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TPW Commission

Special Commission Meeting, June 20, 2016

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

June 20, 2016

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
SPECIAL MEETING
J.J. PICKLE RESEARCH CAMPUS
COMMONS LEARNING CENTER
10100 BURNET ROAD, BUILDING NO. 137
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78758

COMMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. I want to thank everyone who made the effort to be here. I know it's going to be a long day, but we appreciate it very much.

This meeting is now called to order June 20, 2016, at 9:03 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I'd like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody. We have people that have come over from literally all over the state. We appreciate everybody making such an effort to be with us today. Let me spend just a minute talking a little bit about kind of the protocol for today to make sure that everybody's got kind of the run of the road.

First, if you didn't get a parking permit when you came in, if you can be sure and check at the registration desk and make sure that you get that. Secondly, please also know that sometime probably around 12:30 or so, more or less, the Chairman will call for a brief lunch break and so we'll take a 30- to 45-minute lunch break. There's a cafeteria outside the atrium. Probably all of you saw that, but I just wanted to make sure that you knew about that so you can plan for that accordingly with respect to your day.

Y'all, folks really have come from near and far to be able to express your perspectives on this important matter to the Commission. It's very important that we have a chance to hear every single one of you who wants to talk to the Commission, and so I want to say a few words about that. Because of the number of folks that have signed up today, we're going to ask everybody to restrict your testimony to two minutes; and the way that we're going to manage this is the Chairman will call you up by name. He'll also call the next two folks that are on deck and so if you're in the room or outside the room, start to make your way forward and then when you're called, please state your name, who you represent, and what your position is on this issue, for or against, and the salient points you want to make sure that the Commission hears.

A couple of other points that I want to make sure that all of you are aware of. Please know that we have provided copies of all written testimony that have previously been submitted to the Commission via e-mail or by letter. So they have all of that. Also please know that we have provided a written transcript of all of the comments from the last Commission meeting to all of the Commissioners. So they have all of that. So for those of you that spoke previously on a matter, please know they heard what you said last time and I just ask out of respect for, again, for all the people that have come today, take that into consideration when you're making your presentation to the Commission.

Chairman and Commissioners, last but not least, at the last Commission meeting you asked us to do a couple of things and more specifically, you gave us a charge to go back and listen to all of the testimony that was given at the last Commission meeting and really to identify the major recurring themes that were presented by folks that had an interest in this. You asked us to meet with representatives of key stakeholders that had been a part of the facilitated negotiated rulemaking process and more specifically, you asked us to have a dialogue with them to see if there might be ways to explore opportunities, to simplify, and potentially even soften the regulations as originally provided; provided, however, that those recommendations did not appreciably compromise the management of the disease risk. And you made it abundantly clear that you wanted to use the presentation that was given last time. That was our starting point. We were not starting anew. We were not starting from scratch.

And so with that charge in mind, you know, I want to let you know the, again, principal thematic concerns that were raised at least at the big picture at the last meeting and they were generally a number of concerns that were clearly articulated about whether or not this disease was serious, whether it warranted the proportionality of response, concerns about the State's management of the disease. Concerns were very clearly articulated on both sides of this about impacts to property values and families and jobs and rural economies, lives and livelihoods. Concerns were raised about perceived disproportionate emphasis by the Department's testing regime on captive herds versus free-ranging herds and also a range of concerns were raised about perceived negative impacts of the rules to the breeder community as a whole and more specifically, we herd those articulated as barriers to entry for new breeders that wanted to get into this business; concern about the date that we had proposed inside those rules that would provide a barrier for breeders to test up to the highest status, the TC 1 status. There were concerns raised about the prolonging of a tiered system that would significantly restrict the ability of breeders that were characterized as TC 2 to have ample markets or appropriate markets to be able to sell and liberate their deer. There were concerns raised about the length of transition period, particularly for those in that category. There were a range of concerns raised about release site related testing and how we handle deer after they're liberated. And there was suite of concerns raised about how we manage the Triple T Permits, and particularly concerns about both tagging and testing at the release site.

Mr. Chairman, I do want you to know that we followed up with a meeting on June 13th, which was attended by the Vice-Chairman, Commissioner Jones, and Commissioner Scott. We had the leadership of the Deer Breeders Corporation, the Exotic Wildlife Association, the Texas Deer Association, and the Texas Wildlife Association, and others to talk about these concerns. I want to be very clear: This was not a meeting that attempted to gain consensus. It was an attempt to understand more specifically what the concerns were about the rules and what opportunities were out there to address them to people's satisfaction. And so entities brought forward various ideas that they asked for us to consider; but I want to be abundantly clear, it was not a meeting that was aimed at trying to realize or facilitate any type of consensus. It was a discussion.

On the heels of that, the next day Commissioner Scott and Clayton and I met with a separate group of breeders that asked for a separate meeting to talk about their specific concerns and issues with the rules and I wanted to acknowledge that meeting, as well. Obviously since the time of the last meeting, our staff have fielded numerous inquiries from people all over the state -- breeders, landowners, hunters, etcetera -- that have an interest in the outcome of your deliberations today and have asked questions and asked us to consider things going forward.

So with that said, Mr. Chairman, today Mr. Wolf is prepared to present the staff's recommendations on some proposed amendments to what we presented earlier. I want to be abundantly clear, those are the Parks and Wildlife Department staff recommendations. We purport to represent the interest of no other entity that we've had discussions with and these are our recommendations and our recommendations alone, obviously with considerable and considered input from our partners at the Animal Health Commission that have been involved in this process, as you know, from day one.

So with that, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I'll turn it back over to you unless you have any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter.

Item 2 is Chronic Wasting Disease Response Rules, Background.

Item 3 is Chronic Wasting Disease Background, Dr. Andy Schwartz, Texas Animal Health Commission.

DR. SCHWARTZ: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. It's a pleasure to be able to address you today, especially in front of so many of our industry partners. As I was introduced, I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Animal Health Commission. I was -- came to that position in May of this year, May 24th of this year. Well, I've been -- worked for the Agency a number of years, 26 years in fact; and the last five years was Assistant Executive Director. So I bring to you the comments today from our Agency.

First of all, I'd like to address the issue of Chronic Wasting Disease as a disease entity or a condition. At present, 23 states across the nation are dealing with Chronic Wasting Disease in various populations. It's recognized as a disease in the veterinary community, by researchers, and certainly by anyone who has seen a deer that's affected by this disease. It's -- in my mind, there's no question this is a real disease. The question is: Is this a disease we should be addressing as regulatory bodies, as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Animal Health Commission? And further, why would we choose to address this disease over some other diseases that are perhaps causing the death of more deer immediately, like, for example, epizootic hemorrhagic disease?

And I would hold that with this disease, with Chronic Wasting Disease, we feel like we're early enough in an outbreak to make a difference. We think that we can take action as regulatory bodies and with the cooperation of the industry to make a difference, to keep -- prevent this disease from spreading from places that it already exists and from populations where it already exists. So in my mind, that's the critical difference. We're at a position to perhaps stop further outbreaks of this disease and eventually -- potentially eradicate them from captive deer.

Some questions have been brought up in the past about our Agencies working together, the Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And I assure you that we have worked closely with our partners, with Carter Smith and his staff. Both Agencies have spent many, many hours mulling over these complex issues and while we have somewhat different missions, one is protecting the State's wildlife resources. The other is protecting the live -- the health and marketability of livestock. These two missions or causes come together with this disease, with Chronic Wasting Disease, that affects -- what could affect our wildlife population and our livestock population and we've certainly been shoulder to shoulder addressing this issue and are in daily communication between the Agency.

So how does the Texas Animal Health Commission normally approach disease? Normal -- with tuberculosis, brucellosis, any of our traditional diseases, we -- there's a surveillance scheme in place that looks for the disease to find out where it exists. Once that disease is found, epidemiological investigations are conducted. We look for possible sources of infection. We look for where exposed animals might have spread the disease, and we develop herd plans for eradicating disease within those herds.

So internationally, there's an -- well, OIE, an organization sets the standards for international movement of animals. Once a disease has been diagnosed in a particular population, those standards for surveillance are increased to find the disease where it exists and eradicate it and that's what I think is an appropriate approach to take with Chronic Wasting Disease that now that we have found more than one case in captive cervids, I think it's appropriate that we increase surveillance levels and testing and surveillance required prior to movement.

I wanted to use an example of how we've developed and carried out a program in the past where there's a wildlife factor involved, and that's with our cattle fever tick eradication program. This program is over 100 years old and the reason -- the concern over this fever tick is that it's a particular tick that carries a parasite that's fatal to cattle and over 100 years ago, scientists realized that Texas cattle carrying this tick carrying the parasite could spread the disease to other naive populations in other states and cause disease. And so hence, our Agency was born to help fight this disease. So fast-forward to the tick eradication efforts. We pushed the fever ticks down to a permanent quarantine zone along the border with Mexico, but we occasionally have outbreaks of that disease. We know that White-tail deer and nilgai are very capable of carrying these fever ticks. And so when a rancher or producer finds themselves in one of these quarantine areas for fever ticks, certain requirements are put in place. Before they're able to move a live animal, they're required to sedate that animal and allow inspection of that animal for fever ticks and then treatment with an acaricide that would kill any ticks that are there. Ticks may not actually be on the animals, but there's a chance that they're there. So there's an extra requirement that's made part of the normal business practice of those producers.

When a hunter takes an animal in one of these quarantine zones, before the carcass can be taken out of the quarantine zone, they -- the animal -- the hide has to be removed and either frozen or treated with an acaricide because we can't treat a carcass for human consumption with an acaricide. So my point in this is that considerable efforts are required of hunters, of landowners, and deer breeders that are caught up in this quarantine area; but we've found a way to work with those industries successfully, I believe, and allow some normal business operation and still prevent occurrence of disease spread through these ticks.

So last of all, I'd just like to make the point that the plan that Texas Parks and Wildlife has come up with, is presenting today for surveillance prior to movement of animals, I think is appropriate. We understand that the issues surrounding this movement of breeder deer are very complex and that -- and realize that you have a very difficult decision in front of today. We recognize that. I know you're forced to balance the -- your mission of protecting the wildlife population from the Chronic Wasting Disease, but also have a very healthy and robust deer breeding industry in this state and I commend you and your staff for coming up with a program that I think mitigates risk of Chronic Wasting Disease movement. With that, I would just state that the Texas Animal Health Commission supports the plan that's being brought forward. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Dr. Schwartz, thank you. Appreciate it.

Any questions for Dr. Schwartz?

Okay. Next up is Clayton Wolf, Item No. 4, Chronic Wasting Disease Response Rules, Background and Action.

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, for the record, I'm Clayton Wolf. I'm the Director of the Wildlife Division and this morning, I'm going to be presenting to you proposed changes to our Chronic Wasting Disease rules. Of course, first, as Mr. Smith indicated, you know, there's been a lot of work in the interim between May 26th and today and a lot of time and effort spent on this subject. It's important. It's an important decision. It's important for a lot of folks in Texas, and I think it's worth reminding folks just how many people have a vested interest in proper management of Chronic Wasting Disease in Texas.

Chronic Wasting Disease management -- particularly appropriate management -- is important for the 4 million deer that we have in Texas. It's very important for the 650,000 deer hunters that harvest over 600,000 deer annually on 250,000 farms and ranches. We have over 10,000 Managed Lands Deer Permit cooperators on over 25 million acres and we also have 1,300 deer breeders. We have Triple T, TTP, and DMP permittees; and, of course, this amounts to a $2.2 billion hunting economy in Texas. So it's very important for a lot of folks. It's very important for sportsmen, for folks that enjoy the wildlife resource, and extremely important for our rural economy and so we appreciate the time that everyone has taken to take a deeper dive into this and make sure that everyone understands all the issues before making such an important decision.

The next slide here shows you just basically the count in support and opposition the morning of May 26, 2016, and then that afternoon, all the written and testimony and the other testimony of folks that arrived at the Commission meeting. And as Mr. Smith said, we took a deep dive into looking at those common themes and so I want to take a few minutes first to talk about those common themes that we were able to examine from the public comment.

The first notion or the first common theme that we heard was that CWD is a political disease and it's no threat to deer populations. Paraphrased, we had other folks basically say it's not a disease, a deer has never died from CWD. I think you've heard from Dr. Schwartz and we know the -- we take this very seriously. But when we look nationally at the national scale and we really look at what has the impact of CWD had on populations, it's pretty clear that whether those are anecdotal observations or scientific, some states and some people have observed where CWD has been introduced, they may not notice any discernible change in deer populations and that's understandable. But we -- it is clear that we do know that there are other populations that are impacted by CWD where there is a discernible difference and actually some very well designed studies that have looked into this matter.

The slide you have before you here depicts the deer population and the C -- Mule deer population and the CWD prevalence in the South Converse Unit of Wyoming from 2001 to 2011; and during that time period, that population took about a 50 percent decline. Now, I do want to say that when we see a disease show up in a population and we see a population decline, that doesn't necessarily mean that's cause and effect. It could be just coincidental. And so on this particular area, there have been a couple of studies. One on White-tail deer; but more recently, a study on Mule deer where the young lady that was doing her Ph.D. work, captured 143 Mule deer. And, of course, in a typical scientific study, you have your animals that are infected and not infected or your treatment and your control to see if you can measure a statistical difference between the survivability of those animals.

In this particular study in the South Converse Unit, some of the findings: No. 1, CWD infected deer were more prone to mountain lion predation. In fact, mountain lion predation is the number one cause of mortality in this particular population; but the CWD infected deer had a significantly higher predation rate than those that were not infected with CWD. Chronic Wasting Disease itself was the second leading cause of mortality in this particular population. CWD animals were more prone to hunter harvest, but the researcher admits that this population size is small. Every deer that was harvested was a CWD infected deer, but that was a very small population size. So I'm not sure that they would claim that to be statistically significant. But when you put all these factors together and you look at the annual survival rate for CWD infected deer, it was 32 percent as opposed to 76 percent for the uninfected.

So we put this in common terms on a yearly basis. Of all those animals that were infected, only one-third of those animals survived versus the animals that were not infected with CWD, three-quarters of those animals survived the year. And so this, in sum, results -- resulted in a 19 percent -- a prediction of a 19 percent annual population decline. There was more modeling done out in decades and even though -- even with some potential shifts in genetic make up or immigration, the researcher indicated that there was going to continue to be a significant population decline in this particular population.

Now, am I going to say that's what happens if -- as CWD -- or how it operates in Texas? I'm not going to say that because when a disease enters the population, there's a lot of factors; but it's really -- it's simple math. When you have a deer population, you have forms of mortality. And so you have hunting mortality, predation, disease. You can have them hit by cars, etcetera; but there's going to be mortality in that population and that population is going to decline. But each year with a fawn crop, animals are put back into that population. And so it's really a matter of just simple math. As long as the recruitment of new animals, fawns into that population on average can keep up with the mortality factors, then you'll have a stable population. If recruitment exceeds it, it will go up. And if mortality happens to overwhelm recruitment, you can see population declines.

So it's clear that if we have CWD in a new population -- let's say it's 1 percent -- when we're looking at, you know, you can have 20 to 40 percent annual mortality in a population, that's probably not going to be measurable. You know, with those animals infected and if those animals die, it's still such a small part of mortality that probably you wouldn't be able to measure that. But if you have 30, 40, or 50 percent of your population that's infected with a new disease, as in this population, then I think it is intuitive that you could see some impacts that would overwhelm recruitment.

In this particular population, what the researchers recommended to the state of Wyoming is essentially to enable to maintain that population, they're going to have to eliminate antlerless or doe deer harvest in that particular unit in order to keep it from continuing to go down.

Another comment that we received or several comments, a common theme was that CWD cannot be contained or controlled. So let's go back to this slide here as an example. Many states have had CWD for decades and many of those states have chosen to monitor the situation and not necessarily enact any kind of strategic control practices. Some states in the early years, enacted control practices to try to keep the disease prevalence down and then abandoned them. But we do know that in many cases -- and I'm not going to necessarily say in all cases -- CWD, where it has been detected and monitored for decades, has continued to increase where there's not control mechanisms in place.

We do have an exception and that's in Illinois. And in Illinois, they detected CWD in about 2002, about the same time that Wisconsin did. And Illinois has chosen to use a strategic harvest strategy through time and that maintains today. Basically, what they do -- and it's mostly on private land. It's with voluntary cooperation from landowners. It's late in the season or after the season. They will bring in sharpshooters where there are hotspots, very specific and strategic hotspots where they see the prevalence rising and attempt to reduce population in those localized areas and they keep it very localized so it doesn't have an impact on overall deer harvest in those areas in the long term.

And what they've been able to do in Illinois is essentially over this timeframe is keep the prevalence at 1 to 2 percent. Now, the disease is spreading across the geography. When you have the dispersal of yearling bucks carrying the disease, that is happening. So the geographic scope has expanded, but they have still been able to keep the prevalence at 1 to 2 percent with that particular strategy.

And then let's talk about unique situations or pen situations. There's many examples in the U.S. where CWD has been discovered in captive cervid populations, and the disease has been controlled. So as long as on that site, if you have a fence or a double-fenced area and you detect CWD and you're able to remove the animals, essentially it has been controlled or contained. Albeit, there may still be prions on site and so susceptible cervids shouldn't be given access to that area. But there have been some control strategies, particularly when you talk about these smaller areas. In fact, so we have such a case in Texas.

Our second detection or our second area was in a deer breeding facility in La Vaca County. That was a trace-out facility. We were fortunate to find that disease within 12 months of when those animals had been transferred to that facility. It was a relatively new facility, and so there hadn't been any releases on site. There hadn't been a lot of trade with others. That population was depopulated and we believe that in that particular case, we have controlled and contained CWD, at least as far as the folks of La Vaca County are concerned.

Carter mentioned that we heard many comments about CWD regulations having a negative impact on deer breeding operations, and he spoke specifically to the one specific theme of new breeders not being able to test up to TC 1. So whatever our transition period is, they felt like there will be a negative -- negative implications from release site testing. And if you'll recall, our proposal on May 26th was to have a deadline of May 15th, after which there would be no live animal testing. And that evidently caused quite a bit of consternation for the industry in the remainder of that period where folks would not be able to test out or test around release site testing. And so you'll see later on in my presentation, our staff has done an analysis. We believe that we can still -- we have the capacity to take antemortem testing records after May 15th. And so we're going to -- we will recommend to you in this amended proposal that there not be a May 15th deadline for antemortem testing and that deer breeders would be able to test through the entire transition period and we believe that that is going to address a vast number of the comments we heard where deer breeders thought our previous rule package was going to have a negative impact on their ability to do business.

We've heard that the previous CWD testing requirement, which is 20 percent of eligible mortalities, is sufficient. CWD is a difficult disease to find. It occurs, especially in early years, at a very low prevalence; and it is very difficult to find, even when you're testing at high mortality rates. This particular slide here basically shows over the last two years, the percent of eligible mortalities that facilities have tested in Texas. And so on the bottom axis, the X axis, that first bar is the number that have tested 0 to 19 percent.

