TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, November 4, 2021


TPW Commission Meetings


November 4, 2021






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday November 4th Meeting. Thank you all for attending, and we don't have everyone here. We also have others in a room on the premise just for distancing; but hopefully they can hear, see, and will be able to come in at the appropriate time.

Before we get started, I'm going to take a roll call. Aplin present.









CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. This meeting is called to order November 4th at 9:09 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believer Mr. Carter Smith has a statement he'd like to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

For the record, a 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.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Carter.

As a reminder, Commissioners, if you'll state your name and speak slowly before so the court reporter can get it.

First approve -- first is the approval of minutes from the Commission Meeting August 26th, 2021, which have been distributed. I need a motion and a second.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Bell second. All those in favor signify by aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Next is acknowledgment of the list of donations, which has been distributed. Need a motion for approval.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Scott second. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none.

By the way, thank y'all so much for the donations. They're incredible. Month after month, year after year the donations that are made to the Agency are just so much appreciated and go to such good. So thank everyone for that.

Next is consideration of contracts, which have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hildebrand second. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item No. 1 is the Designation of Nonprofit Partners -- back to that donation we were visiting about our nonprofit partners -- Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ms. Brittney Zepeda, how are you? Good morning.

MS. ZEPEDA: Good morning.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Please make your presentation.

MS. ZEPEDA: Thank you. Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Brittney Zepeda and I'm the Texas State Parks Volunteer Program Manager. I'm requesting designation of nonprofit partners.

We have decades of partnerships dating back to the 1930s and in 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation was established as the official nonprofit partner. One of the legislative guidances enacted in 2001 was that the Commission vote on the designation of nonprofit partners. While we work closely with many nonprofits, like CCA or Ducks Unlimited, these designated nonprofits are considered closely related nonprofit partners that exist primarily for the purpose of a specific facility or program.

Nonprofit partners must follow rules of federal and state law. They are to be organized as a nonprofit corporation and follow the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act. Work must be consistent with the Agency's mission and goals. There will be a written agreement between the nonprofit partner and the Agency and nonprofits with are designated by the Commission in a public meeting. Groups may be removed from the list by the Commission. You can find the list of nonprofits in your agenda, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation as the official nonprofit.

So the recommended action today would be approval of the list of nonprofit partners. Thank you so much for your time. Do you have any questions?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Brittney, thank you.

Commissioners, any questions for Brittney, nonprofit partners?

Okay. Hearing none, no discussion, and we do not have anybody that has registered to speak on Item No. 1 -- correct, Dee?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: So if there's no comments from Commissioners and no one to speak, then I'll take a motion by a Commissioner.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Foster. Second?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Galo second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none, motion passes.

Thank you, Brittney.

MS. ZEPEDA: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 2, Coastal Thermal Refuge Area Closures, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Good morning, Brian. Make your presentation, please.

MR. BARTRAM: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and fellow Commissioners. For the record, my name is Brian Bartram. I'm the Ecosystem Leader with the Corpus Christi Bay Ecosystem. Today, I'll presenting the results of the public hearing that followed the proposed freeze closure rules and freeze closure area additions and changes that were presented at the August Commission Meeting.

As y'all know, the Department maintains a list of closure areas that the Executive Director may close to angling during freezing conditions. We propose the addition of new closure areas, as well as some changes to existing sites. And we also propose some definitional changes to the Texas Administrative Code to better define the conditions that constitute a freeze, as well as reopening criteria.

Now the changes we are proposing include clarifying the definition of an affected area. Now this proposed language gives us the ability to include other areas that will serve as a thermal refuge, but do not necessarily have bank access. We are also proposing language that will define a freeze using lethal water temperatures rather than air temperatures and this threshold would be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the water temperature at which species like Spotted seatrout and Red drum begin to suffer cold-related mortality.

We are also proposing language that will allow the Executive Director to notify the public of forthcoming closures in anticipation of a freeze, rather than after a freeze has occurred. And we're also seeking to establish reopening criteria based on water temperatures as measured by select NOAA stations, NOAA tide stations, and once water temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and are expected to remain above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 48 hours, the Executive Director may then allow fishing to resume in those affected areas.

So our staff, along with input from law enforcement, are recommending keeping 17 sites as is, adding 16 new sites, modifying two, and combining four with one new site to create one large site. And just to make the distinction, these newly proposed areas are not part of the Code; but we did seek public input on these areas.

A virtual coastal-wide public hearing was held on October 14th and during this meeting, the proposed changes to the Texas Administrative Code and maps of the newly proposed closure areas, as well as maps detailing any changes to existing sites were presented to the public. For the hearing, we had six registered attendees, two that attended, and the only comment received during the hearing was a comment seeking clarification on the Little Bay closure area. The old map, which no longer -- is no longer viewable on the public facing web page, showed only the canal subdivisions to the east as being closed. The new map will accurately reflect the text description of the closure site and will include all the waters of Little Bay in the -- in the map.

We also received 14 comments through the public comment portal on our web page. Thirteen that agreed completely and one disagree. And I'll add here that CCA has voiced their support of these proposals as well. The disagree comment, that individual actually agreed with the proposals; but wanted to express their concern about detrimental -- detrimental impacts to marine resources from barge movement through the Intercoastal Waterway during freezing conditions. And with that point, I wanted to emphasize that these suspensions of barge traffic are voluntary and temporary and our relationship with the Gulf Intercoastal Canal Association has been very positive. They have been very cooperative and accommodating in previous requests of suspension of barge traffic and ultimately the authority to suspend this barge traffic lies with the U.S. Coast Guard.

So today, our staff are recommending the adoption of proposed changes to the freeze closure section of the Texas Administrative Code as published in the September 24th, 2021, issue of the Texas Register. I welcome any questions at this time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brian.

Any questions/discussions the Commission?

We don't have anybody that requested to speak on this matter. Therefore, if there's no comments/questions by the Commission, I'll accept a motion and a second.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell makes a motion.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hildebrand second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none, Action Item No. 2, Thermal Refuge passes. Done.

MR. BARTRAM: Thank you.


Action Item No. 3, Digital License and Tagging Requirements, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mr. Robin Riechers. Robin, good morning.

MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Robin Riechers. I'm director of Coastal Fisheries and as indicated, I'm here to present to you the proposed adoption to allow digital recreational license and tagging and it is a -- as we have discussed, it is a pilot program. It would be established for the license year of 2023, which means the licenses would be ready to go on sale in August of next year.

It will be available on our TPWD website and the pilot program aspect of it, it's going to apply to the super combination, the senior super combo, and the lifetime super combo. And, of course, in order to do this, we're going to use the My -- the My Texas Hunt Harvest Application to basically create our digital tagging.

As we've discussed in the prior times, basically what we have to do is create an optional issuance of a digital license and tag. So we have to basically create an exception to the physical license and tag requirements that we currently now have and so that's what is completed in Exhibit A. And, of course, you'll have to that proof of receipt on a smart phone, tablet, or similar device.

In Exhibit B, of course, what we're doing here is allowing the -- actually creating the framework for what creates a digital tag and so this one, in particular, creates the digital tagging for Red drum. Basically the harvest report will be filled out and submitted immediately. If you are in network availability, you'll get a confirmation number and that will be the end of it if you are doing Red drum. If you are out of network availability, then as quickly as you can and when you enter network availability, that would upload to the system.

In Exhibit C, we're actually creating the digital tagging for the deer and turkey aspects of the super combo. Again, harvest report's generated immediately. If you get a confirmation number on that, then that will be attached to the turkey or the deer -- the animal in this case -- and that's all you have to put on the animal. If you are outside of network connectivity, we are proposing that you put on a hunter document a first and last name, a customer number of license holder, and the date and time of harvest. And then, obviously, it too uploads immediately upon network availability.

In -- in the public comment portion of this, we have received one in support and five in opposition. With that, here's the recommendation that staff would recommend: Staff would recommend that we adopted amendments concerning fees, concerning stamps, concerning bag possession and length limits, and concerning the statewide hunting and fishing proclamation with changes as necessary to the proposed text as was published in the September 24th, 2021, issue of the Texas Register. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Questions for Robin, Commissioners?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton. I actually had one that I thought of last night as I was laying in bed thinking about these things. I don't know how they pop into my mind. But this may be like a code writing part of the digital software, but to avoid someone that was going to go to a sporting good store and get a paper tag and then at the same time get the digital tag for the sole purpose of having additional large Red drum tags -- do you see where I'm going with that?


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: They might have a paper tag in one hand and on their the smart phone have the ability to have two more tags and maybe even the way the paper tags work, you could have two paper tags. So is that -- are we going to be able to know if someone went and got a paper tag that they then should not be able to download or take advantage of this program? Do you see where -- did I do that okay or explain --

MR. RIECHERS: No, I think I know the question. I'm going to turn and see if Justin is in the room and I don't know that he is.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Just be something to think about as we roll out that.

MR. RIECHERS: Sure, sure. No, and I -- how I will answer this is certainly as we opt in, they are supposed to either opt in to the digital or the paper and that's the way we're trying to control that when they opt in. As far as whether there can be duplicates issued, the system should be able to catch that and we'll certainly try to make sure as we develop it, as you're suggesting, that we create that mouse trap, if you will.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: I'm not saying I would ever do that, but...

COMMISSIONER BELL: Robin, Commissioner Bell. One question. You had mentioned that there were one in support and five in opposition. What was just the nature of the opposition comments?

MR. RIECHERS: Yeah, sorry I didn't cover that this morning. They did not express what their opposition was. As I suggested yesterday, the only thing I can maybe suspect is that they thought it was going to be mandatory in some way and, of course, this is a completely voluntary opt-in situation. But as we indicated yesterday, we're going to certainly make sure that as we roll this out -- because this is going to be a new thing for us -- we're going to be way in front of it as far as getting the word out and getting communication out in our Outdoor Annual and on the web and use all of our media opportunities to do that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Robin, under the paper tag system, if you catch an oversize redfish you tag it. Then I understand you can go to a provider and ask for the second tag; is that correct?

MR. RIECHERS: That's correct.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Have y'all thought of what's the plan digitally? Can you tag two deer -- two deer. Can you tag two redfish oversize on the same fishing trip, or is there a delay?

MR. RIECHERS: There shouldn't be a delay. They should be able to go online, enter their first tag, and then get their second.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And that's your goal?

MR. RIECHERS: We certainly have no biological reason not to allow that.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Questions any other Commissioners?

Okay. No one has signed up to speak about digital licenses.

Commissioner Bell, thank you for bringing that up about the nays. I think it was just because as Robin said. Need a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton moves for approval.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Patton. Second?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Rowling second. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: All opposed? Hearing none, motion passes.

Thank you, Robin.

Action Item No. 4, Proposed Amendments to the Exotic Harmful or Potentially Harmful Fish, Shellfish, and Aquatic Plant Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Good morning, Monica. You're up.

MS. MCGARRITY: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Monica McGarrity and I'm the Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management in the Inland Fisheries Division. Today I'll be presenting on proposed amendments to the exotic harmful or potentially harmful fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants rules that were presented to the Commission in August.

