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Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Presenters: Alan Cain
Shaun Oldenburger

Action
2019-2020 Statewide Hunting and Migratory Game Bird Proclamations
Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes
March 20, 2019

I.      Executive Summary:  With this item, the staff seeks adoption of proposed amendments to and new rules within the Statewide Hunting Proclamation and the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, respectively. The amendments and new sections would: 

General

White-tailed Deer

Mule Deer

Javelina

Turkey

Migratory Game Bird Regulations

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

At the Commission Work Session meeting on January 23, 2019, staff was authorized to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the February 15, 2019 issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 676).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III.   Recommendation:  The staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §65.10, §65.29, §65.42, and §65.44 concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, and the repeal of §§65.314-65.321, an amendment to §65.313, and new §§65.314-65.320, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 15, 2019 issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 676).”

Attachments – 2

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Statewide Hunting Proclamation
  2. Exhibit B – Proposed Migratory Game Bird Proclamation

Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

2019-2020 STATEWIDE HUNTING PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes amendments to §§65.10, 65.29, 65.42, and 65.44, concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation.

        The proposed amendment to §65.10, concerning Possession of Wildlife Resources, would reword the content of subsection (f) to clarify provisions governing proof of sex for turkey. The department has received comments from the public indicating confusion with respect to when proof of a turkey’s sex is required and how to comply with the requirements. The proposed amendment nonsubstantively alters the current provision to clarify that proof of sex is required for turkeys taken during seasons when the bag limit is gobblers only or gobblers and bearded hens (i.e., not either sex), and that it can remain attached to the harvested bird or accompany the harvested bird (i.e., be available upon request by a game warden).

        The proposed amendment to §65.29, concerning Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Programs, would authorize the department to refuse program participation on any tract of land where harvested deer were not presented at a department check station for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing when required to do so by department rules. The department is concerned that hunters could be advised to avoid presenting harvested deer at mandatory check stations, an action that places hunters in legal jeopardy (it is a criminal offense to fail to present harvested deer at a check station when required to do so) and confounds the department’s efforts to contain and manage CWD, a disease that threatens the state’s deer populations. The department reasons that participation in the MLD Program is a privilege that allows cooperators to enjoy a longer harvest period and enhanced bag limits, and that privilege should be limited to persons who support the department’s statutory duty to protect a public resource. Under the proposed new provision, denial of program participation would not be automatic, but contingent on a number of factors, including whether the applicant advised hunters of any mandatory check station requirements in effect at the time a deer was harvested on property owned or managed by the applicant; whether the applicant encouraged, advised, or directed a person who killed deer on property owned or managed by the applicant not to present a harvested deer at a mandatory check station at any time that harvested deer were required by rule or statute to be presented at a mandatory check station; the number of harvested deer harvested on a property owned or managed by the applicant that were not presented at mandatory check stations; and any other aggravating or mitigating factors the department deems relevant.

        The proposed amendment also would update internal cross references to the muzzleloader and youth-only deer seasons established in §65.42.

        The proposed amendment to §65.42, concerning Deer, would increase the number of “doe days” (the time period during the general open season when an MLD tag is not required to harvest antlerless deer) from four to 16 in 20 counties, and institute four doe days in 21 counties where the harvest of antlerless deer is currently by MLD tag only.

        The current harvest regulation in Bell (east of IH 35), Burleson, Delta, Ellis, Falls, Fannin, Franklin, Freestone, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Limestone, Milam, Navarro, Rains, Smith, Titus, Van Zandt, Williamson (east of IH 35), and Wood counties provides for a four-day period during the general open season during which antlerless deer may be lawfully harvested without an MLD tag. At all other times during the general open season, an MLD tag is required for the harvest of antlerless deer in these counties. The affected counties are in the Blackland Prairies and Post Oak Savannah ecoregions. Population trends in this area indicate an estimated 4.85% average annual population growth from 2005-2016. Individual Deer Management Units (DMUs) within these ecoregions also experienced similar estimated annual population growth, ranging from 3.3% to 40.1%. A DMU is an area characterized by similar soil types, vegetative communities, wildlife ecology, and land-use practices. Harvest surveys indicate the estimated antlerless deer harvest comprises only 41% of the total harvest for the ecoregion, which may contribute to a skewed sex ratio averaging 3.9 does per buck. Increased doe harvest during the general open season is needed to reduce the impact of the deer herd upon the habitat, improve the sex ratio, and relieve buck harvest pressure. Therefore, the proposed amendment would increase the number of “doe days,” from four to 16 days, which would take place beginning opening day of the general open season.