Now, you may ask yourself: How in the world can 220 or some odd facilities test under the old standard? Are there that many that are not movement qualified? And that's not the fact. The fact is, is that when we adopted rules in 2006, that was a cumulative percentage. So those folks that got out of the gates early and were able to accumulate 30, 40, 50 percent of their eligible mortalities, were not required to provide us any contemporary samples. And, of course, that is an issue when we're talking about recently finding CWD, we really need testing to take place now. But the bar chart that you have there before you, basically shows the distribution and the variability in testing performance in deer breeding facilities over the last two years.

Probably what's more important and one thing I really want to focus on is the CWD discoveries in deer breeding and associated facilities in Texas. In Medina County, we were able -- or the permittee was able to discover the disease with 95 percent eligible mortality testing. So a very high level of testing in this facility is what discovered the first disease.

As I mentioned in La Vaca County, when that herd was identified as a trace-out herd, Animal Health Commission developed a herd plan and it required 100 percent mortality testing and that is how the second animal was found was through 100 percent mortality testing under a herd plan. The second site in Medina County, if you'll recall, was a release site. That permittee was testing based on the interim rules and the release site testing provisions. They were testing 65 percent of the deer harvested on that site, but it's important to note that they were testing about 90 percent of the deer -- of the breeder deer that were released on that site. So it was that 65 percent testing of all deer or 90 percent testing of breeder deer that discovered the disease.

And then in our third Medina County facility, another trace-out facility that was under a herd plan, was doing 100 percent eligible mortality testing and it was that testing level that discovered the disease. And so I just want you to keep that in mind, particularly in the context as we talk about 20 percent or 50 percent mortality testing. At least what we know now, this is a -- these are the testing levels that have found the disease in Texas.

We've also heard the comment that deer breeders are being discriminated against, that all deer in Texas should be tested, that testing is not proportional and, therefore, it's not fair. I want to talk on two different levels here. First, I just want to talk about deer movement.

So you have a picture of the state of Texas, a slide in front of you; and let's just go through a hypothetical. Let's say, for instance, we have CWD somewhere along the Pecos River; and let's say, for instance, we don't know that right now. We do not know CWD is there, how -- but we're not moving deer from that area. How is that disease going to function?

Well, the disease is going to spread. That geographic extent will grow, but that's going to be through natural transmission and natural movement across the landscape. There could be factors like high fences that may create some barriers and slow down that movement, but the movement -- the disease is going to act like a disease normally acts when it spreads through a natural population. But let's also look at this particular spot and let's assume that someone wants to move deer. And I'm not suggesting it just be deer breeders. It could be someone with a Triple T.

Since the early 2000s, we have recognized that deer movement really creates more risk for the state of Texas because in the same population, if we don't know CWD is there and we have not detected it and we issue a Triple T Permit or we issue a deer breeder's permit, those folks are going to be moving animals to all other parts of the state. And obviously, no one would do this knowingly; but the importance is early detection, it's important in knowing this, and movement increases the scope of the disease and so we have always required that if someone is going to move animals in a trailer in Texas, there are mandatory testing requirements. And if you're not going to move animals, they're voluntary; and that even includes our deer breeder.

A deer breeder does not have to be movement qualified. If they're not going to move animals, they do not have to test at all. If a landowner is not going to be moving animals by a Triple T, they do not have to test. And so the mandatory requirements we have always tied to deer movement because deer movement significantly increases the risk.

Now, let's talk about statistical confidence. There's a notion out there that testing should be proportional, irrespective of population size. And so in this particular graphic, you'll see that this hypothetical deer population is 100 deer and we're going -- we assume that 10 percent of that population is tested. And so under this notion of proportionality, you would also assume that of a thousand deer population, 10 percent is the statistical equivalent; but that's not the case. And so let's try to boil this down into maybe some terms that folks understand better.

Let's talk about polling and, for instance, the Gallup Poll. You know, pollsters have known since the early 30s and 40s as they were doing polls, that it really didn't take a significant increase in sample size over a few thousand samples to gain any confidence. For instance, today the average Gallup Poll is about a thousand people and as long as your sample size is random and as long as everyone out there had an equal probability of being picked, that confidence interval or the margin of error is about 3 percent with a thousand folks.

Now, you can double that sample size to 2,000; but you only decrease the margin of error by about 1 percent. And so that's when pollsters are doing presidential polls, for example, with less than 4,000 samples, they can make extensions or conclusions about 120 million people in the United States and their preference for a presidential candidate or gun control or whatever the issue is. So folks have known for a long time that as those population sizes increase, scientists have known that the proportion of the sample does not have to increase. In fact, it can decrease with the same level of confidence.

So let's look at this from a disease standpoint. I replicate -- or I duplicated this table from a book called "Regulatory Statistics." It was provided to us by Dr. Dan Vaca, a U.S.D.A. epidemiologist. And in that book, there's several tables. This one here, basically I replicated the probability of detecting a diseased animal with 99 percent confidence if the disease were in that population at 5 percent prevalence. So we're trying to determine if the disease is there.

So if you'll go to the top left part table there, that's herd size down the left side. And if you have a herd size of 20, this table says that you're going to have to sample 20 animals and that's 100 percent of the herd if you want to be 99 percent confident to find that one animal in the herd. If you go down the table to 200 animals, you have to sample 72 animals for the same confidence level. That's 36 percent of the herd. And if you go down to 4,000 animals in the population, you have to sample 89 animals for the exact same level of confidence and that's only 2 percent. So this particular table also illustrates that as the population size gets larger, the proportion gets smaller.

Now, one way that I like to look at this that helps it make a little bit more sense is if you go back up to the top and you look at the number of infected animals, at a 5 percent prevalence, that 20-deer herd has one infected animal and you have to find that animal to determine if the disease is there at that prevalence. If you go down to the 4,000-animal herd, there are 200 animals; but you don't have to find all 200 animals to know that that disease is in that population. This is built on finding one. So it's saying in all probability, if you sample 89 animals out of there, you will come across that first animal and you will know that the disease is in that population at a 5 percent prevalence. And so I think this helps illustrate that when you're working with larger populations, you can use a much smaller percentage of the population to get the same statistical confidence.

And we use this, if you look at -- well, you've seen our Resource Management Units. For instance, RMU No. 6, basically Llano and Mason County there right in the middle of the state. Our deer population estimate in that particular RMU is 275,000 animals. Our sampling goal is 298. It actually was a little more than that. We buffered that some. We were looking to see if the disease was there at 1 percent prevalence with a 95 percent confidence. We actually collected 380 samples from that unit this past year. And, for example, if you wanted the same level of confidence from a 300-animal population, you'd have to sample 192 animals out of that population. Over half, well over half.

So one more chart that I want to show folks to try to maybe even get away from population size. This is the output table that was developed by some of our staff and I do want to go ahead and mention that we got a lot of support from our biometricians and staff in Inland Fisheries and Coastal Fisheries. Warren Schlechte, Sarah Haas, Mark Fisher, and John Taylor all helped and providing immense help in running various iterations of models.

This particular model here, if you'll look on the left side, you see the prevalence of the disease from 1 percent to 7 percent and then you see the prevalence -- the herd size across the top and what this is telling us is if you did 50 percent antemortem testing in this population with the assumptions in the model, for instance, under a 100-deer herd, you'd have a 25 percent probability of detection. But it can be confusing when you're looking at these varying population sizes to try to figure out how do we develop regulations because you have some populations that are small and some that are large. So take a look at this. In that herd of 100 at a 1 percent prevalence, we have one animal. We have one animal that's positive. So there's a 25 percent probability of finding one animal. Where else do we look to have one animal? Well, you can also look at a 50-deer herd with 2 percent prevalence and it's 27 percent and you can look at a 25-deer herd with 4 percent prevalence and there's still one animal and what you'll see is a pattern there.

There's approximately 25 to 25 -- to 26, 27 percent probability of detection, irrespective of herd size as long as there's one infected animal in that herd. The prevalence may be higher, but understand this: If we have an animal in a herd and there's a positive in there, we want to detect that, irrespective of whether it's a small herd or a large herd. The only difference is if you look at that top row there -- and I'm going to come back to this later -- if you have larger herds -- 150, 200 animals in there and we're still looking at least 1 percent -- our probability of detection does go up in those larger herds because there are more than one -- there is more than one animal in those herds.

So let's talk about the Chronic Wasting Disease proposed rules, and I'll talk a little bit about how we've used these models as the basis for coming to our recommendations. In the past, we've thrown a lot of numbers at you. I'm not going to repeat all these numbers on the screen. I acknowledge that it can become quite confusing to talk about all the different iterations of testing. So the first thing I want to do is really take this to a higher level and let the Commission know that we have always reminded ourselves of those goals that are in our CWD management plan and that is to minimize the risk to our wild deer and our captive deer in Texas. We want to establish confidence with our stakeholders, and we want to minimize direct and indirect impacts to hunting economy and conservation.

This slide may not be in your packet, Commissioners. I believe this one may have been added later. But if we can drill down a little bit closer, a little bit further to CWD testing goals. Some of those goals are going to be consistent. When we're looking at testing requirements, not just CWD management in Texas, we want to appropriately mitigate disease risk and if we're mitigating disease risk in a captive herd, that has implications to the free-ranging herd. We have to maintain confidence to those hunters, confidence to those wildlife enthusiasts, whether it's someone who is managing that deer breeding operation or it's their neighbor. And to get down into further detail, a goal that we are striving for is one level of mortality testing for all deer breeding facilities. Now, whether we can get there immediately is one question. If we can do that without release site testing is a question. But we are trying to strive for the notion of one level of mortality testing for all deer breeding facilities with eventual -- and also striving for no release site testing. Those are really goals to simplify, and they're goals to simplify the regulations; but not at the risk of mitigating -- not at the expense of compromising disease management risk.

And related release sites, I just threw this chart in here. This just shows kind of the pattern of deer releases in Texas. I mean, it shows you that there are between 25 and 30,000 breeder deer released annually in Texas, a bunch in September and quite a few in March and April. And so obviously, it's a very active part of deer breeding models is to release deer and they release those on -- into release sites of various sizes, most ranging from a hundred to over a thousand acres.

So some considerations to achieve these goals, things that we thought about. We need to consider that testing levels have varied greatly through time. So remember as we look back and we look at that 25 percent cumulative, we have high variability in testing performance in our deer breeding facilities in Texas. The previous minimum standard, to be frank, was too low to find a disease that occurs at such a low prevalence. And we know, at least where we have found it so far in Texas, the disease is at a low prevalence. We also need to consider that the capacity for antemortem testing may be limited in early months after adoption, and we have considered this as we prepared this proposal for your consideration.

So some objectives. One of the objectives we identified in this meeting with some of our stakeholders here recently was to attempt to strive for 50 percent probability of detecting disease if it was present in our routine surveillance program. We also want to continue to place a high value on postmortem testing. These animals that die in a pen, die of natural mortality, are a lot more important than one live animal test. In fact, when our modelers ran a bunch of the simulations, what they were seeing was it was about a -- the antemortem tests were really about a value of six-to-one as compared to a postmortem test.

Obviously, we want to look to eliminate release site testing; but if we cannot eliminate release site testing immediately, we want to provide options to test out of release site testing for those folks that do not want to antemortem test. And we want to look for simpler rules, and we want to try to get there as soon as possible for the industry.

So there's three elements of deer breeding facility testing. So there's going to be a common element. The common element is going to be postmortem testing. In the proposal that I'm going to lay out in front of you, we have a common element of postmortem testing and we would expect everyone to test at that level. Over the next three years, that would be used in combination with either antemortem testing or release site testing. So everyone will have to test at a postmortem level, and then they would make the choice. If they do not want to have release site testing, they would antemortem test. If they don't mind release site testing, then they would have to do release site testing for three years; and we'll show you on a table why we have chosen that three-year period.

So here's the table. This particular table is model output on the models that were constructed by our staff. Right here you'll see on the left side is the years that it takes to get to a certain percent probability of detection. To simplify things, I want to have you focus on that fourth column there, the row year three. What our models indicated in this particular column is if folks are doing 80 percent postmortem testing, then in year three we're going to be in the range of 45 to 59 percent probability of detection. And remember, we were trying to shoot for 50 percent.

Now, that range is based upon how many deer are shot at the release site. So the way the models were run, that 80 percent postmortem testing model was run assuming that none of the bucks released were harvested, all the way up to 100 percent of the bucks were harvested. So if you look at that range and you see 45, the 45 applies to the assumption that none of the bucks released were harvested and the 59 percent applies to 100 percent of those bucks being harvested; but you do see that we fall in that 50 percent range, and so staff is recommending that the postmortem standard be 80 percent.

Now, we do know that deer breeding interests have asked us to look at 50 percent postmortem testing, as well. And so if you do that and you look at this table, you'll see that if we did 50 percent postmortem testing, you could get in the same range; but it is going to take another year of release site testing. And remember, one of our objectives was to try to get to this simpler model soon; and so this would extend these regulations, the more complex regulations for another year. And then I'll also show you another table later on on how these project out into the future.

But let's go back to the 80 percent postmortem. So staff's recommendation to you is that every facility going forward will do 80 percent postmortem testing. Now, let's look at if someone wants to get out of the release site testing, they don't want to do that for three years, then how does that 80 percent postmortem testing look in conjunction with antemortem testing? So this particular table, we took the 80 percent postmortem testing column and we compared it to three levels of antemortem testing there on the left and you'll see that what we are going to recommend -- what we recommend to you is we do the 50 percent antemortem testing. It does not quite get you to a .50 or a 50 percent probability of detection, but you do get there in year two and so I'll show you that on this table right here. And this compares the two. So if you look at these two lines, they run pretty close together. If you look at the 50 percent antemortem and 50 percent postmortem, it's the bottom line. You'll start at about .39 percent probability of detection through time and it increases through year five. Whereas the 50 percent antemortem and 80 percent postmortem, you have a little bit higher probability of detection; but there's something that I need to include here to emphasize the need for the 80 percent postmortem testing.

This model was run on population -- was run on a population of a hundred deer with 1 percent infection. And remember the blue table I showed you? If you have a hundred deer with 1 percent infection, you can go down in herd size and still detect it if there's a positive animal in that facility. However, we have found CWD, for the most part, in our larger herds over a hundred. And remember, we found it doing over 90 percent postmortem testing. So this particular graphic applies to herds of a hundred and smaller; but for herds that are over a hundred in size and those herds that do a lot of business with a lot of other folks, that probability of detection and the separation between these two lines goes way up when we are looking at larger herds. And so we feel it is important -- and I'll just back up here. It is important that we strive -- that we strive to get to 50 percent as soon as possible and maintain that 80 percent through time and we're recommending that be in combination with this, with 50 percent antemortem testing.

Now, I'm going to take a pause for a second because I've mentioned our biometricians and scientists that have helped us out here. We have several of them in the room, but I'm going to ask Dr. Warren Schlechte to come up and make himself available just to answer any questions you might have about these models and the quantitative basis or any other questions you might have about this modeling process since this is his area of expertise.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

DR. SCHLECHTE: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Warren Schlechte. Do you have any questions about the models that you would like me to help you with?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a question. This may be a combination of answer between you and Clayton; but when we discovered CWD during our emergency rules, we asked the breeders to test at 50 percent release site testing, and now we're recommending -- or at least the recommendation is 80 percent. And that has caused a lot of consternation and they're saying, "Well, we did all this and discovered what we've discovered over the last several months testing at 50 percent. What was the reasoning for the initial 50 percent emergency rule, and why isn't that good enough for the future?"

And in answering that, what I'm interested in is did we know enough to sharpen that number a bit more? Was it a combination WAG and science? You know what WAG is, right?

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. All right. So -- well, I'm just trying to make sure I even understand what the science or nonscience was behind our initial number.

MR. WOLF: So that's a good question. And so to be fair, time was not on our side during the emergency situation. We -- if you'll recall when we discovered the disease, we had a temporary moratorium on deer movement and there was a great since of urgency to get folks moving again and so we pulled together stakeholders; but to be honest with you, we did not have the time to run these models and so there was -- there was, I'll say, quite a bit of conjecture in what an appropriate testing level was. At that time, we'd had one positive in one facility and so just -- you know, just to be honest and lay it out there, we did not have the time to run these models.

I will tell you that even in addition to that, models have been run in the past; but we -- in this interim period since May, we have also had the opportunity to work with our team and really refine some assumptions. You know, some of those assumptions that were in our previous models were good for a relative comparison to the models; but they didn't necessarily align very well with the deer breeding industry. These set of models that we developed, we've incorporated a lot of other assumptions to make it more closely align with the way deer breeders release deer, how deer die, you know, if they have CWD, a lot of other factors that really are more closely in alignment with reality.

But the short answer, Commissioner, is we did not have the luxury of time to go through this kind of modeling exercise when we came forward with that proposal for the emergency rules.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions about the model at this point? The discussion about...

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got a question. I'm going the other way from Commissioner Jones. I'm trying to get my arms around the fact that we don't require 100 percent testing because I don't see the difference -- two-thirds of the facilities are under -- have less than 100 deer. Now, I'm just kind of doing some home-scratching math here and doing the 100 percent testing versus 80 percent testing, how big a burden is that, both time and money?

MR. WOLF: Well, Commissioner, that's a good question. Obviously, we do know the standard in most other CWD positive states is 100 percent mortality testing and that is the standard for Texas Animal Health Commission's program. Obviously, we've come from 20 percent testing. I think the luxury we have that folks have not had in the past is we can use that in combination with antemortem testing. But, you know, if you'll look at this particular table here, even with 100 percent postmortem testing, you don't get those high level of assurances overnight. You know, you're looking -- when you're doing this -- and Dr. Schlechte has tried to keep reminding me of this. In your 100-deer herd, you know, you've got maybe five mortalities. And so when you're looking at the difference between 80 percent and 100 percent, you know, you're oftentimes not even talking about one deer in the population size. So from a statistical standpoint, that variance is small.

Truth of the matter is, is we could get that probability higher with 100 percent mortality testing. I think what we were thinking is to provide a little buffer in there for folks that, you know, oftentimes for whatever reason, if they don't get into their pens early enough the next morning and it's July and August, they may lose a couple of samples out there and not get them in and we didn't want to have folks feel like they were under -- you know, completely under the gun. And so we wanted to have a reasonable goal without significantly compromising our probability of detection. But to be fair also, now we have the antemortem testing substitution. So if folks miss those, they do have a way to get back up.

The short answer is 100 percent is better. We were looking for some balance working with our stakeholders for something that we felt like would balance the operational aspects of deer breeding facilities while also appropriately mitigating risk and we landed at 80 percent, but I cannot deny that 100 percent, you know, will increase your probability of detection. It's just particularly in those smaller herds, it's not going to move the needle a lot unless you're talking about extended periods of time and maybe Dr. Schlechte could clarify if I'm off there.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: The statistical significance of 80 to 100 percent is not as significant in terms of probability of detection between 50 and 80, correct?