Aquatic invasive species harm ecosystems, recreation, the economy, and even human health and quality of life. Parks and Wildlife statutes establish prohibitions against activities involving these species and give the Commission the authority to regulate their possession and use. TPWD regulations for these exotic species, as is the case in most states, take the form of a prohibited species list and the primary focus of the list is prevention. Only a few of the listed species are allowed for use, and the goal of the regulation is ultimately to prevent introduction or escape and subsequent impacts.

The proposed changes to the exotic species rules would clarify that permits are the specific to ponds for which they were issued and set a permit period of validity of 18 months for Triploid grass carp stocking permits. Currently, the permits do not expire until all authorized fish have been purchased. However, recent rule changes that no longer require sellers to provide sales invoices to the Department, make it such that permit expiration cannot be determined and, thus, these permits must be archived by the Department indefinitely. Having an expiration date will also prevent potential reuse of the permits, which are issued digitally as a PDF and could be reprinted.

The 18-month timeframe was selected to allow for adaptive management as some fish can be stocked during the first year, followed by the remaining fish in the second year if needed. This applies to the permit period during which fish can be stocked, after which the sales transport invoice and proof of Triploid status that are required to be retained, would serve as proof of lawful possession.

The rules also allow for and clarify the process for lawful transfer of these long-lived fish with the transfer of a property to new ownership, specifying that the documentation required for possession be transferred to the new owner. Under the current rules, there is no exception for such transfers of Triploid grass carp, which are necessitated by property transfers.

The proposed rules also clarify rules on harvests of Triploid grass carp from stocked public waters. The changes remove mention of harvest after permit expiration date, as 18 months is not adequate for the fish to do their work of aquatic vegetation management. The changes also more accurately describe the process whereby the Department lists on the website waterbodies from which Triploid grass carp may not be taken because they're still needed for vegetation management versus specifically authorizing removal as currently described in regulations.

The Department sought to seek public feedback from the regulated community through multiple actions. An e-mail notice of the opportunity to comment summarizing the proposed rules was e-mailed to nearly 5,000 individuals who had obtained Triploid grass carp stocking permits in the past five years, as well as to 35 permitted Triploid grass carp sellers. The same notice was also shared with pond managers, many of whom are permitted sellers via the Texas Aquatic Plant Management Society newsletter. Finally, a presentation on the proposed rule changes was provided at the October 12th meeting of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee.

A total of 28 public comments was received, with 21 disagreeing with the proposed rules, five agreeing, and two expressing no opinion. Specific comments received from 18 individuals primarily objected to the proposed 18-month period of permit validity as inadequate. The comments noted that longer time may be needed to determine the effectiveness of an initial partial stocking or that they implemented a phased stocking approach over the course of a longer period of time. It was also noted that some permit holders had experienced delays -- some longer than 18 months -- in obtaining Triploid grass carp to stock, due to supply issues that have been exacerbated by freeze and also droughts. Two commented with concerns that existing permits should be exempt from the permit period of validity and we would note that this is simply a misunderstanding, as the proposed rule changes would not affect existing permits. Only those issued after the effective date of the proposed rules.

One individual commented that requiring transfer of Triploid grass carp documentation with the sale of the property to a new owner would be problematic as it would require verifying whether the fish are alive. However, individuals in possession of these fish are currently required to retain this documentation for the life of the fish and should have this information in their possession if they believe the fish to be alive. Thus, transfer of this documentation should be feasible and the intent of this rule is simply to establish a lawful means for these fish to be transferred that's currently not available to these property owners.

One individual commented that the economics of this proposal to private landowners is detrimental and not taken into consideration, without providing specifics; but mentioning the potential refunding of the $2 per fish fee for fish not stocked during the permit period of validity. Individuals wishing to stock Triploid grass carp over a period longer than the permit period of validity, would need to obtain another permit at a base administrative cost of $27. As I'll discuss in our proposed response to public comment, we believe that the possible need for multiple permits and associated costs can be reduced by addressing the proposed permit period of validity.

With regards to the refunding of per fish fees, permit applicants will be aware of the permit period of validity at the time of permit application and will be able to seek a permit for the correct number of fish for that time period, such that refunds would not be needed. One commented related to the proposed change to enable Triploid grass carp to be lawfully transferred with property transfer, that there's not a need to retain the documentation of lawful possession. However, this is not a new requirement and it's merely reiterated with regards to property transfers.

Of the 21 individuals disagreeing with the proposed rules, 18 provided feedback specific to the period of validity duration or provided details on how they stock these fish over time that could be used to generate an estimate of the time they believe the permit would be needed. Nearly half simply indicated that 18 months was inadequate, without proposing an alternative. Alternative periods proposed ranged from two to five years. Feedback from the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee advised that three years is a reasonable duration and it was noted that pond managers typically do not advise extended stocking over a longer time period.

In response to the feedback received on the proposed rule changes, staff recommend amending the proposed rule to extend the permit period of validity to three years, as opposed to 18 months. We believe that this duration would take into consideration the stated need of respondents. Extending the period to two years was considered. However, a six-month's extension from 18 months to two years would likely only add late fall and winter months to the permit, during which these fish are typically not stocked. Whereas a permit period of three years would add another entire spring and summer stocking season.

The proposed amendment would address both the administrative needs related to indefinite permit archiving and accommodate the needs of the regulated community. Including reducing the potential need for multiple permits with associated $27 fees.

With that, staff rec -- staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 57.113 concerning general provisions and exceptions and 57.116 concerning special provisions Triploid grass carp, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the September 24th, 2021, issue of the Texas Register. Thank you and I'd be happy to take any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Ms. McGarrity.

Questions for Monica from the Commission? Comments?

I appreciate the fact that you guys looked into this and made some modifications on your recommendation based on overwhelming comments that you got. So thank you for that.

Need a motion from a Commissioner.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Galo motion. Second?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Second Scott. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

MS. MCGARRITY: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Monica.

Action Item No. 5, Chronic Waste Disease, Disease Detection and Response, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mitch, good morning.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director in the Wildlife Division and this morning, staff seek adoption of proposed amendments to the comprehensive CWD rules. And these amendments are important because as you've heard on a number of occasions, the epidemiology of this situation that we've been dealing with since the spring, has indicated that the comprehensive CWD rules adopted by the Commission in June of 2016 were not effective at achieving our goals of early detection and containment of this disease. We believe that modifying -- we believe that enhancing some of the surveillance requirements for deer breeding facilities can address many of the shortcomings.

Now, as you-all know, this has been a very transparent process since the spring. We've had many meetings of various stakeholder groups, several meetings of our CWD Task Force, our Private Lands Advisory Committee, our White-tailed Deer and Mule Deer Advisory Committees, and a meeting with our deer breeder user group as well. We've had meetings with elective -- elected officials. We've had a legislative hearing on the subject. We've had public meetings with Texas Animal Health Commission, with this Commission, and certainly have vetted these ideas through numerous, numerous stakeholders to process.

Now, having said that, we have noticed some oversights in proposal since it was published in the Texas Register; but we've decided not to try and address those oversights at this time and -- but like I did share with you yesterday, we do recommend some corrections, a few corrections, to the proposed text based on some oversight in the rule text that -- but the corrections clearly capture our intent, where our intent with the rule's been all along and as is reflected in the preamble that was published in the Texas Register and I'll remind you of those corrections here in a bit.

I'll begin with a group of amendments that are intended to increase the odds of early detection and reduce the likelihood of exposing additional deer breeding facilities to CWD. For starters, staff recommend that two tissues be submitted from mortalities that occur, test eligible mortalities that occur in deer breeding facilities. The current rules require either the obex or the medial retropharyngeal lymph node to be sent to the diagnostic lab for testing; but because of differences in the test sensitivity between these two tissues, staff now recommend that both tissues be submitted for testing for deer that -- for test eligible deer that die in these facilities.

Staff also recommended shortening the timeframe from the death of a breeder deer to reporting that death and submitting those tissue samples to the diagnostic lab from 14 days to 7 days. Also proposed is an increase in the minimum surveillance requirement from 3.6 to 5 percent, an increase in the requirement for testing eligible mortalities from 80 to 100 percent, and a reduction in the test eligible age from 16 to 12 months. In addition to achieving our goals of early detection and disease containment, if adopted, these rules amendments would bring our rules in alignment with Texas Animal Health Commission's CWD rules for their Herd Certification Program.

Now, following the recommendation of USDA's Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health, we proposed to increase the antemortem substitution rate from three to one to five for one. Now, to refresh your memories, what this means is that if a deer breeder fails to submit a not-detected test result for a deer that dies, a test eligible deer that dies of natural causes in the facility, then a not-detected antemortem test result could be -- for five deer currently in the facility, could be submitted as substitutes. Now, to reiterate a very important point that I shared with you in September and again yesterday, with this substitution, if you will, staff do not intend for anyone to intentionally miss a mortality, to intentionally neglect to test a test eligible deer that dies in the facility. We intend for 100 percent of test eligible deer that die to be tested; but we do recognize that there are some extraordinary circumstances that make this impossible for some and in those extraordinary circumstances, this antemortem substitution could be used -- these antemortem test results could be substituted for the missing postmortem test results. I'll conclude this by stating that anyone who does intentionally fail to test a mortality in the facility would be in violation of these rules.

I'll also state that with this proposal, we -- we have proposed here that the Department have the ability to refuse permit renewal to individuals who show a pattern of using these antemortem test results in lieu of postmortem test results. And specifically, staff have proposed that anyone who has to use antemortem substitutions for more than 30 percent of the test eligible mortalities for more than two years would be in jeopardy of not having the permit renewed.

Staff also recommend for the test eligible age for antemortem testing to be 12 months as well and to limit antemortem testing of a single deer to one time within a 12-month period. Now currently, a deer cannot be tested more than once within a 24-month period; but we have proposed to reduce that time period to 12 months and we have a few exceptions to this limitation. Number one, any time that there's a requirement for the whole herd to be tested, well, then obviously deer that were tested within the last 12 months would need to be tested in that case; but we've proposed exceptions in the event that there aren't enough test eligible deer available in the facility. And in order to meet the testing quotas, this proposal would allow an individual to test deer that have been tested in the previous 12 months and would even allow individuals to test deer less than 12 months of age, as young as six months of age, to help achieve those testing quotas.

Now, when whole herd testing is required, the emergency rules that were adopted this past summer allow for up to 10 percent of the test results to be inconclusive, which typically would be the result of a test sample not having a sufficient number of lymphoid follicles and we propose to maintain that 10 percent allowance in these comprehensive rules.

And without a doubt, the component of both the emergency rules and these proposed amendments to the comprehensive CWD rules that have received the most opposition is the requirement to antemortem test deer prior to release. Now, it's no secret that staff believe that this is a very important component of this proposal. Especially considering that the two index facilities from this past spring were already following all of the proposed amendments that I just shared with you, with one exception and that is one of those facilities did not submit samples to the lab as timely as we propose here. But despite that, this disease still went undetected in those facilities in the previous years and at least some experts argue it went undetected longer than that. Antemortem testing prior to release almost certainly would have detected this disease much sooner in both of those facilities.

Now, on the previous slide I shared with you that the proposal we recommend propose test eligible age for antemortem to be 12 months and older. There is an exception to that and that is for these deer that are being tested prior to release. We propose to allow deer as young as -- excuse me -- to allow deer that are as young as six months of age to be antemortem tested when the purpose of that test is liberation.