        The proposed amendment also would implement “doe days” in Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal (east of IH 35), De Witt, Fayette, Goliad (north of U.S. Highway 59), Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays (east of IH 35), Jackson (north of U.S. Highway 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Travis (east of IH 35), Victoria (north of U.S. Highway 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (north of U.S. Highway 59), and Wilson counties. These counties span the southern edge of the Post Oak Savannah ecoregion.  Current harvest regulations in these counties prohibit the harvest of antlerless deer during the general open season unless MLD tags have been issued for the property. Data indicate that deer populations in this area have experienced a slow but steady positive growth from 2005-2017, with an estimated average annual growth rate of 3.13 percent.  Deer densities were estimated to be 16.13 acres per deer in 2017, with a range of from 12 to 21 acres per deer. The population data suggest that the growing deer population is above desired density levels for some habitats in the region. Allowing deer densities above this level could be detrimental to habitat components and the deer population. Harvest surveys indicate that the estimated antlerless deer harvest comprises only 41% of the total harvest for the ecoregion, which may contribute to a skewed sex ratio averaging 4.23 does per buck. While participation in the MLD program within this area is high, with many properties that are part of wildlife management associations, harvest data indicate that only 50-60 percent of the recommended antlerless deer harvest has been achieved over the last several years. This trend indicates that MLD program participation alone is not sufficient to address deer population growth in this area. The proposed amendment would therefore implement four “doe days,” which is expected to reduce browsing impacts on native habitats, relieve pressure on buck harvest, and provide additional hunting opportunity for those individuals choosing not to participate in the MLD Program. Although the department does not believe that the proposed amendment will result in negative population implications, because antlerless harvest in these counties has been restricted for many years, the department believes that harvest under a “doe day” regulation should be closely monitored to definitively characterize localized harvest pressure. Therefore, the proposed amendment also would impose a requirement that all antlerless deer harvested in the affected counties, including during the archery-only, muzzleloader-only, and youth special seasons, be reported to the department via the department’s internet site or mobile application within 24 hours of harvest.

        The proposed amendment to §65.42 also would implement an antler restriction for the harvest of mule deer in Lynn County. In 2017, the department selected six Panhandle counties in which to implement an experimental antler-restriction rule in response to undesirably excessive harvest of bucks. Also, in 2017 the department opened a season for mule deer in Lynn County. The population in Lynn County has not been subject to hunting; therefore, the department seeks to impose antler restrictions in Lynn County to create another experimental situation to evaluate the impacts of antler-restriction rules on age structure and sex ratios in a population being hunted for the first time.

        The proposed amendment to §65.44, concerning Javelina: Open Season and Bag Limits, would open a season for javelina in Borden, Dawson, Gaines, Hardeman, Scurry, and Terry counties. Department survey data indicate that javelina populations in the South Plains are expanding northwards and those in the southeastern Panhandle are expanding westwards, which justifies the opening of a season in the named counties. The season would run from October 1 through the last Sunday in February and the bag limit would be two javelina.

2. Fiscal Note.

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

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

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

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

        There will be no adverse economic effect on persons required to comply with the rules as proposed.

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

        The department has determined that the proposed rules regulate various aspects of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest wildlife resources in this state and therefore do not directly affect small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. Therefore, neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

        (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

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

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

        (F) The department has determined that because the rules as proposed do not impose a cost on regulated persons, it is not necessary to repeal or amend any existing rule.

        (G) In compliance with the requirements of Government Code, §2001.0221, the department has prepared the following Government Growth Impact Statement (GGIS).  The ruled as proposed, if adopted, will:

                 (1) neither create nor eliminate a government program;

                 (2) not result in an increase or decrease in the number of full-time equivalent employee needs;

                 (3) not result in a need for additional General Revenue funding;

                 (4) not affect the amount of any fee;

                 (5) not create a new regulation;

                 (6) expand an existing regulation (by providing for the option to decline MLDP participation for properties not compliant with required CWD testing, adding counties to the effectiveness of “doe day” regulations, implementing antler restriction rules in Lynn County and opening a javelina season in additional counties);

                 (7) neither increase nor decrease the number of individuals subject to regulation; and

                 (8) not positively or adversely affect the state’s economy.