DR. SCHLECHTE: Sir, we didn't really test in a statistical sense. We weren't -- what we're providing here are the median responses of all the simulations we've done. We didn't set it up to, like, ask is one statistically better than another. So I really can't answer that question as you phrased it.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Clayton, I still -- how big a burden -- or do you have an idea, are we talking about a thousand of the facilities having to test one more deer to get 100 percent or -- because I have a thousand facilities are less than 100 deer.

MR. WOLF: So maybe this will get you there, and you may be quicker at the math; but the average -- at least our data shows the average mortality rate is probably around 5 percent. I mean, it was 4.5 percent in the day; but we think it's probably five or maybe even a little higher. So out of a hundred-deer herd, you're going to lose five of those and so it's a difference between testing four or five of them. And obviously you could scale that up, depending on how large you want that herd or how large the heard is.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah. I just have trouble -- I mean, things have changed since we had a positive event and that was detected where 90 percent of the mortalities were tested. And testing one more deer for a thousand of the facilities couldn't be that big of burden, but it gives you certainty that you're testing all the mortalities, which I understand probability-wise won't move the needle; but it certainly gives you certainty that you were testing all of the mortalities.

MR. WOLF: Getting all mortalities is important, I think, as Dr. Schlechte had identified as he looked -- kind of looked at when he tweaked the numbers in the model, what moved the needle the most; and no doubt, the mortalities moved the needle the most. Now, I will tell you that also in those models, there was the assumption that they got -- that if there were five mortalities in the model, they tested four of those. They tested 80 percent of them. The way we have rules constructed right now, if you don't get four, if you get one or two, then you're going to have to provide on a three-for-one basis those that you missed. And so there's -- even under this model, there's no guarantee that folks are going to have to get -- even if it's 80 percent or if it's 100 percent, get all of those; but clearly you are right. The most important animals in this disease surveillance package or the most important aspect is postmortem testing and that one deer is much more valuable than the antemortem tests that would replace it. 100 percent is better than 80 percent. But once again, I said we -- as we looked at this, we were just trying to look at some balance with the comments we got from some of our other stakeholders to arrive at something we thought most folks could live with.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, thank you. I just still think it's something we -- that I want to wrestle with a little bit because I'm just more -- I'm more comfortable thinking about 100 percent, knowing we got all the mortalities than I am with 80 percent. And maybe we change that in the future when we get more experience, but --

MR. WOLF: Understood.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. Thank you.

MR. WOLF: Understood.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

So any other questions?

Clayton, do you want to continue?

MR. WOLF: So we'll advance forward here. I think I'm going to promise not to show many more numbers. I do have this slide here for the -- I think most of you have already looked at this. But when we're talking about antemortem testing, we also wanted to figure out for those that wanted to live animal test, how many animals they would have to get out of their facility. As Commissioner Morian was alluding to, this chart shows the number of eligible aged animals. And so the vast majority of our herds out there -- actually, I think it's 80 percent of our deer breeding population -- have 100 or fewer eligible aged animals. And if we proceed with the 50 percent antemortem package, then essentially all those folks that have zero to 20 if they're on average would to test ten animals antemortem. So it's not an extremely high number. I don't want to diminish the effort it would take to get a veterinarian out to pull these samples; but for the most part, we're not talking about extremely large facilities in Texas.

So the core components of our amended proposal. Staff is recommending that one core component be 80 percent eligible mortality testing as a new minimum standard for all deer breeders in Texas to be movement qualified. That's a core component for all deer breeders. We're also recommending that release site testing would end for any of the TC 2 facilities after that 2018-19 season. So that's after we had three years of release site testing, we would get to that 50 percent probability of detection marked for those folks that did not want to antemortem test. But if you don't want to do the release site testing, then the 80 percent eligible mortality would be in combination with 50 percent antemortem testing for a TC 1 status.

So just to review: Everyone would do 80 percent mortality testing and then in the next three years, basically the deer breeder would have a choice. They could antemortem test and if they did, there would be no more release site testing for their customers. If they did not want to antemortem test, then they would have to release site test for three years. And we'll talk about the details of that.

So let's get into the provisions. This is a little more complicated. I hope that you hang on to those core components. So when I present these slides to you, if it's in white, that is actually what we published in the Texas Register with our initial proposal and anything that is in yellow is something that we are proposing to amend based on the public comment that we've received in this -- in the interim period from the time of publication until now.

So one thing that would not change is we still want to recognize certified and fifth-year herds in the Animal Health Commission program to be in that top category, TC 1. Remember, TC 1 no release site testing. If you match any of these criteria, there's no release site testing. So certified and fifth-year herds would meet that category. We would also look back over five years and anyone that had an average of 80 percent mortality testing for the previous five years would qualify. The difference -- we had that in our previous proposal, but it was 80 percent each year of the past five years. So the minor difference is this is averaged over five years.

And then 50 percent antemortem testing. Now, what I want you to do is -- this is a bit confusing, but think the minimum is going to be 50 percent. That's what we're looking for. But in this period between now and May 15th, what we'll make allowances for is those folks that have already antemortem tested. So if someone comes to us after adoption and they have 25 percent antemortem tests, we're going to make them TC 1; but if they want to maintain that TC 1 status after May 15th, they have to make up the remainder. So their goal is still going to be 50 percent.

The reason we're doing this is we know some folks anticipated one of our rules was going to be 25 percent testing and so some folks out there have 25, 30, 40 percent. And so if they don't get a vet back out in time, we wanted to still give them credit for the effort they went to to live animal test. After May 15th, then it's a flat 50 percent. We're still going to allow for antemortem testing. We're just not going to allow for folks to parse it out into two pieces.

To be movement qualified, all TC 1 and TC 2 facilities must test 80 percent of eligible mortalities. I think I've mentioned that several times. This is the new eligible mortality testing standard. Note we're not proposing any changes to what is in the Texas Register related to TC 3 facilities. These are trace facilities that got a CWD exposed herd or contributed a herd and have not been able to test out and so in those facilities, they would have to test 100 percent of their eligible mortalities and I'll remind you that's how we caught -- we were able to detect it in a couple of these facilities here in the last six months.

We're not proposing any changes to Class I and Class III release sites. Class I release sites, there's no testing; and then the Class III release sites, they would have to test 100 percent of their -- well, I'll get -- I think I'll get to that in a second. Class II and DMP release sites, what we are proposing is that they CWD test the first 15 deer in the harvest. This is not a mandatory harvest. We're not talking -- people do not -- we're not suggesting folks have to harvest any deer, but they would have to test up to the first 15 deer. So if they harvest 100, we get 15 samples. If they harvest five, we get five samples. And that would last for three seasons and after that point, in combination with all these other factors, we would recommend that all release site testing end. And essentially at that point, everyone is doing 80 percent mortality testing and that's it. Very simple model after 2019.

We're proposing that there not be any release site testing at Triple T sites, and this is an amendment from what we proposed in the Texas Register. We're proposing that folks will have to supply a minimum number of mortalities and so the difference is in that proposal is if they've only been permitted for six months, we'd suggest not requiring that because if someone starts new, we wouldn't expect for them to have -- you know, if they had a facility for one, two, or three months, for them to have a mortality in that pen; but clearly after six months, six months to a year, we should expect on average there to be some mortalities and so we'd have this requirement kick in after six months.

You remember last time we talked about a substitution rate. We talked about two-to-one and then we talked about two-to-one and four-to-one, depending on where you were in your testing performance. Our stakeholders that got together, I think, quickly latched on to something that was a lot simpler and they felt like a good compromise and so we're proposing that folks could use antemortem testing as a substitute for postmortem testing at a rate of three antemortem tests for one postmortem test required.

We're not proposing any changes to the minimum age for an animal to be eligible for antemortem testing. We are, however, proposing that there not be a residency requirement for deer to qualify for antemortem testing. And we are proposing that a deer could be antemortem tested no more frequently than every two years. The proposal in the Texas Register was every three years. All breeder deer release sites must be high fenced would be unchanged, and all the harvested deer must be entered in a harvest log on site.

Couple of transition provisions that take a little bit to explain; but essentially what we are proposing is if someone is a TC 2 and they release deer on a site this year, obviously that conveys release site testing requirements. What we have proposed to allow for is if the contributing site tests up to TC 1 by May 15th, we'll basically absolve that release site of the year two and three testing requirements because we recognize there's a capacity issue. We recognize everyone may not be able to antemortem test up before a lot of deer release this fall, and so this would actually have -- we'd have a retroactive component to resetting those sites back to Class I. We're only proposing this retroactive nature for the 2016-17 hunting season. And then another retroactive nature that we're proposing would be that if all the deer that were released this hunting season onto a site -- not counting a Class III site, not counting these Class III sites -- but if someone -- TC 2 releases deer and all those deer are harvested and all are tested, then for one year we would set the release site back to a Class I. They wouldn't have to test for three years. And that's just, again, gives folks time to be able to test up and have some strategies where the implications for the release sites don't have the same longevity.

We have provisions that are proposed for non-compliant release sites; and staff is recommending that if we settle on the first 15 deer harvested, then those sites that were not compliant last year would have to comply with these -- the first 15 deer harvested for three consecutive years. No change to the provision that if a site is not in compliance, they're not going to be eligible to receive DMP deer, DMP Permit, breeder deer, or Triple T deer until they come into compliance.

You remember we talked about at release sites, we have a provision that requires that the animal have access to the entirety of the acreage. Folks notified us of real world situations like airstrips, crops, etcetera. So we are recommending a provision that would allow for these type of exclosures to be built to protect human life, ag products, etcetera. We also heard a lot about the amendment -- mending of release sites. For many different reasons, folks release deer into a pasture within a pasture on their property and they want to do some new fencing configurations, they want to take down cross-fences, they want to let a fence down or for whatever reason and so we got lot of comments along those lines and so we're proposing that a release site owner may notify the Department to modify the acreage of a registered release site. However, the release site requirements will expand to the new acreage. And so obviously wherever we release deer, if they're in one area and there's requirements for that area, if someone's going to amend that site, take a fence down or do whatever, those requirements are going to have to follow the deer to the more expanded acreage.

As far as Triple T and TTP Permits, we're not recommending any changes from what is proposed in the Texas Register: 15 samples at the trap sites, each deer -- each Triple T deer must be tagged with an RFID button tag. Those tag numbers would have to be reported to the Department, and there would be no trapping from breeder deer release sites.

And with that, the recommended motion that staff is ask -- and I don't know if I hit it. I want to make sure that I mentioned the Class III sites. Those Class III sites, the testing is 100 percent of those deer. They have to be tagged with an RFID or a NUES tag, and all of those are also under herd plans. So, but we're not recommending any changes from the proposed changes in the Texas Register for those Class III release sites.

So the motion we're asking the Commission to consider is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 65.90 through 65.94 and new Section 65.90 through 65.99 concerning Chronic Wasting Disease, movement of deer, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 22nd, 2016, issue of the Texas Register. And with that, I'll be happy to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions from the Commission for Clayton?

Okay. I'm sure we'll be back to you. Thanks, Clayton.

MR. WOLF: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We're now going to hear from those who are signed up to speak on this item. And the first up is Tom Vandiver, and on deck is Patrick Tarlton.

MR. TOM VANDIVER: Good morning. My name's Tom Vandiver. I appreciate the opportunity to speak this morning. I'm here to testify in support of adoption of the rules. I'm here as an officer of the Texas Wildlife Association, also as a member of the Parks and Wildlife Department's White-tail Deer Advisory Committee, as a private landowner, and also as a member of the stakeholder group that recently dealt with these rules.

Before I get into my comments, I would like to commend Carter and his staff and the Commission on the even-handed way this has been dealt with. In my opinion, all interests have been heard and have been carefully considered; and yet at the same time, all of you kept in focus that it was important to protect the resource, to protect our tradition of hunting, and to protect our hunting economies. I'm sure all of y'all put in a lot of late nights and long weekends, and I want you to know we appreciate it.

You know, this stakeholder group process was lengthy and it was challenging, as y'all know. You've seen from -- everybody here has seen from what we just looked at that Clayton presented that this is a complicated matter. When we began the stakeholder process, the deer breeder interests in the room asked us to accommodate them in two ways. They asked that we reduce the amount of pasture testing, and they asked that we incorporate antemortem testing. We did that.

Others in the room asked that we err on the side of safety in making sure we had a high probability of detection of this disease, such that we protect the resource and protect all landowners in this state. I hope we did that. You know, at this point, we've been through a lengthy process. I think it's been fairly dealt with; and in my opinion, it's time to put this to bed. So I urge you to adopt the rules that have been proposed. With that said, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you this morning; and I appreciate all that the Department does for the wildlife of this state. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate your comments.

Next up is Patrick Tarlton, and followed by Dr. Dan McBride.

MR. PATRICK TARLTON: Commissioners, Chairman Friedkin, my name is Patrick Tarlton. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Deer Association. I applaud the Commission for listening to the industry and hitting the pause button last week. It is -- I believe it was prudent and necessary for the Commissioners to understand the industry's point of view, listening to -- directly to our membership in an open and honest conversation last week. I would like to thank Commissioner Duggins, Jones, and Scott for sitting in on that meeting.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendments outlined here today fall well short of reflecting those changes we asked for in the meeting. TDA cannot agree to the rule's package proposed by staff. We would like to see the Commission reduce the transition period from three years to one year, ending all transfer categories and release site classes by April 1 of 2017. We would like -- we would advocate for rules that do not exceed the postmortem testing percentage outlined in the emergency and interim rules. Testing 50 percent was sufficient in time of an emergency. Why should it be any higher today?

The proposed look-back period should not exceed the length of the transition period. We would request the Commission decrease the postmortem timeframe from five years to three years. We have consistently maintained that private property owners should be able to manage their herds to the greatest extent possible within the confines of their own high fence. Prohibitions on movement of deer within the high fence should not be part of this rulemaking. Landowners should be afforded the maximum opportunity to move deer for habitat purposes within their own contiguous high fence.

Class I release sites should also have the opportunity to utilize Triple T Permits, such as every other landowner across the state of Texas. Class I release sites are without testing. Why should they be exempt from these provisions?

And finally, there must be a standard of testing for low-fence properties. Government regulation should not put people out of business. These private business owners have no recourse under this proposal. Under the current proposal, landowners and business owners will be forced to shutter their business with no due process. It is for these reasons that our association must continue to oppose the rules as offered by the Department today. Our association came prepared and ready at your explicit request to offer an agreement and to work towards that last week. Unfortunately, the amendments fall well short of that today. Thank you for your time, both last week and today. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate your comments.

MR. PATRICK TARLTON: Sure.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Dr. Dan McBride, and on deck is David Yeates.

DR. DAN MCBRIDE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I appreciate the opportunity to come speak today. My unique situation is that I'm a private veterinarian. I have worked with deer breeders across this state, and I have a lot of respect for them; but today I do come in favor of today's proposed rules.

Today's proposal with its amendments shows some compromise. Compromise was necessary and I think the committees that came together to set these rules have shown an adjustment, the compromises that have been made. But although the compromise is made, we still held close to some really good science. As a veterinarian, science is most important in disease prevention.

The identity of deer as an important aspect of any disease control, I still think falls a little short; but that's part of compromise. The proposed rules do provide protection for wild deer. Many groups have come together today to support these rules, many hunting groups because hunters united. The groups that have come together from Boone and Crockett, from which I am a member, to other hunting groups, represent the interest that is on the other side. The compromise that we hope we can accomplish today, brings us closer together, closer together for the species. That's what we're trying to protect.

The wild population of deer, the breeder deer are compatible. They're the same species. Fortunately or unfortunately, CWD was first found in West Texas on property that I have leased. I have a little different feeling about CWD because I was on that committee who raised my hand and said I think I know where it is. Deer breeders had tested quite a few deer. We listened to them. I remember the day when I proposed to Mitch Lockwood that we probably should be looking somewhere else and we did. We looked in the Hueco Mountains, and we found it.

Much to my dismay, those who say CWD is not a real disease need to come look with me. When I leased that ranch -- I don't known the property. When I leased that ranch, Mule deer were there abundantly. I could take five of my buddies out there. We could kill several good bucks. I clinically see sick deer with CWD. The Department may not know as much as I don't about the disease that's out there. I'm the one that told them that it was there. I'm the one who see the deer out there now dying. They're there. The disease is real.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mountain Lion moved in the same time the disease moved in and they found easy pickings and unfortunately today, the deer herd that's there is way down. Four of us went out there last year and could not find a respectable buck. In 1996, you could go out there and kill five with five guys in three days. So I've seen it. I know what it can do. I hope that I don't have to see it in another part of this state in the future. That's my wish. The compromise is here. I sure appreciate the Commission, y'all's work, y'all's dedication, your service to Texas. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Thanks for being here.

Next up is David Yeates and on deck, Hugo Berlanga.

MR. DAVID YEATES: I don't know if I get more than two minutes now; but I'll keep it at that, as prepared. Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, for the record, my name is David Yeates. I work for Texas Wildlife Association. I'm here to state TWA's reluctant support of these rules. We believe they're not as vigilant as perhaps they should be from a pure disease management standpoint. However, we recognize the many hard working men and women across the state make a living in this business. We must be considerate of their livelihoods as much as reasonably possible.

I'm also here to deliver a letter which was given to staff before the meeting from about 128 individuals of all walks of life, from conservation giants to landowners to members of the scientific community to regular old deer hunters that wanted to be here today to support these rules; but could not for one reason or another.

Personally, I am as free market and as small government minded as one can get. I believe that government has a place though, particularly State government and particularly in this process in which these rules were adopted. We would be much better off if the entire State's codes and regs were structured in a manner of such. This is not an executive order coming down from Washington, DC. What I see through my individual lens as a participant, an observer of the stakeholder process, is Texans working in good faith with other Texans to serve -- to solve a Texas problem, a very real problem that affects everybody in this room and everybody out in the foyer, our neighbors, and a precious natural resource, God's own creation that we all love dearly and that we all have a collective responsibility to be stewards of.

So with that said, I thank you for your time and your wisdom, your consideration and your wisdom on this issue. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: David, thank you. Appreciate your comments.

Hugo Berlanga and next up is...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hughes Abell.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Hughes Abell.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Berlanga walked out.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Did he? Okay. Hugo Berlanga?

Okay. And next up --

MR. HUGHES ABELL: Mr. Chairman --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- will be Katharine Armstrong Love.

MR. HUGHES ABELL: Excuse me. Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name's Hughes Abell. I'm here to speak on behalf of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Today we want to once again express our strong support for the proposals of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Animal Health Commission to control the spread and impact of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Generations of cattle raisers know firsthand the economic impact of animal health diseases. We've dealt with a number of them over the last 140 years, including the tick fever; hoof and mouth disease; brucellosis; tuberculosis; the screwworm; and most recently and most relevant, BSE or Mad Cow Disease. In late 2003, BSE -- which is a pre-unrelated cattle equivalent of CWD -- was found in one dairy cow imported from Canada into Washington state. U.S. cattle markets and consumer confidence collapsed, beef consumption dropped, and export markets were closed and billions of dollars of value were wiped out overnight.

