                  And that concludes my presentation.  

             5    I'll be glad to answer any questions.  Thank you. 

             6                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

             7    Phil.

             8                  Hal, you're up again. 

             9                  MR. OSBURN:  Thank you, Mr. 

            10    Chairman, members.  I'm Hal Osburn, coastal 

            11    fisheries division director. 

            12                  I'd like to brief you today on 

            13    several items that staff has been gathering 

            14    information on for possible changes to the 

            15    statewide hunting and fishing proclamation. 

            16                  At the top of our list is the 

            17    management of our spotted sea trout, which 

            18    together with red drum, has created a premier 

            19    sport fishery on the Texas coast. 

            20                  And I need to tell you it wasn't 

            21    always that way.  It's taken two decades of 

            22    conservation and stocking efforts to reach the 

            23    current peak in trout abundance that we've 

            24    measured with our monitoring programs. 

            25                  It should also be noted that we 


             1    still likely have the potential for even higher 

             2    population levels with further conservation 

             3    efforts and gains in proficiency in our 

             4    stocking program.  But at present, our monitoring 

             5    program has documented that we have record high 

             6    spawning biomass. 

             7                  We also know from our creel surveys 

             8    that trout landed today are twice as large as in 

             9    the early 1980s.  And anglers are flocking to the 

            10    coast to take advantage of this success story.  

            11    Trout are the primary bay fish targeted with over 

            12    one million fish landed each year. 

            13                  The conservation success can be 

            14    compromised if management doesn't address changes 

            15    in the fishery.  And changes have been occurring, 

            16    with increases in fishing pressure and efficiency.  

            17    One of the first biological complications of this 

            18    has been a decrease in the proportion of large 

            19    trout, which means basically that trout on average 

            20    now are not living as long. 

            21                  Trout can live for nine years and 

            22    they can grow to 30 plus inches.  They begin 

            23    spawning at one year old, and that's about 12 

            24    inches.  And our current 15-inch minimum size 

            25    limit means that we're starting to harvest the 


             1    fish when they're about two years old. 

             2                  The vast majority of our anglers are 

             3    bringing in trout that are less than 20 inches.  

             4    That 20-inch fish is about four years old or less 

             5    than half of their life span. 

             6                  Some anglers have inquired of us how 

             7    we could better take advantage of the trout's long 

             8    life and fast growth.  And certainly there is the 

             9    potential for doing that. 

            10                  The first question that needs to be 

            11    answered, however, is do anglers want larger trout 

            12    at the expense of catching fewer, smaller trout?  

            13    And the answer to that question is complicated by 

            14    very real differences among angler types and the 

            15    populations in different bay systems. 

            16                  Staff's goal in this scoping effort 

            17    that we began this summer has been not to advocate 

            18    a position, but, rather, provide scientific 

            19    information so that our stakeholders could make an 

            20    informed opinion. 

            21                  We already have had a lot of input, 

            22    a wide variety from up and down the coast.  We've 

            23    gotten both pros and cons.  We believe that we 

            24    need to extend our scoping efforts through next 

            25    year to more fully educate and receive input from 


             1    our constituents on this issue. 

             2                  But I did want to go over some of 

             3    the management options.  And I hope you'll see 

             4    some similarities in what Phil was telling you.  

             5    Raising the -- raising the minimum size is a tried 

             6    and true method for increasing spawning success in 

             7    size of fish landed.  One thing that is contingent 

             8    on is that we have good release mortality and we 

             9    do have a number of scientific studies that all 

            10    confirm a 90 percent plus survival rate of 

            11    released trout.

            12                  Raising the minimum size, for 

            13    example, from 15 to 16 inches would allow trout 

            14    for grow about three months longer but they would 

            15    gain about 27 percent in weight.

            16                  For those fish that reach larger 

            17    size, optimal management suggest that they be 

            18    distributed among more anglers for a longer period 

            19    of time.  One per day, for example, over a maximum 

            20    size of 24 to 26 inches, which is about a 5 to 

            21    6-pound trout, would give all anglers a greater 

            22    likelihood of hooking a trophy fish.

            23                  Currently 92 percent of private boat 

            24    anglers and 76 percent of guide boat anglers land 

            25    six or less fish per day.  And that's trout.  


             1    Lowering the bag would help more fish to live to a 

             2    larger size, but there is an important 

             3    consideration, psychological, in terms of what the 

             4    bag limit is for our coastal tourists.  And we 

             5    want to -- we want to scope that -- the 

             6    implications there for an additional amount of 

             7    time.

             8                  Another suggestion that we've heard 

             9    even from numerous guides and guide groups is 

            10    reducing the guide limit to zero.  Our studies 

            11    indicate that guide boat trout landings would drop 

            12    about 10 percent with this proposal. 

            13                  I need to tell you that guided boat 

            14    trips have been one of the areas of strongest 

            15    growth in fishing pressure.  And I think that's 

            16    due in part to the success -- successful rebound 

            17    of our trout and red fish populations, which has 

            18    created a very strong customer base for these 

            19    guides. 

            20                  With these three-fold increase in 

            21    licensed customer guides will be  an area for 

            22    future management attention.  We've already heard 

            23    several viable idea from the guides.  One is that 

            24    the currently required Coast Guard certification 

            25    for being a guide on navigable waters would be 


             1    required to be shown before they could get a Parks 

             2    & Wildlife guide license.  A vessel ID and an 

             3    increase in the current $75 license fee are other 

             4    issues that need to be considered. 

             5                  But these issues do have statewide 

             6    ramifications because our current guide license is 

             7    valid in both inland and saltwater.  So the 

             8    coastal staff is going to work with -- 

             9    cooperatively with the inland staff and we're 

            10    going to evaluate our -- the guide license changes 

            11    options for you that we can bring back to you 

            12    later next year, hopefully in sort of coordination 

            13    with our trout regulations.

            14                  The last issue that we are scoping 

            15    and anticipate providing you some recommendations 

            16    in January relates to that petition that we heard 

            17    from the folks from the Sabine Lake area last 

            18    November.  The Commission denied that with the 

            19    intent that we look at it closer.  We are doing 

            20    that. 

            21                  And it basically revolves around the 

            22    concern in Sabine Lake locally that the Louisiana 

            23    limit of trout, which is 25 12-inch trout is being 

            24    abused on the Texas side of the lake.  And the 

            25    possible resolution there is to require that all 


             1    fish landed in Texas saltwater conform to the 

             2    Texas limits.

             3                  That concludes my presentation.  

             4    I'll be happy to answer any questions. 

             5                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Mr. Chairman, I 

             6    had a question regarding -- this is -- I didn't 

             7    understand exactly what you meant by eliminate the 

             8    guide limit.  That's --

             9                  MR. OSBURN:  The guides have 

            10    suggested -- some of the guides have suggested 

            11    that their bag limit would go to zero when they're 

            12    on an actual fishing trip.  And probably the way 

            13    they would want it structured would be that there 

            14    would be boat limit that be the daily bag times 

            15    the number of paying customers.

            16                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  So the guide 

            17    himself wouldn't have a limit.  I see what you're 

            18    saying.

            19                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

            20                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Okay.  I 

            21    understand.  Makes sense.  

            22                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you.  

            23    And Gary Graham. 

            24                  MR. GRAHAM:  Chairman and members of 

            25    the committee, I'm Gary Graham, director of the 


             1    wildlife division.  And I'm pleased to introduce 

             2    Jerry Cooke, who is the chief of the game branch, 

             3    who will provide today's presentation. 

             4                  DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman, members, 

             5    my name is Jerry Cooke, game ranch chief of the 

             6    wildlife division.  And I'll be presenting to you 

             7    the issues that we currently have on the table for 

             8    possible inclusion in the statewide hunting and 

             9    fishing proclamation incoming cycle. 

            10                  The first one is one corner of a 

            11    much larger issue that Doctor McKinney will be 

            12    presenting to you in the conservation committee 

            13    related to state-owned river beds.  Currently -- 

            14    let me back up.

            15                  We have a statutory obligation to 

            16    review all of our regulations minimally every four 

            17    years.  This is essentially the remaining section 

            18    that we have not reviewed, and that's why we're 

            19    bringing it before you now.

            20                  Basically, in the state-owned river 

            21    beds of Uvalde, Zavala, and Dimmit Counties one 

            22    may not hunt game animals or game birds or 

            23    fur-bearing animals in those state-owned river 

            24    bottoms.  You may still hunt non-game animals.  

            25    You may still shoot.  You may possess a firearm.  


             1    You can do all those things.  But you cannot hunt 

             2    the  species that are covered by the statewide 

             3    hunting and fishing proclamation, fur-bearing 

             4    proclamation, and the migratory game bird 

             5    proclamation. 

             6                  The original justification for the 

             7    regulation is not clear.  However, it was 

             8    successfully defended in court one time based on 

             9    the hunting impact of Rio Grande turkeys along 

            10    those river bottoms.  However, it needs to be made 

            11    clear that this river bottom is 200, sometimes 300 

            12    yards wide.  Hunting is allowed on both sides of 

            13    the river currently, and that needs to be part of 

            14    the conversation, as well, I believe.

            15                  So unless you have any questions, 

            16    that's what we're laying -- we would like to scope 

            17    that before the January meeting. 

            18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Scope the 

            19    repeal of that or --

            20                  DR. COOKE:  The repeal of that 

            21    regulation. 

            22                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Did I 

            23    understand you to say you don't have information 

            24    on why the regulation was enacted? 

            25                  DR. COOKE:  It is not clear why it 


             1    was originally enacted. 

             2                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  You can probably 

             3    guess.

             4                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Do you have a 

             5    guess?  I was going to ask if you'd care to share 

             6    with us --

             7                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  He can probably 

             8    guess, but he might not want to.  He didn't wear 

             9    his bullet-proof vest today.

            10                  DR. COOKE:  We would be happy to get 

            11    you transcripts from that meeting. 

            12                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  It was a long 

            13    time ago.

            14                  DR. COOKE:  It was a long time ago.  

            15    It was a very long time ago. 

            16                  For pronghorn antelope, an unskinned 

            17    head is required as proof of sex.  Basically, this 

            18    is a species where both sexes have horns and the 

            19    only real way to clearly distinguish sex of an 

            20    animal is to look at the cheek patch of the 

            21    pronghorn. 

            22                  We currently have the same 

            23    requirement for white-tailed deer.  And there are 

            24    much better ways of telling sex among white-tailed 

            25    deer, other than having an unscanned head.  And 


             1    having to keep up with an unscanned head, along 

             2    with meat and everything else for the hunter.  So 

             3    perhaps removing this requirement of an unscanned 

             4    head for white-tailed deer would be a good -- a 

             5    good change, as well.

             6                  In Texas, with the exception of the 

             7    yellow and red counties, when a deer has been 

             8    wounded by a hunter, he may use no more than two 

             9    dogs to trail that wounded deer in recovery.  Now, 

            10    this goes straight to our waste -- you know, we 

            11    don't want to waste game.  And we want an 

            12    individual to make a reasonable effort to 

            13    recovery. 

            14                  However, in East Texas, when the 

            15    Commission prohibited hunting deer with dogs, it 

            16    was necessary to close the potential loophole of 

            17    allowing a man to have a dog in the field while 

            18    hunting.  And so all those East Texas Counties 

            19    where this was potentially a problem were closed. 

