TPW Commission

Public Hearing, August 23, 2023


TPW Commission Meetings


August 23, 2023






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Everyone's here today for the, I assume, for the August -- the annual August Public Hearing, August 23, 2023.

Good afternoon, everyone. This Public Hearing is being called to order on August 23rd, 2023, at 2:05 p.m.

Before I begin, I'd like to take roll call. Aplin present.







CHAIRMAN APLIN: This is our Annual Public Hearing. Before proceeding with any further business, I believe Dr. Yoskowitz has a statement he would like to make and some comments about how the system works.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yes, Chairman. Thank you.

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 would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.

Now I'd like to discuss the rules of the Annual Public Hearing. Any individual wishing to speak before Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must fill out and sign a speaker registration form with the ladies out in front if you wish to speak.

The Chairman is in charge of this meeting and by law, it is his duty to preserve order, direct the order of the hearing, and recognize the persons to be heard.

We have sign-up cards for everyone wishing to speak. The Chairman will call names from those cards one at a time and call who will be on deck after the person immediately speaking. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name and who you represent.

Each person who wants to address the Commission will have two minutes to speak. We'll use the green light/red light system. Green means go, yellow means start wrapping up, and then red means to stop. Please be respectful and please silence or turn off your cell phones or other devices so you will not disturb the meeting and those speaking.

If you would like to submit any written materials to the Commission, please give those to Dee Halliburton to my right.

Dee, if you would raise your hand?

Who is seated to my -- and she will pass those written materials out to the Commissioners.

Thank you, Chairman Aplin.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, David.

We're going to get started. Our goal is for this Commission to be able to listen and hear whatever the subject is, whatever you want to discuss.

I should let you know that we have a lot of people that want to speak, in excess of 100, maybe as many as 150. Everyone has two minutes, so do the math. That's five hours. And so anytime someone -- if you have the opportunity to say "I agree with what the person said before me," you know, that can save some time. But by all means, everyone has their two minutes that they're allotted and just please bear with me. I have to keep this thing moving fast to get everyone out of here at some point in the future.

I'm going to start first off and I'm going to have people on deck and I'm going to ask you to come up and have some -- we're going to do like the baseball. Someone at the podium, somebody on deck, someone in the hole so we don't waste time getting here.

The very -- our very first to start out is Senator Bob Hall and then after the Senator will be Commissioner Sid Miller will be after the Senator.

Good afternoon.

SENATOR BOB HALL: Good afternoon, sir.


SENATOR BOB HALL: Thank you for having me. Before we start, I think there are a couple of things you need to know. First of all, I thank you for meet -- discussing with me. I attempted to meet with all of you, but I was blocked from doing so. I was blocked from doing so by I believe it was the attorney and I objected with the Attorney General's Office and the kindest thing I can say is that's a technique that's used when people don't want to talk to you is to say that it creates a walking quorum. That's as phony as a lot of other stuff that's happening around here.

So I would still like to meet with you because I'm not going to have enough time to say what I really want to say here today. There's a lot happening here and a lot at risk. And the only other thing is in listening to some of the stuff this morning and you're being misled by the Agency and they did it with some of the statistics they used today when they compared the -- compared the incidents of CWD in the wild to the breeders.

Because of the radical difference in the size of the herds, mathematically you cannot make the comparison they tried to make this morning, so. But that's similar to what's happened before.

You know, government is like fire: A dangerous servant and a fearful master. Fire can be used to warm, comfort, and serve or it can be used to destroy. One of my questions today is: Are two government agencies being used by a select group few to warm, comfort, and serve or to destroy?

You know, I came to the Texas Legislature to serve the people of Texas and to protect them from government overreach like what is happening with the CWD issue. I'm here today because I'm greatly frustrated in my experience in trying to deal with this since I was elected in 2014. One of the first problems brought to me was by a deer breeder in Kaufman County who is being required to kill a certain percentage of his herd because you found one case out in West Texas and he said, "I didn't even have that many deer and they told me" -- came back and said, "Go buy some and kill them and send them in."

That complaint was later confirmed by other deer breeders. Typical of what was happening at the time.