However and thankfully, we had our national and state plans in place well in advance of this crisis and were able to swift action to control the spread of the disease. The recovery was long and expensive, but we were successful in controlling the disease and restoring confidence of consumers and export markets. Today, BSE is no longer a major issue; but this would not be the case without some tough decisions, advanced planning, financial investment, and quick response.

The BSE threat, like many other diseases, still exist. So laws and regulations remain in place to help control these, but we consider it a lesson well learned in the control of animal disease. Therefore, the Cattle Raisers supports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposed rule and whatever actions are appropriate, practical, and respective of private property rights to ensure the CWD threat is properly addressed and we encourage Parks and Wildlife to continually monitor, evaluate, and amend the rules to reflect the current status of CWD and to work closely with private landowners to provide clear guidance. Again, thanks for your efforts and to protect this valuable resource and thank you for your time today.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time.

Katharine Armstrong Love, followed by Chase Clark.

Good morning, Katharine.

MS. KATHARINE ARMSTRONG LOVE: Good morning, Chairman. Good to see you all. I don't have much to add after what I heard Hughes Abell say. I was deeply involved when this issue first came on the scene in Texas in 2002. I also was very deeply involved in the BSE crises and it was in the early -- or 2002, 2003. I commend Parks and Wildlife for the approach they've taken throughout and I commend them for the open-mindedness with which they hear the different sides and I support this recommended motion and thank you for doing what you're doing. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Chase Clark is up, followed by David Delaney. Is that right? Yeah?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He walked out, I guess.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Chase Clark? No?

David DeLaney?

MR. DAVID DELANEY: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Dave Delaney and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today in full support of the adoption of the CWD rules as proposed. I'm the general manager of the King Ranch in South Texas and I was also honored to have been given the opportunity to have served on the CWD stakeholder group.

Like all members of that group, we are strong advocates of private property rights. However, with these rights and privileges come inherent responsibilities to ensure our management in disease prevention and detection protocols are sufficient to protect both the landowner's interest, as well as our state's natural resources. Having had extensive experience in dealing with a multitude of animal health issues over my career, including some mentioned previously by Dr. Schwartz, I can attest and I believe most epidemiologists would agree that successfully dealing with and preventing the spread of disease requires recognition of some key components. These include realizing that the concentration and movement of any species, increases the likelihood of the spread of that disease. Secondly, that early detection and adequate animal ID so as to allow effective disease trace-back are crucial in stopping the spread. Thirdly, I think we should recognize the susceptibility of other species to any disease are not always fully understood and from my personal experience, I can assure you that having personally see elk, Red deer, kudo, waterbuck, and other species on King Ranch, whether it be low fence or high fence, no fence is foolproof.

It is my belief that by building on the experiences in other states and adopting rules and protocols that allow for at least a reasonable probability of the disease detection, we may have a singular and short-lived opportunity to prevent the spread of what could potentially be a devastating disease. Given the 4 minute -- 4 million native deer in the state and the popularity of hunting, I think the widespread prevalence of this disease would undoubtedly negatively affect our rural economies and jobs, our land values, our hunting culture, and ultimately the stewardship of all our natural resources beyond that of just White-tail deer.

I appreciate all the Commission and the Department does on a daily basis to help steward our natural resources and once again, I urge you to adopt these rules as proposed. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Next up is Brandon Harrell? Is Brandon Harrell here?

Okay. Joseph Fitzsimons. Allen Warren is up next.

MR. JOSEPH FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Joseph Fitzsimons. I'm speaking in support of your recommended motion. I would hope that given the opportunity that you've had here to listen to these experts, I'd hope that we might have the chance to have stricter regulations; but I understand that a compromise was necessary, and I believe that the Department's done a great job in listening to all concerned parties.

Our family ranch is in South Texas, Dimmit and Maverick Counties. We're some of those ranchers that were mentioned by Dr. Schwartz in that quarantine area of fever tick. So I have some experience with animal health issues. And all my life we've either been under quarantine or in the threat of quarantine and we've handled it successfully through our work with Animal Health Commission and we also, of course, manage native wildlife and habitat.

The property rights that have been mentioned I think are important, but certainly it's the property rights of all landowners are crucial having to deal with those Animal Health Commission issues. I remember my dad told me growing up there on the ranch to never do anything to make your neighbors wish they weren't your neighbors. And that's sort of the way that we've gone about looking at our private property rights there.

I want to commend the Commission for your work, the staff in particular. I've been associated with this Department for 40 years, since I was a 17-year-old Wildlife intern and I've got to tell you, their reputation for honesty, integrity, good science is absolutely irreproachable. It's the finest game and fish agency in North America, and I commend the staff for their work and the Commission for their resolve. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Allen Warren? Allen Warren here?

Okay. Mr. Steve Lewis.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Up next is Greg Gist or perhaps Greg Gist.

MR. STEVE LEWIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Steve C. Lewis. I am authorized to address the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today for Morrie Stevens, Sr. He is the President of the Boone and Crockett Club. The club has 43 regular and professional members from the state of Texas. I have been a member for 16 years.

The Boone and Crockett Club was founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt. George Bird Grinnell later served as an incorporator, along with Kermit Roosevelt in 1923. The Boone and Crockett Club is focused on CWD in Texas and on the proposed rule being considered today. The club supports the rule as developed by the Chronic Wasting Disease stakeholder group and recent modifications made by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff last week.

These rules establish the basic testing, surveillance, and control needed to begin the attempt to contain this fatal and contagious disease. This is the minimum first step needed, and it serves both public and private interests in the health of Texas deer. The Boone and Crockett Club supports the public trust doctrine that wildlife is held in trust for the benefit of all Texans. By this doctrine and the laws of the State of Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has been given the responsibility and the mandate to care for wildlife, which includes establishing rules such as the one you are considering today.

The club has a vested interest in what we have been supporting and funding research for CWD for two decades. The Boone and Crockett Club was a leader in the formation of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners. AWCP is interested in the outcome of the Commission hearing. The following 23 American Wildlife Conservation Partners members do hereby voice their support for the rule proposed today as evidenced by a letter dated June 20, 2016, sent to Chairman Friedkin and Executive Director. I have a copy of that letter and would like to deliver it to you.

The American Wildlife Conservation Partners who are for the proposal are the Boone and Crockett Club, the Mule Deer Foundation, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Shikar Safari Club International, Texas Wildlife Association, White-tails Unlimited, Wild Sheep Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Bear Trust International, Catch-A-Dream Foundation, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Trappers Association, National Wildlife Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Tread Lightly, Wildlife Management Institute, and Wildlife Mississippi. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Dr. Greg Gist. I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly. And up next is Bill Eikenhorst.

Okay. I think I've got a 50 percent on that one. He's not here. So Bill -- oh, is he here?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, Bill is.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Bill is here, yes.

Charly Seale will be up next.

DR. BILL EIKENHORST: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director Smith, for the record, I am Dr. Bill Eikenhorst. I'm a private practicing veterinarian from Brenham, Texas, and I support the proposed rules as presented here today. Thirty-seven years of veterinary practice here in Texas. I participated in and observed numerous processes to establish rules for the surveillance, management, and control of wildlife and animal diseases.

The process the produced the proposed rules before you today was the most thorough, inclusive, fact-and-science based, and interactive that I have been involved with or witnessed in my 37 years. The proposed rules are appropriate. They're timely, and they consider all the circumstances in the stakeholders' interests.

I would propose to you that our Texas native deer herd is the embodiment of the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs. I ask you to prioritize your decision to support the health of the goose, our native Texas deer herd and its collective long-term health rather than a few of the eggs that the goose lays. If our Texas deer herd remains healthy, all of the values that all Texans have come to appreciate and enjoy from deer will continue to be produced. Thank you for your commitment to protect wildlife health.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your comments.

Charly Seale?

Okay. Up next, Chris Timmons. And on deck is Mark Hubbard.

MR. CHRIS TIMMONS: Commission, I appreciate the opportunity to speak here today and voice my opinion. My name is Chris Timmons. I am the current President of Deer Breeders Corporation. I am also a member of the small stakeholder group. I attended every meeting. I am a member of the breeder user group and White-tail advisory committee. But I manage a herd of approximately 350 White-tail. I've been a closed herd for 14 years and on my ninth year of Texas Animal Health Commission certified status. I'm -- my herd is brucellosis and TB accredited, and I have a small concern with the proposed rule of requiring all release sites to be high fenced.

I feel that the Animal Health certified herds are the safest group of animals out there and should be exempt from this ruling. First of all, when you restrict releases to high fence only, you reduce my customer base by two-thirds. Second, I have a small -- I have a small ranch of my own that is low fenced that I would like to utilize. Second, I feel strongly that this is a private property right's issue and that it's like telling landowners what they can and cannot do on their own property.

Until the emergency rule, there's never been a differentiation between high and low fence. However, outside the realms of the Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations, a low-fence landowner can buy and release other CWD susceptible species without warrant of testing requirements at all. So I would ask that you think about this before you make your final decision. I would assume that if you decide to restrict to low fence release, that also includes Triple T release and restricts the Department from relocating and re-establishing not only White-tail, but other susceptible species as well across the state.

Also, I know Clayton touched on this in his recommendations, but the modification of release site needs to be fixed. Landowners with multiple, high-fence adjacent pastures should have the liberty to open and close their gates between pastures and manage their herd and their property as they see fit. Whether they choose to change their small pastures to DMP or soft release or decide to have all their high-fence property under one facility ID should be their decision and prerogative.

The concerns we have for our industry is not necessarily how much we test in our pens, but more with the uncertainty of what happens if we contract CWD in our pens. It makes it hard to sleep at night knowing that any given day any one of us -- breeder, landowner, high fence, low fence -- could find this disease that flew in from a dust storm or a coyote or a buzzard and could literally put us out of business and destroy our land values. So response to this disease is critical, and I don't envy any of you because I know it's on your shoulders.

But in closing, I would like to commend each one of you -- the Department, Texas Animal Health Commission -- for consideration and adoption of a live test because I truly think and feel this is a great, giant step in the right direction. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Mark Hubbard?

Okay. Fred Bryant is up next.

MR. FRED BRYANT: My name is Fred Bryant, and I have served for 20 years as Executive Director of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today as a resource witness. I want to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Chairman Friedkin, and Director Smith for all you do on a daily basis to protect and enhance wildlife of this great state. Most of our citizens don't know how lucky they are to have such a caring, committed group of people who hold the public trust doctrine close to their hearts.

And Chronic Wasting Disease is the perfect example as to why wildlife are held in the public trust. Chronic Wasting Disease does not recognize property boundaries. Actions that temporarily benefit one individual may negatively impact everyone else who cares deeply about a wildlife species, such as White-tail deer or Mule deer. Moreover, I served on the small stakeholder group and we spent countless hours in direct meetings as well as detailed discussions and I know that the current rules before you are not what we presented on May 26th and I can't endorse or reject them either way because of my position, but I also know that it's your prerogative to make those rules stronger.

Over the years, I've been involved in wildlife research for 40 years and I've worked with landowners and land managers across the state from Amarillo to Agua Dulce and trust me when I say that almost all landowners want strict, uncompromising guidelines and rules in place to contain the spread of any disease, particularly CWD. And they want compliance regarding these rules to be unwavering and strictly enforced. We at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute focus on many -- on wildlife of many forms from hunted species to endangered species. We are an unbiased research institute whose scientists have a stellar reputation across the U.S. and North America and their work has a worldwide reputation.

Wildlife managers and conservationists use the information we produce and disseminate on a daily basis. When Chronic Wasting Disease was detected, our scientists who work on wild native deer, expressed alarming concern about the impact this could have on wild populations. Armed with a dataset that spans 20 years of a South Texas herd in terms of adult and fawn survival and reproduction in a desert environment, they developed a predictive model of what that impact could be. Dr. Randy DeYoung is here today to discuss those preliminary findings. Thank you again for all you do for wildlife and wild places.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Dr. Bryant, thank you and thank you for all that you do for our state. Appreciate it very much.

Jason Sekula and Marko Barrett. Here we go.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: This is Jason.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay.

MR. JASON SEKULA: Hi. I'd like to thank you for the time. I'd like to go ahead and -- my name is Jason Sekula. I'm a private wildlife biologist. I work for a private landowner. I also have my own private consulting business. As I spoke to you before, I had some concerns over the rules that were in place that were going to affect the Triple T Permit. These rules have been -- I believe the concerns have been amended to where I think the permit is usable again and I think it's a valuable tool. I think it's a valuable management tool, and I just didn't want to see it drug into a political issue that would take away a management tool that landowners and land managers have in their tool box to manage their deer herds and it was a tool -- it is a tool and many other tools that we have that have made Texas one of the best models there is in the country for wildlife manage, particularly for deer management.

I appreciate all the hard work that's been done on this issue and I appreciate all the time that everybody has put into it and I really appreciate everyone in the stakeholders group listening to concerns and discussing the concerns and coming up with that I think is a usable and practical solution to a very complicated problem that we're facing. And I hope for our industry and for landowners in Texas and for hunting groups, that we can all come together after this and come back to what the biggest issue we face is and that's not fighting amongst ourselves over things. That's coming together to ensure that our livelihoods and the things that we love will last through the pressures that they face from other groups outside, not just from within. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Jason, thanks for your comments.

And Marko Barrett and on deck is Jeff Jones.

MR. MARKO BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, for the record, my name is Marko Barrett. I'm the President of the Texas Wildlife Association. Thank you for providing a forum for us to speak with you here today. I'm in favor of the proposed rules.

Like many in this room, I joined TWA because I feel as a landowner and a wildlife manager, that landowner rights and wildlife stewardship are interdependent. One cannot prosper without the other, nor can one dominate the other without endangering both. Texas Wildlife Association does its best to find that correct balance and advocate, when needed, to preserve this symbiotic relationship.

I was honored to serve as a member of the CWD stakeholder group as a representative of TWA. Our representatives provided input in the development of the proposed rules with a simple litmus test: Does this err on the side of safety and provide the level of confidence we have in the detection of this disease at a responsible level?

The human transportation of live cervids, both the native Mule deer and White-tails overseen by this Commission and the exotic species regulated by the Texas Animal Health Commission, creates the highest level of risk for expanding the geographic range of this disease in our state.

I'm a Medina County landowner. I submitted tests from my ranch voluntarily this year when asked by the Department. Over the years, I have moved hundreds of deer with a TTT Permit and in Medina County, received deer as a liberation site from a registered breeder. All permits that allow for the legal transportation of these live animals, must be paired with responsible testing requirements and safeguards. Fortunately in Texas, the disease has not yet been found in a wild, native White-tail.

I urge the Commission to accept the rules as proposed. The 650,000 hunters who depend on our State's 4 million-strong White-tail deer herd, deserve protection to ensure the resource they use for recreation is there for the next generation in its current form. Landowners adjacent to properties who import deer, deserve to feel more comfortable that the disease is being properly screened to preserve the recreational value of their land and, frankly, I as a former and potential future customer of a licensed deer breeder, deserve a higher level of confidence that the animals I'm importing to my ranch will not carry disease that can tie my property up in a lengthy and expensive herd management plan or open me up potentially to a liability that I am not insured for. One ounce of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure.

Your actions here today will have a lasting effect on the hunting heritage of our state for the generations to come. Please make sure that that heritage is as vibrant for my children as it has been for me. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Jeff Jones and up next is George Bristol.

Jeff Jones?

Okay. George Bristol and on deck is Brian Treadwell. Good morning.

MR. GEORGE BRISTOL: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Carter, thank you for this opportunity. My name is George Bristol. I'm the former founder and President of the Texas Coalition for Conservation and former Chairman of the State Park Advisory Committee. I want to first pass on the wishes of Ellen Temple, who is a member of the commission. She couldn't be here today; but this was an issue that she's very much concerned with, as was her late husband, Buddy Temple, and she speaks -- wants me to speak for her in favor of these rule adoptions.

I want to speak to what some may think is a distant concern, perhaps an unintended consequence; but we do have 800 -- 800 -- 8,200,000 patrons to our state parks. And now that we're in the process of a renaissance for state parks with the work we did last year in the Legislature, it would be a shame to spend all that time and money and effort only to have the wildlife of -- within the state parks -- and many of them do have such wildlife, including our wild deer herds -- have to result in closure of some of our facilities.

So I thank you for your work. I know it's been arduous the last year or so, and I stand with those who say support these rules and regulations proposed today. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: George, thank you and thank you for all that you've done for our state and your tireless work. Appreciate it very much.

Brian Treadwell and up on deck is Andy Sansom.

MR. BRIAN TREADWELL: Thank you. I'm Brian Treadwell. There has never in history been a group of sportsmen who spent more time and money whining about the rules designed to protect natural resources. This breeders mass protest exit is a great example for the value this industry puts on the system. But what about the landowner on the other side of the high fence whose real estate value is anchored by recreation with regular, old public deer that haven't been scientifically modified or held in captivity or even traveled in a trailer across the county? What about me?

I'm a fifth generation rancher, past winner of your statewide Lone Star Land Steward Award and long-time ranch real estate broker. This agenda affects my hunting business, my family ranch, my real estate values, and the rural real estate values all across our state. This is way more at stake here than a minor niche agriculture micro-industry that is built upon totally artificial measures and the only agricultural industry which knowingly jeopardizes human health and animal safety.

Having a deer breeder permit is a privilege, just like having a driver's license. And just like a driver's license, a breeder permit can be revoked and the rules pertaining to driving or deer breeding can be changed; but nowhere else do the privilegees get to force the rule makers to bulldoze their obstacles out of their way.

The Department isn't doing enough. You realize there is no visible marking requirement when these potentially hazardous animals are released. Unlike native deer, these animals are fed totally manufactured feed, routinely medicated, dosed with antibiotics, confined with human interaction, and upon release, indistinguishable from native deer in the pasture. We need external, visible markings. We need to be able to quickly identify escapees. We need to be able to see from a helicopter which deer are running in a group of deer needs to be caught. Tags pull out. Microchips migrate. But a good, old-fashioned ear notch is easily seen. It's obvious to anybody that can see it and it can be fast, free, lasts forever and is a proven marking tool for identifying animals that have been -- that have a background.

I'm for private property rights. I'm not against deer breeders, but the breeder industry is not a private property issue. My problem and I think all of our problems come from putting that deer in a trailer and driving it across the county or even across the state. When hooves are allowed to hit the trailer floor, we wreck conservation, undermine our hunting heritage, and abuse the public's trust in the protection of majestic, wild creatures. All breeder deer should be given a permanent, externally visible marker of some kind and the artificial movement of deer in trailers should be stopped until we can guarantee the health and safety of all deer. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time.

Andy Sansom and Mason Irvin is on deck. Good morning.