Another measure intended to close some of the CWD surveillance gaps in the program is to consider escapes as mortalities and, therefore, factored into the equation when determining how many postmortem test results are required for the facility. Something that the CWD Task Force felt strongly about was limiting the number of breeding facilities that a nursing facility could receive deer from within a single year to one. Co-mingling deer between facilities has long been a concern of this Department, as well as Texas Animal Health Commission.

We also recommend to maintain the management strategies for trace and Tier 1 facilities that are currently in the emergency rule. Additionally, we recommend some housekeeping amendments. Most notable would be the deletion of the Transfer category or TC statuses for breeding facilities and the comparable statuses for release sites. Now, when we published these proposed amendments, we believed those categories to be obsolete; but we've since realized that that's not a case across the board, which has resulted in our recommendations for some corrections to the proposed text as we discussed yesterday and we'll again here in just a bit.

Now, moving away from rules pertaining to deer breeding, many stakers[sic] have recommended a suspension of the Triple T Program until it can be thoroughly evaluated to determine if the program may resume without adding additional risk of disease transmission. In fact, this was a recommendation that was made by 100 percent of the members of these various advisory committees that we met with; but as I shared with you in September and again yesterday, staff intend for this to be a temporary suspension. We are committed to dive into this with our various advisory committees in the very near future and come back to this Commission potentially as early as January, certainly no later than March, with recommendations on how this program may resume without adding that additional -- any risk to the resource.

As we discussed yesterday, staff also propose to eliminate -- or excuse me -- to amend the current five-year prohibition of -- on Triple T'ing deer from breeder release sites to state that sites that have ever received breeder deer would be ineligible as Triple T trap sites. Now, I'll come back to this particular proposed amendment when I share public comments with you here in just a bit.

Another recommendation that we heard from many stakeholders, which staff agree with, is prohibiting what is commonly referred to as the DMP Rent-a-Buck Program. And what this means is if this adopted, a breeder deer that is using a breeding facility would need to be released to the adjacent release site as opposed to be able to transfer back to the originating breeding facility or any breeding facility for that matter.

And finally, you're all aware that we do have carcass movement restrictions around the state and we'd like to encourage similar precautions for hunters throughout the state and to facilitate this, we have proposed changes to the proof of sex requirements to allow for sex organs accompanied by the tail to serve as proof of sex for does.

Finally, as we discussed yesterday, staff recommend proposed amendments be adopted with a few corrections, as we did notice some inadvertent omissions from the proposed text. The elimination of those Transfer categories -- in particular, the TC 3 and Class 3 statuses, as part of our housekeeping changes -- did create a void in these rules. Now, the preamble does capture our intent with this proposal; but, again, there is an inadvertent omission in the proposed text. The recommended adoption includes corrections to address this void. Specifically the surveillance requirements should apply not only to trace-out and Tier 1 facilities, but to trace-in facilities as well. And should apply to all sites that are currently classified as Class 3 release sites.

The proposal would prohibit the movement of deer from facilities that receive a CWD suspect test result and it should be clarified to, obviously, to include facilities with a CWD positive test result as well. Now, staff did propose an exception to that prohibition and we recommend the proposal be amended to allow for herd plans to authorize exceptions as well.

And finally, staff would like to clarify that the 30 percent limit of the use of antemortem test samples as substitute, we'd like to clarify that this does not -- it only applies to facilities where mortalities are missed, where test eligible mortalities are not tested, and does not apply to facilities that do test all their mortalities, but simply don't have enough mortalities in the facility to meet that 5 percent minimum testing requirement. That, by the way, is a recommendation we had from some deer breeders. There, believe it or not, are a number of deer breeders who actually do support this proposal and almost across the board, there was one concern that they had and it was with what appeared to in the rule to not allow somebody who misses -- excuse me -- who doesn't have enough mortalities to meet that 5 percent requirement, to limit their ability to use antemortem testing for more than two years and that was never the intent. So really good input that we received from breeders and want to make that clarification today on the record and in the rule.

The slide before you addressing public is out of date. We ended up with 2,010 comments through the web. I have some other comments I received personally through e-mail. All of the comments through e-mail prior to yesterday, except one, were in support of the proposal. Did receive comments yesterday from Texas Deer Association and Deer Breeders Corporation opposing the proposed amendments. Received comments a the deer breeder yesterday opposing amendments, and then previously received comments from Representative Slaton opposing the amendments. But all other comments I received from several organizations and individuals were in support.

Through the web we received, again, 2,010 comments. We have 60 percent of those comments agree completely with the proposed changes, 30 percent disagree completely, 10 percent disagree specifically on some component. Now, a number of those that -- in that latter group -- were not propose -- were not opposed to the proposed enhancement to surveillance requirements for breeder facilities -- for breeding facilities, but were opposed for some other reason and I'll share some of those comments with you here momentarily.

Now, I as shared with you a little bit earlier, the proposed amendment that has received the most opposition has, indeed, been the requirement to live test or antemortem test deer prior to release. Some outright oppose this requirement. Some oppose it for -- under specific circumstances, such as when releasing deer to adjacent property under the same ownership or when the source facility is not a trace or a Tier 1 facility or when the source herd is closed. Meaning it hasn't received deer from other facilities for some time. Or when if the source herd is -- has a certified status in Texas Animal Health Commission's Herd Certification Program.

Of course, the two index facilities from this past spring -- one in Hunt County, one in Uvalde County -- were not considered to be trace or Tier 1 facilities at the time, right? They weren't connected to other positive facilities out there. They had been closed for several years. Both of them had been closed for more than five years, and they had either fourth year or certified status in Texas Animal Health Commission's Herd Certification Program. Also since the emergency rules went into effect, antemortem testing did lead to the discovery of this disease in a seventh deer breeding facility from this spring -- a thirteenth deer breeding facility overall -- and that particular deer breeder was preparing to release deer to his own adjacent property.

Some have expressed that they need more time to submit samples to the lab and more time to remove CWD exposed animals from their facility. Some have expressed that 100 percent testing is overly burdensome and that this requirement, as well as other requirements in the proposal, are too costly. Some have stated that the proposed amendments would have adverse economic impacts, despite what we wrote in the preamble on that. And we've heard this in response to -- in response to the proposed temporary suspension on Triple T, as well as to the enhanced surveillance requirements for deer breeding facilities.

Now, to address this, I'd like to share with you that the Office of the Attorney General has provided guidance to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rules potential adverse economic affects to small businesses, micro businesses, or rural economies. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule's direct adverse economic impacts. TPWD considers direct economic impacts to mean a requirement that would directly impose fees, recordkeeping or reporting requirements, result in loss of sales, or require the purchase of equipment or services.

The direct adverse impact of the proposed rules on deer breeders are costs associated with increased CWD testing requirements for all deer breeders, increased monitoring requirements for trace and Tier 1 deer breeders, lost sales for deer breeders whose facilities are not movement qualified as a result of the rules, and lost sales for deer breeders that are required to euthanize deer. TPWD did provide estimates for these direct costs.

There are no direct adverse impacts of the proposed rules associated with Triple T permits because it is unlawful for a person to receive a direct economic benefit from deer obtained under a Triple T permit. It is a violation for a person to sell or accept anything of value for a deer obtained under a Triple T permit.

Now, there have been several who were not -- again, I shared with you earlier -- who were not necessarily opposed to the enhanced surveillance requirements for breeding facilities, but were opposed for other reasons. One of those was opposition to the proposed suspension of the Triple T Program. It's quite clear when reading the comments that there was a thought that we're proposing an elimination of the Triple T Program and as you well know, that's not the case; but rather a temporary suspension until we can address some concerns associated with the risk of trans -- transmitting CWD.

Some have commented that Triple T should be allowed for breeder deer release sites. Now, since June of 2016, sites that have received breeder deer within the previous five years have not been authorized as Triple T sites, Triple T trap sites. Those were intended to be terminal sites because of the CWD risk associated with those sites. This Commission recognized in 2016 that while we did not adopt a zero risk policy, the risk associated with the transfer of deer to release sites should not be transferred elsewhere.

That five-year period was that included in the rule at that time was part of a negotiated rule-making process; but as I shared with you yesterday, the science suggests that that risk increases through time beyond that five-year period, leading to this proposed -- this proposed amendment. Nonetheless, staff do recognize the concerns regarding a permanent exclusion of breeder deer release sites as Triple T trap sites. And, therefore, we do acknowledge that in the event of a Triple T Program suspension, in the event that is adopted, we could consider property specific analyses to determine whether some breeder deer release sites could be eligible to be Triple T trap sites based on various factors, including the source of the breeder deer, the historical surveillance on the property, et cetera, et cetera.

And if this Commission requests such, we could return to you with recommendations specific to deer breeder release sites when we return to you to discuss resuming the Triple T Program for all other sites.

We also received a comment requesting equity in requirements between deer breeding facilities -- between the deer breeding and the Triple t Program. Specifically, the Triple T program in the past allowed for transfer of deer between pastures on the same property without CWD surveillance requirements. But breeder deer may not be released to pastures based on these -- if this is adopted, would not be able to be released to pastures are on the same property without surveillance requirements. To be clear staff, do recommend a temporary suspension of the Triple T Program so we can identify and address such shortcomings in the CWD surveillance requirements for that program.

Some have also asked why we don't require 100 percent deer trapped under a TTP permit to be CWD tested and the answer is pretty simple. Those trapping -- those who are trapping deer under TTP are not introducing or transporting of risk of CWD trans -- of CWD transmission. The same is true for MLDP cooperators.

And then there were comments that were in opposition to these rules from those who think that the proposal simple didn't go far enough to protect native deer populations from the CWD. Some object to the practice of deer breeding. Others don't necessarily object to the practice, but do object to releasing pen-raised deer into free-ranging native populations to co-mingle with those native deer. Some have recognized that CWD will, indeed, have adverse economic and ecological impacts in areas where it gets established. And then some have reminded us of our mission statement. They've stated that we're more worried about protecting breeders' business models then we are about protecting the public resource; but, obviously, as you all know, we're here before you proposing changes to implement safeguards that are intended to minimize that risk to the public resource.

Some have argued that not only should the Triple T Program be suspended, but the TTP Program be suspended as well. That's the Trap, Transport, and Process Program. And some have argued that a visible ID should be required for liberated deer.

Now, I shared with you earlier who specifically we received -- what groups we specifically received opposing comments from. We've also received comments in support from at least 25 different conservation organizations out there. I won't read each of those to you, but I'll just advance through these slides to give you an idea of where some of this support is coming from.

With that, Mr. Chairman, staff recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts new Title 31 of the Texas Administrative Code Section 65.4 concerning proof of sex for deer; the repeal of Section 65.99; amendments to Section 65.80 through 65.83, 65.88, and 65.90 through 65.98; and new section 65.99 and 65.100 concerning disease detection and response and an amendment to Section 65.133 concerning deer management permit, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the October 1, 2021, issue of the Texas Register.

And I shared with you those changes that -- to the proposed text as staff recommend be made. With that, Mr. Chairman, I'll be glad to entertain any questions that the Commission might have at this time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mitch.

Commissioners, everybody, we have 10 or 12 people that have signed up to speak and so we'll do that in a second.