Are deer dying because of CWD? Yeah, in Texas, absolutely. They are dying, but their death is not because of the disease. They're being killed by Texas Parks and Wildlife in a pretense to protect them. Let's make sure the public is aware of some of the facts. And I guess I'm out of time here.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Yes, sir. Senator, thank you. Two minutes go fast.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: As always, I'm always available and any Commissioner. So thank you for taking the time.

SENATOR BOB HALL: I know that. Just let me say this. We have got veterans in our state that are -- or in this country that are dying at a rate of 22 a day by suicide. You guys have the opportunity to help that a little bit by letting those veterans hunt out deer on ranches that you have condemned the deer to be shot at night by your sharpshooters in their pen. There is no reason that you can't help the veterans who gave great sacrifice so you could be here in your cushy jobs here in America that are suffering and this would be one little thing that would help them. If you're determined to put the deer breeders out of business for whatever reason you've got for doing it, you might want to at least try to help the veterans just a little bit before you decide to annihilate part of Texas economy. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Senator.

Commissioner. After the Commissioner, is Mylee Cano and then Will -- I can't understand it -- Prochaska maybe.

Good afternoon, Commissioner. How are you?

COMMISSIONER SID MILLER: Good afternoon, Board. I'm going to go pretty fast because I can't get it all said in two minutes. But certainly don't take this in the wrong way. I'm not here to tell the Department how to run Texas Parks and Wildlife. I'm here out of concern for farmers and ranchers that I represent across this state.

Wildlife is a big business for farmers and ranchers. If it has fins, feather, or fur on it, we can make a profit on it. And a dry year like this year, that's about the only profit we're going to have. So I'm certainly here speaking on behalf of those farmers and ranchers.

You know, we don't pick winners and losers at the Department and, you know, I don't think y'all want to do that either. We try to pick winners and more winners. We're for the organic people. We're for the traditional farmers. We're for the grass-fed. We're for the grain-fed. We try to lift everybody. But what I want you to get across -- what I'm hearing across the state has to do with CWD and I think we're at a tipping point and I just want y'all to know that we're at that point where something is going to happen.

We're going to have farmers that that's their only livelihood. They've invested their life savings in deer breeding operation, have to kill all their deer. Some of them are going to commit suicide. I've opened up a suicide hotline to deal with that. I know. They're calling in. We've talked to them.

Other point that I want you to -- that's out there, I think we're to that point where we're close to having a Cliven Bundy situation. Somebody is going to respond in an unfriendly way. I've seen that myself. I've heard it. I've verbally seen it and witnessed it. It could happen, and I just don't want that to happen. What I -- my request today is to review this.

I've researched some surrounding states. They've got some programs a little different than ours that are a little more reasonable. I'm just asking for y'all to use some common sense and reason to deal with this before it blows up and gets out of hand. It will be a very bad reflection on the Parks and Wildlife Department because the media won't take your side. They're going to take the side of the individual; the underdog; the farmer that's been oppressed by overregulations, big government, strong-handed government. It's not going to look good for our state. I don't want to see y'all in the news.

So I'll be glad to visit with y'all in-depth one on one. If you've got any questions, I'm easy to find.

So thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioner.

Mylee, you're up. Then Will, then Kathrine Porter.

If you'll notice down below, there should be lights, Mylee, that will help kind of judge your time. Two minutes, please. Hello, Mylee.

MS. MYLEE CANO: Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Mylee Cano and I am here to represent the Texas Brigades Program that I've had the privilege of being part of for two years now. This program has benefited me in so many ways. I just want to spend a couple of minutes and share that with y'all.

If you'd known me before camp, you know I would have rather done anything but speak in front of people and I'm not kidding when I say I was a different person when I left camp. Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means a professional speaker and I'm definitely shaking in my boots right now. But being in a program with 30 other cadets that were as far out of their comfort zone as I was, allowed me to push past some of those insecurities. And since then, I've been able to stand in front of a room full of people, much like today, and talk about what I'm passionate about. And while I could for sure talk your ear off on my passions, I'll keep it short and sweet for y'all.

Before this program, wildlife and natural resources didn't really interest me and were nowhere near my list of future career paths. Since then, not only has Texas Brigades educated me in these aspects, but has instilled a passion in me for these things, as well as many other cadets.