MR. ANDREW SANSOM: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Mr. Smith, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Andrew Sansom, and I manage a ranch in Gillespie County near Stonewall with a healthy population of White-tail deer and I appreciate the efforts that you've made to hear as many voices as possible as you approach this difficult decision.

It's hard for us to imagine today that less than a century ago, White-tail deer were extinct in many parts of Texas. It's hard to imagine today that we harvest more wild turkey each year in our state than existed in the entire state prior to World War II. This remarkable achievement in wildlife conservation has resulted, No. 1, in the understanding that these animals in wildlife are in trust to entities like you to manage and the remarkable stewardship accomplishments of private landowners.

Leadership, ladies and gentlemen, is to recognize that some things need to be changed; but other things need to not be changed and to distinguish between those two. This proposal has been thoroughly vetted, as you've heard today in all the meetings that have been held on the subject; and I urge its adoption. Not to do so would threaten nearly a hundred years of sensational wildlife conservation in Texas, remarkable opportunities for outdoor recreation, and economic prosperity. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Mason Irvin and on deck Merrick Irvin.

MR. MASON IRVIN: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. I thank for your time and your long effort through this trying problem that we've had with CWD from the beginning of last year whenever we first discovered CWD in a pen, and I thank you for the efforts y'all have made working with stakeholder groups back and forth. Many of the new proposed amendments directly affected my farm and my family's farm, which would help us to be able to properly manage our deer, properly identify CWD if it was to ever become present.

I commend you for implementing live testing. We live tested our entire doe herd, with all negative results. And with the proposed rules as they are today, we will be able to be TC 1 and move our deer more freely. With that said, whether intentional or not intentional, through some of these requirements, there has been some artificial markets created because of the division between breeders from TC 1, TC 2, TC 3.

TC 3 deer are not marketable at all. Even TC 2 deer are not very marketable either. TC 1 is what people would like. It has the least amount of requirements on the receiving end in the release pastures. So it also divides a little more between low-fence hunters and high-fence hunters because it gives the public the perception that deer farms have CWD in all their deer and they're going to spread it whenever you move it, which simply is not true. It's a deer disease. So naturally pen deer are going to get it. Wild deer are going to get it. And so that's why I want to ask and encourage y'all to look at certain requirements for the low-fence testing because there's also the possibility that in certain locations where there's not as much testing, that it could transfer from low-fence deer to the breeder pens and we may not be able to identify that because that deer has moved on.

So I thank you for your time and your effort, and I just can't thank you enough for some of the provisions you've put in place to allow my family to continue doing what we love.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mason, thank you.

Merrick Irvin.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: These guys are my neighbors.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Oh, yeah?

And on deck is Wally Cox.

MR. MERRICK IRVIN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Merrick Irvin. I'm a deer breeder from Godley, Texas. That was my brother that just walked up and, well, I like raising deer. What can I say? I like making doe and big bucks. As a 17-year-old kid, growing up on a deer farm has been a wonderful experience that has influenced my life. Deer breeding is something that I love to do and that I want to continue to do. Raising deer has allowed me to do many things that I would have not been able to do before, like building unique items for working deer like a deer shoot. I showed it at many different shows this past year for the ag mechanics and also venturing into building antler art, which is something I love to do. It's a little hobby of mine. It's been very important to me.

Here recently, due to the CWD outbreak, there has been halted in our industry, in the deer industry, all over the state. Due to the inconsistent rules, we have been left with wonder of what's going to happen next. CWD has halted the industry, and we need to fix this problem. It's why we're all here today. So it has created a division between everyone involved with the deer.

The thing that saddens me is here recently in our local newspaper, there was an article that laid out that -- it was talking about CWD in Texas right now, and it basically was saying how all deer breeders have CWD. And as my brother said, we tested our deer and we're free. We don't have CWD. We're clean. We have a healthy deer population, but it's -- in my own community, just because I'm a deer breeder and that's what has been put out there as a vision to them, I'm the public enemy number one. I've been made out to be bad because I raise deer. So it's become very discriminatory towards us, and it's really kind of not been cool.

Well, still I ask that we don't discriminate against deer because of a high fence. They're all cervids. We are all here because we love these animals and we want to have them be throughout further generations and just be alive and be something that we can enjoy. As our past President and great conservationist Theodore Roosevelt once said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. And the worst thing you can do is nothing."

Everyone involved here today, let's make a decision and devise a plan and a set of rules that represents everyone equally from the ranchers, the breeders, the hunters, and anyone else who is involved. Let's devise a set of rules that applies to everyone and not targeted just towards one group, that are consistent and fair. I hope we do the right thing here today or even the wrong thing, but let's not just do nothing. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Wally Cox.

MR. WALLY COX: Good morning. My name is Wally Cox. I'm from San Antonio and I speak solely on behalf of myself, who deeply appreciates wild animals and wild places. Our public's resources are in increased jeopardy due to spreading of CWD in several additional counties. What we do not know is to what extent CWD has not been reported, but merely buried.

For several decades, there have been many of us who were deeply concerned with the behavior of a small minority, who perhaps felt their financial gain justified their conduct. Deer were illegally imported or moved and law enforcement staff was severely stressed and couldn't be in all places at all time. Additionally, Legislative wishes intervened. Milton Friedman had stated one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions, rather than their results.

Artificial testing of pen-raised deer in Texas into the wild continued. What did most of us do? We hoped. Hope is not a strategy. Protect our White-tail deer and cease all movements in releasing of pen-raised deer into the wild, as well as other movements of live deer. I leave you with one final thought by R.G. Ingersoll. "In nature, there are neither rewards or punishments. There are consequences." Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Janice Bezanson is up next, and followed by David Sinclair.

MS. JANICE BEZANSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. I'm Janice Bezanson, representing the Texas Conservation Alliance. Texas Conservation Alliance is a 45-year-old conservation group and we have worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department over those 45 years and I've personally worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for about 30 years.

The desired outcome here is a healthy Texas deer herd, and we firmly believe that these rules should be passed to support that desired outcome. We know that Parks and Wildlife has done their homework. They've had endless -- not endless, but lengthy scientific studies, researched into what's happened in other places, and the numerous stakeholder events. All of these things go together to show that this is a good product.

There have been some questions about Parks and Wildlife's integrity in doing this process and I have to say that there is no one in Texas state government that I would trust more than Carter Smith. So I hope you will follow the recommendations of the staff and go ahead and pass these rules. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

David Sinclair and on deck is Romey Swanson.

MR. DAVID SINCLAIR: Mr. Chairman and members and Director Smith, Chairman Bass, my name is David Sinclair and I'm representing myself today and also the Nina Sinclair Trust, it's family property on the edge of the Caprock near Post in Garza County. I'm deeply concerned about the threat of the Chronic Wasting Disease on a statewide basis. A little closer to home, I'm really concerned about it ever reaching Garza County, which would impact my ability to hunt, my children, my grandchildren, and their children in the future.

So I really do support and I support the staff's proposal on the deer regulations. I believe today's proposed regulations provide a safeguard for the future of the resource and the future of hunting. Granted CWD is here and will probably remain here forever; but with proper rulemaking to identify, isolate, and contain CWD, as well as strict enforcement, CWD can be confined.

In closing, I have complete confidence in the wildlife and law enforcement staff under the leadership of Director Smith to make sound recommendations that will be beneficial to the wildlife resources and to the citizens of Texas.

Again, Mr. Chairmen and members, I support the deer recommendations that are before you today. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for David?

David, thank you. Appreciate your time. Thank you.

Romey Swanson, if I'm pronouncing that correctly, followed by Justin Stieler.

MR. ROMEY SWANSON: Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director Smith, I first want to show some appreciation for this thoughtful process of inclusiveness. I think that you've done a great job of providing a forum here for everybody to have an opportunity to voice theirselves. My name is Romey Swanson. I'm a certified wildlife biologist and I serve as conservation project manager with Hill Country Conservancy, a land trust based in the Hill Country. Additionally, I have over eight years of experience as a wildlife biologist providing technical guidance to private landowners throughout Texas.

I assume each of the members of the Commission are familiar with the North American model of wildlife conservation and the central tenet that it places on the protection and management of wildlife resources for the benefit of the public, both present and future. This is likely the most important responsibility and highest priority placed on the public -- placed by the public on TPWD and the Commission. I won't pretend to be naive. As a wildlife biologist I know that management decisions are rarely made in a vacuum of genuine concern and regard for the wildlife resource.

However, I believe a faithful balance between wildlife resources and the public good are usually achievable. The rules being considered here today, which are based on science and common sense, represent a faithful balance to protect the resource shared and valued by all Texans, not just those who can profitably exploit it. The risk associated with the poorly mitigated spread of Chronic Wasting Disease is too great. Beyond concerns of public good versus private interests, are the effects that the management decisions will have on rural lands and landowners, these individuals who invest so much of their time, energy, and money to the stewardship of open space and working lands.

These same folks largely rely on the $2.2 billion impact that the hunting industry provides in Texas and the good stewardship that it affords to their properties and the management of the wildlife that they steward. As a concerned citizen and wildlife biologist and on behalf of the many landowners that have committed to Texas stewardship legacy, I ask the Commission to act in good faith of its responsibilities and pass these common sense rules to protect the present and future interests of our native deer. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Justin Stieler and on deck is Greg Simons.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I guess he didn't show.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Uh-huh.

MR. GREG SIMONS: Good morning, Chairman Friedkin, other members of Commission. For the record, my name's Greg Simons and I am for the proposed set of rules that are under consideration today. I serve as the immediate past President of the Texas Wildlife Association. I'm a wildlife biologist and for the last 30 years, I've owned and operated a company that puts together commercial hunting operations and wildlife management programs on various private ranches, currently working with about 900,000 acres scattered across Texas.

There is plenty of data out there, hard data, that confirms the fact that revenues that are generated through hunting has served as the principal financier for terrestrial wildlife conservation in this country for roughly 120 years. Further, there's plenty of good data out there that supports the fact that White-tailed deer have served as this country's most economically important wildlife species by a long shot. There is no close second. White-tailed deer is this country's keystone wildlife species and anything that we do or don't do that may compromise the long-term health of our White-tail resource, has the ability to greatly impair the sustainability of our most important conservation funding mechanism.

And in my mind, that's largely what's at stake here today. What's at stake are not simply deer that are held in pens; but what's at stake is a democratic process, a process that some that attended today chose to shirk, but a democratic process that allows concerned citizens to work alongside of our policymakers to make good decisions that benefit the long-term health of our important wildlife resources. My hat's tipped to the Wildlife Commission, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the various participants that served on the stakeholder group meetings for a job well-done. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Kevin Miller? Not here, okay.

Jerry Johnston? Nope.

Carrie Collard?

How about Jason Shipman?

MR. JASON SHIPMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. I appreciate your time and opportunity to address you today. My name is Jason Shipman. I'm a certified wildlife biologist and private consultant working throughout the state. I represent a large group of landowners in South and Central Texas that are concerned about the effects of the proposed rules on Triple T Permits.

With ample testing occurring at trap sites, some for ten plus years, please consider removing the release site testing requirements as proposed. The Triple T Permit is an important tool utilized for habitat and population management. Landowners and wildlife professionals in the field need these tools to effectively manage habitat and deer populations in Texas. As such, these permits are vital to that process. Please keep this in mind when making your final decision. I appreciate your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Talbert White?

Rob Beckham?

And Dr. Wallace Klussman?

DR. WALLACE KLUSSMAN: Mr. Chairman, Commission, thank you for the opportunity to visit with you today. I come from a background of about 50 years plus in being involved in wildlife issues, and I've had the real pleasure of working with Parks and Wildlife for many of those years. One incident quickly I'll cover is I used to complain to Bob Cook he wasn't doing enough for youth hunting. And he says, "I'm tired of you coming in here complaining. Bring me a proposal." We brought him a proposal in the mid 90s. He funded it and now we've taken with the help of Texas Wildlife Association and Parks and Wildlife, we've taken thousands of kids hunting and it is making a difference.

My concern as someone who's worked in wildlife for these many years as a department head at Texas A&M and so on, is the preservation of hunting and our hunting ethic. And to me, we face the biggest danger we've ever faced to those things right now with the release of pen-raised deer and calling it hunting and we would be better off in preserving our hunting ethic and our hunting heritage if we did not hunt or release pen-raised deer. We would be better off if we did not have deer breeding in the state of Texas.

I know we can't go there; but we have to really be careful that we protect our native wildlife, particularly our White-tailed deer, and do everything we can. And I strongly support your proposed rules that you are bringing forward today and urge you to pass them. But hunting equals habitat and hunting is the source of our economy in the Hill Country and many places of Texas and we have to preserve that economy because it is the underpinning of what our rural economy is all about. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Jay Lynn Collard?

Paul Tyus?

Reggie James?

Okay. And Jason Wauson?

Jay Reichert? Is that Jay?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. And on deck is Derrick Garnett.

MR. JAY REICHERT: How is everybody doing today? Let me first introduce myself. I'm Jay Reichert. I'm a nine-year deer breeder. I'm TC 1 status. I've played by all the rules since the day I opened my door. The first thing I'd like to say real quick is Texas Parks and Wildlife did have a lot of time on their side. They knew about CWD for years coming to the state of Texas. They were supposed to set up a set of CWD protocol rules, which they met. They actually had some programs in -- on the ground.

When CWD was detected, they came up with the emergency ruling and said, "Hey, we're going to test 50 percent." Well, these were rules they'd already talked about. They already had a plan in place. That's where the 50 percent came from.

The other thing is when we all sit around and talk about statistics, we've always got to remember the fact that there's a thing called a standard deviation to the statistics. You asked a little while ago: Why test 100? Why not test 50 percent? Why not test 80 percent? Well, if you graph all that, ask the guy who made the statistics what the standard deviation of the test was. Nobody's ever come up with that number, and we probably ought to find that out.

Well, let me tell you something. Nine years I've tested 100 percent of every one of my deer. Texas Parks and Wildlife required 20 percent. That's one out of five for everybody who can't work statistics in their head. 100 percent is every deer that died, one out of one. So it was a much higher standard than what Texas Parks and Wildlife asked for. I participated in the Texas -- or the Animal Health Commission's program. That's a U.S. federal government program. The same one that controls cattle testing. In order to move cattle out of state, they had to do brucellosis testing. You can take a cow if you're certified and you can move it to any state in the country. You can put it on federal lands. You can put it on a prairie. You can put it on a ranch.

One reason I'm up here today is I asked last time in the last meeting -- and I felt like I was ignored, so I'm going to get up here and ask one more time. I believe that the guys out there that have been testing our deer at the 100 percent level and are fifth-year or six-year certified in the Texas Animal Health Program -- and Clayton Wolf had said, hey, that's a trump card -- that we should be allowed to move our deer onto low-fenced ranches. At six years in the program, we're allowed to move our deer out of state across state lines, sell them to anybody that wants to buy them. Why can't I now as a low-fenced rancher -- and my family has been managing ranches we still own for over 160 years in the state of Texas. Why now can I not release my deer to my low-fence ranch?

I am not, for the record, a high-fence hunt operation. I'm a low-fence ranch. I have a deer complex. I started breeding deer because I wanted to be able to release deer on my ranch and I'm not allowed to now as of 2014. Right about the time I get big enough with enough deer that I can start releasing some to my own place, I'm now not allowed to release those deer doesn't make sense when I've abided by every rule, everything that Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Animal Health Commission ask of me.

I and every other Texas deer breeder should be allowed to release fifth- or six-year status program deer to low-fence ranches anywhere in Texas. If you don't want to allow the new breeders to do that, I understand. I've put in the time. Why not grandfather anybody who's been breeding deer since before 2010? At least give us a clause, some way to do it. I am a successful deer breeder. I would urge you to please reconsider and add into your regulations -- which you've done a great job coming up with -- and including the low-fence release for people who have done and are certified and earned that trump card. And let me tell you, it's very hard to sleep at night when you have to test 100 percent of your deer. It's super hard.

We had a lady the other day that couldn't keep up with one child at a zoo, and it jumped into a gorilla cage. Try keeping up with 125 kids in the zoo all at one time. You have to check for them at least twice a day. A deer can't lay in the heat over two hours or so before it spoils the sample and that's how come they give us a little bit of leniency on that 80 to 100 percent. I test at 100 percent. It's super hard to do.

The last thing I would ask is include in the regulations some low-fence hunter harvest or if -- you know, one per ranch per year, something like that so that we get a little bit of larger test sample than just the deer breeders out there because the deer breeders are the only one that have been giving voluntary samples for years. I've been doing it since 2008, and they were voluntary. Anything above 20 percent was voluntary. So please, if you can -- thanks for listening -- include those couple things in there. I sure appreciate your time. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your input.

Tim Condict. And Derrick Garnett was out. Justin Parker on deck.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, staff, and the agencies involved, for the record, my name is Tim Condict. I'm the Executive Director of the Deer Breeders Corporation out of Mesquite, Texas, that represents approximately 700 members.

From the beginning of the stakeholder's meetings, the Deer Breeders Corporation's goal has been to get the best rules possible and eliminate release site testing. The key component to reach this goal was the acceptance of the CWD live testing options by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Animal Health Commission as a way to manage CWD. No other state or their leaders has had the courage or vision to use live testing to manage CWD. Thanks to all of you and especially Dr. Andy Schwartz and his staff of field representatives and epidemiologists for being the national leaders. Without live testing options, it would have been impossible to reach the workable compromise.

I want to thank both agencies and their leaders for accepting the challenge of not following the failed path that other states have pursued to the detriment of their wildlife and the agencies that oversee it. Thank you for placing the first brick in a new road to the future. There are many to be laid we feel we can build upon that foundation we have started with commitment to work together for the future. Most of the June 18th comments -- amendments improve the rules in the Texas Register and we appreciate the work that went into it.

There remain things in there that we would like to see fixed, and I will touch on a few. I like the idea of the two-for-one testing on the first 50 percent of eligible mortalities that was in the previous rule from May 26th. There is a lot more people that will get over 50 percent of their eligible mortalities going forward than there will be that people fall under that. Therefore, the three-to-one will require a lot more testing across the state of Texas.

No Triple T deer allowed to be trapped from deer breeder release sites. Actually, breeder deer will be the safest animals to Triple T due to the stringent testing requirements going forward in breeding facilities. I would like see the retroactive portion of 3.6 going back for five years be eliminated. We do not feel it's right to change the rules and penalize breeders for meeting the rules that were in place at the time.

TAHC five-year certified herds should be allowed to release to low fenced and we think that provision should be changed in the rules at this time. We would really appreciate you guys helping those guys out that go the extra mile and being able to participate in a business that they've had for a long time is extremely important to them. The Deer Breeders Corporation can be counted on in the future, as in the past, to work honestly, fairly, and with integrity to ensure reaching the best solutions to keep our members in business. Negativity and uncertainty has crippled our industry.