If any of the Commissions have any questions for Mitch, comments before -- we've got a few more?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: If not, we'll start with comments and then circle back. So this won't be your last opportunity to -- please, Commissioner Hildebrand.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So, Mitch -- Hildebrand, Commissioner. Have we thought about -- there's only one testing facility and that's at the A&M campus, correct, that is certified under our program?

MR. LOCKWOOD: There's only one facility in the country that is approved by USDA for testing, for diagnostic test of antemortem testing, not counting the USDA facility in Ames, Iowa, and that's in College Station.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Texas A&M, right. So have we thought about -- I mean, there's clearly going to be a crush of testing required under the new proposed program. Have we thought about can that facility actually handle that level of testing and if not, what would it take expand maybe the capabilities in the state for another laboratory of that kind?

MR. LOCKWOOD: That's an excellent question. I appreciate that, Commissioner Hildebrand. There's -- it's something we dealt with. We experienced this summer. There certainly was a bottleneck in response to the emergency rule where more than 11,000 deer were antemortem tested within about a two- to three-month period, a little bit more than two months. And that's the highest volume that lab has dealt with to date. We do not anticipate seeing a similar bottlenecks as a result of these rules moving forward.

To address that, you may recall the Director of the lab sharing with you some of the -- back at a previous Commission meeting -- some of the modifications they made in the lab, both with new equipment and personnel changes, to meet those demands and they just, as we all know, did a phenomenal job meeting those demands. But you might remember there was a really short window to get this testing done between the time that we recognized we were dealing with an emergency and the time that the deadline for releasing bucks for this fall without having to remove antlers.

Moving forward in these proposed amendments, we're proposing an extended period of time to achieve antemortem testing. In fact, up to eight months. And it's a -- it's not such a compressed time period and we do not expect anywhere near the bottleneck that was experienced this summer that the lab was able to address.

Having said that, there's always benefit to having more places to test deer and we recognize that and really, I don't know a better way of putting than we're kind of mercy of USDA approving -- in fact, the lab at Texas A&M University is actually doing this on an exception, if you will. It's an annual approval that they have to go through to get this to deviate from the standard procedures of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. And so it's, again, something they have to get approved of on an annual basis. But it is my understanding -- to wrap this up, it is my understanding that a laboratory in Pennsylvania is seeking authorization to do this as well and I would -- I would anticipate we might see some more labs trickling in with such requests in the future.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Great. I think we need one at the University of Texas, is what I think.

MR. LOCKWOOD: We want these done right.


(Laughter from the audience)

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I'm not sure how to take that. But I would ask that the staff actually at least monitor this because what we don't want is a huge delay in the results of this testing and so if we're going to impose new regulation, then it's our duty to do it in an efficient and effective and streamlined way.

Secondly, look forward to your follow-up on Triple T in January of 2022. And third, I would just ask that you look, as your staff looks at the TTT issue, that we think about ways to expand the level of testing in free-ranging deer. I think that's an important element and I'd like to hear some feedback on that maybe in January. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any other questions? And don't forget, we're going to take comments and now we have more. But anybody want to ask questions of Mitch before we start with public comment?

Okay. Mitch, thank you. We're going to hear some comments; but don't leave the room, please.

The first requested comment was Ms. Lana Stone. However, Lana called our own Dee Halliburton and said she was going to withdraw her name from the meeting. So I just want to announce that, but she will not be speaking to it.

Roy, I see you back there. Roy Leslie is first. Then we'll follow by John True -- hello, John -- and then Kevin. And, Roy, welcome.

MR. ROY LESLIE: Thank you, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And I will encourage everyone to give us their comments. And please keep it to three minutes, if you will, Roy.

Do we have the lights? Yes, we have the lights.

MR. ROY LESLIE: I'm going to do better than that. I'm going to keep it to two minutes.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Roy.

MR. ROY LESLIE: Morning, y'all. I'm Roy Leslie. I'm a low-fence, no-lease landowner in far northwest Kendall County. I represent myself and future generations of land stewards. I'm here in support of the changes. I'm here as I have been since 2015 because I want my eight-, six-, and three-year-old grandkids to know I've done everything I can to protect our wild, free-range White-tailed deer from a deadly disease.

I'm here to remind you -- I believe it was brought up a little while ago -- about the first 11 words of your mission statement: To manage and conserve the natural and culture resources of Texas. Nowhere does the Parks and Wildlife mission statement say to protect the animal industry or to increase the marketability of Texas livestock. Those begin the first two bullet points of the Texas Animal Health Commission's statement. Your mission has blurred since Chronic Wasting appeared in Texas.

I know you didn't sign up for this when you accepted a Commissioner's role; but here you are in the middle on extensional debate. One side demands you protect a tiny industry and the other side demands you manage, protect, and conserve a vital natural resource. We're here today because of past compromises made to promote a deeply flawed business model. We're here because of past compromises to increase the marketability of a natural resource for those who do not own the resource.

As we've learned from fighting a devastating human disease, initial compromise can have deadly effects. Please don't dilute your biologists' recommendations. I'd like your children and grandchildren also to look back with pride at your effort in fighting for our wild and free-range White-tailed deer.

As in a painfully similar hearing in 2016, I'll withhold my thanks until after the vote. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Roy. Appreciate you coming, thank you.

John, you're up. Kevin Davis next. Ms. Dittmar after that.

Good morning, John. How are you?

MR. JOHN TRUE: Good morning. Thank you. Chairman Aplin, members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity today. For the record, my name is John True. I'm President of the Texas Deer Association. I've talked several times to you. My position on these proposed rules has not changed.

Every business needs rules and regulations, but those rules and regulations need to be clear and they need to be fair. Texas deer breeders are the only entity with mandated CWD testing in Texas.

It seems that during this entire process, it's forgotten and we got no credit for the thousands of postmortem testing samples does that every single breeder does every single year. These proposed rules continue to be targeted solely at our industry, and it's not right. We've lost 112 breeders since the emergency rules went into effect in June.

We've continued to step up to the plate when asked to get creative on what we could live with, and it continues to get us nowhere. I can stand in front of you today knowing that we tried everything we could using reason, logic, and science to try to figure out a set of rules that all parties could live with. At the end of the day, we're not looking for any favors. We just want to be treated fairly.

That's all I have. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: John, thank you for coming. Thank you very much.

Kevin Davis. Kevin, how are you?

Ms. Dittmar and then Don Steinbach following up.

MR. KEVIN DAVIS: Thank you, sir. For the record, my name's Kevin Davis here representing Deer Breeders Association Corporation and myself. We do still oppose these rules. As my colleague -- former colleague Mitch Lockwood -- mentioned this morning, our aversion is mostly dealing with the 100 percent live testing requirement prior to release. As you've heard me say before this summer, it costs a pile of money to do that and it is extremely hard on staff and it's very, very expensive. $3.6 million spent this summer on over 12,000 live tests, with zero detections under the release program of CWD detection.

Now, my former colleague this morning testified that antemortem testing did catch another facility, caught another animal, and he is correct in that. However, that animal was being tested under the routine surveillance program that already exists. Meaning that that program worked as intended.

We are certainly fans of all tools of CWD management and all tools of intensive management of deer. We don't quite understand the proposal before us today on the Triple T succession for a time period. We see that as a chance to provide surveillance. Meaning, that they have to test 15 animals prior to them moving deer. We would suggest an amendment to the rules in an effort to keep that program going and that would be that we would test 100 percent of our intended animals be released up to 15 animals. And given the increase surveillance that we've already supported in the pen with 100 percent testing mortalities and the decreased timeframe and submission of the test, we feel like that would provide an avenue for all parties to have a little bit of skin in the game. The -- it would also more evenly spread out the cost of testing across all breeders.

With that, I'll answer any questions you have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Kevin, thank you. Appreciate you coming as always. Thank you very much for your words.

Ms. Dittmar. There she is. Don Steinbach next. Then Jonathan Letz.

How are you, ma'am.

MS. BERNADINE DITTMAR: I'm good. Thank you.


MS. BERNADINE DITTMAR: I am the widow of Dr. Bob Dittmar, and I don't have it written down today. It's coming from my heart. I completely support Texas Parks and Wildlife in their efforts to protect our native deer herd. My least favorite words in the English language is "would have, could have, should have."

I wish I had listened more to Bob's words about Chronic Wasting Disease. I could speak more eloquently of that. I am passionate about our native deer herd. Yesterday our son and I took feed out to our Squaw Creek Ranch at Doss and on the way home, I almost murdered two giant bucks who were strutting across the road, could care less about this vehicle coming at 60 miles an hour, and I remembered the rut. Bob and I loved the rut of the native deer herd.

I'm so incredibly proud of his work that he did and I'm incredibly proud of my granddaughter Hayden, age 11; Paige, age 8, Kimber, age 8; and our sweet little Levi, age 5, who can't wait to kill his first deer. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their Papa is going to be instrumental in protecting this native deer herd.

And my question to you is this: Are you going to say "would have, could have, should have," and what are you going to tell your grandchildren and their great-grandchildren? And I thank you for this opportunity.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Mrs. Dittmar, thank you for coming. We all miss Dr. Bob. I know not like you do, but he did so many things for this state and for the resource and for this Agency. Just a prince of a man.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: I know it wasn't easy for you to come up here. Thank you.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Don, good luck following that one. Don Steinbach, Jonathan Letz, then Sarah Biedenharn, if I got that correct.

Good morning, Don.

MR. DON STEINBACH: Good morning, sir. Thank you. For the record, my name is Don Steinbach. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

CWD, as you are aware, is a very serious disease affecting several species of cervids. We commend the TPWD Commission for considering adoption of these emergency rules to protect the wild deer herd of Texas and preserving the deer hunting heritage of Texas hunters and the valuable assets utilized by landowning community that depend on the lease hunting system.

The movement of deer has allowed for the transmission of the disease across a broad landscape in Texas. We, therefore, advocate for the testing of all the proof of negative tests for CWD before movement is permitted. These deer should have -- also have an easily identifiable tag that can be seen from a distance for the removal of deer that epidemiology determines provide a risk to wild deer.

The importance of deer hunting to perpetuate the conservation of wildlife resources in Texas is imperative for the continued hunting traditions and the funding mechanisms for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Agency. The public of Texas would expect the TPWD to execute the utmost care to protect the public trust resources that are cherished by the Texas citizens and we, therefore, ask you to adopt these rules. I'll be glad to answer questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Don. Thank you for coming and appreciate your words.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Jonathan. Sarah, then Jeff Jones.

Good morning Jonathan.

MR. JONATHAN LETZ: Good morning, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: How are you?

MR. JONATHAN LETZ: Fine. Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners, staff. My name is Jonathan Letz, and I'm Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association. I'm a landowner, a rancher, and a business owner in Kerr County. My family purchased our ranch 85 years ago and my grandfather started leasing the property for White-tailed hunting in 1937. Deer hunting has been a part of my family's heritage and leasing our ranch for deer hunting has been an integral part of our financial income since 1937.

Our family's situation is no different than thousands of other families across this great state. The perspective I want to discuss today is that of a neighbor -- neighboring landowner. My ranch and the majority of ranches in Texas are low-fenced. Deer move freely across property lines. As a landowner, one of the things that concerns me most is the inability to determine if a deer on my ranch has been released after being transported from a deer breeding facility and then escaped into the wild.