Now none of this really would have been possible without the support of many organizations and individuals. A very important one being Texas Parks and Wildlife, as your employees make up a big part of the instructors that volunteer to instruct at the nine camps Brigades holds each summer. The experience and knowledge your employees offer is unparalleled as their everyday work is unmatched in the State of Texas.

So today I can say one thing is for sure: The girl standing in front of you today is wildly different than who I would be without Texas Brigades and the support they get from organizations like yours. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Mylee, thank you. Thank you for sharing that.

Will, you're up.

And then Kathrine and then Frances Lockwood, if you kind of come up and stage. Kathrine, if you would come up and get close behind and then Fran -- and then Frances after that.

Hello, Will.

MR. WILLIAM PROCHASKA: Good afternoon, Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, and Dr. Yoskowitz. My name is Will Prochaska, I'm 17 years old, and I'm from Blanket, Texas. I'm here on behalf of Texas Brigades. Thank you for the impact that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has made on the many cadets like myself who've gone through the Brigades program.

I've been around wildlife biology and conservation my entire life; but after attending Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade and North Texas Buckskin Brigade, I had a deeper passion and a deeper understanding of conservation instilled in me.

The hands on activities, real life experiences, and exposure to conservation professionals helped me to focus and better understand what I wanted to do for a career. I'm currently a high school senior and next fall I plan to attend Texas A&M University and major in rangeland, wildlife, and fisheries management.

The Texas Brigades motto is: Tell me I forget, show me I remember, and involve me I understand.

Certainly after attending these Brigades' camps, I was more educated about the biology and ecology of quail and deer; but maybe more importantly, the immersive learning experience empowered and instilled leadership skills in me that will permanently and positively impact my life and future career.

Over the past 31 years, the Brigades program has made similar lasting impacts on over 4,000 cadets. Every year through their time, passion, and dedication, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists and game wardens play a role in sculpting our future hunters, fishers, and possibly even our next generation of conservation professionals. Your continued support is truly appreciated and valued. Thank you for all that you do and for your supporting Texas Brigades. We are very grateful.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Will. Where's Blanket, Texas?

MR. WILLIAM PROCHASKA: Uh, do you have any idea where Abilene is?


MR. WILLIAM PROCHASKA: About an hour south of there.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You did a great job today. Thank you for coming.

MR. WILLIAM PROCHASKA: Thank you very much, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Kathrine, you're up. Then Frances Lockwood, then Braxton Hicks.

Hello, Kathrine.

MS. KATHRINE PORTER: Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Kathrine Porter, and I'm a senior at Karnes City High School. I have been a cadet at the South Texas Ranch Brigade and an assistant leader at both the South Texas Ranch Brigade and the Coastal Brigade. This year I am working to become a special agent at both camps.

I grew up on a ranch; but before Brigade, I wanted nothing to do with agriculture in the long run. While at the Killam Ranch in Freer, Texas, that all changed. I learned that not only are ranchers feeding the world, they are also one of the first lines of defense against the degradation of our land. Although I didn't get to be a cadet at Coastal, I still gained valuable skills as an assistant school leader. I got to learn more about something that I wouldn't have been able to be around otherwise. I was also able to hone in my leadership skills and make lifelong friends and connections.

Texas Brigades also teaches its cadets the value of good communication and leadership. I learned how to speak in a manner that implies the need for respect and attention and how to lead a group to success. I decided shortly after the Ranch Brigade that I wanted to become a high school ag teacher to help educate and mold the next generation of conservationists. I was also recently elected as our Chapter FFA President. I attribute this to the Texas Brigades organization.

Brigades has really brought me out of my comfort zone and taught me the importance of advocating for the conservation of our land, animals, and natural resources. Without the support of Texas Parks and Wildlife, as well as similar organizations, Texas Brigades and the conservation leaders they produce would not be possible. Thank you for your time and support.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kathrine. Good job.

Frances Lockwood, then Braxton Hicks, then Emily Goebel. If you would -- hello, Frances.

Braxton, if you'd start coming forward and then Emily.

Hello. Good afternoon.

MS. FRANCES LOCKWOOD: Good afternoon. Good afternoon, Chairman Alvin -- Aplin and Commissioners. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with y'all today. My name is Frances Lockwood, and I was recently a cadet in the 23rd Battalion of South Texas Buckskin Brigades that took place at Chaparosa Ranch in La Pryor, Texas, this past June.