Most breeders will not be able to sell stock or bucks and does this fall if they cannot tell their customers what release site testing requirements they may or may not have. As breeders, we cannot stay in business without stock or animal sales. The proposed rules with amendments may not be perfect; but these rules provide a way for all breeders in compliance with rules and regulations -- except for TC 3 herds -- to be become TC 1 and thus, have no release site testing requirements. We have reached a major part of our objective that was set forth before starting the stakeholder meetings. We are committed to get every breeder tested up to TC 1 as soon as possible and will assist breeders in every way to make it happen.

Our organization will do its part, and we have already worked on plans of how to assist breeders. We have trained over 20 veterinarians to do rectal testing and have already done a few thousand. We have additional classes scheduled and accept the challenge the lies ahead. We invited the staff of TPWD and TAHC to our research facility at Texas Tech to show them firsthand the testing procedures of both tonsil and rectal, with many of the participants taking samples themselves. I think our success rates on tests have surprised everyone and surpassed expectations.

We have a continued commitment and effort to improve regulations in the future, but it is time for our industry to have stability to have allow our customers to have confidence and certainty in buying our product. Thank you for considering the changes that I asked for today and we would appreciate them very much and thank you for all the hard work that's went into this for all of the people that participated, all the stakeholders in those meetings. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your efforts.

Omar Berlanga?

Justin Parker?

Katherine Romans and on deck is George Pratt.

MS. KATHERINE ROMANS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Director Smith. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. My name is Katherine Romans. I'm the interim Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance. We're a regional nonprofit with a mission to bring together stakeholders interested in the long-term protection of the Texas Hill Country. That means protecting the open spaces, the dark night skies, the clear flowing creeks and rivers, the rural communities, the working lands, and the native wild populations of the Hill Country for future generations.

I would like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to comment today. Native White-tail deer populations are critically important and an important source of income for many landowners in the Hill Country who rely on hunting leases to make ends meet. White-tail drives a hunting industry that supplies huge economic gains to the rural communities of the Hill Country.

TPWD biologists should be given every tool available to prevent the spread of a potentially devastating disease. I applaud the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their thorough and inclusive stakeholder process and on behalf of HCA's more than 8,000 supporters, I would encourage the Commission to adopt the CWD rules that ensure the safety of our state's wildlife for all Texans.

Before I close, I'd also like to formally register a letter of support for the rule change from Native American Seed. The owner is Bill Neiman, and I've got a copy of his letter here that I would like to submit for the record. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

George Pratt and on deck is James Oliver.

MR. GEORGE PRATT: Mr. Chairman, Committee, Director Smith, my name is George Pratt. I am the -- I am not a deer breeder. I am the owner/operator of the Z4 Ranch, a brand that was first registered in Texas 132 years ago. Our family has managed property for this time. We have managed cattle. We have managed drought. We have managed wildlife.

I made the decision a couple years ago to bring some deer in. To my dismay, I received a letter this past July telling me I had to test 100 percent of my harvested deer because one of the animals that I brought in came from a facility that had tested positive. This is unreasonable. This is also -- the deer breeder has been released from testing. His site has been declared clean. Why am I still held accountable? Why do I have to jump through hoops? Why do I have to test over 40 animals? Have to learn a new procedure? Have to keep books? Have to do unreasonable things so I can keep on hunting and support my family?

Now, this is a property right's issue. It is a property right's issue. It is an issue that also involves a state resource, our White-tail herd. I commend you on your work and I know that we need to have regulations, but the regulations need to comply and be competent to every one of us. I should not be held to a higher count of responsibility than a deer breeder or anyone else. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Hold on. Mr. Pratt, did you say you had a deer from one of the facilities that tested positive for CWD, Medina County or La Vaca?

MR. GEORGE PRATT: No, sir. La Vaca.

COMMISSIONER JONES: La Vaca. Okay. I didn't think any of those facilities had been released from testing.

MR. GEORGE PRATT: I was told today he has been released.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is that true?

MR. SMITH: Why don't you let us get that information for you, Commissioner, unless one of our staff knows the answer to that.

Mitch or Clayton, do you know the answer to that?

MR. GEORGE PRATT: Thank you.

MR. LOCKWOOD: My name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director. The herd in La Vaca County was operating under a herd plan. That herd has since been depopulated and tested fully and so there's no animals for which a herd plan to apply at this time. But there were additional positives found in that facility and so that certainly doesn't reduce the risk that we have for trace-out facilities that received deer from that herd.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So there are no more deer in that facility?

MR. LOCKWOOD: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. GEORGE PRATT: Commissioner, the deer that were released on my property have also been harvested. They are not animals in the wild. So I'm underneath the same situation as he is. So again, I'm asking that fair practices be implemented.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Understood. Thank you.

James Oliver and Ben Schmidtke is on deck.

MR. JAMES OLIVER: Good morning. My name is James Oliver. I am the Chief Operating Officer of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, which works with landowners to help conserve private working lands, critical natural resources, and wildlife habitat. Our family also ranches in Pecos, Crockett, Val Verde, and Kinney Counties.

I'm here today in support of the proposed Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations to help guard against the threat to the economic viability of these private working farms and ranches, as well as the rural communities that depend on revenue from the hunting industry. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Ben Schmidtke?

Okay. Marty Berry?

And Don Loyd?

Figure that one out.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You're on your own.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: No Don Loyd. I'm going to give this a shot. James Schacherl? Okay. Maybe it's because I couldn't pronounce it.

John Nelson?

Charles Davidson?

MR. CHARLES DAVIDSON: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for allowing me to be here today to visit with you. My name is Charles Davidson. I'm a past President of the Texas Wildlife Association and a former long-time member of the white -- the Department's White-tail Deer Advisory Committee. I'm here in support of the rules as presented.

As I recall from years ago during the early phases of the development of the CWD management plan, we recognized that our approach was going to need to be specific to the circumstances that presented themselves. The Department and the Commission have gone through a process that includes use of best science, designing appropriate protocols, and involving the many varied stakeholders in the process. All this will yield a result that minimizes the overall impact, including localized or individual impact and more importantly, broader regional and statewide impact.

As a low-fence rancher in southeast Real County, I'm within in 25 miles of the most recent findings and, frankly, I want to be assured that whatever happened in the effected pens and release sites is contained there and understood. Given the movement of animals associated with many breeding operations, achieving this containment objective will require the breeder in specialized permit community to continue to test at a high level and is the only way for those permittees to achieve the confidence of their customers, neighbors, and the broader stakeholders across Texas.

As a farm and ranch real estate professional, I suggest we must look at the big picture and ask ourselves how to minimize the impact of CWD on land values across regions in the state overall. One only has to look at the values in the anthrax triangle to see what can happen, as those properties are trading for upwards 40 to 50 percent discounts than they otherwise might, in my opinion. And it is important to recognize the ancillary impacts on the economies of affected areas if regional values decrease.

I encourage the Commission to adopt the rules as presented so as to ensure that rural Texas that benefits so much economically and otherwise from deer and deer hunting, continues to do so. Thank you again.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Jay Evans?

MR. JAY EVANS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director. I'm Jay Evans and I'm here today in support of the rule. I represent JSB Ranches. We operate in the South Plains and the Northwestern Panhandle. And in particular, there's been a recent Chronic Wasting Disease identified there in a Mule deer in Hartley County that's in the proximity of one of our properties. So in that mind, I felt like that as ranchers, wildlife habitat is one of our key priorities in our livestock program; but in this particular case, I've also felt like the cooperation of the Texas public, the private landowners, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is largely responsible for our successes in this state.

And to that end, we just welcome the opportunity to work with y'all on this new discovery and anything that we can do to facilitate that process and move forward with the containment of the disease, especially in that area. Thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

I would like to mention that we'd like to take a lunch break at noon for 30 minutes, just for your planning.

Jeff Furrell is up next, followed by Bill Miller.

MR. BILL KNOLLE: Good morning, members of the Commission, Mr. Chairman. My name is Bill Knolle. I'm a lawyer, rancher, hunter, and an avid outdoorsman. Like many of the others in this room today, I was fortunate to have parents and grandparents that exposed me to the great outdoors and taught me the value of our wildlife. I cherish many of the memories that I had as a youngster growing up being exposed to our great outdoors. But now, five -- six decades later, I find myself wondering whether my grandchildren and those that follow my grandchildren are going to have the same opportunity that I have had.

The demon that we now call CWD is threatening our -- whether they will have that opportune -- the same opportunities that I have had. I'm not a scientist. So I can't tell you what the answer is. You are going to have to adopt rules that will deal with this situation. Apparently, the science has not progressed to the point where we have all the answerers with CWD; but I have great confidence in the staff of your Commission and the universities of this state, that they're going to come up with the right answers. We simply need to be prudent and patient in allowing them time to do that; and for that reason, I ask you to adopt these new regulations as a prudent and practical solution. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Bill Miller.

Zach Brady is up next.

MR. BILL MILLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I ranch in far West Texas at Valentine. My name is Bill Miller. I want to echo Dan McBride's comments a little bit. Our Mule deer population is probably off 75 percent; and if we have to face Chronic Wasting, we're done. I support the rules as presented. I might even encourage the staff to strengthen them a little bit. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Zach Brady and Mike Gibson is up next or on deck.

MR. ZACH BRADY: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Mr. Smith, Executive Director Emeritus Bass, thank you for this opportunity. My name's Zach Brady. I'm a lawyer and what was referred to earlier as a plain, old hunter from Lubbock, Texas. More importantly, I'm also the dad to a 16-year-old young man who fancies himself a deer hunter and a 12-year-old young lady who's damn sure she is. I make my living representing landowners, often in eminent domain cases where their private property is being taken or damaged. I fight for private property rights, those protected by the federal and state constitutions literally every day.

Despite the protestations from a few in the captive deer breeding industry, I'm here to tell you that literally none of those concerns are present here. I speak in favor of the regulation and would ask if you move in any direction, you ought to firm it up. I don't own a high-fence place; but I've represented several and I have to tell you, deer get out of those enclosures. Gates get left open on those places, too. Power lines and pipelines cross those places, too. Other people have access to gates on those places, too. Wet weather creeks don't care whether they're running through a 4-foot or a 7-foot fence as they're taking it out. They take them out.

We deal with the impact of that every day in my law practice. It's ironic to me that a small number of people who operate controlled breeding facilities in search of a specific trait, don't want the deer inside their high fence treated like livestock when they contract an infectious disease that threatens the entire Texas deer herd. For over a decade in Texas, we knew about CWD; but avoided having it. Then we encountered it, but in a population quarantined by its very location. Now, it's among us.

The potential spread of the disease if deer from confined breeder facilities are released without regulation or oversight, is one that we cannot tolerate. Speaking of tolerable behavior, nobody is paying me for my opinion today, including the deer breeders; but I might point out that two young men, the Irvin brothers, seem to be more of an example of civil discourse and playing by the rules and listening and stating their case, than perhaps some of their more senior colleagues and perhaps they ought to look at those young men as an example of how to conduct yourself in this sort of a setting.

I respectfully urge you to follow sound science. I believe the recommendations of your staff are based on such science and in the event there's a gray area, lean towards safeguarding the health of our wild deer herd, keep CWD contained, and take bold steps, bold steps to eradicate it where it's been found thus far. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Brady, thank you.

Mike Gibson is up and Jim McAdams is on deck.

MR. MIKE GIBSON: I would like to thank the Commission for allowing me to speak here today. My name is Mike Gibson. I ranch in King and Cottle Counties, where there's more people in this room still then there is in King County. My families, both sides of my family brought the first herds of cattle into that county. We've been there since the 1880s. We're very familiar with how the wildlife was and how the cattle business adapted to diseases.

Now, Andy spoke a minute ago about there was places where the White-tail deer was extinct. It was in our country and through cooperation with the Parks and Wildlife, they re-established that deer herd in there and now I'm an MLD cooperator. I was a recent Lone Star Land Steward Award winner, and I'm in favor of the regulations. In fact, I would like to see the regulations a little harder.

As a young cowboy, I had to help test to clean up a lot of brucellosis herds. They didn't ask me if it was going to be easy. They just told me we had to do it and we did and now the state's free of that and it's a blessing and we need to get on this before it gets out of control. I believe in 100 percent testing. That's what they required on brucellosis, and it's the only way to be sure. I don't want to lose that deer herd and the economic impact it has on our state. Thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Mr. Jim McAdams and followed by David Langford.

MR. JIM MCADAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm Jim McAdams. I'm a cattle rancher and been one all my life. I'm here to support the proposed rule. I've had the blessing and the opportunity to ranch nearly all over this state. I remember when we didn't have nearly as many deer and certainly not near as much deer hunting income.

I recognize that there's cattle ranchers that don't need their deer revenue to survive, but I'm not one of them. I also feel like that if we were to lose the deer revenue, we would lose more cattle ranchers. Cattle ranching is an extremely small-margin business, yet we contribute over $10 billion annually in cash receipts. We're by far the largest commodity in this state.

I was President of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association when we had Mad Cow Disease. Long before we had that first case in 2003, we urged our government to enact strong regulations to protect us. Many of these regulations were controversial and they were costly and there was a lot of push back. Yet most today would say that because we had these strong protections, we were able to mitigate the damage from BSE, which is a TSE disease. We suffered initially after the first case, and our markets went down; but they quickly recovered and within two years, we were enjoying record high prices. Canada, on the other hand, did not take such a proactive approach. They didn't have the regulations. They didn't have the protections. They had a much smaller herd, yet they had many, many, many more cases than we did. They suffered much greater economic harm and it took them much longer to recover.

My takeaway is this: With a TSE disease, you need to be proactive. You need to make sure that you contain it. An ounce of prevention and containing it is much better than suffering from a pound of cure later. Therefore, I urge you to adopt these rules. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

David Langford and then we'll take a 30-minute break for lunch.

MR. DAVID LANGFORD: So I'm between the room and lunch. Howdy, I'm David Langford. I am the retired CEO of Texas Wildlife Association. I live on -- my wife and I live on our part of our family's seven-generation ranch between Comfort and Fredericksburg.

I want to thank Carter Smith and Law Enforcement, the whole Department, unimaginably difficult task to be in the middle of this controversy. And I can't add anything to what those in favor of these proposed regulations have said already. I especially can't improve on what Zach Brady said. So I'd like to give you some confidence about the vote I hope that you will take.

This is very reminiscent of 1995. There is a large, very broad spectrum of support of what I hope you're going to do. Look at those letters, the sign-on letters from the Texas Wildlife Association, the sign-on letters from the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, Chairman Fitzsimons' op-ed. There's broad support for what I hope you will do. The same thing happened in 1995 when we passed the wildlife management property tax valuation. We had production agriculture. We had conservation groups. We had land trusts. We had hunting groups. We had environmental groups, the broadest spectrum of support to pass that Constitutional amendment. That is the same sort of alignment of the public that is in favor of what I hope you will do. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Okay. We'll recess for 30 minutes and see you at 12:30. Thank you.

(Recess taken for lunch)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. We're going to go ahead and get started again. Give everyone just a few seconds to settle in. Continuing with our speakers, next up is Robert Ayres and after Robert will be James King.

MR. ROBERT AYRES: Chairman Friedkin, Commissioners, Director Smith, my name is Robert Ayres and I speak this morning as the managing -- or it's afternoon, I guess -- as the managing partner of the Shield Ranch to express our support for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's proposed rule and the Department's ongoing efforts to protect the health of our state's wildlife population.

Our family owns ranches in Jeff Davis, Real, and Travis Counties. We actively manage range lands for wildlife habitat, water resource protection, ecological diversity, livestock production, and commercial hunting. We are proud recipients of the statewide Lone Star Land Steward Award. Like many private landowners in Texas, we are grateful for our partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which spans more than half a century to include four generations of my family.

We strongly support the public stewardship of our state's wildlife resources. We commend you for considering the array of issues related to captive deer breeding and Chronic Wasting Disease, with input from landowners, hunters, breeders, wildlife enthusiasts, and animal healthcare providers. We respectfully request that you adopt the proposed rule before you today in its entirety. I conclude my remarks with the words of Aldo Leopold who in the Sand County Almanac counsels us: Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. I think it's right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. Thank you for this opportunity to speak this morning and for your service on behalf of the citizens of Texas.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

James King, followed by Steven Bender.

MR. JAMES KING: Mr. Chairman, Commission members, and Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, my name is James King, from Fort Davis, a six-generation Texan, and a supporter of your new rules and regulations governing captive breeding deer in Texas as response to documented Chronic Wasting Disease outbreak.

CWD is a real threat to our native deer populations across the state and without enacting these rules, we are exposed to a threat that would erode our natural environment and the rural and economic values of our state. I've spent my entire working career buying, selling, and brokering land in Texas. During those 30 years, I've managed over 1 million acres in transactions, covering the most important natural lands in our state -- Dolan Falls, Davis Mountains, Barton Creek, Caddo Lake, Marfa Grasslands, Independence Creek, Diamond Y Spring, Powderhorn Ranch, and many more.

The land values in our state are driven by recreation that comes from hunting and enjoying our native wildlife. CWD would have catastrophic consequences to our state's native deer population and thus, our rural land values. I want to commend the hard work the staff of Texas Parks and Wildlife has put into this critical issue and with your leadership, I'm confident that we will be putting our best foot forward in dealing with the threat and the source of this threat and better managing our state's captive deer breeding facilities and animals. Please vote yes for these new rules, and let us all work together for a better future for our families in the great outdoors of Texas and the amazing diversity of its native wildlife. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Steven Bender is up next, followed by Roy Hurley.

MR. STEVEN BENDER: Good afternoon, Chairman Friedkin, Commissioners, and Mr. Smith. I'm here today to speak in support of the proposed Chronic Wasting Disease rules as developed by the Department. For the record, my name is Steven Bender. Today I'm representing the National Wildlife Federation. At the National Wildlife Federation, my job is to work with sportsmen and women and to engage them in conserving the natural resources of this countries.

Hunters and anglers are our roots. They are the men and women who brought the Federation together 80 years ago. In-state hunters and out-of-state hunters and our out-of-state friends want to hunt in Texas without fear or concern about the health of the animals they are harvesting. The Texas economy relies on deer hunting to the tune of more than $2 billion a year, as you heard earlier. The sportsmen and women want to know that their deer herds are fit and safe. It is good for business.

In addition, the tradition of hunting and fishing runs deep in this country. And most certainly in Texas, we want to see that tradition handed down to our children and in order to do that, we must have healthy populations of harvestable animals. And I want y'all to note that I brought my poor son here today to watch this because I wanted him to know that there was more to hunting and fishing than picking up a gun or a rod. Sometimes it's pretty exciting. Sometimes it's pretty boring; but it's important, and I wanted him to see that.

These animals are a public resource, and they must be protected. I urge you to continue your work and adopt and implement the proposed rules and keep our future bright for the next generation of hunters. Thank you for your time and your consideration on this important issue.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your comments. Appreciate it.

Roy Hurley and Mitch King will be up next.