High fences can be damaged by floods, hogs, fallen trees, broken limbs, ice storms, and many other factors. Deer do and will escape from high-fence properties. Countless hunters and landowners are left vulnerable when deer are released into the wild without a CWD test or identification. The ability now exists for live testing and this can help prevent the possibility of an infected animal coming onto neighboring properties and causing damage to the wild deer population and private property owners.

The importance of visible ear tags on all released deer is critical as we move forward. This issue must be addressed and while this is likely a legislative issue, I urge the Commission to do everything possible to support visible ear tags. Landowners and hunters must be able to tell if a deer on their property has been -- is a released deer. It is so important that we and you do what we can to stop the spread of this disease.

I urge you to adopt the proposed rules today to help slow the spread of CWD. And finally, I'd like to thank the Commission and staff and many in the room for the thousands of hours that have spent on this issue. It's very appreciative. Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jon. Thank you for coming.

Sarah Biedenharn. Sarah, good morning.

MS. SARAH BIEDENHARN: Good morning. Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, good morning and thank you for your continued commitment to this important issue. I am Sarah Biedenharn, President of Texas Wildlife Associate. Our membership is comprised of landowners, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts who care deeply about issues facing private lands and the management of our state's natural resources.

Today I represent all of those members, many of whom have joined me here in person this morning, when I say that our organization supports the proposed rules for the management of Chronic Wasting Disease. We have heard many times over the past few weeks about the economic concerns from those that will be directly impacted by the new rules. And while those concerns may be valid, they must be balanced by the concerns of the much larger number who stand to be affected by the continued spread of the disease.

With just 850 registered deer breeders and 70,000 captive deer, the deer breeding industry makes up a very small piece of the overall hunting economy in Texas. The decisions made today will impact the health of the state's 5.4 million wild deer that are cared for and relied on by 1.3 million hunters and over 250,000 landowners, not to mention the many generations of hunters and landowners who will likely experience the bulk of the consequences from further spread of the disease.

CWD threatens the future of hunting for all Texans and will burden thousands of hunting-related businesses, which will consequently impact many rural economies. I am a landowner and rancher myself and know firsthand the importance of hunting related income. It is very often the only line item that can be relied on from year to year and normally makes up a large percentage of the overall revenues.

I also grew up in a small town where everything from the feed store to the Dairy Queen relied on the influx of hunters every November. Suffice it to say, there are many Texans that will be harmed by the continued spread of CWD. I urge the Commission to pass the proposed rules today in order to help protect all Texans, present and future. Thank you. I'll take any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Sarah.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you very much.

Jeff Jones, Judy Logan, Jim Taylor, Justin.

Justin -- Jeff, you're up. Good morning.

MR. JEFF JONES: Good morning Commissioners, Commission. Thank you for letting me speak this morning. I drove in here from the ranch last night. It was pretty late, so I didn't get to write anything down; so I'm just going to -- actually, going to vent a little bit here and I don't want to offend any of you; but I'm going to say what's on my mind.

I've been breeding deer for over 20 years. Really, to be honest with you, I think I'm coming on my 24th year. Never had a violation, never had an escaped deer, and certainly never had CWD. Don't want it.

Every time we come up here, we hear the

same thing. We here Roy say, "Yep, you know, those breeders don't own those deer."

Okay. Y'all own them. Let me give you some back. You don't want them back. You want to say you own them, but you don't want them back. Very confusing. I hear Ms. Dittmar say all about protecting the wild. I totally agree. I totally agree. Why aren't we testing the wild? You brought that up yourself a while ago. 5.4 million, look how many wild tests have been tested and then look what you're doing to the deer breeders. 100 percent on deer breeders, and a grain of salt in the wild. You're not protecting the wild. You're just talking like you are. That's what you're doing.

Now we're down to the point with this set of rules where years -- not years ago, a while ago when everybody wanted to the fight and the people wanted to own the deer, they aren't the deer breeders deer, and people want to own them. Well, now you own them. But what the Supreme Court did say is that the people own them. I'm glad they said that because that pretty much tells them I own deer in the wild and I demand that the wild be tested. The people should be testing the deer in the wild, whether you want to or not. If you test the wild, you will find Chronic Waste Disease.

And then one thing I want to put on every one of y'all, every one of y'all, I want you to think about this: This testing before we release to our private properties, our fenced, high-fence you're wanting us to test, is that not a private property issue? Now, this Commission is going to come in and tell us what we can do on our private property? We're not breaking the law. We're paying our taxes. Now, y'all want to come inside our high-fence and tell us what to do? This is a total disgrace.

Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jeff.

Judy Logan, Jim Taylor would like to visit -- speak together. Then Justin, then Marko -- I can't see if that says Barrett, but Marko.

Good morning, Judy and Jim.

MR. JIM TAYLOR: Good morning.

MS. JUDY LOGAN: Good morning. We're Judy Logan and Jim Taylor with 57 years of service as public school educators. We're the owners of Texas Whitetail Deer of Texas. Parks and Wildlife has shared data that shows that 90 deer need to be sampled for an infinite size herd. I believe you have a handout. Our numbers are highlighted in green.

Since starting our deer breeding operation in -- sorry -- in 2006, we have had 1,095 adult deer in our pens. To date, we have submitted 135 postmortem tests and 70 antemortem tests. With the exception of five animals in our pens, all of our deer were born and raised on our ranch. We have a closed herd and are fully certified by Animal Health.

Based on summer testing, we have calculated that it will us approximately $74,000 to test our herd under the proposed rules. Most of those deer in our herd will be released onto our own-high fenced property, simply by opening a gate and letting them walk out onto our high-fence property. We truly feel that the continued testing will prove to be a waste of hard-earned dollars. However, it's not the money that concerns us. Instead it is the undaunting and needless task of cutting a chunk of flesh out of a live animal's anus.

In July -- or since July, we have lost three bucks due to sedation. Our oldest doe was 17 years old and we can't stand the thought of cutting her in order to let her walk out onto our property. We absolutely love our deer and our operation. But due to antemortem pre -- antemortem requirements, we are closing our deer breeding operation. We've talked to Parks and Wildlife on several occasions. We want to work together. The rules simply need to be manageable and truly needed.

Based on our data, we ask: Why must we continue to test every deer in our pens? The corrective actions taken last March address sufficient surveillance for most breeders. We appreciate your time and we would like to publicly thank John True and Kevin Davis for all that they have done for breeders over last many months. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Judy, thank you.

MS. JUDY LOGAN: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Justin, Marko, then Brian.

Good morning, Justin.

MR. JUSTIN DREIBELBIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis. I'm the CEO at Texas Wildlife Association. Very much appreciate the opportunity to speak to you this morning. You've heard our position on the proposed rules. We are in support.

I just briefly want to touch on a couple of items within the proposed rules package that we feel like are important. There's a lot of things we don't know about CWD. That's frustrating to all of us, I know. But there are some things that we do know and one of them is that moving live CWD susceptible animals around the state in unnatural way up and down the highway, greatly increases our risk of spreading the disease.

So with that in mind, we strongly recommend the 100 percent antemortem testing of every breeder deer to be released. We know that live testing is -- has been a great technological advancement for the industry and for disease management; but we also know that it's not perfect, and that not 100 precent detectability. So we feel like testing any less than 100 percent is irresponsible.

I also wanted to touch briefly on Triple T. TWA does support a temporary pause on Triple, and I do want to emphasize the word "temporary." Very much appreciate the conversation yesterday and today about a follow-up schedule on when Mitch and his team will come back in January or at the latest, March, to follow up on that. Our organization does see a lot of value in that permit and we hope and expect that it will be back soon.

Just in closing, it's a real -- CWD is a real threat to our rural economies, our private working lands, and the future of hunting. So appreciate the seriousness of which this Commission has taken it and we're here to help any way can. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Justin, thank you.

Marko, then Brian, followed by Matt Wagner.

Hello, Marko. Welcome.

MARKO BARRETT: Good morning, on a cold November morning. Hopefully, we have a good start to deer season here in a couple days. Mr. Chairman, Commissioner, my name is Marko Barrett. I'm past President of Texas Wildlife Association. I'm the current Chair of the organization's Big Game Committee. As a hunter, landowner, and small business owner, I'm deeply concerned about the recent detection of Chronic Wasting Disease in seven White-tailed deer breeding facilities across the State of Texas.

From what we understand, there are several ways the CWD could possibly be spread; but by far the greatest risk of spreading the disease is via the human movement of live animals. What does a Texas look like with CWD common on the landscape? What does it mean for our hunting tradition; land value; local rural economies; and most importantly, to the wildlife itself?

There are studies and models that indicate CWD will have population level impacts that reduce the total number of deer and in doing so, compress the age structure of the deer herd, making it harder for animals to get to maturity should the infection rate be high enough. My management plan on my ranch is geared towards a harvest of mature animals beginning at six years old. It's already tough enough for a deer to get to six or seven in the South Texas Brush County. We don't need it to be any harder.

In addition to the direct impacts that CWD could have to the deer herd, what are the effects on the hunting community? Hunters hunt for a lot of reasons; but the first reason almost every hunter mentions is meat. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep of all known agents prion diseases from entering the human food chain.

I know that we have never found a proven case of CWD crossing species barrier from deer to humans, like we have with BSE between humans and cattle; but I know I'll worry about feeding deer meat to my kids if CWD is found near our property. For the sake of all landowners, wildlife enthusiasts, and hunters, please implement these strong rules, science based rules, to help stop spread of the disease. Appreciate you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Marko, thank you.

Brian, followed by Matt.

Going morning, Brian.

MR. BRIAN HASCHKE: Good morning, Mr. Chair, members of the Committee. Thank you for your time on this important topic and thank you for the time to speak to you. I'm here representing myself. My name is Brian Haschke, for the record, and my family partnership. We have been caring for our family holdings in Gillespie County for now six generations. We've continuously owned these properties since the 1850s/1860s.

I'm life a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman. I harvest White-tailed deer, other wild game each year. I feed it to my family and friends. As a landowner, we rely on the income from our hunting leases to help maintain these holdings. We operate under. Low-fence we manage our pasture for beef cattle and for wildlife management. We actively participate in our community Wildlife Management Association and I am member of the Texas Wildlife Association.

We have hunting logs. We've got reports from Parks and Wildlife. We have improved our deer herd over the years through our management techniques. We want to -- we want to protect and continue to do so.

We've been testing -- or we've been collecting samples on our harvested animals over the last three years. I had the pleasure of our -- of calling our past State Veterinarian my uncle. So we had a pretty active surveillance on our property in our native herd. We've probably collected close to 100 percent of samples of all harvested animals, both managed game and nonnative species. Cervids, at-risk population, we've yet to detect CWD in our native population. We hope we can keep it that way.

In regards to risk, we look at that -- I look at that map of positive facilities. That circle is closing our on family holdings. It's getting closer. I've got a pasture full of exotics. These are not native species. These are animals that have inadvertently spread. Clearly the risk it there. The increasing risk of CWD is closing in on us.

We are in support of the proposed rules that Mr. Lockwood that is bringing forward to. You thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Brian, thank you for coming.

Matt Wagner, then John Shepperd, then Grant Evridge.

Good morning, Matt.