4. Request for Public Comment.

        Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Mitch Lockwood (big game) at (830) 792-9677, e-mail: mitch.lockwood@tpwd.texas.gov, Shaun Oldenburger (small game and upland birds) at 512-389-4778, e-mail: shaun.oldenburger@tpwd.texas.gov or Stormy King (Law Enforcement) at 512-389-, e-mail: jason.jones@tpwd.texas.gov. Comments also may be submitted via the department’s website at https://www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/.

5. Statutory Authority.

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

        The proposed amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61.

6. Rule Text

        §65.10. Possession of Wildlife Resources.

                 (a) – (e) (No change.)

                 (f) During a season in which[In a county where] the bag composition for turkey is restricted to gobblers only or gobblers and[and/or] bearded hens, proof of sex must remain with a harvested turkey (attached or detached from the bird) until it reaches either the possessor’s permanent residence or a cold storage/processing facility and is finally processed. Proof of sex for turkey is as follows:

                         (1) gobbler (male turkey)[male turkey]:

                                  (A) one leg, including the spur[, attached to the bird]; or

                                  (B) [the bird, accompanied by] a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached.

                         (2) bearded hen (female turkey):[female turkey taken during the fall season: the bird, accompanied by] a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached.

                 (g) – (l) (No change.)

        §65.29. Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Programs.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) General Provisions.

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

                         (5) On an enrolled tract of land there is no personal or annual bag limit for the type of deer (buck, unbranched antlered, or antlerless) for which MLDP tags have been issued and the provisions of §65.42(b)(6)[§65.42(b)(17)] of this title (relating to Deer[Muzzleloader-only Open Season]), §65.42(b)(7)[§65.42(b)(18)] of this title [(relating to Special Youth-Only Seasons)], and the stamp requirement of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter I (relating to Archery Stamps), do not apply.

                         (6) – (11) (No change.)

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

                (e) Refusal of Enrollment.

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

                         (4)  The department may refuse to allow or continue enrollment in the MLDP for any tract of land on which a deer has been harvested but not presented to a mandatory check station for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing as required by Subchapter B of this chapter.

                         (5)  In determining whether to refuse to allow or continue enrollment in the MLDP under paragraph (4) of this subsection the department shall consider:

                                  (A) whether the applicant advised hunters of any mandatory check station requirements in effect at the time a deer was harvested on the tract of land owned or managed by the applicant;

                                  (B) whether the applicant encouraged, advised, or directed person who killed a deer on the tract of land owned or managed by the applicant not to present a harvested deer at a mandatory check station;

                                  (C) the number of deer harvested on the tract of land owned or managed by the applicant that were not presented at mandatory check stations; and

                                  (D) any other aggravating or mitigating factors the department deems relevant.

                 (f) (No change.)

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

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on

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

        The proposed amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61.

        §65.42 Deer

                 (a) General.

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

                         (5) In the counties or portions of counties listed in subsection (b)(2)(H) of this section, antlerless deer harvested on properties not subject to the provisions of §65.29 of this title (relating to Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Programs) must be reported via the department’s internet or mobile application within 24 hours of the time of kill, including antlerless deer harvested during the special seasons established by subsection (b)(5)-(7) of this section.

                 (b) White-tailed deer. The open seasons and bag limits for white-tailed deer shall be as follows.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) North Zone. The general open season for the counties listed in this subparagraph is from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January.

                         (A) – (F) (No change.)

                                  (G) In Anderson, Bell (East of IH 35), Bowie, Burleson, Brazos, Camp, Cass, Delta, Ellis, Falls, Fannin, Franklin, Freestone, Gregg, Grimes, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kauffman, Lamar, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Milam, Morris, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Panola, Rains, Red River, Robertson, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Titus, [and] Upshur, Van Zandt, Williamson (East of IH 35), and Wood counties:

                                          (i) – (iii) (No change.)

                                  (H) In Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal (east of IH 35), De Witt, Fayette, Goliad (north of U.S. Highway 59), Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays (east of IH 35), Jackson (north of U.S. Highway 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Travis (east of IH 35), Victoria (north of U.S. Highway 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (north of U.S. Highway 59), and Wilson[Bell (East of IH 35), Burleson, Delta, Ellis, Falls, Fannin, Franklin, Freestone, Hopkins, Hunt, Kauffman, Limestone, Milam, Navarro, Rains, Smith, Titus, Van Zandt, Williamson (East of IH 35), and Wood] counties:

                                          (i) – (iii) (No change.)

                                  (I) (No change.)