            20                  Both the warden commander and the 

            21    district biologists believe that those counties in 

            22    yellow, along the Red River, this regulation is no 

            23    longer required.  And the hunters in those areas 

            24    should be allowed the same opportunities as our 

            25    hunters elsewhere in the state. 


             1                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  So that would 

             2    leave it closed in the red areas still.

             3                  DR. COOKE:  It would leave it closed 

             4    in the red areas, unaffected in that regulation.

             5                  The late youth only season for deer 

             6    and turkey included the language and no permit 

             7    from TPWD is required to take anterless deer.  This 

             8    was an oversight.  We should not have included 

             9    that language that way. 

            10                  We have permitted hunting for 

            11    anterless deer for a reason.  Parts of Texas where 

            12    populations are not as strong as they are 

            13    elsewhere.  And by removing that language from 

            14    that regulation, it would essentially say if a 

            15    permit is required to take anterless deer in a 

            16    county, then the youth need to use the same 

            17    permit. 

            18                  There are two issues related to the 

            19    level II MLD regulations.  One is this, when you 

            20    have an anterless hunt, spike deer will be killed.  

            21    It can't be avoided.  It can't be helped.  No 

            22    hunter, myself included, can go hunting anterless 

            23    deer without the possibility of taking a young 

            24    spike. 

            25                  This is not intended -- would not be 


             1    intended to encourage the harvest of spikes in 

             2    this instance, but to allow an animal that was 

             3    already taken, even inadvertently taken, to be 

             4    tagged and legal in the state because this would 

             5    be an insignificant fraction of the harvest.  And 

             6    this needs to be considered, as well.

             7                  Also, because the level II MLD early 

             8    season is anterless only and this is the month of 

             9    October, the traditional time when archers hunt, 

            10    they can't hunt buck deer on these properties.  

            11    The way it's been handled up until now is, if you 

            12    want to archery hunt a piece of property, hunt it, 

            13    when you're through, then we'll issue the level II 

            14    permits and go from there.  But this is an issue 

            15    that we were requested to discuss and scope before 

            16    the January meeting.

            17                  In 17 counties of the Panhandle, 

            18    anterless harvest is vanishingly small.  It's 

            19    very, very light harvest of anterless deer, 

            20    despite the fact that they have 16 doe days 

            21    available to them. 

            22                  One way of increasing the 

            23    opportunity to take anterless deer would be to 

            24    allow anterless deer to be taken without a permit 

            25    from opening day through the Sunday following 


             1    Thanksgiving.  And we, of course, would monitor 

             2    this to insure that nothing inadvertent happened 

             3    there.  But this would be a proposal to increase 

             4    opportunity in those circumstances.

             5                  We have talked in several meetings 

             6    about the very intense harvest of buck deer in 

             7    one-buck counties.  In some counties, as much as 

             8    50 to 65 percent of the bucks taken in a given 

             9    year are yearlings.  They were fawns the previous 

            10    year, which is a very, very intense harvest 

            11    pressure. 

            12                  There's not many ways of restricting 

            13    harvest.  There's some that's quite draconian, but 

            14    there's not very many that still allow a 

            15    reasonably relaxed hunting season.  One way that 

            16    has been brought to us in more than one occasion 

            17    is the possibility of using antler restrictions to 

            18    reduce harvest. 

            19                  In Austin, Colorado, Lavaca, 

            20    Fayette, Lee, and Washington Counties, one 

            21    potential regulation that has been discussed, is 

            22    being discussed and we would like to scope until 

            23    January, is the possibility of, for lack of a 

            24    better term -- I've never done this with game 

            25    animals, although the fish guys do it all the 


             1    time -- a slot limit, you know, for antlers, which 

             2    basically would allow a spike to be taken, 11 

             3    points or better to be taken.  Or if there is a 

             4    13-inch spread, which is approximately the width 

             5    of the years of a deer, and would assist in 

             6    compliance with these circumstances. 

             7                  We've discussed it with the law 

             8    enforcement people in the area.  Our district 

             9    people would be willing to commit to a very 

            10    intense harvest evaluation and follow-up studies 

            11    in the areas, with the assistance of the 

            12    landowners in the area, as well. 

            13                  But we would like to scope this to 

            14    see if it would be acceptable in those counties to 

            15    try at least for a temporary, a window, for three 

            16    years, to see if it actually did change the age 

            17    structure of the buck herd. 

            18                  This particular regulation, if you 

            19    looked at what has been harvested in the county, 

            20    those counties in the past, about 60 to 65 percent 

            21    of the bucks that were taken would not have been 

            22    taken if this regulation were in place, just to 

            23    give you an idea of the potential impact. 

            24                  Rio Grande turkey traditionally have 

            25    been hunted in the fall in Texas.  And some years 


             1    back, in the early '70s, late '60s, we began to 

             2    open spring seasons across the state.  And 

             3    basically where you have spring seasons in Texas, 

             4    you have fall seasons in Texas, with the exception 

             5    of Hill County.  We have a spring season there and 

             6    no fall season.  And there's no real biological 

             7    justification for not having a fall season.  And 

             8    we would like to scope that in that area to see if 

             9    it would be acceptable in the area.

            10                  Eastern wild turkey is one of the 

            11    great success stories in Texas is the restoration 

            12    of this species across East Texas.  There are four 

            13    more counties along the Texas coast that have 

            14    populations that we feel are as strong, if not 

            15    stronger, than many of the counties that we 

            16    currently have open.  And we would like to scope 

            17    that issue in those counties as a potential of 

            18    opening a spring eastern wild turkey season there.

            19                  When we were discussing the one-buck 

            20    counties last year, we felt that one way that this 

            21    could be addressed is if a licensed log were used, 

            22    a log on the back of the license, reporting where 

            23    a tag was used, et cetera, et cetera, to allow a 

            24    greater flexibility for the hunter because, first 

            25    of all, he doesn't have to spend 15 minutes trying 


             1    to figure out which tag to use.  Any deer tag 

             2    could be used in the enforcement of those tags 

             3    would go to the log rather than the sometimes 

             4    difficult descriptions on the front of the tags.  

             5    Because of the POS problem that we had last year, 

             6    we withdrew that proposal but we would like to lay 

             7    that back on the table for consideration in the 

             8    coming year, if you don't object.

             9                  And those are they, if you have any 

            10    questions.

            11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Questions? 

            12                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I have a 

            13    question.  You mentioned that you were considering 

            14    extending the doe season in certain areas until 

            15    the Sunday after Thanksgiving? 

            16                  DR. COOKE:  Sunday following 

            17    Thanksgiving.  

            18                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.

            19                  DR. COOKE:  That's the way -- we 

            20    had -- in East Texas, we had 23 doe-day counties.  

            21    And we realized that often that excluded the 

            22    weekend following Thanksgiving.  It wasn't 

            23    consistent.  So rather than miss that great 

            24    opportunity for kids to be out of school and be 

            25    hunting with the family and whatnot, we just said 


             1    the Sunday following Thanksgiving, then we knew we 

             2    had that weekend included each time.  So we're 

             3    going to propose to use the same language in the 

             4    Panhandle.

             5                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.  But it 

             6    would be limited to the Panhandle or --

             7                  DR. COOKE:  Yes.

             8                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  As compared to 

             9    statewide?

            10                  DR. COOKE:  Oh, no.  This is not a 

            11    statewide regulation.  It would only relate to 17 

            12    counties in the Panhandle.

            13                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you.

            14                  DR. COOKE:  Thank you.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I have a 

            16    question, Jerry, on the last issue -- well, 

            17    second-to-last issue we discussed about the age 

            18    structure problem in those --

            19                  DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  -- 

            21    counties, and those are Austin, Colorado, Lavaca, 

            22    Fayette, Lee, and Washington?

            23                  DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.

            24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Those 

            25    counties have a pretty high number of co-ops, 


             1    don't they?

             2                  DR. COOKE:  They do.

             3                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Are the 

             4    co-op harvest records any better, better meaning 

             5    over extra?

             6                  DR. COOKE:  While I will tell you 

             7    that I believe that they are, I cannot assure that 

             8    they are.  I know that these regulations are 

             9    essentially co-op regulations in most of the 

            10    co-ops in those counties.  But I can't tell you 

            11    what -- I can't answer your question.  Bob 

            12    Carroll, I know, can, and I'd be more than happy 

            13    to get in contact with him and have you an answer 

            14    sometime today.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'm 

            16    interested that the co-ops may be doing -- I would 

            17    suspect are doing a better job than the average 

            18    property.  And I'm reluctant to manage four people 

            19    if a grass roots group will --

            20                  DR. COOKE:  Right.

            21                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And it may 

            22    be an education opportunity for these co-ops to 

            23    show what they can --

            24                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Are they not the 

            25    ones that are heavily behind changing this? 


             1                  DR. COOKE:  In each of the previous 

             2    times that such a regulation was brought before 

             3    you, it was sponsored by the Texas Sportsman's 

             4    Association and/or co-ops in those -- in the 

             5    various counties. 

             6                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  You know, I seem 

             7    to remember we've asked them in hearings why it 

             8    was that what they were doing wasn't achieving the 

             9    results.  And I don't recall exactly, but I think 

            10    maybe their comment was that in spite of the fact 

            11    that they had some fairly sizable tracts, there 

            12    were still a lot of interaction with adjoining  

            13    properties that was affecting the overall 

            14    population.

            15                  DR. COOKE:  The average size of 

            16    tracts in those counties is breathtakingly small.

            17                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So they 

            18    need this in order to really get the maximum 

            19    effect of their own co-op --

            20                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  They're saying 

            21    they can't do it, is what they -- is what I 

            22    remember.

            23                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, I 

            24    tend to listen to the co-ops.  Nobody is closer to 

            25    the issue than they are.


             1                  DR. COOKE:  Well, certainly before 

             2    the January meeting, we'll have some input for 

             3    you.

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Gary, are 

             5    you just standing next to Jerry today? 

             6                  MR. GRAHAM:  Well, no.  And Jerry 

             7    did a great job, so I don't have a whole lot to 

             8    add other than the Texas Sportsman's Association 

             9    has been involved with the development of this 

            10    regulation.  And we anticipate they will be 

            11    supportive of it.  They've asked for similar sorts 

            12    of things in the past, and this provides a way for 

            13    us to provide their wishes.

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Okay.  Any 

            15    other questions?  Any others for the inland 

            16    fisheries or coastal? 

            17                  Thank you, gentlemen.

            18                  Hal, I think you're next up for rule 

            19    review and statewide shrimp fishery proclamation.

            20       AGENDA ITEM NO. 5: BRIEFING - CHAPTER 58 RULE 


            22       PROCLAMATION REVIEW.

            23                  MR. OSBURN:  Thank you, Mr. 

            24    Chairman, members.  I'm Hal Osburn, coastal 

            25    fisheries division director. 


             1                  I'd like to present to you for final 

             2    action the rule review for portions of Chapter 58  

             3    in our proclamation, as well as cleanup items in 

             4    the shrimp proclamation.  I should note that this 

             5    item is scheduled to be reviewed during executive 

             6    session today in regards to pending litigation. 

             7                  The rule review is legislatively 

             8    mandated to be conducted every four years to 

             9    justify continued existence of the rules.  This 

            10    Chapter 58 rule review deals with the shrimp, 

            11    crab, and fin fish subchapters, which are B, C, 

            12    and D.  Subchapter A, which deals with oysters, 

            13    will be presented to you later today.  No comments 

            14    were received on subchapters C and D.  And it is 

            15    staff's recommendation that subchapter C and D for 

            16    crabs and fin fish be readopted without change.  