MR. ROY HURLEY: Chairman, Commissioners, Director Smith, thank y'all for having us here today. I'm from Jeff Davis County. Rancher, wildlife manager, and outfitter. We run from Southwest Texas to Mexico plum to the West Texas Mountains and I think that this needs to be adopted and taken care of. If anybody knows who I am, they know how I feel about this breeding operation that goes on in Texas. It's horrible. But I hope that y'all adopt this, move forward, and protect what we all have. We live off of this. If we don't have this in our ranching, we have to carry on with something else. So I hope that y'all adopt this and carry it forward. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Mitch King and Victoria Vazquez is up next.

MR. MITCH KING: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Carter. My name is Mitch King. I'm representing the Archery Trade Association in support of this rule, these proposed regulations. The Archery Trade Association has about 650 manufacturers as members. It also has about 1,200 retailers across the country as members. Most of the larger retail organizations are members of the Archery Trade Association. Those smaller ones are members of buy-in groups, which are members of the Archery Trade Association.

Clayton mentioned earlier today the 650,000 hunters in your state, deer hunters in your state. Those represent the core of our customer base for the Archery Trade Association. The Archery Trade Association, our industry depends on very healthy, wild, native deer herds and I want to make a couple of points. One, our number one -- the Archery Trade Association's number one partner in everything we do is the state wildlife agencies for a couple of reasons. One, we're contributors to the $800 million roughly annually that comes from the excise taxes paid on the equipment that goes to support your Agency; and, No. 2, you're responsible for the management of that healthy deer herd, as well as healthy other wildlife populations out there.

We have two expectations of a state wildlife agency. Pretty simple. One, we want the Agency to spend their -- make their decisions based on good solid, sound science; and, No. 2, we want them to put the health of that -- those wild population, animal populations first and foremost in your decision-making process. I think you heard this morning the science is certainly there. I think there's plenty of science to support this position that you're taking, and I think your Agency is -- with these regulations -- is doing everything that you need to do to put the health of your native wildlife -- wild deer herds first and foremost in your decision. So the ATA is very supportive of what you're proposing today, and we hope that you'll make it happen. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Victoria Vazquez and followed by Evelyn Merz.

MS. VICTORIA VAZQUEZ: Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners, and Director Smith. My name is Victoria Vazquez and I am a wildlife biologist and the Coastal Conservation Manager for Audubon Texas. Audubon Texas supports Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's proposed rules regarding Chronic Wasting Disease.

Adequate screening is critical to prevent the spread of this disease from wild deer to -- from breeder deer into wild deer populations. If Chronic Wasting Disease were to enter the wild deer population, it would be extremely difficult to eradicate and would cause the wild deer population to decline substantially. The approximately 250,000 farms and ranches mentioned earlier, would suffer financially.

Deer hunting in Texas keeps rural lands intact and these rural lands are important habitat for game birds, such as quail, turkey, and waterfowl; but additionally, it is habitat for millions of songbirds, shorebirds, and coastal birds, either residents or migratory. Audubon Texas supports Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's science-driven approach to curbing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Evelyn Merz and next up after Evelyn will be Terry Anderson.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director Smith. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm the Conservation Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. The Lone Star Chapter favors the proposed rule, and we appreciate that this has been a challenging and difficult issue for everyone involved.

The revised rules are collaborative and the revised rules are prudent and necessary and enhance the likelihood of detecting CWD. This is all the goal that we want to meet. The live testing -- it should be noted that the live testing that was advocated by the breeder industry has been incorporated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife and Commission by the -- in the new rules. It's also entirely reasonable that the initial rulemaking was less stringent than the current proposed rules. It's as the aspects of CWD were better understood, the rule making evolved.

Perhaps in the future, the rules will continue to evolve. The deer hunting sport and recreation is very important to the rural economy and also the habitat that supports the White-tail deer supports other species. These are all things that I think we can support. In conclusion, I'd like to again state our support for the rule and to thank Carter and all of the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for bringing these proposed rules to the Commission. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Terry Anderson is up, followed by Dr. Randy DeYoung.

MR. TERRY ANDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Carter. My name is Terry Anderson. I'm a forester and a biologist from East Texas actually. I'm also a landowner, have a natural resource business, and I'm an avid supporter of TWA. I think a lot of what needed to be said about CWD has probably been said today.

Obviously, I'm a supporter of the proposed rules. But I would like for just a second to say a couple of quicks things. The mission of Texas Parks and Wildlife: To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide recreational opportunities for the present and future generations of Texans. So no matter where we go with all these different issues, CWD or others, I think it's always important to keep the mission in mind of Parks and Wildlife. We kind of get dragged away from that, and I think a lot of the public probably doesn't even understand the true mission. But the mission of conserving natural resources of Texas is extremely important, and we need to always go back to that if there's any doubt in any regard. So while any actions taken regarding CWD should consider small landowners, large landowners, high fence, low fence, hunters, not hunters, it's a complex issue. Without a doubt, it is. But at the end of the day, we should come back to the mission and that mission: Conserving the resources and particular in regard to those future generations of Texans. Thank you. I support the rules, and I think we need these rules.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Dr. DeYoung and on deck is Roy Leslie.

DR. RANDALL DEYOUNG: Good afternoon, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen of the Commission, Executive Director Smith. My name is Randy DeYoung. I've been a research scientist at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute for the past 12 years. I'm currently the President of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, which is the largest state subunit of the 10,000 member organization of wildlife biologists based in North America. I'll be speaking today as a resource witness on behalf of some recent research that I and some of my colleagues have been involved with.

The South Texas region is a very large region that is well-known for its highly variable, semi-arid climate, unpredictable rainfall. This weather has a strong effect on all wildlife populations, including deer. Harvest in the South Texas region is typically very conservative due to this low and variable recruitment of offspring due to rain and other drought related events. And it's no coincidence that in many widespread management actions in the region, including provision of supplemental nutrition, are implemented to buffer the populations through these drought periods.

In response to stakeholder questions about the effects of CWD on free-ranging populations in the South Texas region, I and my colleagues constructed a population model. We based this model on 20 years of harvest and aerial survey records from four sites in the South Texas region, totaling nearly 140,000 acres. We based estimates of the rate of spread of CWD and prevalence in affected animals from empirical observations from other states, including Wisconsin and Wyoming. We simulated 50-year population trajectories based on random draws from our 20-year data. In all, we ran the thousand simulations for each of four scenarios that included a range of harvest rates and a no harvest scenario.

These sites were non-supplemented populations due to the probable effect of provision of nutrition and affecting prevalence rates. The model predicted a decline in population size of 65 percent within five decades after introduction of the disease, even in the absence of harvest. Harvest of adults only increased the severity of decline. Furthermore, the age structure of the male segment of the population declined with a proportion of bucks aged six years and older declined by 30 percent.

So based on these results, we predict that additional mortality from CWD would result in a decline in total population size, fewer bucks available for harvest, and fewer adult bucks. In addition, common management practices such as provision of supplemental feed and hunting and scouting over bait would be affected due to their probable role in the spread of the disease. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Roy Leslie and followed by Pat Short.

MR. ROY LESLIE: My name is Roy Leslie, and I support the proposed CWD management rules. I urge you to listen to your biologists, to be unburdened by junk science, and to approve deer breeder regulations that leave no doubt you're doing the utmost to curtail CWD.

I'm tired of hearing that CWD is a manageable and unthreatening problem. I'm tired of hearing that deer don't die from CWD. I'm tired of junk science from paid shields with capital letters behind their names. I'm tired of seeing our talented and dedicated biologists attacked, sued, and raked over the coals when they had nothing but the facts, their silent resolve, and their character with which to fight. I'm tired of hearing this framed as a property right's issue. It is not, unless one makes the unconstitutional leap that penned deer are the property of breeders or that breeders have the right to contaminate the property of others. I'm tired of see our wild, native White-tailed deer altered with no regard to survivability in the wild, while satisfying nothing but human desire to grow massively deformed antlers.

I see only the manipulation of a tiny slice of the genetic code to satisfy the misguided human notion of a better deer. The hundreds of thousands of Texas hunters and landowners that don't operate deer breeder feed lots, are under no obligation to guarantee that a few hundred can profit in an arena threatened by Chronic Wasting. We owe more to those who wish to promote a healthy herd through superior habitat management than we do those growing feed lot deer in unnatural enclosures. Enclosures packed with deer and devoid of native nutritional sources are animal health time bombs. Breeders must adapt to the fact that the more their customers know, the more they realize how dangerous it is to import deer.

We have given deer feed lot operators in Texas concessions that none of the other CW states have allowed. We've compromised beyond common sense. Let's show some backbone and support our biologists and the rest of Texas. And in closing, I'll withhold my thanks until after the vote.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Pat Short, followed by Cy Barton.

Okay. Cy Barton?

Okay. Ben Cromeens and David Anderson will be next.

MR. BENJAMIN CROMEENS: Good afternoon. My name is Benjamin Morrell Cromeens. I own and operate Tri-State Taxidermy in Houston, Texas. I started Tri-State in 1998. I am also a third generation landowner within this state. So we can be honest. I will tell you my company has profited from the deer breeding industry. Although I have profited and stand to profit more from this, I can no longer stand aside and watch deer breeders endanger the State deer herd, including the deer within their pens, in order to ensure the viability of their business models.

I have watched this pot boil since the first deer tested positive in the Hueco Mountains. But when CWD was found within a deer breeding facility, I watched in horror as our State agencies became eunuchs who feared retribution from self-serving liars and even pimps with lawyers. Through the opposition, a solid plan with rules was formatted through extensive mediation and compromise. I thank y'all for y'all's hard work on that.

Although I believe these rules lack the strength necessary for management of the disease, they do create significant trackable accountability within an industry that has operated with very little restriction and a lot of self-imposed and loose discretion. Now, I see the seven proposed changes and my disgust starts to swell again. These proposed changes will put the last two -- will pull the last tooth out of the guard dog that we need TP and W to be for us. These breeders feel they are entitled to a risk-free business model, that the rules of biology, wildlife law, and business should never stand in the way of them turning a profit.

Well, today you can make sure they put on their big boy pants like everybody else and have to conform and adapt and perform under the risk and regulation of American business like the rest of us. For the sake of Texas wildlife, I ask you to pass the 2016 CWD rules, which I now support; and reject the seven changes that I think emasculate the proposed plan even further.

Last, I would like it noted that regardless of what you've been told, this small minority of penned deer do not define Odocoileus virginianus and they do not define the American hunter. Thank you and God bless.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

David Anderson, followed by Jonathan Dodd.

MR. J. DAVID ANDERSON: My name is J. David Anderson. I am the current Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association. I'm here today to represent TWA, as well as myself as a landowner and rancher and former deer breeder in Duval County. I want to thank the Chairman and the Commissioners and Carter for allowing me to express my views today on this highly emotional issue.

I raised deer for several years in Duval County to enhance the genetics of my deer herd. After I discontinued that operation, I purchased deer on several occasions from breeders and released them into the ranch. I do not run a commercial hunting operation, nor do I sell hunts. I did this strictly for the enjoyment of my family, my children, and my eight grandchildren. Having said that, I am very concerned that CWD can get into our wild deer herd.

I can tell you had I found out after I purchased deer that the breeder that my deer came from had CWD in his pen, I would absolutely want to be able to identify those deer as quickly as I possibly could so that I could deal with them adequately. It is my opinion that going forward, all breeder deer should have some visible marking on them so that they can be easily identified should the need arise. The landowner, the landowner's agent, or the Department at some point in time may need to identify those deer.

The Department has been given the awesome responsibility of ensuring the safety of our most precious resource, which is the White-tail deer. Any interim rules that you pass today, should assure all Texans that you've done everything reasonably responsible to assure that that is, in fact, done. I support the rules and I encourage you to vote for them and thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Jonathan Dodd and next up is Milton Gresson.

MR. JONATHAN DODD: Good afternoon. My name is Jonathan Dodd. I'm here today in support of the adoption of the rules before you in regard to Chronic Wasting Disease. I'm the manager of the Hollywood Camp located in Falfurrias, Texas. The Hollywood Camp consists of 60,000 low-acre fence -- low acre -- low-fenced acres, leased -- of leased ranches spread out over Brooks County, Jim Hogg, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties, with seven different landowners.

I'm here today because of the threat of CWD getting into the wild deer herds would devastate our local economy, cost us jobs, and prevent hundreds of people from hunting wild deer as they do on our ranches and many others in South Texas. On behalf of our employees, hunters, and wildlife management professionals that count on a healthy deer herd, I urge you to protect all the deer in Texas from the spread of CWD.

Ranches like the ones we lease are the backbone in Texas for hunting opportunities for many people of this great state and other states of this nation. We invest millions of dollars yearly in habitat improvements and wildlife management practices for our deer -- for our wild deer herds and other native game. The investments we make are a drop in the bucket to the impact it has on the multitude of businesses small and large that supply our feed, equipment, our trucks, and food and etcetera. The ripple effect of ranch -- of our ranch operations and the wild deer hunting associated with our ranches, make or break in many cases the regional economies we exist in.

We cannot put the heritage and essence to our great state at risk. This can be done out of fairness to all hunting interests -- high fence, low fence, big ranch, or small hunting leases. The wild deer must be protected. Thank y'all. Y'all have any questions?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Milton Gresson, if I'm pronouncing that correctly, followed by Daniel Butler.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, I saw Mr. Gresson when we broke for lunch and he had to go back to Victoria. So he's left.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. David Butler -- Daniel Butler, excuse me, and Susan Kibbe is up next.

MR. DANIEL BUTLER: Commissioners, thank you for having this open forum. My name is Danny Butler. I represent my family's ranches, Yturria Ranches in Cameron, Willacy, Kenedy, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties and in West Texas in Terrell and Pecos County. If Chronic Wasting Disease were to enter any of our ranches, for me it would be financially disastrous.

I'm not an expert in Chronic Wasting Disease, and I look to you Commissioners to keep it off our property so I don't have to become an expert. I'm here to support you and your proposal and what you do. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Susan Kibbe, am I saying that correctly?

MS. SUSAN KIBBE: You are.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Oh, good.

And Frank Matthews is next.

MS. SUSAN KIBBE: It's mispronounced on occasion. Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, Mr. Smith, Mr. Bass. My name is Susan Kibbe. I'm the Executive Director of South Texans' Property Rights, which I'll shorten to STPRA. STPRA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of owners, landowners in South Texas, and promoting the region's future growth, prosperity, and security. STPRA provides education, outreach, and advocacy in the areas of border security and immigration reform -- excuse me, eminent domain, water regulation and conservation, transportation, human and animal health, and more. STPRA and its members of over 600 property owners in 47 Texas counties ask that you adopt the proposed permanent rules concerning Chronic Wasting Disease.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Commission were quick to act when CWD was originally discovered in Texas, ensuring the spread of the disease was kept to a minimum. Adopting emergency rules was sensible and prudent and was done in the best interest of the Texas deer herds, property owners, and all citizens. There's no question that CWD poses a threat to the health and well-being of Texas wildlife. However, it also presents serious consequences to property owners in South Texas and throughout the state. If left unchecked and without proper management, the disease would prove to be disastrous to the property owners of Texas.

If the disease were to spread into the herds that populate low-fence ranches, land values would plummet, causing severe economic hardship to property owners and area businesses. We ask that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the proposed permanent CWD rules to protect Texas property owners and more importantly, the deer herds and wildlife that are such an important part of our Texas heritage. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Frank Matthews and on deck, David Kelly.

MR. FRANK MATTHEWS: Good afternoon. My name is Frank Matthews, and I graduated from Texas A&M University in 1976 with a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences. In February of 1977, I was hired by the Killam family of Laredo to start one of the first private wildlife management programs in their Webb County ranches. I've been helping to manage their deer for almost 40 years now.

I have read all 27 pages of the proposed new rules several times, and I can appreciate all the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into trying to deal with this problem of Chronic Wasting Disease. I fully understand that these new rules will financially impact the deer breeders in our state; but I also realize that unless CWD is contained and controlled, it could potentially devastate our native deer populations in Texas. Therefore, I fully support the Commission in the adoption of these proposed rules to try to protect our state's wildlife resources from the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease.

However, I think there are at least three areas that could be potential problems in the future that I would urge the Commissioners to consider if these rules adopted today do not contain and control CWD the way we want them to. First of all, antemortem testing is not approved by the USDA. And I would like to point out that the study in Colorado on Rocky Mountain elk that was published by the USDA, which seems to justify antemortem as a viable tool, says -- and I quote -- a negative result from the biopsy of rectal mucosa cannot be interpreted to mean that the elk is not infected.

Therefore, I want to recommend that instead of only 50 or 80 percent, that all 100 percent of eligible mortalities be postmortem tested, in addition to the antemortem testing requirements. Missing even one mortality that might have been caused by CWD is not worth the risk.

I am also concerned that the new rules only require a 7-foot high-fenced enclosure for breeder deer. Actually, as everyone knows, 8-foot fences are much for accepted as deer proof and are certainly better than 7-foot fences. Of course, we all know there's really no such thing as a completely deer-proof fence. Deer can jump high fences when pushed. Coyotes and hogs dig holes underneath fences that get bigger and bigger. Floods often washout fences in creeks and arroyos. Even bulls fighting can knock down fences enough for a deer to escape, which brings me to my third point.

RFID tags and NUES tags are much better than old-fashioned ear tags, obviously. However, NUES tags can accidently be ripped out of the ear and RFID tags are hard to see from a distance. Certainly, tattooing maintains a permanent marking for postmortem identification; but because of the long incubation period, I'm concerned about adjacent landowners being able to recognize any potentially infected deer that have escaped from the original release site and being able to remove it and prevent the possibility of CWD from their native deer populations.

Therefore, I am suggesting at some point we may need to amend the new rules to include requirements for a more visible permanent marking, like freeze branding, for all breeder deer that are released into the native populations. Now, even though I'm not sure these current proposed rules go far enough to completely protect our native deer populations, I do understand the need for compromise to get the new rules in place. And, therefore, today I support the adoption of the new rules as they are written. Thank you for this time to allow me to express my opinion.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time.

MR. FRANK MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it.

David Kelly is up next and David Brimeger is up next.

MR. DAVID KELLY: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Carter, Mr. Bass. I'm here today in support of the adoption of the rules before you on Chronic Wasting Disease. I'm manager of Laborcitas Creek Ranch, a 14,000-acre cattle and wildlife ranch located in Brooks County, Texas.

Ranches like ours and so many others across the state; provide thousands of jobs; purchase millions of dollars in goods and services from local vendors; and provide property tax revenue, in large part increase, due to the demand for hunting of wild deer. These ranching operations contribute greatly to local economies and, frankly, are the backbone to many regional economies throughout Texas.

The threat of Chronic Wasting Disease cannot be allowed to make its way into the wild deer herd of Texas and put millions of dollars contributed to the Texas economy in jeopardy. On the behalf of our ranch employees, hunters, vendors, wildlife management professionals, and the leaseholders throughout the state, we need for a healthy deer herd to continue to exist and urge you to protect the wild deer herd from Chronic Wasting Disease.