                                  (J) [In Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal (east of IH 35), De Witt, Fayette, Goliad (north of U.S. Highway 59), Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays (east of IH 35), Jackson (north of U.S. Highway 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Travis (east of IH 35), Victoria (north of U.S. Highway 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (north of U.S. Highway 59), and Wilson counties;]

                                          [(i) the bag limit is four deer, no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless;]

                                          [(ii) the antler restrictions described in paragraph (3) of this subsection apply; and]

                                          [(iii) antlerless deer may be taken by MLDP tag only.]

                                  [(K)] In Andrews, Bailey Castro, Cochran, Dallam, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Gaines, Hale, Hansford, Hartley, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Moore, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, and Yoakum counties, the bag limit is three deer, no more than one buck and no more than two antlerless.

                                  (K)[(L)] In Crane, Ector, Loving, Midland, Ward, and Winkler counties:

                                          (i) the bag limit is three deer, no more than one buck and no more than two antlerless; and

                                          (ii) antlerless deer may be taken by MLDP tag only.

                                  (L)[(M)] In all other counties, there is no general open season.

                         (3) – (5) (No change.)

                         (6) Muzzleloader-only open seasons, and bag and possession limits shall be as follows. In Anderson, Angelina, Austin, Bastrop, Bell (East of IH 35), Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Brewster, Burleson, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Chambers, Cherokee, Colorado, Comal (East of IH 35), Culberson, Delta, DeWitt, Ellis, Fannin, Falls, Fayette, Fort Bend, Franklin, Freestone, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Gregg, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hays (East of IH 35), Henderson, Hopkins, Houston, Hunt, Jackson, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Karnes, Kaufman, Lamar, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Matagorda, Milam, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Panola, Polk, Presidio, Rains, Red River, Reeves, Robertson, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Travis (East of IH 35), Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton, Williamson (East of IH 35), Wilson and Wood counties, there is an open season during which deer may be taken only with a muzzleloader.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) The bag limit for buck and antlerless deer is as specified in this section for the general season in the county or portion of a county in which take occurs

                                  (C) [Special provisions:]

                                          [(i) Buck deer. In any given county listed in this paragraph, all restrictions established in this subsection for the take of buck deer during the general season remain in effect.]

                                          [(ii) Antlerless deer.  In the counties listed in paragraph (2)(J) of this subsection, the take of antlerless deer is by MLDP tag only. In all other counties listed in this paragraph, the bag limit for antlerless deer established in this subsection for the general remains in effect.]

                                  [(D)] Antlerless deer may be taken on USFS lands during a muzzleloader-only season.
                         (7) Special Youth-Only Seasons. There shall be special youth-only general hunting seasons in all counties where there is a general open season for white-tailed deer.

                                            (A) – (B) (No change.)

                                           (C) Bag limits, provisions for the take of antlerless deer, and special requirements in the individual counties listed in paragraph (2)(A) — (H)[(J)] of this subsection shall be as specified for the first two days of the general open season in those counties, except as provided in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph.

                                          (D) — (G) (No change.)

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

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

                         (4) In Andrews, Bailey, Castro, Cochran, Dawson, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Parmer, Terry, and Yoakum counties:

                                  (A) the Saturday before Thanksgiving for nine consecutive days;

                                  (B) bag limit: one buck; and

                                  (C) antlerless deer may be taken by antlerless mule deer permit or MLDP tag only.

                                  (D) In Lynn County, no person may harvest a buck deer with an outside spread of the main beams of less than 20 inches.

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

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

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

                 (b) – (d) (No change.)

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

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit B

2019 -2020 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) proposes the repeal of §§65.314-65.321, an amendment to §65.313, and new §§65.314-65.320, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

        The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issues annual frameworks for the hunting of migratory game birds in the United States. Regulations adopted by individual states may be more restrictive than the federal frameworks but may not be less restrictive. Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, means, methods, and devices for harvesting migratory game birds within Service frameworks is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, Subchapter C.

        Prior to 2016, the Service issued annual regulatory frameworks for migratory game birds at different times of the year (the preliminary early-season (dove, teal, snipe, woodcock, rails, gallinules) frameworks in late June and the preliminary late-season (ducks, geese, cranes) frameworks in early August). In 2017, the Service began issuing all final migratory game bird frameworks in November and as a result, the commission included deliberation of migratory game bird regulations as part of the regular statewide hunting proclamation process, which allows hunters of migratory game birds to know season dates, bag limits, and other regulations much earlier. Because there is no longer a distinction at the federal level between early season species and late season species, the department has determined that there is no longer a reason for the state’s migratory game bird proclamation to be organized according to those distinctions. The proposed new rules would reorganize existing provisions by individual species, including zone boundaries, season dates, bag limits, exceptions to possession limits, and any special provisions. The reorganization is completely nonsubstantive; no existing provisions are being eliminated or altered and no new provisions are being added, other than the designation of calendar dates for hunting seasons and the bag limit for pintail ducks, discussed below.

