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Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Jason Hardin
Kevin Davis

Action
2015-2016 Statewide Hunting Proclamation
March 26, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  This item seeks adoption of proposed amendments to the Statewide Hunting Proclamation.  The proposed amendments:

II.     Discussion:  Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, and means and methods for taking wildlife resources is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61. The potential changes are based upon statutory requirements and Commission policy, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable.  The potential changes are intended to increase recreational opportunity, decrease regulatory complexity where possible, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state.

At the Work Session meeting on January 22, 2015, staff was authorized to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 799).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III.    Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §§65.42, 65.44, and 65.64, concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 799).”

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Statewide Hunting Proclamation

Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

2015-2016 STATEWIDE HUNTING PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1.  Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department, or TPWD) proposes amendments to §§65.42, 65.44, and 65.64, concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation.

         The proposed amendment to §65.42, concerning Deer, would designate counties as being in the north or south zones. For many years, the department has informally referred to counties as being in the north or south zones (or North Texas and South Texas). Such designations were also used in the paper version of the department’s hunting and fishing regulations (the Outdoor Annual), primarily in the summary of hunting season dates. With the development of the agency’s electronic application for the Outdoor Annual, the department has continued to use those designations. By reviewing the county listings in §65.42, one could fairly easily determine that the counties listed in §65.42(b)(1), (2), for example, were the south zone (or South Texas) and that the remaining counties listed in §65.42(b) were in the north zone (or North Texas). However, these paragraphs were not labeled as such in the regulation. In an effort to ensure that the designations contained the department’s Outdoor Annual more accurately reflect those contained in the department’s regulations, the proposed amendment would officially add those designations.

         The proposed amendment to §65.42 would also clarify requirements concerning the use of antlerless mule deer tags during the archery-only open season. The current wording in §65.42(c)(5) states that antlerless permits are not required unless MLD permits have been issued for a property, which has been interpreted to apply in all counties where there is an archery-only open season for mule deer; however, in the three counties listed in subsection (c)(5)(B), the harvest of deer during the archery-only open season is specifically established as either-sex. There has been some confusion as to the department’s intent, and the proposed amendment would clearly set forth that antlerless harvest during the archery-only season shall be by permit only except in Brewster, Pecos, and Terrell counties, and then only on properties for which MLD permits have not been issued.

         The proposed amendment to §65.44, concerning Javelina, would establish zone designations for various counties for the same reasons set forth in the discussion of the proposed amendment to §65.42.

         The proposed amendment to §65.64, concerning Turkey, would establish zone designations for various counties for the same reasons set forth in the discussion of the proposed amendment to §65.42; close the season for eastern turkey in 13 counties (Angelina, Brazoria, Camp, Fort Bend, Franklin, Harrison, Hopkins, Matagorda, Morris, Titus, Trinity, Wharton, and Wood) and on National Forest lands in Jasper County; implement a limited season for Rio Grande turkey in Matagorda and Wharton counties; and expand the late youth-only season for Rio Grande turkey to be concurrent with the late youth-only season for white-tailed deer (14 days). Reported harvest of Eastern turkey in the 13 identified counties has fallen below the agency’s threshold for keeping the season open. The department therefore intends to close the seasons in those counties while restoration compatibility and restocking efforts take place in the future. Concurrently, the department noted huntable populations of Rio Grande turkey in Matagorda and Wharton counties, and therefore proposes to open a limited season (one-bird bag limit, gobblers only) to provide hunting opportunity in those counties. The conservative harvest will not affect the sustainability of turkey populations in those counties. The department also reviewed data regarding the harvest of Rio Grande turkey during the current late youth-only seasons and has determined that the youth-only seasons can be expanded to run concurrently with the late youth only deer season, which is intended to reduce regulatory complexity and provide additional hunting opportunity without negatively impacting populations.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Mr. Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Wolf also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the dispensation of the agency’s statutory duty to protect and conserve the wildlife resources of this state, the duty to equitably distribute opportunity for the enjoyment of those resources among the citizens, and the execution of the commission’s policy to maximize recreational opportunities within the precepts of sound biological management practices.

         (B) There will be no adverse economic effect on persons required to comply with the rule as proposed.

         (C) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small and micro-businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that the proposed rule will not directly affect small businesses or micro-businesses.  Therefore, the department therefore has not prepared the economic impact statement or regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

         (E) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules) does not apply to the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments also may be submitted via the department’s website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/.

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 42, which allows the department to issue tags for animals during each year or season; and Chapter 61, which requires the commission to regulate the periods of time when it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the means, methods, and places in which it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life in this state; the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life authorized to be hunted, taken, or possessed; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where game animals, game birds, or aquatic animal life may be hunted, taken, or possessed.

         The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapters 42 and 61.

6. Rule Text.

         §65.42. Deer.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) White-tailed deer. The open seasons, annual bag limits, and special provisions for white-tailed deer shall be as follows. The counties and parts of counties listed in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection section are in the South Zone. All other counties and parts of counties listed in this subsection are in the North Zone.

                         (1) – (18) (No change.)

                 (c) Mule deer. The open seasons and annual bag limits for mule deer shall be as follows:

                         (1) – (4) (No change.)

                         (5) Archery-only open seasons and bag and possession limits shall be as follows. During an archery-only open season, deer may be taken only as provided for in §65.11(2) and (3) of this title (relating to Lawful Means). [No antlerless permit is required unless MLD antlerless permits have been issued for the property.]