As you can see, I'm no spring chicken. I've been hunting Texas all my life and I would hope that my grandchildren, future generations of Texans, to be able to enjoy the same hunting heritage of this great state that we have known. I urge you for the sake of fairness to all hunting interests -- high fence, low fence, large ranch, small -- to adopt the rules before you. The wild deer herd must be protected. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

David, followed by Jenny Sanders.

MR. DAVID BRIMEGER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is David Brimeger and I appreciate the opportunity to add my comments to this vital discussion because I support the recommendations from Parks and Wildlife. Also as a certified wildlife biologist, Director of the Texas Big Game Award's Program, and Director of Public Relations for the Texas Wildlife Association for the past 17 years, my passion is conserving our wildlife, improving the habitat of the land that we are so privileged to own and hunt on and getting more of our youth to experience the great outdoors because I'm a hunter and conservationist and a father of two boys who thoroughly enjoy the outdoors.

I would like to encourage the Commission to adopt these CWD rules that ensure the safety for our state's wildlife resources. I also support TPWD's efforts to manage and control the spread of this serious wildlife disease. This issue is much more than a deer breeding business. It is about all wildlife, wildlife enthusiasts, and the communities of Texas which benefit from hunting. Therefore, we must do what is right to keep rural lands intact and to provide healthy habitats for all wildlife.

Working daily with communities all across the state, conventions and visitor bureaus and chambers of commerce, if this disease was to get into our native White-tail herds, think of what it could do to our manufacturers and distributors of our hunting and outdoor products, like cafes and outfitters, feed stores and grocery stores, motels and gas stations, locker plants and hardware stores all across Texas and so on. I'll finish by saying we must continue to do what is right for all wild places and wild things in Texas and adopt these recommendations from Parks and Wildlife. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Jenny Sanders, followed by Whitney Klenzendorf.

MS. JENNY SANDERS: Thank you, Chairman Friedkin, members of the Commission, Mr. Smith. Thank you for your time today. For the record, my name is Jenny Sanders. I represent Texans for Saving our Hunting Heritage and work as the Director of Education and Outreach for the TLL Temple Foundation's Boggy Slough Conservation Area near Lufkin. Perhaps most importantly, I answer to two little boys who consider themselves avid hunters -- aspiring hunters, if you will -- and wildlife enthusiasts and are counting on us in this room today to make the right decisions for their future participation in outdoor recreation.

I would like to first express my support for the proposed rule and encourage you to adopt it as written today. Secondly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Parks and Wildlife staff for creating a thorough, inclusive, and transparent process to identify policies that are both informed by science and developed through consensus. It is not the first time in the history of conservation that leaders have addressed concerns like of this magnitude and have been asked to make decisions like what you face today.

Let us consider for a moment where we would be had President Roosevelt and his contemporaries failed to put an end to market hunting in the early 1900s out of concern for the economic well-being of the market hunters. Certainly, we can all appreciate the added burden that the deer breeding industry will bear through these rules; but we must also consider the cost of not doing enough.

Are we willing to risk our greater hunting markets, our rural economies, and the ability of our kids and grandkids to enjoy healthy wildlife populations in the future just to prop up this industry?

The reality is that the deer breeding business model is built on the backs of a public resource. As a Commission, it is not your responsibility to prop up this business model. It is our responsibility to protect the resource. I believe these rules, while not perfect, do just that. I encourage you to adopt these rules today. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Whitney Klenzendorf, followed by I believe it's Don Steinbach.

MS. WHITNEY KLENZENDORF: Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for the chance to testify today. My name is Whitney Klenzendorf, and I'm a sixth-generation Texas landowner currently in Frio County. I'm also a blogger and I write about the outdoors for women who are interested in hunting, hiking, and camping; and I even took my husband on his first hunt. I have a degree in renewable natural resources and rangeland ecology from Texas A&M University, and I've hunted for my entire life.

Chronic Wasting Disease is very concerning. The county where my family ranch is, borders Medina County where the first discovery of CWD occurred. So for me, this hits close to home. But I don't just few this as something that affects my land or my future children. It affects all Texans. Healthy wildlife populations matter to the people who live on my land a hundred years from now. I've never seen my land as simply mine. It is a resource I steward proudly on behalf of future generations.

As a private landowner, I'm sensitive to the idea of government intervention. However, because deer are a public resource, there has to be oversight. We must guard against exploitation by individuals. That is why we have game laws. Part of the mission of Texas Parks and Wildlife is to provide hunting opportunities for present and future generations. Through this constructive rule, we can ensure the health of our deer for generations of hunters to come. Thank you for your hard work creating this fair ruling that takes all sides into consideration. I ask you to adopt the proposed ruling today.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Don Steinbach and David Synatzske is up next.

MR. DON STEINBACH: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I'm Don Steinbach. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. The Wildlife Society is the largest chapter in the United States. We have over 800 members. We represent the universities in Texas that have natural resource programs, academic programs and their associated student chapters, state and federal agencies and many of the private lands biologists. This chapter was organized in 1965 by our first President, Dr. James Teer and followed by Dr. Jack Ward Thomas who recently passed away after a distinguished career culminated by the first Boone and Crockett Chair at the University of Montana in Missoula.

We are literally standing on the shoulders of these giants and have continued to be led by distinguished leaders, many of whom you heard today seated in this audience. Many of these leaders and the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society contributed to the science that substantiated the economic value of wildlife in Texas and how valuable it is to the industry here in Texas. The wildlife science is what led us not only to a profitable industry for private landowners, but vastly improved management practices and improved habitats. As these practices went through several progressive changes from the 1920s to date, the wildlife profession never imagined that these values would lead to the loss of ethical values of hunting and the endangerment of our wild deer.

Wild deer in Texas are an invaluable resource, both monetarily and ecologically; and we cannot allow wild deer to be compromised by a minority who disregard the impacts of a disease like CWD. As an organization founded and steeped in the science, the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society supports the rules promulgated by the stakeholder groups and presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife's consideration. Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

David Synatzske and followed by Chris Mitchell.

MR. DAVID SYNATZSKE: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, my name is David Synatzske. I'm a 40-plus year professional in wildlife, much of which was spent with this Department, Parks and Wildlife, and I'm proud of those years that I spent with the organization. I'd like to commend the efforts of the Commission, the appointed committees, stakeholders that they had a large hand in appointing, TPWD staff, Texas Animal Health, and nongovernment agencies and groups that are represented here today.

I'm a member of TWS, Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Texas Wildlife Management Council, Texas Fish and -- oop, miswrote that one. I'm a Boone and Crockett scorer. TWA, I'm very involved in as a director, as a member of the executive committee, the deer committee, and the hunting heritage committee. I mention this because I don't profess to represent all of these organizations; but those that are going to be represented, are those that I have membership in and that I would not consider membership in if they did not support this rule.

I recognize that this is a CWD issue, and its potential to impact the deer herds in the state. This is something that the Commission has very strongly taken advantage of the situation as it arose a number of years ago. Parks and Wildlife has the situation in hand where we recognized and started collecting data, scientific data, on these things before the disease ever came about in Texas. As a representative of some of these people and all of the individuals, members of these organizations, I very strongly support CWD plan as proposed and urge the Commission to go forward with such. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Chris Mitchell is up and after that, it's Bill Knolle.

MR. CHRIS MITCHELL: Good afternoon. For the record, my name is Chris Mitchell. Thank you, Chairman and the members of the Commission and Mr. Carter Smith, for giving me this opportunity to speak. I come to you today as a landowner in Crockett County, a hunter ed instructor and a hunt master with the Texas Youth Hunting Program and I would like to express my support for the proposed rules that you're considering today.

I support these rules for two reasons. TPWD is executing the rule -- a plan. They're didn't -- they're not shooting from the hip. I can tell you as a 26-year Army veteran, no plan survives the initial contact. Parks and Wildlife has done an excellent job of taking public input and revising these rules and coming up with what I believe will protect the resource and that's the most important objective of all these rules.

Secondly, my reason for supporting these rules is my passion is hunting. My mission is to grow the next generation of Texas hunters. I do not want a threat that might limit future generation's opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as I have. We teach in hunter education that we need to leave the properties that we get the privilege to use better than we found it. I believe these rules will take a step in doing that same thing, leaving it better than we found it. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Bill Knolle or Knolle?

Okay. Colleen Gardner.

Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: He spoke earlier.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Oh, okay.

Colleen Gardner and Matthew Schnupp is up next.

MS. COLLEEN GARDNER: Hello. I'm Colleen Gardner, and I'm the Executive Director of the Bamberger Ranch. It's a 47-year habitat restoration project on 5,500 acres in Blanco County, and I'm here to represent them and tell you that we support the adoption of the rules as they've been proposed. For all that we do on the ranch, I take in about $325,000 a year -- oh, wait. I spend 325 and I take in about 190, with the shortfall being made up for with grants and donations because we became a 501(c)(3) in 2002.

Of that 190,000 revenue that I can bank on, 90,000 of that comes in the form of what we call "people ranching" and that is what you would call ecotourism, education programs, facility rentals, whatnot. The other 100,000 is from hunting. That's more than 50 percent of my income that I can count on. It's my highest profit margin and it enables us to host 3,500 guests a year. Half of those being school-aged children and most of those being inner city kids that don't have a grandfather with a ranch or farm.

If I were to lose that money due to CWD and the risk to our wild population of deer or even the rumor of the risk, I can't make up for that in grants and donations. I can't replace that hundred thousand. So this is very, very important to us. And that's money that helps us offset the cost of doing education for those kids. Right now at this very moment, I have a six-day nature camp going on at the ranch and about 25 kids ranging in age from 9 to 16, couple college kids thrown in there. And when you look at the demographics of them, only three of them come from any landowner perspective. The rest of them are urban and so it's kind of a nice representation of the demographics of Texas. And when you talk about the future, these kids are it.

Yesterday, we talked about the economics of conservation and in particular, where I was going to be today and the CWD and finances and how sometimes you have to stand up and speak up for what you believe in. Of their own accord, they used their journal time to write you letters of support to adopt these rules, which I've submitted to Dee and I hope that you will read them because there's nothing more powerful than a nine-year-old asking you to protect the future of the deer population in Texas.

We had our own little Gallup Poll, Clayton. It was 26 out of 26. 100 percent of those kids are supporting you. Ironically, one of the fathers I recognized from the campers was one of the mass exodus today. And so when you think about education and these kids are so powerfully interested in you doing this adoption today and then there's a father that was part of the opposite -- the opposite view. So thank you for the opportunity to publically speak and thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time and for your comments. We appreciate it.

Matthew Schnupp and Linda Campbell will be next.

MR. MATTHEW SCHNUPP: Hello, Commissioners. My name's Matthew Schnupp. I'm a certified wildlife biologist. I'm also the biologist for King Ranch. Although I support the continuation of private lands collection of CWD samples, it's imperative to note that the only CWD cases have been on high-fenced ranches. And so with that being the case, I think increased testing and increased unique identification of those animals, given their high risk, will enable Texas to be able to isolate these incidences in the future.

And then finally, we are on the infancy stage of this problem. And so I think that we should err on the side of caution with whatever we do and I think that we've done that so far and so I commend you on what you've done and I support you, as does King Ranch, with Parks and Wildlife and their efforts and I hope that you do pass today's proposition. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Linda Campbell and then Jeremy Smither, I believe.

MS. LINDA CAMPBELL: Good afternoon, Chairman Friedkin and Commissioners, Director Smith. My name is Linda Campbell, and I'm a member of the Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. As a certified wildlife biologist, I'm here to speak in favor of the proposed rules. I'm very concerned about the possibility of transmission of this devastating disease to wild deer and the potential consequences to hunters, landowners, and Texans who care about healthy wildlife and habitats.

We have a small window of opportunity to do what is needed to contain this disease. Thousands of Texas hunters depend on our state's 4 million White-tail deer for recreation and food and the annual economic impact from deer hunting is critical to rural communities and landowners. Rules that protect the safety of our wild deer populations must take precedence over all other considerations.

I'm also concerned that if CWD is not contained, limited staff resources will mean that TPWD biologists, who for decades have been working with landowners to restore and manage habitats for a diversity of wildlife, will no longer be available to provide those habitat management services and advice to private land managers. As a hunter, I am concerned about the future of hunting and White-tail deer venison harvest on our low-fenced ranch in the Rolling Plains makes up the bulk of the meat that we eat in our family. Obtaining nutritious protein from the land is the reason many people hunt. We must take steps to ensure that this important food source remains disease free.

Finally, Texas is the only state to allow liberated deer to be co-mingled with free-range deer. As such, identification is critical to any disease related investigation. Deer that are visibly identified can be more easily retrieved and traced back to their source and hunters deserve to know if they are taking a released animal before they pull the trigger.

As a landowner, I am concerned about property values and the rights of those who manage habitats for wild deer. Rules that protect the rights of the vast majority of landowners is very important. Finally, I would like to thank you, the Commission, the staff of both TPWD and the Texas Animal Health Commission for their rapid and professional response to the CWD findings. The proposed rules are a collaborative effort between many stakeholders, and I certainly commend TPWD for leading this effort. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Jeremy Smither and Jimmie Thurmond is up next. Jeremy? Nope?

Okay. So Jimmie Thurmond, followed by Scott Carr.

MR. JIMMIE THURMOND: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Jimmie Thurmond. I grew up in San Antonio and live there currently. The last time I addressed this Commission was about 12 years ago, when I was President of the TWA. I suspect none of y'all were there at the time. Joseph might have been. It's been a while. This issue was enough to prompt me to get on the highway and come back again.

I am a strong believer in private property rights. That's where Texas Wildlife Association grew up. I think that includes those rights to manage that property and the habitat in which the state's wildlife in which it lives. I believe that these rights likely include the assurance that we have an environment that doesn't permit the release of a CWD infected animal in the nearby vicinity of your property.

I've never participated in any forum of the scientific breeder permitting process. I've never had a permit. I've never bred a deer, sold one, bought one, or shot it. So nonetheless, I've been an agnostic about that program. This, I think, is different. This disease is a different matter that goes far beyond just breeder permits. I see today as an imperative -- as a need to adopt rules that stop the spread of this terrible disease.

Nobody wanted this outbreak of CWD in Texas; but nonetheless, we have it. It does pose a significant threat to Texas' wildlife, those who depend on it and those who value it. Led by this Commission, the people of Texas -- myself included -- are depending upon TPWD to use its best efforts to stop this disease from spreading. The proposed rules that are the subject of today's hearing are likely to be only one of many sets of rules that this Commission will have to consider in the future to adopt to stop the spread of this disease.

When I was preparing for coming to this hearing, I reviewed the Department's website and I know Carter Smith and I'm familiar with the process that they put in place to promulgate these proposed rules and it more than meets the standard that's there on the Department's own website and their stated compact of what they will do and dealing with the people and managing the wildlife of this state. They more than met their own stated standard. Y'all don't need me to tell you what your duty is and what y'all are charged to do.

I mean, similarly I think that the case that's there is pretty compelling, what y'all are confronted with having to do today. There have been many times in the past of contentious issues and hard choices in front of this body. I don't think this is one of those that rises to that level. I think it's pretty apparent what y'all have to do and accordingly, I strongly recommend that you adopt these proposed rules as they have -- as your staff has set them forward.

I do want to thank y'all for your time. I know this is a thankless job and y'all don't hear it often enough, that you have a lot that you have to deal with. So I appreciate your time. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Scott Carr and if I have this right, I believe his son as well, either separately or collectively?

All right. Matt Winkler is up next.

Did he sign up?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't think so.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And Rex Webb.

MR. REX WEBB: Howdy. Thank you. I really didn't know I was going to speak, but I wanted to see what was said prior to my leaving. The only thing I can think of to add is the overall global thing of our presence here, in God's creation we are just a blip in history if you think about it. The things that we decide to do by action or inaction, are so crucial to what happens next. I approve of the rules that you've set forth. I think it's very important to act and not be inactive. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

For the record, I would like to mention that 26 individuals signed up in favor of the proposed agenda item, but did not wish to speak; and 49 people signed up against the proposed Agenda Item No. 4 and did not wish to speak.

Is there anybody else who signed up to speak and didn't have an opportunity to or who would like to speak at this time?

All right. Commission discussion? Is there any discussion from the Commission?

Okay. So motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'll make the motion, but I'd like to make a personal comment. I'm making the motion, recognizing that this is a compromise, countless hours of discussion, input, review by the Department and interested parties. I personally would like to see more stringent rules. We've had an epizootic event and I think I would prefer to err on the side of caution and as one of the speakers put it so well, that a program that has an element of hope in it is not an ideal program.

But with that said, Mr. Chairman, I will make the motion to approve.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Moved by Commissioner Morian. Second?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to make --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins, go ahead.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Get in trouble with the court reporter. I want to join Reed in thanking so many citizens who took time off from work and families to travel here from all over the state to be in Austin and express your position on these proposed rules. And I know we had well over a hundred people signed up to speak, and so we appreciate your patience in enduring that process and waiting for that opportunity.

I would like to note for the record that about 25 individuals who registered to speak in opposition to the proposed rules, left en masse at about 10:30 this morning immediately after Mr. Tarlton, the Executive Director of the Texas Deer Association, concluded his comments and did so without expressing or exercising, rather, their right to share their views. The -- since the emergency rules were implemented last summer, the models and data have become more informative and refined and that's good because we pride ourselves in acting on the best science that we have.

In my judgment, the goal here was to promulgate rules that provide the state with at least a 50 percent level of detecting CWD. And on June 13th, Commissioner Scott and Jones and I met with TDA's President, as well as its Executive Director and others and importantly, Mr. Price and Mr. Tarlton acknowledged at that meeting that that 50 percent level of detection goal was reasonable and that rules that were designed to achieve that goal were necessary and appropriate to protect the state's interests and the interest of private landowners.

We heard testimony today that the models that serve as the basis or the base for these proposed rules, were reasonable and reliable. No testimony was offered to contradict those models, nor to propose other suggested models. In my view, the Department and Animal Health Services have listened to input from landowners and breeders and throughout this process, adjustments have been made to balance the interests. I also think that the Department and Dr. Schwartz and his colleagues have worked very closely to develop science-based rules that are fair and balanced. Months and literally months of time and study by lots of dedicated staff, including time at night and on the weekends, has been devoted to consideration of these rules. They have not been taken lightly, and the process has been open at all times.

In my judgment, there is a clear and rational basis for the proposed rules and I support them as necessary to the discharge of our solemn duty to protect and manage the state's deer herd. So I second the motion.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So motion by Commissioner Morian, second by Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, the motion carries.

Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Commission business; and I hereby declare us adjourned.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2016.

____________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

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Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

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Anna B. Galo, Member

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Bill Jones, Member

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Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

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James H. Lee, Member

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S. Reed Morian, Member

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Dick Scott, Member

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Kelcy L. Warren, Member

C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS       )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, ________.

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2016
7010 Cool Canyon Cove
Round Rock, Texas 78681
(512)779-8320

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