        The proposed amendment to §65.313, concerning General Rules, would state that the possession limit for migratory birds is three times the daily bag limit unless otherwise specifically provided. Under the current rules, the possession limit is also three times the daily bag limit, which is stated repeatedly for each species of migratory game bird. By simply having a general provision regarding possession limits, it is not necessary to repeat the same provision multiple times.

        The proposed new sections, in addition to the nonsubstantive reorganization discussed previously, also would specify the season dates for the 2019-2020 migratory game bird seasons. In all cases, the proposed new rules retain the season structure and bag limits for all migratory game birds from last year, with one exception, while adjusting the season dates to allow for calendar shift (i.e., to ensure that seasons open on the desired day of the week, since dates from a previous year do not fall on the same days in following years).

        The single exception is a reduction in the bag limit of pintail ducks, from two birds to one bird. The Service frameworks specify a bag limit of one pintail duck per person per day.

2. Fiscal Note.

        Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director, has determined that for the first five years that the repeals, amendment, and new sections as proposed are in effect, there will be no additional fiscal implications to state or local governments of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

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

        (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the rules as proposed will be the department’s discharge of its statutory obligation to manage and conserve the state’s populations of migratory game birds for the use and enjoyment of the public, consistent with the principles of sound biological management.

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

        The department has determined that the proposed rules regulate various aspects of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest migratory game bird resources in this state and therefore do not directly affect small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. Therefore, neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

        There also will be no adverse economic effect on persons required to comply with the rules as proposed.

        (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

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

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

        (F) The department has determined that because the rule as proposed does not impose a cost on regulated persons, it is not necessary to repeal or amend any existing rule.

        (G) In compliance with the requirements of Government Code, §2001.0221, the department has prepared the following Government Growth Impact Statement (GGIS).  The rule as proposed, if adopted, will:

                 (1) neither create nor eliminate a government program;

                 (2) not result in an increase or decrease in the number of full-time equivalent employee needs;

                 (3) not result in a need for additional General Revenue funding;

                 (4) not affect the amount of any fee;

                 (5) not create a new regulation, but replace existing regulations;

                 (6) not expand or limit an existing regulation, but will repeal and replace existing regulations;

                 (7) neither increase nor decrease the number of individuals subject to regulation; and

                 (8) not positively or adversely affect the state’s economy.

4. Request for Public Comment.

        Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted via the department website at www.tpwd.texas.gov. Shaun Oldenburger (Small Game Bird Program Director) at 512-389-4778, e-mail: shaun.oldenburger@tpwd.texas.gov

5. Statutory Authority.

        The repeals are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, which authorizes the Commission and the Executive Director to provide the open season and means, methods, and devices for the hunting and possessing of migratory game birds.

        The proposed repeals affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

        §65.314. Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species.

        §65.315. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Early Season.

        §65.316. Closed Areas.

        §65.317. Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species.

        §65.318. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Late Season.

        §65.319. Extended Falconry Season — Early Season Species.

        §65.320. Extended Falconry Season — Late Season Species.

        §65.321. Special Management Provisions.

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

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on

6. Rule Text.

        The amendment and new rules are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, which authorizes the Commission and the Executive Director to provide the open season and means, methods, and devices for the hunting and possessing of migratory game birds.

        The proposed amendment and new rules affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

        §65.313. General Rules.

                 (a) No person shall hunt migratory game birds except during the open season as provided herein, or at any time except during the hours as provided herein. All dates are inclusive.

                (b) If no open season is provided under this subchapter for a species of migratory bird there is no open season for that species, including red-billed pigeons, band-tailed pigeons, or any species of shorebird.

                 (c)[(b)] Shooting hours for migratory game birds are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, except during the special white-winged dove season. In the special white-winged dove zone during the special white-winged dove season, shooting hours are from noon to sunset.

                 (d) Except as specifically provided in this subchapter, the possession limit for any migratory game bird species is three times the daily bag limit specified for that species. 

                 (e)[(c)] No person shall hunt migratory game birds in this state unless that person is certified in the Harvest Information Program.

                 (f)[(d)] Every migratory game bird wounded by hunting and reduced to possession by a hunter shall be immediately killed and become a part of the daily bag limit.