            17    There is a continuing conservation need for these 

            18    management measures on our public resources.

            19                  Staff does propose some minor 

            20    changes to subchapter B dealing with shrimp.  

            21    These changes are restricted to housekeeping 

            22    measures and clarification of original commission 

            23    intent.  They also address some industry requests 

            24    that were heard by the Commission at their August 

            25    public hearing.


             1                  Highlights of these changes include 

             2    allowance for a try net in the sea bob Fishery and 

             3    clarification of the Bait Bay Boundary in west 

             4    bay, which is part of the Galveston bay complex. 

             5                  We would also modify the by-catch 

             6    reduction device and turtle excluder device 

             7    exclusion requirements to better match federal 

             8    rules and industry standards.  And an exemption 

             9    for bird and TED use would be established on a 

            10    concurrent exemption established by the -- for 

            11    TEDs by the National Marine Fishery Service. 

            12                  These proposals were announced in 

            13    the Texas Register.  They were distributed through 

            14    a wide set of our shrimp fishery and resource 

            15    stakeholders.  But we received very little in the 

            16    way of public comments.  We did have two comments 

            17    in support of the changes, as well as a couple of 

            18    comments that requested additional labilizations 

            19    of the shrimp net requirements in the Gulf. 

            20                  Based on the Commission and 

            21    legislative guidance, we have received "Staff 

            22    Recommends Readoption of Subchapter B with the 

            23    Amendments as Proposed."  Further, labilizations 

            24    or restrictions of the fishery at this time would 

            25    conflict with provisions in House Bill 305, passed 


             1    this year, which mandates that new rule 

             2    initiatives should be based on a shrimp fishery 

             3    study scheduled for completion in September 2002. 

             4                  The legislative request on this 

             5    study included that we receive input from the 

             6    industry, the comptroller's office, and outside 

             7    peer review, which we will do.  Staff has made 

             8    substantial progress on this study.  We have 

             9    established special teams to address all of the 

            10    relevant aspects of the fishery and its impacts on 

            11    coastal resources.  And we will continue to 

            12    provide you updates on this effort. 

            13                  That concludes my presentation.  

            14    I'll be happy to answer any questions.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Hal, you 

            16    may have touched on this.  But what -- I 

            17    understand that the shrimp fishery study to be 

            18    completed by September 2002? 

            19                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And what's 

            21    the status now on the planning --

            22                  MR. OSBURN:  We established, in 

            23    anticipation of that study, actually established 

            24    teams almost a year ago and have got outlines 

            25    completed for all of them.  We also have first 


             1    drafts of some of the sections.  We look to having 

             2    draft copies by middle of the spring so that we 

             3    can send those out for peer review and review by 

             4    some of the interested stakeholders' work on 

             5    modifications through the summer and be back and 

             6    meet the deadline in September.  It is a very 

             7    large task.  I will tell you that the shrimp 

             8    fishery and its impacts are certainly very 

             9    widespread.  A lot of issues to deal with.  But my 

            10    staff has risen to the occasion.

            11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So you 

            12    feel like you're on schedule to make the 2002 -- 

            13    September 2002 deadline? 

            14                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes, certainly.

            15                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Question, Mr. 

            16    Chairman.

            17                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yeah. 

            18                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

            19                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Are there 

            20    industry reps on each of these committees or 

            21    working groups that you're talking about? 

            22                  MR. OSBURN:  No.  Those teams are my 

            23    staff.  Right.  Those are scientists.  We're doing 

            24    it as a scientific study, as we were requested to 

            25    do. 


             1                  And then we will provide that 

             2    information to our shrimp advisory committee, 

             3    which has been reformulated with a larger, more 

             4    comprehensive group of people by Chairman Idsal.  

             5    And we will be using them several times, I'm sure, 

             6    during the summer and spring to review what we 

             7    have.  And I think that that -- that's -- well, 

             8    that's our plan.

             9                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  This department 

            10    and the Commission was roundly criticized by 

            11    industry reps that came before the Commission for 

            12    the lack of industry participation in the 

            13    regulations that we were talking about adopting 

            14    last time. 

            15                  How do we address that, given the 

            16    procedures that you're following here?  That's the 

            17    first part of the question.  And the second part 

            18    is, when would they have an opportunity to 

            19    participate in these discussions or promulgation 

            20    of these regulations? 

            21                  MR. OSBURN:  I need to point out 

            22    that the study that we will be doing and 

            23    completing by September 2002 will not be providing 

            24    regulation changes.  It will not be suggesting 

            25    changes in the regulation.  It was designed to be 


             1    the groundwork baseline, scientific study on which 

             2    rules would be formulated after that.

             3                  So the scientific -- I mean, it's a 

             4    scientific study.  We will use the advisory 

             5    committee and all members of the public that want 

             6    to get involved in the spring and summer in 

             7    reviewing the scientific information that we've 

             8    developed. 

             9                  But when we get to making rule 

            10    changes, which would be after September 2002, we 

            11    will assure once again that the advisory committee 

            12    and the members of the industry are involved in 

            13    that process even more extensively.  I will tell 

            14    you they were involved extensively in our first 

            15    set of regulations.  I know they claimed 

            16    otherwise.  And we will make sure that -- that 

            17    that is not a confusing point for the Commission 

            18    when we have shrimp rules in front of you again. 

            19                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  So your study 

            20    group is strictly internal, dealing strictly with 

            21    the scientific data.

            22                  MR. OSBURN:  Well, it's not strictly 

            23    internal.  We have a member of the Comptroller's 

            24    office to provide us feedback on the economic side 

            25    of this.  That was a request in House Bill 305.  


             1    And we also have elicited the -- elicited this 

             2    outside study of the social and economic aspects 

             3    through Texas A&M University. 

             4                  So we're going to use outside 

             5    researchers that will be independent of my staff.  

             6    And then we will, of course, use outside 

             7    researchers to review what the staff has put 

             8    together.  But it was -- the house bill charged 

             9    the department to put together the study, but 

            10    not -- and based on that to promulgate rules.  So 

            11    we will only be providing the study and not a 

            12    formal set of new regulations. 

            13                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  It seems -- I'm 

            14    missing something here.  We're getting outside 

            15    input, yet we're not getting any outside input 

            16    from the industry itself.  Is there a specific 

            17    reason for that.

            18                  MR. OSBURN:  We intend -- and I'm 

            19    sorry if I didn't make that clear.  When we have 

            20    our draft reports next spring, we will send those 

            21    to members of the industry, both those on the 

            22    advisory committee and those who we know to be 

            23    leaders.

            24                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Well, what I'm 

            25    missing is -- tell me I'm missing something here.  


             1    It appears that outside input is a part of the 

             2    study committee that's going to bring forward the 

             3    report on which recommendations would be based.  

             4    Is that a fair statement?

             5                  MR. OSBURN:  I may have to ask you 

             6    to repeat if because I -- I may not have heard you 

             7    correctly.  I think it is, but would you say that 

             8    again.

             9                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  When I asked 

            10    you the question earlier whether or not it was 

            11    strictly an internal study, you indicated that 

            12    there was outside input coming from the 

            13    Comptroller's office, from A&M and possibly 

            14    others.

            15                  MR. OSBURN:  Right. 

            16                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  But not from 

            17    the industry.  And I was a bit concerned that 

            18    although we were getting outside input, we weren't 

            19    getting any from the industry.  And I think this 

            20    is what we were criticized for last time.

            21                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes.  And when we -- 

            22    before we finalize the report, we would have input 

            23    from the industry because they would have our 

            24    report in their hands and in a draft form.  And 

            25    they would make comments.  We would pull the 


             1    advisory committee together and go over it and 

             2    actually see what their input is.  But the A&M 

             3    study will actually send a mail questionnaire to 

             4    every shrimper, both bay and gulf, and every 

             5    shrimp dealer in the entire state, and ask for 

             6    specific comments about their status of their 

             7    fishery, their recommendations for changes, their 

             8    profit levels.  So from that --

             9                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  So you will 

            10    have --

            11                  MR. OSBURN:  Yeah.  And I guess now 

            12    I'm understanding what your concern is, and it's 

            13    valid and I appreciate it being brought up.  That 

            14    was our very first thing that we thought of, is 

            15    we're going to go and ask everybody in the 

            16    industry; not just, you know, a working group, but 

            17    everybody in the industry; shrimpers, dealers, to 

            18    please respond in a very extensive way, in an open 

            19    format on some of the questions and very specific 

            20    numbers on others.  But, yes, we're going to 

            21    involve everybody from that standpoint, and then 

            22    their leadership will give us feedback on how we 

            23    put that in a report format.

            24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I shared 

            25    your confusion there, but I think, if I understand 


             1    it right, Hal, what you're saying, it's a two step 

             2    process.  The shrimp fishery study, gathering the 

             3    facts and the data compilation is not the stage 

             4    from which you're drawing the conclusions.  You're 

             5    doing the study.  And then at the stage where you 

             6    draw the conclusion from those facts is where you 

             7    have the industry input.

             8                  MR. OSBURN:  Right.  And we will -- 

             9    we will --

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And you're 

            11    still at the stage of doing the -- on the --

            12                  MR. OSBURN:  Of just putting the 

            13    information together that we would hope we could 

            14    all agree on.  This is what we would base it on, 

            15    but we would walk hand in hand with the industry 

            16    once we're ready to make regulation changes.

            17                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  When we 

            18    announced the study last time, one of the things 

            19    that we were criticized at some length for was not 

            20    having industry input from start to finish.  And 

            21    that was the reason for my question. 

            22                  And I think the fact that you have 

            23    at least the survey information going out to them 

            24    and coming in asking a number of questions that 

            25    would then be a part of and the basis for the 


             1    recommendations in the report would certainly 

             2    satisfy that to some degree.

             3                  MR. OSBURN:  I hope so.

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Al, you 

             5    make a good point, which is does the industry have 

             6    their own baseline data and research.

             7                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  They claim that 

             8    they did.  And I don't know if this is true or 

             9    not.  Andy, you know where I'm coming from here? 

            10                  MR. SANSOM:  Absolutely.

            11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, is 

            12    there scientific data being included in that -- 

            13    with that other baseline data?  I don't know. 

            14                  MR. SANSOM:  Yes.  Yeah. 

            15                  MR. OSBURN:  All of the information 

            16    that they provided us during the comment period 

            17    last year is going to be reviewed by the teams.  

            18    And most of it actually already has been.  There 

            19    was confusion whether there was differences in the 

            20    data.  We thought we cleared those up.  We will do 

            21    a better job on the next study.  But they will 

            22    be --

            23                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  When we 

            24    finished last time, you know, I felt like I had 

            25    been rode hard and put up wet.  I don't mind 


             1    taking, you know, a licking if it's justified.  

             2    But I don't want to take the same thing again next 

             3    time for the reasons that we -- that were brought 

             4    to our attention. 

             5                  MR. SANSOM:  I think it's important.  

             6    What I'm hearing here is, I think it's really 

             7    important how that when the initial surveys go out 

             8    from A&M, that the members of the industry 

             9    understand what the purpose of that is, that they 

            10    are contributing to this, you know, mandated 

            11    study.  And then there will be a knowledge level 

            12    that it's -- they're participating in this 

            13    process. 