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) In Brewster, Pecos, and Terrell counties, there is an open season.

                                          (i) (No change.)

                                          (ii) Bag limit: two deer, no more than one buck. Antlerless deer may be harvested without a permit unless MLD antlerless permits have been issued for the property.

                                  (C) In all other counties, there is no archery-only open season for mule deer.

         §65.44.  Javelina: Open Seasons and Annual Bag Limits.

                 (a) The counties listed in this subsection are in the North Zone. In Andrews, Archer, Baylor, Blanco, Caldwell, Calhoun, Coke, Comal, Concho, Crane, DeWitt, Ector, Foard, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Howard, Irion, Knox, Llano, Loving, McCulloch, Martin, Mason, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Reagan, Refugio, Runnels, San Saba, Sterling, Taylor, Tom Green, Upton, Victoria, Ward, Wichita, Wilbarger, and Winkler counties, there is a general open season.

                         (1) – (3) (No change.)

                 (b) The counties listed in this subsection are in the South Zone. In Aransas, Atascosa, Bandera, Bee, Bexar, Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kenedy, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, LaSalle, Live Oak, McMullen, Maverick, Medina, Menard, Nueces, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, San Patricio, Schleicher, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties, there is an open season from September 1 through August 31.

                         (1) – (2) (No change.)

                 (c) – (d) (No change.)

         §65.64. Turkey.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Rio Grande Turkey. The open seasons and bag limits for Rio Grande turkey shall be as follows.

                         (1) Fall seasons and bag limits:

                                  (A) The counties listed in this subparagraph are in the Fall South Zone. In Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Frio, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kinney (south of U.S. Highway 90), LaSalle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Medina (south of U.S. Highway 90), Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Uvalde (south of U.S. Highway 90), Val Verde (in that southeastern portion located both south of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Spur 239), Webb, Zapata, and Zavala counties, there is a fall general open season.

                                          (i) – (ii) (No change.)

                                  (B) (No change.)

                                  (C) The counties listed in this subparagraph are in the Fall North Zone. In Archer, Armstrong, Bandera, Baylor, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Borden, Bosque, Briscoe, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Coke, Coleman, Collingsworth, Comal, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Dawson, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Ector, Edwards, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Hartley, Haskell, Hays, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Howard, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Karnes, Kendall, Kent, Kerr, Kimble, King, Kinney (north of U.S. Highway 90), Knox, Lipscomb, Lampasas, Llano, Lynn, Martin, Mason, McCulloch, McLennan, Medina (north of U.S. Highway 90), Menard, Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Moore, Motley, Nolan, Ochiltree, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Potter, Randall, Reagan, Real, Roberts, Runnels, Sutton, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Travis, Upton, Uvalde (north of U.S. Highway 90), Ward, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson, Wilson, Wise, Val Verde (that portion located north of U.S. Highway 90; and that portion located both south of U.S. Highway 90 and west of Spur 239), and Young counties, there is a fall general open season.

                                          (i) – (ii) (No change.)

                         (2) (No change.)

                         (3) Spring season and bag limits.

                                  (A) The counties listed in this subparagraph are in the Spring North Zone. In Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell, Borden, Bosque, Briscoe, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Coke, Coleman, Collingsworth, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Ector, Ellis, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Hartley, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Howard, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, Llano, Lynn, Martin, Mason, McCulloch, McLennan, Menard, Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Moore, Motley, Nolan, Ochiltree, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, Reagan, Roberts, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Travis, Upton, Ward, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson, Wise, and Young counties, there is a spring general open season.

                                          (i) – (ii) (No change.)

                                  (B) The counties listed in this subparagraph are in the Spring South Zone. In Aransas, Atascosa, Bandera, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brewster, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Comal, Crockett, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Hidalgo, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kenedy, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, LaSalle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Nueces, Pecos, Real, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Webb, Willacy, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties, there is a spring general open season.

                                          (i) – (ii) (No change.)

                                  (C) In Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda,[and] Milam, and Wharton counties, there is a spring general open season.

                                          (i) Open season: from April 1 through April 30.

                                          (ii) Bag limit: one turkey, gobblers only.

                         (4) Special Youth-Only Seasons. Only licensed hunters 16 years of age or younger may hunt during the seasons established by this subsection.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) There shall be special youth-only spring general open hunting seasons for Rio Grande turkey in the counties listed in paragraph (3)(A) and (B) of this subsection.

                                          (i) open seasons:

                                                   (I) the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) immediately preceding the first day of the general open spring season; and

                                                   (II) from the Saturday[and the weekend (Saturday and Sunday)] immediately following the close of the general open spring season for 14 consecutive days.

                                          (ii) bag limit: as specified for individual counties in paragraph (3) of this subsection.

                 (c) Eastern turkey. The open seasons and bag limits for Eastern turkey shall be as follows. In [Angelina,] Bowie, [Brazoria, Camp,] Cass, Fannin, [Fort Bend, Franklin,] Grayson, [Harrison, Hopkins,] Jasper (other than National Forest lands), Lamar, Marion, [Matagorda, Morris,] Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Red River, Sabine, San Augustine, and[Titus, Trinity,] Upshur[, Wharton, and Wood] counties, there is a spring season during which both Rio Grande and Eastern turkey may be lawfully hunted.

                         (1) – (3) (No change.)

                         (4) The season for Eastern turkey is closed on National Forest lands in Jasper County.

                 (d) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on