MR. MATT WAGNER: Good morning. Greetings, Chairman Aplin, Commissioners. My name is Matt Wagner. I'm the past President of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and certified wildlife biologist. I also teach wildlife law and policy at Texas State university. I consult on private ranches in Central Texas. It's hard to believe, but I retired five years ago from this wonderful Agency.

I'm in support of the proposed rules concerning CWD. TPWD mission's is to conserve our natural resources -- in this case, our White-tailed deer population -- and all the landowners, hunters, and other stakeholders that rely on a healthy economy and environment. In my class, we study the public/private partnerships that we enjoy in this state: The lease hunting model, the oyster fishery lease model, wildlife cooperatives on private land, and the myriad of permit programs that allow tremendous flexibility for the private sector to engage in all sorts of activities with our public resources.

But today we're realizing the unintended consequences of another public private partnership: The deer breeding industry. Like Mitch Lockwood said yesterday, the Department is caught between two opposing forces: Following the evolving science of CWD management, and accommodating the needs of deer breeding as an economic enterprise for a relatively small number of operators. How much risk is the Department willing to gamble with our deer herds, deer hunters, landowners, and a $2 billion hunting economy?

And it hasn't been talked about much, but the Department spends over one and a half million dollars a year to manage permitted deer breeders and CWD. Who pays for that? Where do these dollars come from? Hunters.

How do they feel about deer breeding in Texas? Why don't we ask them?

I'm sure they would much rather see those dollars spent on what they were intended for: The stewardship of all wildlife and wildlife habitat and more access to hunting on public and private land. Thank you for this opportunity to make comments.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Matt.

John -- hello, John. Then Grant, then Rodney.

Good morning, John.

MR. JOHN SHEPPERD: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is John Shepperd. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Foundation for Conservation, and I'm here to testify in support of the proposed rules today.

I do want to focus my comments on the letter that was signed by 25 organizations. The South Texans Property Rights Association was a late signer. You can see that these organizations represent a wide spectrum -- spectrum across the conservation community and it's not often we can get Safari Club International and Sierra Club to sign the same letter, but we did today. These organizations represent over 100,000 Texans who are voicing their support today for these proposed rules.

And so the message is clear. We don't want to see the spread of CWD across Texas and we need to have stringent safeguards in place to protect from that. We have an obligation to protect our fish and wildlife resources for future generations of Texans so that they can enjoy them as we do today. Happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.

Grant, followed by Rodney, then Katherine Romans.

MR. GRANT EVRIDGE: I -- may I approach y'all and give you some --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: That'll be fine.

MS. HALLIBURTON: Right here, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, Grant. Welcome.

MR. GRANT EVRIDGE: Good morning. I'm one of the evil deer breeders, based on the comments we -- my name's Grant Evridge and I'm asking Texas Parks and Wildlife to stop requiring deer breeders to allow live test deer before they're released in the wild. The live tests are a huge financial burden on my farm and possibly will result in me closing my breeding operation.

Recently, I live tested 16 deer that I will sell in -- hopefully, that I'll sell in the future. I haven't sold them all. And the cost of testing those 16 deer were $5,795 and I have the bills over there. When it comes to selling deer, I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know when someone's going to come to my ranch, buy deer or not or which one they're going to buy. I have 89 adult deer in my pens and according to the rules now, to release any of them, I've got to test them. So do I -- if I tested all 89 deer, that costs 32,000 based on the bills that I presented y'all, so.

I am -- and there's no guar -- if I test them, there's no guarantee I'm going to sell one deer. That's $32,000 and no guarantee of getting anything back. So I'm at -- I'm asking Texas Parks and Wildlife to let the rules that they put in effect -- I believe it's March -- let that -- see if it'll work, instead of making these emergency rules permanent.

Now I -- and, of course, with my crystal ball and not knowing when someone's going to buy a deer, someone came to my ranch, wanted to buy a buck for a DMP recently, was not tested. I said, "Okay. I'll call my vet," charged me $5,795 to test 16 deer. He came up, tested a deer. I mean, like two days later another guy came up and I -- this has never -- bought another DMP pen -- another DMP. Called him up, "Will you test this deer?" He came up. I got the bill last night and I don't have a copy for it, but I'll make it. One bill was $1,200 to test one deer. The other deer was $1,100 to test one deer.

You know, if -- if we go through with these rules, I mean, it's happening, we will be out of business. And on I -- on Ms. Dittmar, she eloquently stated about her grandkids and this and this. Well, what about my grandkids? My grandkids want to raise deer too. Do they not count?

Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Grant.

Rodney, Katherine, then Tim.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: Thank y'all for letting me speak.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, Rodney.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: I'm a deer breeder. I've been breeding deer for over 20 years. I'm a deer lover. I've got high-fence for 40 years, and I've got low-fence. My family's been in Hamilton County over 100 a hundred years. Same land. And I'm opposed to these new rules. Especially the one releasing deer into adjacent property.

My deer pens are here (indicating). My high-fence is here (indicating). It's been fenced for 40 years. Those deer can sniff each other. They can spread the disease. Why am I having to test a deer that can contact it if I had Chronic Wasting Disease in my pens? It makes no sense to me. That's like me having to pay to test my cows for CW -- I mean for Mad Cow Disease to move them from one pasture to the next.

This disease is a bad disease. Nobody loves deer any more than I do. Wild deer. I've got low-fence. I've got high-fence. But I am being subjected to costs that I can't afford. I don't sell just a handful of deer over the 20 years. It's for my hunting operation under the high-fence and I spent 11 or $1,200 to test four deer the other day so I could be movement qualified so I could release pen-raised deer into my high-fence. This isn't fair. Not any part of that.

I wish that y'all would consider not adopting these rules until you've looked at people like me. I'm retire -- I mean, not retired. I'm an ex-dairyman. I'm a cattle rancher. I'm a deer breeder. I raise bucking bulls. I do anything I can to make a living. I put in 12 hours yesterday. I don't hire anybody, but I dang sure can't afford to play y'all's game testing all my deer to release them just through a net wire fence. I appreciate your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Rodney, thank you.

Katherine Romans.

MS. KATHERINE ROMANS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Katherine Romans, and I'm the Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance. I was here before you at your August meeting and I wanted to come once again to speak about the very important issue of Chronic Wasting Disease.

The Hill Country Alliance works across 17 counties of Central Texas with thousands of landowners, residents, visitors, local leaders and elected officials, hunters, anglers, swimmers, and lovers of this region as our partners. Those partners are as diverse as the region and the issues we work on, but they are unified by a common interest to work proactively to protect the defining natural resources of the Hill Country: The lands, the waters, the communities, the night skies, and the wildlife that call this place home.

I am here today to urge you to adopt the staff proposed rules as they are amended today. As you all know the, Hill Country is growing quickly. As land values skyrocket, leasing/hunting access is increasingly an invaluable tool for landowners needing to create a source of income to sustain their landowner. Chronic Wasting Disease is an existential threat to those landowners and the wider landscape of native deer and ecological function of our region.

The rules proposed are an important step to ensuring both the economic and ecological health of our region and the rest of the state. I thank you for all you do to protect Texas and our wild places. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Katherine.

Tim, then Steven Bender.

Good morning, Tim.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Good morning.


MR. TIM CONDICT: Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I represent a huge portion of deer breeders in the State of Texas at their request. Six and a half years ago, I came to this Department and I sat down with Carter Smith, Clayton Wolf, and Kevin Davis and I expressed my willingness to come to Texas and help build a relationship between this Agency and the deer breeders to get everybody together to get along better and be able to work together for common sense rules and regulations that work for everybody, including this Department.

I also met with the representatives of TWA and expressed my concern with being able to work with them as well. I also talked about all the things that we had in common, the things that we should be fighting for together. Things like the Second Amendment right, bring your children into hunting, protecting our property rights, and protecting the hunting heritage of the State of Texas.

I came to work together with everybody to build relationships where we could do everything that we wanted to do and do it together. Over time, that worked. Six and a half years ago, we worked on a set of rules in 2016 that we put together that worked. They worked. Every single time they worked, except for one thing that we missed. We didn't do a seven-day test submission of on our samples. If we had, we wouldn't be sitting in here today talking about emergency rules that's put a hundred and something people out of business. Doesn't matter if it's only a hundred and something people, unless it happens to be your mom or your dad or your brother or sister or you; but then it matters, and it matters a lot.

And I can tell you the rules that you are trying to put in place right now remind me that I -- I feel like I'm sitting in Minnesota or Wisconsin or New York City. These rules are so liberal that I can't believe that I'm sitting up here. We are all -- every one of us in this room love wildlife and we love deer and we're all trying to protect them. We're doing way more on our part.

We hear about -- we hear about that we have a 99/1 confidence rate of finding the disease in a place if it exists. We've only found it once through normal surveillance in the State of Texas. So I would say we have a 20 percent chance of finding it at a 1 percent infection rate. If you will go test your deer across the state, we have hundreds of square miles in several different areas where there has never been a test performed. How do you know you don't have CWD?

You have CWD in a lot of locations in the state and to cherry-pick research to bring to y'all -- I would love to send y'all research that's actual research that we could all point to and say it actually has worked. But to sit and cherry-pick research to push your agenda -- and that agenda now appears to me that what I done six and a half years ago when I come down here and busted my hump and I paid a high personal price for doing so with my peers, but I done it anyway because -- you know why -- it was the right thing to do. And today the right thing to do is laying on your plate.

And as a public citizen, I expect people in your positions to do the right thing. It's not complicated. The people in the State of Texas do have a right to know. But you know what? Regardless of what happens, you can't put up 20 fences or a hundred fences and stop CWD. Crows, dust, plant material takes it up. Everything that's being sent across this country, compost and everything else. The good news is, it's showing Wyoming, Colorado, and Wisconsin that the deer are morphing into resistant animals. Okay?

We have even better news Chris Seabury's research. It's proven that we are going to be able to breed our way out of this. We want to work together with y'all to help do that. But since 2016, everything was great. The people here worked with me and everything else. 2021, I don't know what happened; but no one wants to work together anymore. Please change that. If nothing else, put a hold on stuff until we get the correct information out here because the stuff in this room that people are hearing is not really totally accurate.


MR. TIM CONDICT: And I appreciate you guys letting me talk and I hope that you understand this is passion because I love deer too --


MR. TIM CONDICT: -- and so does everyone in my family. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim.

Steven Bender.

MR. STEVEN BENDER: Good morning, Chairman Aplin and Commission. We'll see how this goes. I forgot to bring my glasses in; so we'll take a little minute and do a little trombone here, figure out if I can read this or not. My name is Steve Bender. I'm with the National Wildlife Federation. We are supportive of the updates that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are recommending to the Commission concerning Chronic Wasting Disease detection and response. NWF is always supportive of science based management of wildlife and habitat.

Having been a staff member of the Wildlife Division here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, I have always been impressed in the intelligent and talented team of biologists that are part of this effort. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's thoughtful and science focused approach is critical to proper management of all species.

As a hunter, I want to ensure that the population of deer and other huntable species are healthy. Chronic Wasting Disease looms over many states, and in some cases is an epidemic. Texas has been able to -- through good planning, swift action, and proper regulation -- manage smaller outbreaks and keep White-tailed deer and other cervid specie -- species populations relatively safe from the disease. Ultimately, we must minimize the threat of CWD in the wild deer population in Texas. Thoughtful action is required and I believe that with these proposed amendments to the CWD rules, TPWD is stepping up to that challenge. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Steven, thank you.