            14                  And, Commissioner Henry, I can 

            15    assure you that there are some other, you know -- 

            16    there is other scientific work going on.  And we 

            17    hear from those guys every day and our guys will 

            18    include the consideration of those reports in 

            19    their deliberations.

            20                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Right.  I'm not 

            21    questioning the scientific work that's going on.  

            22    I think it's commendable.  But I just remember the 

            23    beating that we took last time when this issue was 

            24    brought forward. 

            25                  MR. SANSOM:  I think we can solve a 


             1    lot of that by making sure that those stakeholders 

             2    understand what they are being asked to do and 

             3    that they're part of this process.

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  

             5    Commissioner Ramos? 

             6                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Just briefly, 

             7    but I think I've got it.  I think what your 

             8    concern and my concern is that as part of the 

             9    scientific study to the extent that there's 

            10    industry data that would influence that, where we 

            11    incorporate that.  And I think that's what you're 

            12    saying.

            13                  MR. OSBURN:  Yes. 

            14                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.  No 

            15    problem.

            16                  MR. OSBURN:  And I happen to 

            17    remember that beating, too.  We will not repeat 

            18    it.  But we will never have full consensus on how 

            19    to manage that fishery.  But we will do our 

            20    absolute best to make sure all of the different 

            21    views are incorporated and that you have the 

            22    chance to make an informed decision on that. 

            23                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  We're counting 

            24    on you, Hal. 

            25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  We can get 


             1    a new meeting. 

             2                  MR. SANSOM:  And I will also say in 

             3    Hal's -- in these guys' behalf that no matter how 

             4    much we do, you will still have people before you 

             5    and say we were not included.

             6                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Oh, yeah, I 

             7    agree with that.

             8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All right.  

             9    Thank you.  Any other questions? 

            10                  MR. OSBURN:  Thank you. 

            11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you.

            12                  If there are no further questions or 

            13    discussion, without objection, I'll place this 

            14    item on the Thursday commission meeting agenda for 

            15    public comment and action. 

            16                  And next, Chapter 58 rule review and 

            17    state wide oyster fishery proclamation. 

            18       AGENDA ITEM NO. 6: BRIEFING - CHAPTER 58 RULE 


            20       PROCLAMATION AMENDMENTS

            21                  MR. RIECHERS:  Thank you, Mr. 

            22    Chairman, commissioners.  My name is Robin 

            23    Riechers, and I'm the management director of the 

            24    coastal fisheries division.  And as that 

            25    indicates, I'm here to present you proposals of 


             1    the oyster fishery proclamation. 

             2                  This item proposes, as Hal 

             3    indicated, a rule review for the last subchapter 

             4    of Chapter 58, subchapter A, the oyster fishery 

             5    proclamation.  In addition to that, it also 

             6    proposes amendments that will basically align us 

             7    with the requirements as prescribed in Senate Bill 

             8    305.  We're seeking your approval to publish this 

             9    item in the Register and go for public hearings. 

            10                  The oyster release program is 

            11    confined to the Galveston bay complex with a total 

            12    of 43 separate leases.  These leases range in size 

            13    from 11 to a hundred acres currently.  And the 

            14    lease program basically allows for oysters to be 

            15    removed from polluted areas of Galveston bay to 

            16    nonpolluted areas and then to cleanse themselves 

            17    or depurate for a period of time.

            18                  Senate Bill 305 had particular 

            19    provisions in dealing with the oyster lease 

            20    program.  It must be noted this program has been 

            21    ongoing since 1891.  It has 2,327 acres currently 

            22    under the lease program. 

            23                  The production from these leases 

            24    ranges anywhere from 50 pounds per acre to 1600 

            25    pounds per acre on these different leases, so 


             1    there's a large variation in production per acre.  

             2    These leases account for about 1.5 million pounds 

             3    total landings in meat weight each year, which are 

             4    close to about a $3 million dock-side value.  This 

             5    is about one-third of the total oyster fishery in 

             6    Texas. 

             7                  Throughout the legislative session, 

             8    we met with both the oyster leaseholders and the 

             9    oyster advisory committee to advise them of the 

            10    pending legislation.  More recently, we have again 

            11    pulled the oyster advisory committee together, 

            12    which I might add is really made up of about half 

            13    the leaseholders association, as well, so there's 

            14    really good communication there. 

            15                  And we basically have reviewed their 

            16    comments and reviewed the guidances provided in 

            17    the oyster fishery management plan.  And the 

            18    proposed rules now incorporate their comments and 

            19    suggestions and requirements as provided by Senate 

            20    Bill 305. 

            21                  So in accordance with the 

            22    legislation, the term of the lease will now be set 

            23    at 15 years.  The rental fee will be changed from 

            24    $3 per acre to $6 per acre.  A 10-percent penalty 

            25    will be applied if the rental fee is not due to 


             1    the department or is not in the department's hands 

             2    by March 1.  They will have 90 days in which to 

             3    make that payment.  If they do not make that 

             4    payment, the lease will be terminated. 

             5                  Further provisions of Senate Bill 

             6    305 provided specific guidance for the transfer 

             7    and renewal of these leases.  Upon renewal or 

             8    transfer of the lease, the department will receive 

             9    $200 and we will set procedures basically to 

            10    accommodate these transactions. 

            11                  In the past, there wasn't a specific 

            12    procedure.  They basically had them come to the 

            13    department and register that they have now changed 

            14    that lease.  So we want to create a transaction 

            15    that will allow that. 

            16                  We are proposing that upon renewal 

            17    of these leases in the next year at March 1st, 

            18    that an updated survey be provided to the 

            19    department with one year of renewal -- or within 

            20    one year of renewal.  Basically, right now, we 

            21    have GPS technology and some older technology on 

            22    the books.  And so the corner markers of these 

            23    various leases have a tolerance associated with 

            24    them.  And basically everyone, including the 

            25    leaseholders, are in agreement that we need to 


             1    have these surveys basically documented within the 

             2    department so that everyone knows where their 

             3    leases are and everyone can comply to the current 

             4    regulations there.

             5                  Each current leaseholder -- each 

             6    current leaseholder also would be offered a first 

             7    right of refusal.  If they choose not to renew, 

             8    the department will have the opportunity to 

             9    auction that lease. 

            10                  The proposals do include provisions 

            11    for that auction, and they allow for the 

            12    department to establish an acceptable minimum 

            13    price.  And that price would be based on previous 

            14    auctions that we may have had, if it's the second 

            15    or third auction, any open market prices that we 

            16    know of during the transactions, and any other 

            17    factors such as lease production from a particular 

            18    surveyed area. 

            19                  That concludes my comments.  Are 

            20    there any questions? 

            21                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman?

            22                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Al? 

            23                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  During the 

            24    legislative hearings, there was some discussion 

            25    concerning the leases and rental fees and all.  


             1    Are we confident that the fee that we are 

             2    proposing would satisfy the general questions that 

             3    we were asking in this area, the concerns that 

             4    were expressed?  Or how would you address that? 

             5                  MR. RIECHERS:  Well, the state 

             6    auditors report specifically addressed the oyster 

             7    lease program.  And the fee that would have 

             8    basically created a dollar-in/dollar-out value, as 

             9    presented by the state auditor's report, would 

            10    have been $24.  And that was originally proposed 

            11    in the legislation.  The legislation was then 

            12    changed to $6.  And we are certainly needing that.  

            13    The Commission has the authority still to raise 

            14    that fee, though. 

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  That was 

            16    going to be my next question, is we do have the --

            17                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I remember that 

            18    was something of a --

            19                  MR. SANSOM:  Big issue.

            20                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Yeah, a sizable 

            21    issue in the committee.  But I also remember that 

            22    was something of a catch 22 that was presented to 

            23    us at that time, in that although there were 

            24    proposals to raise it, there wasn't local support 

            25    from the legislators to do so.  So has any of that 


             1    changed, I guess --

             2                  MR. SANSOM:  Proposals have no 

             3    values in their districts. 

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well put.  

             5    But just so I'm clear on the procedural, it's 

             6    still within our rule-making authority to increase 

             7    that from $6.  That $6 was just, for want of a 

             8    better term, a legislative floor? 

             9                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct.  

            10    That's correct.  And it is our anticipation when 

            11    we renew those leases for that 15-year period next 

            12    March, that within that contract, we basically 

            13    leave that option -- we make that very clear, that 

            14    that fee may increase through time.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And for 

            16    how many years was the $3 effective? 

            17                  MR. RIECHERS:  Since 1950s, I 

            18    believe? 

            19                  MR. OSBURN:  No.  It was raised in 

            20    the '80s. 

            21                  MR. RIECHERS:  I think it was $1.50 

            22    before that, is what I'm remembering. 

            23                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  The terms of the 

            24    15-year lease don't specify that the rental is 

            25    going to stay the same.  The option is there to 


             1    change the rental.

             2                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes.  Yes, the option 

             3    is there.

             4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Now, you 

             5    asked my question better than I did.  We have the 

             6    rule-making authority to, I assume, renew 

             7    annually? 

             8                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes. 

             9                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Renewal.  Pay 

            10    annual, when the annual fee is due to be changed.

            11                  MR. RIECHERS:  Right.  They renew 

            12    each March.  They make their payment each March.  

            13    And, yes, I think you have the authority.  You 

            14    could do it more than one once a year, but --

            15                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  The lease -- so I 

            16    understand, the lease is for 15 years but the rate 

            17    is negotiable every year.

            18                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct.

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Okay.

            20                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  And at the end 

            21    of the 15 years, they have the option to renew it 

            22    but it can go up for auction.

            23                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct.

            24                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  They have a 

            25    first refusal on it? 


             1                  MR. RIECHERS:  They have a first 

             2    right of refusal.  And if they don't accept it, it 

             3    would go for auction or it could go for auction, 

             4    yes.  

             5                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  May I ask one more 

             6    question?  In the past, did you have that kind of 

             7    flexibility as to the negotiating of a price on an 

             8    annual basis or was it --

             9                  MR. RIECHERS:  No, it was set in 

            10    statute in the law.

            11                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  It was set.  Okay.  

            12    So that gives us considerable flexibility going 

            13    forward.

            14                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes.  And when I said 

            15    it was set in statute, but the Commission had the 

            16    authority to raise it but it was a smaller floor.  

            17    But it was an annual lease at the time.

            18                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  But in the past, 

            19    were we -- did we have the authority to raise?

            20                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes.

            21                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Did we raise?

            22                  MR. RIECHERS:  One time.  One time 

            23    that I'm aware of.

            24                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  In the '80s? 

            25                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes. 


             1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, that 

             2    leads to my next question, which is, it's got to 

             3    be a uniform price.  In other words, you used the 

             4    term "negotiation," which leads me to think you're 

             5    not -- we don't have the power to negotiate them 

             6    individually.  It's one price.

             7                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Right. 

             8                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  For everybody. 

             9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Right.  So 

            10    if you have one more capable lessee willing to 

            11    lead, that will set the price for all the renewed 

            12    ones.  Correct? 

            13                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  But that's not -- 

            14    except for one instance, that has not been the 

            15    practice in the past.

            16                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct.

            17                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, but 

            18    it can be now.

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  And it could have 

            20    been then, too.  It could have been in the past, 

            21    as well, but it was not.