                 (g)[(e)] The provisions of 50 CFR Part 20, Subparts E, F, G, and H in effect on September 1, 2007 are adopted by reference.

                 (h)[(f)] The executive director may, after notifying the Chairman of the Commission, authorize any rulemaking necessary to modify the provisions of this subchapter.

        §65.314. Doves (mourning, white-winged, white-tipped, white-fronted doves).

                 (a) Zones.

                         (1) North Zone: That portion of the state north of a line beginning at the International Bridge south of Fort Hancock; thence north along FM 1088 to State Highway 20; thence west along State Highway 20 to State Highway 148; thence north along State Highway 148 to Interstate Highway 10 at Fort Hancock; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to Interstate Highway 20; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 20 to Interstate Highway 30 at Fort Worth; thence northeast along Interstate Highway 30 to the Texas-Arkansas state line.

                         (2) Central Zone: That portion of the state between the North Zone and the South Zone.

                         (3) South Zone and Special White-winged Dove Area: That portion of the state south of a line beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to State Loop 1604; thence following Loop 1604 south and east to Interstate Highway 10; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to the Texas-Louisiana State Line.

                 (b) Seasons; Daily Bag Limits.

                         (1) North Zone.

                                  (A) Dates: September 1 — November 12, 2019 and December 20, 2019 – January 5, 2020.

                                  (B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day.

                         (2) Central Zone.

                                  (A) Dates: September 1 — November 3, 2019 and December 20, 2019 — January 14, 2020.

                                  (B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day.

                         (3) South Zone and Special White-winged Dove Area.

                                  (A) Dates: September 1, 2, 7, and 8, 2019; September 14 – November 3, 2019; and December 20, 2019 — January 23, 2020.

                                  (B) Daily bag limit:

                                          (i) on September 1, 2, 7, and 8, 2019; 15 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped (white-fronted) doves per day.

                                          (ii) from September 14 – November 3, 2019 and December 20, 2019 — January 23, 2020; 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped (white-fronted) doves per day

        §65.315. Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, and Teal.

                 (a)  Zone Boundaries.

                         (1) High Plains Mallard Management Unit (HPMMU): that portion of Texas lying west of a line from the international toll bridge at Del Rio, thence northward following U.S. Highway 277 to Abilene, State Highway 351 and State Highway 6 to Albany, and U.S. Highway 283 from Albany to Vernon, thence eastward along U.S. Highway 183 to the Texas-Oklahoma state line.

                         (2) North Zone: that portion of Texas not in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit but north of a line from the International Toll Bridge in Del Rio; thence northeast along U.S. Highway 277 Spur to U.S. Highway 90 in Del Rio; thence east along U.S. Highway 90 to Interstate Highway 10 at San Antonio; thence east along Interstate Highway 10 to the Texas-Louisiana State Line.

                         (3) South Zone: that part of the state not designated as being in the HPMMU or the North Zone.

                         (4) The September teal-only special season is statewide.

                 (b) Season dates and bag limits.

                         (1) HPMMU.

                                  (A) For all species other than "dusky ducks": October 26 — 27, 2019 and November 1, 2019 — January 26, 2020; and

                                  (B) "dusky ducks": November 4, 2019 — January 26, 2020.

                         (2) North Zone.

                                  (A) all species other than "dusky ducks": November 9 – December 1, 2019 and December 7, 2019 — January 26, 2020; and

                                  (B) "dusky ducks": November 14 – December 1, 2019 and December 7, 2019 — January 26, 2020.

                         (3) South Zone.

                                  (A) all species other than "dusky ducks": November 2 – December 1, 2019 and December 14, 2019 — January 26, 2020; and

                                  (B) "dusky ducks": November 7 – December 1, 2019 and December 14, 2019 — January 26, 2020.

                         (4) September teal-only season.

                                  (A) During the September teal-only special season, the season is closed for all species of ducks other than teal ducks (blue-winged, green-winged, and cinnamon).

                                  (B) Dates: September 14 — 29, 2019.

                 (c) Bag limits.

                         (1) The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may include no more than five mallards (only two of which may be hens); three wood ducks; three scaup (lesser scaup and greater scaup in the aggregate); two redheads; two canvasbacks; one pintail; and one "dusky" duck (mottled duck, Mexican like duck, black duck and their hybrids) during the seasons established for those species in this section. For all species not listed, the bag limit shall be six. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than two hooded mergansers.

                          (2) The daily bag limit during the September teal-only season is six in the aggregate.