All right. That's all I have on people that have submitted that they would like to comment.

Dee, is that correct?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: I want to thank everybody for taking the effort to come here in person and to make their comments to the full Commission. I want to thank y'all for the effort that you put forward on that.

Okay, Commissioners, we're going to open it back up for conversations, comments, statements anything you want to do and we'll bring Mitch or staff or anybody else back up if you have a question for him now that we've heard comments from the public. So, Commissioners, it's open to you.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Beaver. Mr. Chairman and fellow Commissioners, after listening to all of the comments, both pro and con and everything, I know we all care a great deal on both sides of this issue. It's a very difficult position that we find ourselves in.

One thing that does stick out in my mind, however we go on these rules and stuff, I don't -- there's not any provision for this ending at any point in time. At the very least, I would suggest and make a motion that we put a three-year sunset at least on the antemortem testing only. That way there is a limit and there is a cut-off point. That's my suggestion.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Dick. That plays in a little bit what Commissioner Hildebrand mentioned yesterday about, you know, about these things having a -- having an end.

Before I ask for a motion, Dick -- thank you for that. I know offered. But I want to make sure anybody else has an questions, comments, statements in specific, whatever.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Mr. Chairman, I had one question I'd like for -- Mitch, if you could come back to the podium for just a second.

Just if you could help me just understand a little bit more when we talk about the limitation on movement and there was a -- and I know we've read about it in and the comment made about releasing deer onto your own high-fenced property next door. Can you help me understand a little bit more either the risk there -- I mean, on one hand it seems like it would be limited. On the other hand, I understand when you're transferring an animal from one segment of a property to another. But if it's still on the same property, how do we assess that risk?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, let see say how to assess the risk. Is the question more of the need for antemortem when releasing to adjacent property?

COMMISSIONER BELL: I guess that's --

MR. LOCKWOOD: I don't want to put words in your mouth.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I guess that's the fair way of saying it. If the property is contiguous, right, and so it all belongs to the same person, I do understand that we've moved from this space to this space and maybe when we were in this space, there was -- maybe there was more -- you couldn't get to this outer limit, right? But what's the -- what's the greater -- that's the greater risk when we do that expansion? Because maybe I'm thinking on one hand -- and I'm trying to play devils advocate -- if it's on my property and I'm still managing things, have I really increased risk other than keeping it in that smaller circle?

MR. LOCKWOOD: So good question, and I appreciate the opportunity to comment on that. And when you say "keeping it in there," you know, for how long? How long is that deer going to remain within that property? We know that deer do get out of breeding facilities. We know that deer don't stay on the same properties, whether water gaps, washouts, deer jump fences, or other reasons, we know the don't. And the farther removed they are from a captive facility, the more they do put at risk neighboring properties, neighboring deer populations.

Another concern that we have is, is that a disease is, number one, it's more easily contained in a captive facility; but, number two, it's more easily detected in the first place in a captive facility. And much, much more difficult -- as some have commented today, much more difficult to detect when it's in, I'll say, free-ranging populations where you're not testing all mortalities that occur or even maybe any mortalities that occur within that property.

And so the risk of containing that -- the ability to contain that disease gets much more difficult the further we remove the deer from the captive setting. And so it's -- with that in mind, just keep in mind, if you will please, the -- let's think about these facilities where CWD has been detected. We heard some really good comments today and some facilities that one, in particular I think, is a model facility for deer breeders in this state. But, you know, we have one of these positive -- well, actually as I shared with you, both of -- what we call the index facilities -- that hadn't introduced deer for a number of years, had been testing a very high number of mortalities for many years and so on, facilities where we really -- there's a lot of people scratching their head over how these facilities got the disease, but they did. And, obviously, in one of those cases, releases deer to their own property. And then as those deer were moved from the pen to their property -- again, as I stated -- it then begins to put neighboring properties and neighboring populations at higher risk.


COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Mr. Chairman. Hildebrand.

Just a couple of things, Mitch. One is I sincerely want you to follow-up in terms of monitoring, how long these tests are in the queue at the A&M laboratory because what I don't want to do is put this huge burden from a timing standpoint on people that are conducting the testing. So I'd really like a follow-up on that and a monitoring that those tests are being performed quickly and efficiently. So that's one.

Two, I continue to say -- I mean, there were some very nice comments on both sides of the table today and I see both sides' points, but we must continue and expand a testing program for free-ranging deer because what -- I love the Commissioner's request for sunset on three years, but we need to have some benchmarks in order to determine is the situation getting better or worse and those need to be quantitative benchmarks and so I'd really like to ask the Commission to think about a program that is systematic that we relook at every quarter, every year to determine is the situation getting better or worse and not just qualitative comment on, well, we have another deer breeding facility that's got CWD. So those are my comments.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you, Commissioner. On your first point, you might recall that the Director of the lab reported to this Commission that during that peak bottleneck period, they maintained an average of about a 21-day turnaround time on getting results back to their customers. So you heard testimony from an individual who was not within that average. He was more at the, I think, 28-, 29-day turnaround; but that was certainly an exception.

Outside of the bottleneck, you're looking at -- it's pretty common -- it's very common for these results to be returned in less than a two-week period. And I'll tell you this. Last year when we submitted many of the samples that we submit, we were at -- for hunter harvest samples, we were at about a three-day turnaround. And I think that's a pretty good transition to your other point.

Now, we've talked quite a bit about our surveillance program and it's become increasingly obvious to me that staff has done a very poor job of conveying to you really what our surveillance program entails and how strong it is. Especially when I hear some of the comments this morning about we need to test wild deer.

We do test wild deer. We test lots of free-ranging deer. You might remember from Ryan Schoeneberg's presentation, we've established a great deal of confidence that we would detect this disease if it occurred at a low prevalence in the vast majority of this state with our existing program that was enhanced greatly in 2016 and then again in 2019 and 2020 as we continued to make increases.

A common model that a lot of people use is try to detect a certain degree of confidence -- and lot of people strive for 95 percent. Some strive for 99 percent -- to detect this disease at a 5 percent prevalence. Well, if we've got 5.4 million deer in the state and we have 5 percent prevalence of this disease throughout the state, I believe that comes out to 270,000 positive animals. We would be finding lots of CWD with our surveillance program that we currently have if we had a 5 percent prevalence throughout this state.

Now, you've heard me say before this is a focal disease. We're not going to have this disease evenly distributed across the landscape. So surveillance is important and we recognize that and I will tell you that these samples, these 67,000 samples we collect over the last few years -- and that's just over the last five years, not looking further back in the history and what we've collected in previous years prior to that -- but when you look at this, we do realize that we have properties in the state that are high-fenced properties, independent populations, that haven't contributed to this effort.

We realize the disease could be on some of those properties and it's undetected because they haven't contributed. And what we believe, as I shared with you before, is we really should shift our focus to look at some these gaps where we have less surveillance; but if we do that, you realize that's going to result in a reduction in total number of samples collected because we can collect a whole lot more samples at a locker plant or a meat processing facility than we're going to get from an individual high-fenced ranch to try and fill in the gaps.

And so we do kind of have a conflict of interest here, I mean, within our staff trying to determine how we achieve these overall goals and increase number of samples more and more and more; but also try and fill in these gaps that we have. So it's -- I think I'd just like to sum it by saying perhaps we'd appreciate another opportunity at some point to maybe do a better job than we've done in the past of letting you -- getting you better informed of what our surveillance program really looks like and how much confidence that we do have that we would detect this disease where it exists in the state because it's clearly a far better surveillance program than what some of our constituents out there realize that it is and we need to make that part of our education campaign that you've heard me about. This "Got Milk" campaign that we want to embark on. We need to make it part of that campaign so Texans know how strong our surveillance program really is.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mitch.


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton. I've got a question. You know, personally do you think these measures today that we're taking or I anticipate are going to be taken, are actually going to do away with CWD?

MR. LOCKWOOD: I do not think these actions will do away with CWD in the State of Texas. I do think they are very strong measures to try and help reduce the likelihood of transmitting this disease to more facilities as we saw happen in this past year. You heard a previous commenter we wouldn't be here today if we had this seven-day requirement to submit samples to the lab.

Well, why that's not true. It is true that there are four facilities of the seven that potentially very likely would not have gotten the disease if we had that requirement; but there's three others that they could have reported them the second and turned in the sample the second that the deer died and it wouldn't have prevented that. And so the disease has been transferred to other facilities and these rules are designed to prevent that -- or greatly reduce the likelihood of that happening. So it won't eliminate CWD from the State of Texas; but hopefully, it will go a long way to keep more deer breeders in this state -- let me phrase that the right way. To make sure that other deer breeders in the state do not get exposed to this disease.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: You know, one of the things that has troubled me from the, say, the workshop to the last scheduled meeting was even with the antemortem testing, I think it was you that said the results of the antemortem tests are only as good as the test or sample that was taken that day. Is that a correct statement?

MR. LOCKWOOD: That was a statement made by one of our constituents out there. I certainly do not agree with that statement. We have a proposal before you to allow for antemortem samples to be collected as much a eight months prior to the release of the deer. Not the same day as the release of the deer. So I do not agree with that statement.

But I -- you have heard me say that antemortem tests do miss positives. In fact, there's a concerning proportion of positive animals that a rectal biopsy is not going to detect; but it does still provide us a whole lot better confidence that deer don't have the disease than no test at all. But you heard us say it's really most valuable as a herd screening tool, as opposed to an individual animal surveillance tool, if you will, to say this animal doesn't have the disease. It's not very good at that, but it is very good at saying this herd is likely -- there's a low -- there's a low probability of this CWD being in this particular herd and is when you're releasing deer prior to release, you're getting that better, broader surveillance for the herd to provide that confidence.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, I think that's exactly what the deer breeders or several of them have -- the position they've taken that they certainly want to continue antemortem testing. They believe in antemortem testing; but just not test every single deer that gets transferred. And it sounds like you agree with that, but you still want every single deer that gets transferred to have an antemortem test.

MR. LOCKWOOD: I'm sorry for leave -- leaving that impression. I do not agree with that. I very much, along with the whole staff, very much believe that antemortem testing of all deer prior to release is critical to try to protect -- you heard me a minute ago say other deer breeders from this disease; but in this case, protect our native populations from this disease. I mean, I think it's critical. It can miss it. It could miss it, but we're definitely going to miss it where it exists where we're not testing prior to release.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: You know, one of the speakers made a comment, I think it was Vice President in the back, that ultimately this may be a legislative issue because -- do you agree with that or not or do you think that we keep it in this Department issue?

MR. LOCKWOOD: What that speaker was referring to was a requirement for maintaining visible ID upon release. It -- I think it's safe to say that a statutory change would be necessary. I know there's different thoughts on that, but our position is that a statutory change would be necessary to require that external ID to maintain -- for that deer to maintain that external -- that dangle tag, if you will, on a release and that's what he was referring to.

Obviously, on this broader subject I would -- I would very much prefer that this Commission continue to have the authority to make these decisions if I may say. And I think that addresses your question.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. And I guess, you know, another issue or -- that gives me concern as we look at the, you know, voting yes or no on these rules, there's kind of a whole other back door out there that -- that I guess we don't have any authority or control over. But would you agree that we have interstate transfer of elk and Red deer coming into the state and released in the wild that really we don't have any control over?