            22                  MR. RIECHERS:  Right. 

            23                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  So then in line 

            24    with that, you can't consider the -- as you might 

            25    say, the priority or how good a particular lease 


             1    is.  Either you raise all of them at a certain 

             2    price, but you can't analyze it on a lease basis 

             3    and say, "Well, this, one is extremely good" or 

             4    rate them to where you can have varying --

             5                  MR. RIECHERS:  I wouldn't say you 

             6    couldn't do it that way, but it certainly hadn't 

             7    been the previous intent.  I'm not certain whether 

             8    the statute allows us enough flexibility to do 

             9    that. 

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  For the 11 

            11    acre and a hundred acre, are they the same 

            12    price --

            13                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Well, what I'm 

            14    saying is -- 

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  -- per 

            16    acre.

            17                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  -- do we have 

            18    data to where we could evaluate each lease and 

            19    say, "This one for whatever reason is not as 

            20    favorable or prolific as this other one"?

            21                  MR. RIECHERS:  We do have those 

            22    production figures, yes.

            23                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  To where we 

            24    could vary the number, depending on the production 

            25    perhaps, or how well they have taken care of it.


             1                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yes.  We do have 

             2    those kind of harvest figures from each lease.

             3                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  How was the 

             4    15-year term determined?  Is that statutory also 

             5    or --

             6                  MR. RIECHERS:  That is in statute.  

             7    We don't have any flexibility --

             8                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  They actually 

             9    farm these leases.  Is that right?  Do they do 

            10    things to enhance it or not?  It's not just a 

            11    natural progression.

            12                  MR. RIECHERS:  Yeah.  They actually 

            13    shed bottom substrate, so that when they move 

            14    oysters from the polluted to a non-polluted area, 

            15    it will have an opportunity to basically -- when 

            16    we allow them to transplant, they transplant them, 

            17    they put them there, they leave them there for a 

            18    period of time, and then they go back and harvest 

            19    them. 

            20                  So, yes, some of the people who put 

            21    more in the leases may get a better term.  Some of 

            22    it may be just where those leases happen to be in 

            23    relation to occurrence and other factors in the 

            24    bay.

            25                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  In your -- excuse 


             1    me.

             2                  MR. SANSOM:  In --

             3                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  In your -- excuse 

             4    me.

             5                  MR. SANSOM:  Go ahead. 

             6                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'll 

             7    recognize the chairman.  Go ahead. 

             8                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Can you give me 

             9    your opinion as to what were the practical 

            10    barriers in the past for raising the price? 

            11                  MR. RIECHERS:  The argument from 

            12    industry is that they spend a lot of money, in 

            13    fact, in capital improvements, if you will, in 

            14    putting substrate down and that in reality the 

            15    money they make from these leases is very small.

            16                  In addition, because a portion of 

            17    this has always been in the Legislature and we 

            18    were under the impression that these leases were 

            19    imperpetuity until an attorney general's ruling as 

            20    of last year, which made them a year-to-year 

            21    lease, there really hasn't been a -- I mean, that 

            22    was kind of the hurdle, basically, is that these 

            23    people owned these leases forever and were 

            24    benefiting from them. 

            25                  It just came down to a public 


             1    support issue.  And those people really worked 

             2    hard to make sure that their prices stayed where 

             3    they were.

             4                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Worked hard and 

             5    lobbied well.

             6                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Do these leases 

             7    have a provision to where they can or cannot 

             8    sublease?  In other words, is it personal as to 

             9    the --

            10                  MR. RIECHERS:  They can have other 

            11    agents work on their behalf.  And, in fact, it 

            12    used to be that in the previous statute, it was a 

            13    hundred acres that was supposed to be under one 

            14    person's control.  And that was raised to 300 

            15    acres during this -- in Senate Bill 305. 

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  You can 

            17    have an agent working, but it's not assignable or 

            18    it is assignable? 

            19                  MR. RIECHERS:  Well, I mean, it's an 

            20    agent.  It could be a lease, if you will.

            21                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And if you have 

            22    an -- or if you sublease or if you have an agent, 

            23    are we aware of that or is that something that's 

            24    beyond our control? 

            25                  MR. RIECHERS:  It's really beyond 


             1    our control. 

             2                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Would it be 

             3    fair to say that, come legislative session next 

             4    time we're going to be criticized again, in all 

             5    probability, for leaving this at the $6 level when 

             6    the auditors are suggesting going to 24, but that 

             7    my friends and neighbors who represent the 

             8    constituents in this area, hold a considerable 

             9    hammer on us because their constituents don't want 

            10    the price raised at all?  Would you say that 

            11    that's a --

            12                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  May I? 

            13                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  You're the chairman 

            14    of the committee. 

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'm going 

            16    to answer your question this way.  From what I 

            17    see, it took us since 1891 to get in this 

            18    situation and we're not going to get out that 

            19    quickly.  It's going to take some time.  But I 

            20    think we're showing that we're paying attention to 

            21    these leases and their economic value without 

            22    trying to, if I may use an analogy, wrench these 

            23    people immediately from 1891 to 2001.  But we're 

            24    definitely looking at it with a more practical 

            25    approach.


             1                  Sure, we'll be criticized, I'm sure, 

             2    by not -- I understand the $24, Rob, help me, if 

             3    it was based on cost --

             4                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct. 

             5                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  -- of 

             6    administration. 

             7                  MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct. 

             8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So there 

             9    still will be a loss in administering them, but it 

            10    will be less than it was before.  And it sounds as 

            11    if we're making some progress in putting some 

            12    objective standards on this.  Does that --

            13                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  No, I don't 

            14    disagree with you, Joe.  I'd like to see you 

            15    present that to the committee, as well. 

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'll be 

            17    glad to be the fall guy on that one.  I'll be the 

            18    oyster lease bad guy.  I already am.  What am I 

            19    saying? 

            20                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Yeah, you are. 

            21                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  In your 

            22    opinion -- excuse me, Mr. Chairman.  In your 

            23    opinion, is there a great demand for these leases?  

            24    I mean, is there --

            25                  MR. RIECHERS:  There have been 


             1    people on the books who have signed up, if you 

             2    will, to get extra leases or more leases or 

             3    additional leases.  But it's been practiced since 

             4    actually the passage of the oyster fishery 

             5    management plan, practice of the General Land 

             6    Office. 

             7                  And given that we already have 

             8    enough leases to depurate the polluted areas that 

             9    we currently have, it's been practice not to issue 

            10    new leases.  It's been policy.

            11                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  But there's 

            12    enough people out there that want leases.

            13                  MR. RIECHERS:  There's certainly 

            14    people out there who want leases, yes.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Robin, 

            16    thank you.  You've taken on a lot more questions 

            17    than you probably anticipated on this one.  You 

            18    handled it well.  Thanks.

            19                  Any further questions or discussions 

            20    on the oyster bed lease?  And if no further 

            21    questions or discussion, without objection, I 

            22    authorize staff to publish this item in the Texas 

            23    Register for the required public comment period.

            24       AGENDA ITEM NO. 7: BRIEFING - EQUINE ANEMIA 

            25       REGULATIONS.


             1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And next, 

             2    Doctor Cooke, again, on proposed Coggins equine 

             3    anemia regulations. 

             4                  DR. COOKE:  I believe this one will 

             5    be simple.  Mr. Chairman and members, my name is 

             6    Jerry Cooke, game ranch chief of the wildlife 

             7    division.  And I'm bringing you an issue without 

             8    slides.  It's a short conversation.

             9                  We invite the public onto our 

            10    properties, and the people come on to our 

            11    properties with the reasonable expectation that 

            12    their persons and their property will be 

            13    reasonably protected. 

            14                  One issue that has not been 

            15    addressed in our rules in the past is our equine 

            16    visitors to our state parks and our wildlife 

            17    management areas have not received the kinds of 

            18    protections that they would, say, if they went to 

            19    a county fair or a rodeo or a parade. 

            20                  The proposal would require an 

            21    individual bringing a horse or mule or burro or 

            22    whatever onto one of our properties to have in his 

            23    possession and to present a VS form 1011, which 

            24    essentially can be used for any of the official 

            25    equine immune -- infectious anemia tests -- and 


             1    there are several -- to show that the animal was 

             2    negative in the previous 12 months.  If they don't 

             3    have the form, then we would not be required to 

             4    allow them onto the property.

             5                  We've been asking for the form in 

             6    the past as a matter of policy, but you couldn't 

             7    tell them no and you couldn't do anything about it 

             8    if, you know, they wanted to stop it.  So we would 

             9    propose to place this in our public hunting 

            10    proclamation, which is the rules for all of these 

            11    kinds of issues. 

            12                  If you have any questions, I will 

            13    try to answer them. 

            14                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Have we had any 

            15    examples of the equine anemia being transmitted 

            16    from a state park animal --

            17                  Dr. COOKE:  I don't know the answer 

            18    to that, ma'am, I really don't.

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  We don't know of 

            20    any? 

            21                  DR. COOKE:  No.  But we do know on 

            22    management areas, we've had as many as 4,000 

            23    horses, mules, et cetera, brought onto our 

            24    management areas just in the past year.  State 

            25    parks is probably more so.  I really don't know --


             1                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  This is getting 

             2    ahead of the issue.  We're not reacting to an 

             3    identified situation? 

             4                  DR. COOKE:  No.  All we're saying is 

             5    that people who come to our properties should feel 

             6    as comfortable as those who would go to a rodeo or 

             7    a county fair or any other public event where that 

             8    certification is required.  

             9                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  We've had 

            10    testimony or correspondence indicating that some 

            11    of them are not comfortable as it is now.

            12                  DR. COOKE:  Exactly.  That's the 

            13    whole source of this proposal, is the equine users 

            14    themselves.

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  That -- 

            16    maybe you're referring to the same correspondence 

            17    I received, but that there was -- under the -- 

            18    correct me if I'm wrong, Texas Animal Health 

            19    Commission regulations and a positive reactor has 

            20    to be branded.  And there was a positive reactor, 

            21    I believe, on -- at our park, Lake Ray Roberts? 

            22                  DR. COOKE:  I don't remember 

            23    which --

            24                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Ray Roberts.

            25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  At least 


             1    that's the allegation.  The point is this, that 

             2    we're now doing the same thing at every -- when my 

             3    children take their horses to a 4-H meeting, they 

             4    have to have this; if you go to the state fair.  

             5    And we're just in compliance with what everyone 

             6    else does with them for the Commission.

             7                  COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I'm just 

             8    curious.  What about trail rides?

             9                  DR. COOKE:  On our properties?   

            10    That's what we're talking about.  We have trail 

            11    rides on some of our management areas that's 40 or 

            12    50 animals --

            13                  MR. SANSOM:  I think his question 

            14    is, for example, Jerry, before Expo, we sponsored 

            15    a trail ride that came all the way over from 

            16    Bandera to the Expo event.  So it was not --

            17                  DR. COOKE:  This would not affect 

            18    that.  This would not have any impact on that 

            19    event itself, other than what the Animal Health 

            20    Commission rules would be for having such an 

            21    event.

            22                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Which will 

            23    require every stock show, Houston Stock Show, have 

            24    that trail ride in there -- all those animals are 

            25    required to have -- 


             1                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  When -- say I was 

             2    going to Lake Ray Roberts to ride my horse and I 

             3    went through the gate and paid my entrance fee.  

             4    Is that where I would be checked for my form, with 

             5    my horse trailer in the back? 