        §65.316. Geese. 

                 (a) Zone boundaries.

                         (1) Western Zone: that portion of Texas lying west of a line from the international toll bridge at Laredo, thence northward following IH 35 and 35W to Fort Worth, thence northwest along U.S. Highways 81 and 287 to Bowie, thence northward along U.S. Highway 81 to the Texas-Oklahoma state line.

                         (2) Eastern Zone: the remainder of the state.

                 (b) Season dates and bag limits.

                         (1) Western Zone.

                                  (A) Light geese: November 2, 2019 — February 2, 2020. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                  (B) Dark geese: November 2, 2019 — February 2, 2020. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, to include no more than two white-fronted geese.

                         (2) Eastern Zone.

                                 (A) Light geese: November 2, 2019 — January 26, 2020. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                  (B) Dark geese:

                                          (i) Season: November 2, 2019 — January 26, 2020;

                                          (ii) Bag limit: The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, to include no more than two white-fronted geese.

                 (c) September Canada goose season. Canada geese may be hunted in the Eastern Zone during the season established by this subsection. The season is closed for all other species of geese during the season established by this subsection.

                         (1) Season dates: September 14 — 29, 2019.

                         (2) The daily bag limit is five.

                 (d) Light Goose Conservation Order. The provisions of paragraphs (1) — (3) of this subsection apply only to the hunting of light geese. All provisions of this subchapter continue in effect unless specifically provided otherwise in this section; however, where this section conflicts with the provisions of this subchapter, this section prevails.

                         (1) Means and methods. The following means and methods are lawful during the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this section:

                                  (A) shotguns capable of holding more than three shells; and

                                  (B) electronic calling devices.

                         (2) Possession. During the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this section:

                                  (A) there shall be no bag or possession limits; and

                                  (B) the provisions of §65.312 of this title (relating to Possession of Migratory Game Birds) do not apply; and

                         (3) Shooting hours. During the time periods set forth in paragraph (4) of this subsection, shooting hours are from one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset.

                         (4) Season dates.

                                 (A) From January 27 — March 15, 2020, the take of light geese is lawful in the Eastern Zone.

                                 (B) From February 3 — March 15, 2020, the take of light geese is lawful in the Western Zone.

        §65.317. Special Youth-Only Waterfowl Season. There shall be a Special Youth-Only Season for waterfowl, during which the hunting, taking, and possession of geese, ducks, mergansers, and coots is restricted to licensed hunters 16 years of age and younger accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older, except for persons hunting by means of falconry under the provisions of §65.320 of this chapter (relating to Extended Falconry Seasons).

                 (1) HPMMU:

                         (A) season dates: October 19 — 20, 2019;

                         (B) daily bag limits;

                                  (i) ducks, coots, and mergansers – as specified by §65.315(b)(1) of this title (relating to Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, and Teal); and

                                  (ii) geese – as specified by §65.316(b)(1) of this title (relating to Geese).

                 (2) North Duck Zone:

                         (A) season dates:  November 2 — 3, 2019;

                         (B) daily bag limits:                         

                                  (i) ducks, coots, and mergansers – as specified by §65.315(b)(2) of this title; and

                                  (ii) geese:

                                          (I) west of IH 35 – as specified by §65.316(b)(1) of this title; and

                                          (II) east of IH 35 — as specified by §65.316(b)(2) of this title.

                 (3) South Duck Zone:

                         (A) season dates: Special youth-only season: October 26 — 27, 2019;

                         (B) daily bag limits:

                                  (i) ducks, coots, and mergansers – as specified by §65.315(b)(3) of this title; and

                                  (ii) geese:

                                          (I) west of IH 35 – as specified by §65.316(b)(1) of this title; and

                                          (II) east of IH 35 — as specified by §65.316(b)(2) of this title.

        §65.318. Sandhill Crane.

                 (a) Zone Boundaries.

                         (1) Zone A: that portion of Texas lying west of a line beginning at the international toll bridge at Laredo, thence northeast along U.S. Highway 81 to its junction with Interstate Highway 35 in Laredo, thence north along Interstate Highway 35 to its junction with Interstate Highway 10 in San Antonio, thence northwest along Interstate Highway 10 to its junction with U.S. Highway 83 at Junction, thence north along U.S. Highway 83 to its junction with U.S. Highway 62, 16 miles north of Childress, thence east along U.S. Highway 62 to the Texas-Oklahoma state line.