MR. LOCKWOOD: I do agree with that as an Agency. I think to continue that response, two wrongs don't make a right.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: No, I agree. I'm just -- you know, there -- well, and it maybe a little too late because it worries me that it seems like the deer breeders are kind of taking the fall for this and it just seems like there's -- that's not fair. And I wonder do you think there's -- do you have any solution? Do you have any -- any resolution? I was kind of getting to that with the legislative angle on the -- this movement of other animals that carry CWD that are effectively unregulated, in my opinion.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, and I'd like to -- I appreciate another opportunity to take another swing at that because I wouldn't say unregulated. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department doesn't have the regulatory authority regarding the movement -- inter or intrastate movement -- of some of these other susceptible species, elk, Sika deer, et cetera; but these other susceptible species cannot move interstate into Texas from outside without not only being enrolled in the Herd Certification Program by USDA administered by Texas Health Animal commission, but also with a certified status.

So, as you know, that certified status doesn't provide, you know, absolute assurance that these animals won't get the disease as we're dealing with some certified herds that have the disease; but these are coming from monitored herds. Now, the movement within the state, there's -- there's less confidence that we're not moving CWD positive exotic susceptible species within Texas.

The concept that deer breeders are getting the blame, they're getting -- you know, it's not fair that they're having to do this testing and others aren't having to do testing. We have testing requirements for anyone who is authorized to move White-tailed deer in this state and so that's -- and Mule deer -- and that's -- that's the issue here. It's not -- and you've heard me say this before and I mean it sincerely, this isn't finger pointing, at least not from this Agency to the permitted deer breeders. Not -- we're not saying they brought in the disease. We're not -- all we're saying is, is when deer are moved in a trailer from one location to another, there's a risk of transmitting this disease, a very real risk which is -- we have a proposal to suspend the Triple T Program because we're not comfortable with the level of risk currently within that program. We want to bring that program -- we want that program to resume, but we want to be able to better address that risk.

So it’s -- it's -- these other people who aren't required to test, aren't moving this risk. Now, some may come up here and argue, well, hunters are, they're moving the carcasses. There is nowhere near the level of risk of moving a carcass as there is a live deer that has CWD. There's some risk. We acknowledge that, but magnitudes difference in risk between those.

So it's -- what we're trying to do is, as I said yesterday, is strengthen a program so that we can continue with these practices out there -- and some call them business models, whatever you want to call it -- so that we can continue with these activities of releasing deer that are raised in captivity without adding additional risk, introducing additional risk to the native populations and others who depend on those neighboring populations.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. I don't have any other questions. Thank you, Mitch.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bobby.

Vice -- Vice-Chairman?

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Yeah. Back to Bobby's question, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you ever answered your question about the monitoring on elk or any of the other deals. We don't have any monitoring on elk or all that, do we? You talk -- you jumped over into the White-tailed deal, but we don't have any deal -- you don't -- we don't test the herds. We don't know where the elk and everything are coming from, do we?

MR. LOCKWOOD: There's -- yes we do. That's -- I apologize if I wasn't clear. When they're coming from out of state, they're coming from monitored herds. They're coming from herd -- if they're coming legally, they're coming from herds that test 100 percent of the mortalities in the herd doing the USDA/Texas Animal Health Heard Certification Program and they have certified status. So they've been doing this for more than five years.

Within Texas, there are some surveillance requirements and it's changed some over the years and I should know this from memory and if Dr. Reed does, I welcome him to come up here correct me. There is some surveillance requirements that are more similar to the requirements currently in our Triple T Program for people that are moving elk or Red deer or Sika deer around the state. There's also requirement by Texas Animal Health Commission to -- for any landowner in the State of Texas -- doesn't matter you're high-fenced, low-fenced, doesn't matter -- any landowner in the State of Texas is required to submit for testing the first three exotic susceptible species that's harvested on that ranch each year. First three. Could be three Axis. It could be one -- not Axis. Strike that from the record. It could be three Sika, it could be a Sika and an elk and a Red deer, two Red Deer/one elk. The first three from any property in the State of Texas each year is required to be tested postmortem for CWD. So there's some. That's not a lot, but they do have a program that requires some surveillance from properties that do move these live animals around.

I don't remember exactly the details of the program. It's not as -- it doesn't provide the same level of confidence of what we're proposing to you for the deer breeder program today.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: So you're saying that Red deer, Sika, elk, whatever, when they are brought in, USDA has to have tested that herd -- say it's coming from Colorado, just pick a place -- so the USDA has to certify that that herd is CWD free?

MR. LOCKWOOD: I would not use that terminology Commissioner -- Vice-Chairman. But they will certify that this herd has tested 100 percent of the eligible mortalities for at least five years or if they haven't, then they use some justification for why they maintain that certify status if they missed a mortality. So I would not -- I certainly would not say certified free.

Now, we also -- our State Veterinary, it's not a rubber stamp. So let's say you have a certified herd coming and wants to bring deer into Texas from Colorado. We actually had a case, at least one case this year, were our State Veterinarian did not approve that transfer. He has to approve each of these transfers and he found out that a facility, despite having certified status, was in the same proximity of CWD in free-ranging animals and he chose not to approve that transfer. So it's not a rubber stamp.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: So just so I'm -- so that we're very clear on this point because I think Bobby has brought up a very reliable one. So if the US -- if this ranch in Colorado that's selling this elk or Red deer or whatever, so if they have a herd certification from USDA, every animal then that comes into the state has to have a paper trail that puts this animal back on this certified herd? I'm trying -- what I'm trying to get to here, is what the paper trail and who gets the paper trail that is proven up that this herd in Colorado is -- is CWD free? I'm trying to understand how that works.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Okay. I'd like to standby and defer to Dr. Reed, our State Wildlife Veterinarian, to address that.

DR. HUNTER REED: This is Dr. Hunter Reed. I formally worked with Texas Animal Commission, now Wildlife Veterinarian for Texas Parks and Wildlife. So the Executive Director or State Epidemiologist receives that paperwork from that respective herd. It has to show that they've undergone the proper Brucellosis, Tuberculosis as well, as engage in the CWD Herd Certification Program, and is in good standing within that state.

That information, address, owner contact information is all forwarded in that paperwork sent to Texas Animal Health Commission and they say yea or nay. So the traceability of going back on those animals is there.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioners questions, comments?

COMMISSIONER GALO: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a comment. One of the first things that you said today was that we're here today in spite of everything that we did in 2016 to try to contain CWD. And in the last five years or longer, because I think this process started before 2016, before the rules -- the then temporary rules were made permanent rules -- people were already working on this. And so many stakeholders from so many different perspectives and points of view have worked very, very hard countless of hours trying to come up with something to contain this disease, this very, very serious disease.

Someone spoke about the money and it's been millions of dollars have gone into studying this and trying to come up with something that was, yes, fair to deer breeders; but also lies within what we are here as Commissioners charged to do. And I think it was Mr. Leslie that pointed out and reminded us that we're here to manage and conserve the natural and culture resources of Texas. That's our job up here.

But we have done everything I think that we can as Commissioners, as the Agency, as the directors and stakeholders, to look at the perspective of the deer breeders and to take into account what they're going through. It was very hard to make these decisions. It's very hard to make these decisions and to implement those rules in 2016. And sometimes as a Commissioner, I wonder: Do the rules that I vote on, do they make a difference? Do they accomplish what we hope they'll accomplish?

And all I can tell you is that all of us read everything that we can that we receive and if there's other research out there -- someone said that we just get cherry-picked information to review -- please send it to us. You can always send us things directly. I think all of our addresses are published and it's public. Because we do want to make the best informed decisions when we're up here.

So I don't think there's any denying that we've tried our best as Commissioners, as the Agency, you know, Mitch, everyone, to try to come up with the best rules for the situation that we're dealing with at this time. When we implemented those rules in 2016, some thought it was -- they were very harsh and that they were very restrictive and we even came back as a Commission and kind of amended them. But look where we are?

It's not being contained and they haven't accomplished what we thought they were going to accomplish then. So we're trying to contain this because there are all the other stakeholders, landowners, people that, you know -- I think there was a young lady that talked about leasing her property and, you know, communities that depend on hunters to come in. There's so many industries that depend on hunting in Texas and we have to protect our free-range deer too. We have to.

And so I just wanted to make that comment because I'm one of two Commissioners that was here in 2016 when we really deliberated and listened to every stakeholder that we could and took the information that we had and tried to make the best decision that we could; but unfortunately those decisions we made and those decisions that we amended, didn't contain the disease. And so that's why we're here today with these new rules in front of us.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioner Galo. Well said.

And we'll do a little clarifying, make sure I understand before we go any further; but I want to make sure if any other Commissioners have questions or comments.

See if I can get this right, and then Vice-Chairman you can tell me if I'm on board with this. As part of what we're going to vote on here in a little bit, one of them is in regards to Triple T. The Triple T will be a temporary postponement. We made the commitment that we're going to work hard as an Agency and we're going to report back as soon as possible. January hopefully, March at the latest. And we're going to have done a deep dive on: Can we and how do we bring back Triple T new and improved, safer for the benefit and the tool that it provides.

I also believe that part of this proposal that was mentioned yesterday, that is not part, although we're temporarily suspending Triple T, we have removed all conversation or aspect that if -- if there's a facility that ever received breeder deer, that it's forever not considered to be Triple T available. That that has been withdrawn. And the fact that we're postponing all Triple T covers that base, but we will reassess that. We'll hear that in January. The Commission will be able to take public comment and will able be able to make their own decision. So I want to clarify that.

And then I believe Vice-Chairman Scott's recommendation was to make a motion to approve these rules as presented; but he wants to sunset that antemortem, live antemortem 100 percent portion of the rules for three years, which means it will -- that part will automatically be sunset and it'll be up to another Commission at that time to deal with that three-year and I know Jeff mentioned he likes that.

So, Dick, did I get that right?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. So I can't make a motion, but I just wanted to make I got that right. So now if you want to make your motion and we'll see if you can get a second.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Is that good enough, James?

MR. MURPHY: That's good enough.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good enough. And who seconded it?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioner Hildebrand second. Any more discussion?

All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes, except for Commission



COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Are you calling for a vote just on the motion, or for the whole thing?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: His motion, I believe, considers the entire thing, which includes Triple T; but we've talked about Triple T and removed the "forever" part.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Well, to be clear -- Patton -- I'm opposing. I'm voting against.


So ayes. One no. Is that how y'all read it?

Okay. Very good. Then the ayes have it and the motion carries.

Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business and I declare it adjourned and before I say the time, someone said there's been thousands of hours and there have been literally thousands of hours and I respect and appreciate both sides and the passion and I just want to thank everybody for all the work on this very challenging issue.

I declare this meeting adjourned at 11:28 a.m. Thank you.

(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 ______________, ________.


Arch "Beaver" Aplin, III, Chairman


Dick Scott, Vice-Chairman


James E. Abell, Member


Oliver J. Bell, Member


Paul Foster, Member


Anna B. Galo, Member


Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Member


Robert L. "Bobby" Patton, Jr., Member


Travis B. Rowling, Member



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: January 31, 2023

2223 Mockingbird Drive

Round Rock, Texas 78681


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