             6                  DR. COOKE:  Yes.  Before we took 

             7    your money, that's when it would be checked.  If 

             8    you have a horse, you will produce the document. 

             9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Just for 

            10    those of you who are not familiar with horses, 

            11    have the bad horse habit that I have, there is no 

            12    cure.  That's why it's important. 

            13                  MR. COOKE:  Right.

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And they 

            15    cannot be vaccinated and stuff.  If they're 

            16    expose, that's it, the horse has to be either 

            17    quarantined or destroyed. 

            18                  MR. COOKE:  And being a viral 

            19    disease, it's easily transmitted.  

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  With no 

            21    further questions or discussions, without 

            22    objection, I'll authorize staff to publish this 

            23    item in the Texas Register for the required public 

            24    comment period. 

            25                  Thank you, Jerry.  And you're up 


             1    again.  There you go.  All right.

             2       AGENDA ITEM NO. 8: BRIEFING - TEXAS CERVID 

             3       DISEASE ISSUES

             4                  DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and 

             5    members, I'm still Doctor Jerry Cooke. 

             6                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I think 

             7    you have a change, a little mistake in the 

             8    materials.  The first two, chronic washing 

             9    disease. 

            10                  DR. COOKE:  And that would 

            11    be incorrect.

            12                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Which 

            13    hopefully some of us have, but that's --

            14                  DR. COOKE:  We'll see if it's still 

            15    there on the screen.

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  It was in 

            17    the printed materials we received.

            18                  DR. COOKE:  I will discuss that with 

            19    my staff who, by the way, is me.

            20                  This presentation is a briefing at 

            21    your request to discuss some of the diseases that 

            22    have an impact on deer in the United States and 

            23    potentially in Texas.  I will not be discussing 

            24    any of the many diseases that are in Texas that 

            25    are in our deer populations that other states 


             1    worry about because they are a part of our system.  

             2    But I will be discussing diseases that have an 

             3    impact on deer herds and agriculture that are not 

             4    currently with us. 

             5                  Once such disease is brucellosis, 

             6    which really is the success story, which is why 

             7    I'm beginning it.  It's caused by brucella 

             8    abortus, a bacterial disease.  It can be -- it's a 

             9    cattle disease.  It can be deer, it can be in 

            10    people, it can be in dogs.  It can travel through 

            11    the country in a lot of different forms. 

            12                  Basically Texas is -- basically, we 

            13    don't have any brucellosis in Texas except 

            14    sporadically it comes and goes, or anywhere in the 

            15    United States, with the exception of within that 

            16    circle it is occurring in Yellowstone National 

            17    Park, the Yellowstone Basin, the Roosevelt Elk 

            18    Preserve there. 

            19                  And this is primarily because those 

            20    animals are fed.  It's in the population.  You 

            21    feed animals in one concentration.  And the 

            22    organism can remain in the feces for up to two 

            23    months, you know, so it's easy to move from one 

            24    animal to another.  It's normally ingested.  

            25    There's no real effective treatment for it.  There 


             1    are vaccines but they're difficult to deliver. 

             2                  So basically the problem in the 

             3    United States with brucellosis is the free-ranging 

             4    bison and elk in that area.

             5                  Bovine tuberculosis, as are many of 

             6    the tuberculosis, a microbacteria, a basialis, it 

             7    forms tubicals in the lung, which makes it very, 

             8    very, very, very difficult to treat.  It's very 

             9    easy to transmit, just from aerosol from one new 

            10    individual to another. 

            11                  Most of the tuberculosis organisms 

            12    are quite species specific, with the exception of 

            13    bovis, which is the cattle form of the 

            14    tuberculosis, which basically any warm-blooded 

            15    animal can get, including humans. 

            16                  Those states that I show in yellow 

            17    are those that have had brucellosis in -- excuse 

            18    me, bovine tuberculosis in penned animals in the 

            19    last ten years.  I don't believe any of those 

            20    states are still lit up now, just to show you the 

            21    scope of it.  In that circle, however, it is free 

            22    ranging in Michigan. 

            23                  It first occurred in 1975 in a 

            24    penned deer.  In 1993, it was found in a 

            25    hunter-killed deer.  It now covers a great deal of 


             1    the state.  It's a very big problem for Michigan.  

             2    17,000 animals tested annually.  The cost of 

             3    putting your hands on those beasts, as well as the 

             4    costs of the clinical tests, is enormous and eats 

             5    a great portion of their budget in that area.

             6                  And despite the depopulation, 

             7    despite all the treatment attempts, all the 

             8    quarantining, all the vaccinations that's going 

             9    on, the disease is still moving.  Three more 

            10    counties were added or were identified as being 

            11    infected in the past year.  This is not one we 

            12    want. 

            13                  Chronic washing disease -- 

            14    infectious spongiform ensepolopathy is the correct 

            15    name of the disease.  It's a -- we don't really 

            16    know what causes the disease.  There's a preon 

            17    protein which is associated with the disease, but 

            18    it's not clear whether it causes the disease or 

            19    it's a product of the process of the disease. 

            20                  It's totally debilitating.  It's 

            21    always terminal.  There is no live animal test for 

            22    it.  There is no cure.  There's no vaccine for it.  

            23    It can be transmitted from one animal to another 

            24    using cell-free brain fluids.  And you can take 

            25    that fluid and autoplate it, you can boil it, you 


             1    can freeze it, you can put chemicals in it, and 

             2    you still can transmit the disease.  That's the 

             3    spooky part of it. 

             4                  Currently, the states that are lit 

             5    up on the map are states in which there are 

             6    chronic CWD positive animals in pens.  These are 

             7    all associated with elk farms, not hunting areas, 

             8    but feed lot situations.  They're raising venison 

             9    in pens, basically, in those states. 

            10                  However, in the circled area it is 

            11    free ranging.  In fact, that was where the disease 

            12    basically originated in the United States.  And it 

            13    occurs in mule deer and elk in that circled 

            14    free-ranging area.

            15                  I mention anthrax only because it's 

            16    in the news, and we just had a recent outbreak of 

            17    it.  Anthrax is a sporozoan disease.  It's 

            18    basically a soil-borne disease.  It can occur 

            19    anywhere that there's ever been bison, you know, 

            20    in the past.  It can occur anywhere in Texas and 

            21    has occurred in most corners of Texas at one time 

            22    or another. 

            23                  It's most common in calcarious use 

            24    soils because the sporozoan forms more completely 

            25    and more readily in an alkaline environment.  It 


             1    occurs basically when you have a big flush of 

             2    rain.  You get a good flush of for growth.  You 

             3    moisten the soil.  You get a bloom.  You follow 

             4    that with a drought, which forces the animal's 

             5    nose closer to the soil.  And warm humid 

             6    conditions, and you've got it. 

             7                  Also, however, what I just described 

             8    is the same kind of circumstances in which you 

             9    have nutritional die-offs.  This case that we just 

            10    had this last year was just such an event.  We 

            11    were losing deer for months in that area before 

            12    anthrax showed up.  Anthrax was just an overlay.  

            13    But, of course, it's a scary disease.  One should 

            14    be concerned. 

            15                  You can inhale it, you can ingest 

            16    it, you can get it through a break in the skin.  

            17    It's not one that I -- I'm fortunate to say this 

            18    is one of the few days diseases of deer in Texas 

            19    that I haven't had, and I hope to keep it that 

            20    way.

            21                  Now, those were not very many, but 

            22    they were big ones.  They're important disease 

            23    where they are occurring.  What is the potential 

            24    impact in Texas of these kinds of four animal 

            25    diseases and what are the sources of risk for 


             1    those? 

             2                  Basically, excluding cattle, sheep, 

             3    goats, horses, there's about 7 million animals in 

             4    Texas that would be susceptible to these kinds of 

             5    diseases.  And the map shows you basically how 

             6    they're distributed over the state. 

             7                  Of that 7 million, 4 million of them 

             8    are white-tailed deer.  And I don't have to tell 

             9    you the importance of white-tailed deer to this 

            10    state.  Last year, 474 white-tailed deer were 

            11    imported into Texas.  They were imported from the 

            12    states that I have in yellow on the map. 

            13                  Note, please, that one of those 

            14    states is Michigan.  Note also that one of the 

            15    states is Missouri.  And the reason I point out 

            16    Missouri is because of a peculiar problem with 

            17    deer.  This is one of the things that makes the  

            18    USDA very uncomfortable. 

            19                  If you put your hands on a cow, you 

            20    can trace its history pretty readily.  It's 

            21    branded. It's tattooed.  It's marked.  Everybody 

            22    is doing it more or less the same way.  You can 

            23    trace back its history.  You can't do that with a 

            24    deer.  In fact, 41 of -- let me back up.

            25                  Recently, a very small number of elk 


             1    came into Texas from some infected herds in 

             2    Colorado for chronic wasting disease.  They were 

             3    identified, immediately quarantined.  They're 

             4    making arrangements to acquire the animals, to 

             5    destroy them, to test them, and hopefully they 

             6    will all be negative.  But there were 41 elk that 

             7    went into a sale barn in Missouri and vanished 

             8    because there was no way to trace where they came 

             9    from.  So anything that comes from Missouri didn't 

            10    necessarily come from Missouri.  It could have 

            11    come from anywhere, any source. 

            12                  In 2001, 1,397 white-tailed deer 

            13    were liberated from scientific breeding facilities 

            14    into the wild in Texas.  Some of those were direct 

            15    imports.  They came -- they never hit a facility.  

            16    They just came from outside the state and was 

            17    released into the wild. 

            18                  And I point out that of that almost 

            19    1400 deer, 45 percent of them were released in 

            20    three counties: Kerr, Medina, and Uvalde, which 

            21    are among the highest density -- deer density 

            22    counties that we have in Texas currently.

            23                  Deer were liberated from scientific 

            24    breeder pens basically in the way that I have 

            25    shown in this graph.  Most of the animals are 


             1    moved or a large percentage of the animals are 

             2    moved immediately before the hunting season.  

             3    There's almost none moved during the hunting 

             4    season because you have to cut off the antlers 

             5    before you can move them.  There's almost none 

             6    moved during the summer months because of the 

             7    heat.  That makes it very difficult to transmit 

             8    deer in a healthy condition. 

             9                  Now, moving from scientific breeder 

            10    facilities to our Triple T program, the Triple T 

            11    program is a permit program, as you know, that 

            12    allows an individual to trap wild white-tailed 

            13    deer or mule deer or actually any game animal, for 

            14    that matter, on a piece of property, transport 

            15    them across the state and release them on another 

            16    piece of property. 

            17                  The counties on the map on the left 

            18    are the counties in which deer were trapped.  The 

            19    map on the right are the counties in which they 

            20    were released.  And you will probably notice that 

            21    there's a lot of counties that's lit up on both 

            22    maps. 

            23                  From 1939 until 1990, the Texas 

            24    Parks & Wildlife Department and its predecessors, 

            25    the game, fish, and oyster commission and other 


             1    names to the same entity, during that period of 

             2    time this agency created the deer herd in this 

             3    state, basically.  They restored white-tailed deer 

             4    to Texas.  And they did that by a judicious 

             5    application of trapping of moving and releasing 

             6    stock currently in Texas. 

             7                  During that period from '39 to 1990, 

             8    to restore white-tailed deer to Texas, 31,279 deer 

             9    were trapped and moved.  Since the Triple T 

            10    program came into existence in 1993, 32,736 

            11    white-tailed deer have been trapped and moved in 

            12    this state.