                         (2) Zone B: that portion of Texas lying within boundaries beginning at the junction of U.S. Highway 81 and the Texas-Oklahoma state line, thence southeast along U.S. Highway 81 to its junction with U.S. Highway 287 in Montague County, thence southeast along U.S. Highway 287 to its junction with Interstate Highway 35W in Fort Worth, thence southwest along Interstate Highway 35 to its junction with Interstate Highway 10 in San Antonio, thence northwest along Interstate Highway 10 to its junction with U.S. Highway 83 in Junction, thence north along U.S. Highway 83 to its junction with U.S. Highway 62, 16 miles north of Childress, thence east along U.S. Highway 62 to the Texas-Oklahoma state line, thence south along the Texas-Oklahoma state line to the south bank of the Red River, thence eastward along the vegetation line on the south bank of the Red River to U.S. Highway 81.

                         (3) Zone C: the remainder of the state, except for the closed areas specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection.

                         (4) Closed areas:

                                  (A) that portion of the state lying east and north of a line beginning at the junction of U.S. Highway 81 and the Texas-Oklahoma state line, thence southeast along U.S. Highway 81 to its junction with U.S. Highway 287 in Montague County, thence southeast along U.S. Highway 287 to its junction with Interstate Highway 35W in Fort Worth, thence southwest along Interstate Highway 35 to its junction with U.S. Highway 290 East in Austin, thence east along U.S. Highway 290 to its junction with Interstate Loop 610 in Harris County, thence south and east along Interstate Loop 610 to its junction with Interstate Highway 45 in Houston, thence south on Interstate Highway 45 to State Highway 342, thence to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, and thence north and east along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico to the Texas-Louisiana state line; and

                                  (B) that portion of the state lying within the boundaries of a line beginning at the Kleberg-Nueces county line and the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, thence west along the county line to Park Road 22 in Nueces County, thence north and west along Park Road 22 to its junction with State Highway 358 in Corpus Christi, thence west and north along State Highway 358 to its junction with State Highway 286, thence north along State Highway 286 to its junction with Interstate Highway 37, thence east along Interstate Highway 37 to its junction with U.S. Highway 181, thence north and west along U.S. Highway 181 to its junction with U.S. Highway 77 in Sinton, thence north and east along U.S. Highway 77 to its junction with U.S. Highway 87 in Victoria, thence south and east along U.S. Highway 87 to its junction with State Highway 35 at Port Lavaca, thence north and east along State Highway 35 to the south end of the Lavaca Bay Causeway, thence south and east along the shore of Lavaca Bay to its junction with the Port Lavaca Ship Channel, thence south and east along the Lavaca Bay Ship Channel to the Gulf of Mexico, and thence south and west along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico to the Kleberg-Nueces county line.

                 (b) Season dates and bag limits.

                         (1) Zone A: October 26, 2019 — January 26, 2020. The daily bag limit is three.

                         (2) Zone B: November 22, 2019 — January 26, 2020. The daily bag limit is three.

                         (3) Zone C: December 14, 2019 — January 19, 2020. The daily bag limit is two.

        §65.319. Gallinules, Rails, Snipe, Woodcock.

                 (a) Gallinules (moorhen or common gallinule and purple gallinule) may be taken in any county during the season established in this section.           

                         (1) Season dates: September 14 — 29, 2019 and November 2 — December 25, 2019.

                         (2) Daily bag limit: 15 in the aggregate.

                 (b) Rails may be taken in any county in this state during the season established by this section

                         (1) Season dates: September 14 — 29, 2019 and November 2 — December 25, 2019.

                         (2) Daily bag limits:

                                  (A) King and clapper rails. The daily bag limit is 15 in the aggregate;

                                  (B) Sora and Virginia rails. The daily bag limit is 25 in the aggregate;

                 (c) Snipe may be taken in any county of the state during the season established by this section.

                         (1) Season dates: October 26, 2019 — February 9, 2020.

                         (2) The daily bag limit is eight.

                 (d) Woodcock may be taken in any county of the state during the season established by this section.

                         (1) Season dates: December 18, 2019 — January 31, 2020.

                         (2) The daily bag limit is three.

        §65.320. Extended Falconry Seasons. It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the seasons established by this section.

                 (1) Mourning doves, white-winged doves and white-tipped doves: November 16 — December 2, 2019.

                 (2) Duck, gallinule, moorhen, rail, and woodcock: January 27 — February 9, 2020.

                 (3) There is no extended falconry season in the HPMMU.

                (4) Daily bag limit: three in the aggregate.

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

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on