            13                  So, in conclusion, I -- conclusion 

            14    of this briefing is essentially to lay out two 

            15    questions and to make a statement.  Question no. 1 

            16    is, is it truly worth it to the wildlife and the 

            17    agriculture of Texas, the economy of Texas, to 

            18    continue to import white-tailed deer and mule deer 

            19    into this state?  And that's all it is, is a 

            20    question.

            21                  Question no. 2, is it worth the risk 

            22    to the wildlife and agriculture and economy of 

            23    this state to continue to move white-tailed deer 

            24    from one portion of the state to another portion 

            25    of the state, outside of restoring, you know, a 


             1    lost population? 

             2                  Then the final statement to this 

             3    briefing is basically this: in order to buy, sell, 

             4    move, release or anything else, a deer held by a 

             5    scientific deer breeder permit holder, the animal 

             6    must be in healthy condition.  Healthy condition 

             7    is not defined anywhere in our rules. 

             8                  If it were defined in our rules 

             9    within the context of Texas Animal Health 

            10    Commission testing and monitoring programs, 

            11    existing programs, or within the context of their 

            12    herd health management program, then at least a 

            13    reasonable effort would be shown that animals, in 

            14    fact, would be in a healthy condition before they 

            15    were released from a pen facility into the wild.

            16                  Do you have any questions? 

            17                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Would it require 

            18    a statute to restrict the imports or eliminate the 

            19    imports?  

            20                  DR. COOKE:  No. 

            21                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  We've go the -- 

            22    the department has the authority to do that? 

            23                  DR. COOKE:  The department has the 

            24    authority to do that.  You have the authority to 

            25    regulation possession for white-tailed and mule 


             1    deer.  White-tailed and mule deer.  But the 

             2    scientific breeder permit is the means and method 

             3    of bringing them into Texas.  You have the 

             4    authority to regulate possession and everything 

             5    that goes with that.

             6                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And what 

             7    coordination -- I'm sorry.  Ernie, were you 

             8    finished with that?   Ernie --

             9                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Yes. 

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  What 

            11    coordination would you require with the Animal 

            12    Health Commission, who has the jurisdiction at the 

            13    borders with live animals?

            14                  DR. COOKE:  Explain that.  What 

            15    could you mean? 

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, 

            17    would it require the Animal Health Commission to 

            18    have a similar regulation? 

            19                  DR. COOKE:  No. 

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  It would 

            21    not. 

            22                  DR. COOKE:  They can require 

            23    testing.  They can quarantine to other states.  

            24    And the reason they don't necessarily do that is 

            25    because of Missouri, you know, the way that they 


             1    so easily go through those sales.

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So if we 

             3    prohibited the possession by any scientific 

             4    breeder permittee of an animal from a, for want of 

             5    a better term, hot state, that would not require 

             6    any Animal Health Commission concurrence, if 

             7    that's the right term?

             8                  DR. COOKE:  No.

             9                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  You'd almost 

            10    have to prohibit it from any state.  You'd have to 

            11    prohibit the importation period if it's going to 

            12    be effective.

            13                  DR. COOKE:  Basically.  Right.

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Because 

            15    you don't know which state -- there's no source 

            16    for --

            17                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  There's no 

            18    source for verification.

            19                  DR. COOKE:  Right.

            20                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Mr. Chairman, I 

            21    have a question.  Could you talk to us about the 

            22    states currently that restrict the importation or 

            23    deny the importation of these animals altogether?

            24                  DR. COOKE:  No, I can't.

            25                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Are there any?


             1                  DR. COOKE:  I don't know the answer 

             2    to that question.

             3                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  What does 

             4    California do?  Somebody mentioned that California 

             5    was --

             6                  DR. COOKE:  I'm sorry.  I really 

             7    don't know.  

             8                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Okay.

             9                  DR. COOKE:  I'd be more than happy 

            10    to get some of that information. 

            11                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I'd like to hear 

            12    what some other states do about this.

            13                  DR. COOKE:  Well, there are some 

            14    states like Wyoming, for instance, that don't 

            15    allow a single exotic in their state, period.  If 

            16    you have an axis deer or a red deer or what else, 

            17    they don't want it.

            18                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay.  I've 

            19    got -- obviously, as you know, these are some 

            20    tough topics that are very dear to my heart.  

            21    Number one, I think it just doesn't make any sense 

            22    at all to import white-tailed deer into Texas when 

            23    we have an overabundance of white-tailed deer. 

            24                  I mean -- and I think that we ought 

            25    to do everything we can to maintain the integrity 


             1    of white-tailed deer of Texas.  You know, these 

             2    aren't Saskatchewan deer.  These are white-tailed 

             3    deer and I think that those of us who are rather 

             4    involved in intensely managing these deer can 

             5    demonstrate that under the right management 

             6    programs, you know, they can certainly reach the 

             7    maturity and the quality that everybody would like 

             8    to have. 

             9                  It just doesn't make any sense to me 

            10    to bring -- if we have 4 million white-tailed deer 

            11    in Texas, you know, why do we need 500 deer 

            12    brought in from origins that -- you know, my 

            13    experience with it has also been that very few of 

            14    these deer will live. 

            15                  And, therefore, I think it begs the 

            16    question I think a lot of them are brought in not 

            17    to live.  I think that that's one of the loopholes 

            18    in the scientific breeder permit regulation, is 

            19    that I can bring -- if I've got a scientific 

            20    breeder permit, I can bring in all the deer I want 

            21    to from out of state.  And we all know that that's 

            22    being done.  And I think it's going to jump up and 

            23    embarrass us because many of these deer are 

            24    brought in and they don't survive, you know, 90 

            25    days. 


             1                  And, you know, I don't think that 

             2    that's something that's good for us.  And just in 

             3    passing, it would look like to me, if your numbers 

             4    are right here, on one slide you show there's 7 

             5    million deer and exotics susceptible to deer.  On 

             6    the next page, you say there's 4 million 

             7    white-tailed deer.  I guess that means there's 3 

             8    million exotics. 

             9                  And, you know, if there are 3 

            10    million exotics, I realize that this right now 

            11    isn't part of our -- you know, our regulations.  

            12    But if we are concerned about the habitat in the 

            13    state of Texas, and we have almost -- it looks 

            14    like to me, if those numbers are right, almost as 

            15    many exotics as we do white tails, you know, the 

            16    exotics are causing a lot of trouble in the areas 

            17    where they exist. 

            18                  And, you know, some day we're going 

            19    to have to, I think, address that.  I think it 

            20    would be interesting for you to know that Darling 

            21    International, which is a substantial rendering 

            22    company, will no longer pick up deer carcasses.  

            23    And so the individual locker plants, I don't know 

            24    what they're doing with them.  And they have told 

            25    us that they won't pick up deer carcasses anymore 


             1    because of their concern about the disease.

             2                  And I feel like that, you know, we 

             3    shouldn't wait until the disease, you know, gets 

             4    here.  I think we need to be proactive.  And if a 

             5    commercial company is turning down this business, 

             6    I mean, they're turning it down for, you know, 

             7    what they consider to be a pretty good reason. 

             8                  And, you know, I'm very much in 

             9    favor, as you know, of closing our borders to 

            10    importing, you know, any hoof stock in Texas.

            11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  As you 

            12    point out, Mark, it's not just deer, though.  With 

            13    exotics, if I'm correct, Doctor Cooke, the survey 

            14    chronic wasting disease is not any different for 

            15    our wildlife tail as it would be for an exotic 

            16    deer, or is it? 

            17                  DR. COOKE:  As far as I know, no. 

            18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  It would 

            19    be the same.  So unless the Texas Animal Health 

            20    Commission is also regulating the importation of 

            21    exotic deer, it really wouldn't make -- you 

            22    wouldn't have the intended effect, would you? 

            23                  DR. COOKE:  Well, if the intended 

            24    effect is so no one could point their finger at us 

            25    and say "A white-tailed deer brought it into 


             1    Texas," you know, then, no.

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I would 

             3    hope the intended effect is to have the intended 

             4    result and not just to protect ourselves from 

             5    criticism.  My question is a technical one.  Don't 

             6    you really have to regulate all surveyed 

             7    importations?

             8                  DR. COOKE:  All livestock.

             9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All 

            10    livestock.  And the Texas Animal Health 

            11    Commission --

            12                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  All domestic and 

            13    wildlife --

            14                  DR. COOKE:  Could potentially be 

            15    involved.

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, the 

            17    exotics are considered in Texas law to be 

            18    livestock.  If you're in possession, you're 

            19    responsible for them.

            20                  DR. COOKE:  Right.

            21                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  What's the 

            22    status now with the Animal Health Commission on 

            23    exotic -- bringing whatever works -- or you would 

            24    know this better than I -- for an infected area?

            25                  DR. COOKE:  I don't want to speak 


             1    for them.  But I did meet with them a week or so 

             2    ago at their annual meeting.  We were talking 

             3    about a lot of things.  But our -- their 

             4    epidemiologists has come to visit with several of 

             5    you in the past to talk about these kinds of 

             6    issues.  They are concerned.  They're quite 

             7    concerned.  And whatever can be done, they would 

             8    like to try to do.  But they're like us, they 

             9    don't want to work alone.

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  A 

            11    coordinated effort? 

            12                  DR. COOKE:  Yeah, a coordinated 

            13    either.

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  That's 

            15    really my question.

            16                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Has the level of 

            17    coordination and interest decreased to your mind 

            18    in the last couple of months?  I know the level of 

            19    interest that I've gotten through phone calls and 

            20    letters and whatnot from people with a rather 

            21    large vested interest in the wildlife population 

            22    has increased dramatically, as you know, within 

            23    the last few weeks.

            24                  DR. COOKE:  Are you speaking in 

            25    terms of the public itself or the Texas Animal 


             1    Health Commission? 

             2                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  How -- has the 

             3    level of our cooperation, Texas Parks & Wildlife's 

             4    cooperating with the Animal Health Commission and 

             5    other appropriate institutions and agencies want 

             6    it increased as a result of these concerns in your 

             7    opinion? 

             8                  DR. COOKE:  In my opinion, no.  

             9    Because we've always been -- since I've been here, 

            10    I've been a part of the cervid committee for the 

            11    Animal Health Commission.  They have had no rules 

            12    or regulations of which we were not part of the 

            13    conversation.  They call on us for advice as it 

            14    relates to wild animals --

            15                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  So you are happy 

            16    with the level of cooperation --

            17                  DR. COOKE:  Yes.  Now, the level of 

            18    concern has changed.

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  The concern is -- 

            20    but the cooperation is a healthy one.

            21                  DR. COOKE:  Yes, it's very healthy, 

            22    in my opinion.

            23                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Mr. Ramos? 

            24                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Let me 

            25    understand something.  Are you saying that 


             1    currently as we speak, if I want to bring a deer 

             2    Michigan, that there's not a set of standards or 

             3    testing procedures that would be employed before 

             4    it entered the state of Texas.

             5                  DR. COOKE:  There are Texas Animal 

             6    Health Commission regulations related to 

             7    tuberculosis tests, yes.  And there are some other 

             8    tests, as well, that I may not be familiar with.

             9                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  But do you 

            10    know, for example, as you described, we have other 

            11    problems other than just tuberculosis or 

            12    brucellosis?

            13                  DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.

            14                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Do you know if 

            15    we're currently testing an animal before it 

            16    accesses the state for those potential problems?

            17                  DR. COOKE:  You can't --

            18                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  You can't.

            19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  You 

            20    can't -- well, there is a test.  They won't like 

            21    it. 

            22                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  That's 

            23    predicted. 

            24                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And as an 

            25    animal, is there any procedure where they're 


             1    permanently identified, be it tattooed or 

             2    otherwise, where you could you trace an animal 

             3    back?

             4                  DR. COOKE:  No.  We have 

             5    requirements for a unique number to be tattooed in 

             6    the year of a white-tailed deer or a mule deer at 

             7    the time that it leaves a scientific breeder 

             8    facility.  And technically if they're on the road, 

             9    they need to be tattooed.  And that was the 

            10    purpose of it. 

            11                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  But they get 

            12    tattooed as they come in from out of state.

            13                  DR. COOKE:  I'm going to have to 

            14    visit our rules to see.  I don't think they do. 

            15                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Because if we 

            16    did that, then we could trace them back to point 

            17    of origin.

            18                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, you 

            19    know, I think the best solution -- because you're 

            20    going to have lots of trouble with enforcement, I 

            21    think the best solution is you just don't bring 

            22    them in. 

            23                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Mr. Chairman, one 

            24    story that I've read about -- and if it's true, 

            25    I'd like to know it -- was that an elk that ended 


             1    up with -- with a chronic wasting disease in 

             2    Colorado had originated in Boerne.  Is that true 

             3    or not true? 

             4                  DR. COOKE:  It's not true.

             5                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  It's being reported 

             6    as true.

             7                  DR. COOKE:  It isn't. 

             8                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Okay. 

             9                  DR. COOKE:  In my last conversation 

            10    with the Texas Animal Health Commission, there 

            11    were no Texas animals going into those facilities 

            12    before anything happened.  We do not have any in 

            13    Texas at the moment, that we know of. 

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And just 

            15    so everyone is clear about this, if I'm right, 

            16    Jerry, there is no live test for CWD?

            17                  DR. COOKE:  There is one that is 

            18    being tested now.  It's essentially a DNA test, 

            19    looking for a preon that could be associated with 

            20    that.  It has not been blessed, you know, by the 

            21    world.  But there's a lady in Wyoming and there's 

            22    someone over at the Center for Disease Control 

            23    that's testing a test as we speak because --

            24                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  For chronic --

            25                  DR. COOKE:  For chronic wasting 


             1    disease.

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Does the 

             3    U.S. Animal Health Association have any sort of 

             4    position paper on this year that interplay between 

             5    domestic -- or exotic and wildlife, in regulation? 

             6                  DR. COOKE:  I don't know about 

             7    regulations.  I've looked at lots and lots of 

             8    papers on the Internet through the International.  

             9    And, by the way, Texas Animal Health Commission is 

            10    very, very, very heavily represented in all of 

            11    those publications that I have seen on the 

            12    Internet.  But as far as rules, I do not know.

            13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  The reason 

            14    I'm bringing that up is the U.S. Animal Health 

            15    Association is usually the source of model 

            16    legislation in these areas.  And I just suggest 

            17    that you make a contact there to see what's being 

            18    discussed in other states. 

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Do you -- Mr. 

            20    Chairman, I'd like to ask him a question.

            21                  What is the -- do you have any idea 

            22    what the numbers are of exportation of wild game 

            23    from Texas to other states? 

            24                  DR. COOKE:  Well, the biggest one, 

            25    obviously, is going to be some of the municipal 


             1    removals with urban deer -- you know, removal 

             2    permits to Mexico.  But as far as -- you know, a 

             3    purchase permit is required when you sell a beast.

             4                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Are we testing 

             5    those deer that are being exported.

             6                  DR. COOKE:  No.

             7                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Thank you.

             8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I think we 

             9    could go on with this one.  I have one last 

            10    question.  You've told me this before and 

            11    obviously I need to write it down this time.  

            12    What's the number of scientific breeder 

            13    permittees? 

            14                  DR. COOKE:  There is about 300, 

            15    between 300 and 350.  I'd have to check.

            16                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Is it the sense 

            17    of the Commission that we ought to be pursuing 

            18    some kind of restrictions, either total or 

            19    otherwise?  I mean, I don't believe I'll let this 

            20    drop today without some idea of what we -- where 

            21    we go from here. 

            22                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I would 

            23    quote our former chairman of this committee and of 

            24    the Commission, that if we ever looked back on 

            25    this and saw that we had destroyed one of the 


             1    greatest white-tailed deer -- wild white-tailed 

             2    deer populations in the world by trying to improve 

             3    it one percent, we sure would be sorry. 

             4                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And I echo Mark 

             5    Watson's comments.  I think this is a big problem 

             6    and we need to protect our own game.  And I think 

             7    we have enough deer.  I agree with you. 

             8                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, Joseph, 

             9    I just couldn't agree with you more.  I just think 

            10    that there's absolutely no basis for bringing 

            11    these deer in.  And I think also, I mean, if y'all 

            12    want to accept the -- the risk, I mean, I think 

            13    you have to realize that a lot of these deer are 

            14    being brought in and being shot within a few 

            15    weeks.  And I don't think that's right. 

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  They can 

            17    go to Michigan and shoot them. 

            18                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  That's right. 

            19                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And maybe at 

            20    some point, our science will reach a level where 

            21    we can test against these, with DNA or otherwise.  

            22    When we reach that level, then we can insure that 

            23    we don't have a problem.  But it's a tremendous 

            24    risk. 

            25                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  I don't want 


             1    to see, you know, hybrid white-tailed deer.  You 

             2    know, and I think in a lot of respects, it's 

             3    almost what people are trying to get to.  They're 

             4    trying to get a white-tailed deer that looks like 

             5    a mule deer.

             6                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Well, the F1 --

             7                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  That's already 

             8    happening in nature. 

             9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yeah.  The 

            10    animal health issues, I think, is certainly my 

            11    primary concern.  The only caveat that I would 

            12    offer to taking aggressive action, Ernie, would be 

            13    that we be careful to recognize that we're not 

            14    operating in isolation, that this is also a 

            15    livestock, an exotic wildlife issue.  And we have 

            16    to work very closely with the -- with frankly the 

            17    people who have a heck of a lot more experience in 

            18    managing these problems than we do.

            19                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I also feel that 

            20    it -- and believe that we try to stick to the 

            21    health issues here, that we don't get into other 

            22    issues.  That's for another day.  The health 

            23    issues are important enough and that's what we 

            24    should focus on, so we don't get off track. 

            25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I agree.  


             1    This is not a hunting ethics issue.  This is not a 

             2    trade intrastate issue.  This is a protection 

             3    animal health issue.

             4                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Agreed. 

             5                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  So what do we 

             6    do? 

             7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well, I'd 

             8    like to learn, as I said, what the Animal Health 

             9    Commission would recommend that we do because we 

            10    are one rock in the stream.  And it goes around us 

            11    if we're not coordinated with the Animal Health 

            12    Commission whose jurisdiction is in livestock. 

            13                  And, you know, a lot of these 

            14    diseases don't recognize that boundary between 

            15    wild and exotic and domestic.  So I'm not passing 

            16    the buck here.  I want to learn from them, from  

            17    the Animal Health Commission, what they think we 

            18    could do in concert with the Animal Health 

            19    Commission to get in front of the problem.

            20                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Jerry, would it be 

            21    possible, and being mindful of our time frame 

            22    between, I guess -- have we got time to do 

            23    something about this year, on this cycle? 

            24                  DR. COOKE:  Well, the answer to the 

            25    question is yes.  I mean, if you choose. 


             1                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Could we have -- 

             2    I'm trying to figure out a way right here how to 

             3    further this discussion that -- in a way that will 

             4    lead us to some kind of a decision sometime maybe 

             5    this spring, whether to keep going or what exactly 

             6    to do.  Would it be appropriate to have a briefing 

             7    from the Animal Health Commission at our January 

             8    meeting and have you-all, you know, continue your 

             9    discussions? 

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Is it 

            11    appropriate for that to be joint with Jerry so 

            12    that we can sort of speed up the process? 

            13                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Uh-huh.

            14                  DR. COOKE:  I'm sorry that I didn't 

            15    invite -- actually, you know, they asked if they 

            16    needed to be here for this, and I told them that I 

            17    didn't know where you were going with it, to be 

            18    very frank with you.  And they would be more than 

            19    happy to send one or more of their epidemiologists 

            20    to come and speak with us. 

            21                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  With the 

            22    purpose of making specific recommendations, not 

            23    just --

            24                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Not just to talk 

            25    about it.


             1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'm ready 

             2    to hear some recommendations from the experts.

             3                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And I would 

             4    like to see staff prioritize this.  I think this 

             5    is a huge issue that could have a tremendous 

             6    impact.

             7                  DR. COOKE:  It would be easy -- it 

             8    would be relatively easy to discuss with Animal 

             9    Health Commission, to discuss with scientific 

            10    breeders that we have in the state, as well, for 

            11    some of their input and bring you a proposal, as 

            12    well as a briefing in January, if you choose 

            13    that --

            14                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Mr. Chairman, I 

            15    think in addition to that, I'd like to charge 

            16    Joseph with meeting with you and the 

            17    representatives from the Animal Health Commission 

            18    between now and that time so that -- well, really 

            19    in the interest of speeding up this process.

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So we're 

            21    coordinated. 

            22                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  So if the chairman 

            23    and vice-chairman of the regulations committee 

            24    could meet at an appropriate time with you and the 

            25    Animal Health Commission, I think that would be 


             1    productive, and then report back in January.

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, 

             3    ma'am. 

             4                  DR. COOKE:  It shall be done.

             5                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Any other 

             6    questions or comments?  Thank you very much, 

             7    Jerry. 

             8                  Any other business to come before 

             9    the regulations committee?  Recognizing that we 

            10    are not the only committee --

            11                  VICE-CHAIR ANGELO:  Used up the 

            12    whole morning.

            13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Do I have 

            14    a motion to adjourn?

            15                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  So moved.

            16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All in 

            17    favor?  Motion.  Take a short break or --

            18                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Short break.  I was 

            19    assured that the November meeting is dull.  These 

            20    are important issues.  A short break and then I 

            21    think we can at least get through the finance 

            22    committee.

            23                         *-*-*-*-*

            24                   (MEETING ADJOURNED.)

            25                        *-*-*-*-*             


             1                  REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE


             3    STATE OF TEXAS   )

             4    COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

             5             I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified 

             6    Court Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do 

             7    hereby certify that the above and foregoing 118 

             8    pages constitute a full, true and correct 

             9    transcript of the minutes of the Texas Parks & 

            10    Wildlife Commission on November 7, 2001, in the 

            11    commission hearing room of the Texas Parks & 

            12    Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis 

            13    County, Texas.

            14             I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic 

            15    record was made by me at the time of the public 

            16    meeting and said stenographic notes were 

            17    thereafter reduced to computerized transcription 

            18    under my supervision and control.

            19             WITNESS MY HAND this the 9th day of 

            20    January, 2002. 

                           MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
            23             Expiration Date:  12-31-02
                           3101 Bee Caves Road
            24             Centre II, Suite 220
                           Austin, Texas  78746
            25             (512) 328-5557

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