Even though I've hunted White-tailed deer many times, my knowledge of them was not so great.

Sorry, Dad.

So I wanted to make sure I had a very fun, but very intense five days learning all about White-tailed deer and their habitat. Nervously walking into camp, I met my herd mates and we quickly named ourselves the White-tailed Warriors because we knew our mission from the very beginning was to win one top herd. Would we succeed? Well, all the herds competed in deer trivia, aging and scoring, riflery, archery, and public speaking for points. We spent many late nights studying and preparing to excel in these events. My personal favorite competition was the amazing buckskin race because us girls completed it so fast, the leaders couldn't even keep up with us.

But in the end, our hard work paid off because us -- because the White-tail Warriors did win top herd and I am looking forward to spending time with my new friends this January at our big hunt.

While the competition aspect of South Texas Buckskin Brigades was fun, we learned so much more, such as White-tailed anatomy, taxidermy, plant ID, habitat evaluation, technology, and careers in wildlife management. I still can't believe how much the leaders managed to fit all of that into just five days. But I think the best thing I learned at Texas Brigades was the importance of us cadets going out into our community and sharing the skills we gained about Texas Brigades.

I am currently working to complete many tasks in my book of accomplishments. I am currently working to complete many tasks in my book of accomplishments so I can become an assistant herd leader at next summer's camp. Participating in Texas Brigades was one of the best times of my life. I would like to thank this Commission and the leadership of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and, of course, I would love to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife employees for giving their time to help support young people become better conservationists and better leaders. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Frances. Is Mitch your dad? Frances?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Is Mitch your dad?

MS. FRANCES LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir, he is.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: He had a great career here. So you've got a lot to learn about deer from your daddy.



Braxton, then Emily, then Rachel Lewis.

Hello, Braxton.

MR. BRAXTON HICKS: Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Braxton Hicks. I'm the Field Operations Coordinator for the Texas Youth Hunting Program. TYHP is part of the TWA and is partnered with TPWD, as you guys know. Our mission is to teach youth from across the state the safe, legal, and ethical way to hunt.

This year, the 2022-2023 season, we completed over 230 hunts, with over 1,100 youth taken out on hunts with a total of 3,378 participants over the total season. That's volunteers and parents/youth included. 203 landowners participated and allowed us to hunt or their properties and we've trained over 40 new hunt masters to date for -- to go out and to lead hunts for us in the future.

I've brought three of those youth to speak on TYHP's behalf. I and TYHP staff want to thank TPWD and all involved for your continued support and helping our mission of teaching and passing on this great tradition of hunting to future generations. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Braxton, thank you and thank you for being so short.

Emily, Rachel, then Edward Bocock.

Hi, Emily.

MS. EMILY GOEBEL: Good evening. Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Emily Goebel. I am 17 years old. I am from Manvel, Texas, and I am beyond honored to be speaking on behalf of the Texas Youth Hunting Program. Initially, I would like to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners for providing this opportunity to be heard and for your time. I would also like to thank the Texas Youth Hunting Program for asking me here to speak today. It truly means a lot to me.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude towards the Texas Youth Hunting Program and all they have done for me. Through this program, I have been given the opportunity to travel our great State of Texas to hunt and harvest game. Through all these years of being involved in TYHP, they have not only taught me practical lessons, but also some very valuable life lessons such as success comes with hard work, the importance of patience, the value of teamwork, and to get outside of your comfort zone and the significance of wildlife conservation. These are lessons that I will cherish and take with me into adulthood.

TYHP has played a very important role in my life and it has helped me create friendships, develop skills, strengthen the bond I had with both my parents and siblings, and it has helped me grow my relationship with the Lord as we are often in awe of his creation.

I am sad to say I'm about to graduate out of the program. However, a few months back my parents and I were able to attend hunt master training and become TYHP certified hunt masters. This now gives us the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the program that has given us so much and I am so excited for what the future holds. Thank you TYHP and thank you Texas Parks and Wildlife for all you do and your support. God bless.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Emily.

Rachel Lewis, then Edward Bocock, then Jeremy Shull.

Hello, Rachel.

MS. RACHEL LEWIS: Hello. My name is Rachel Lewis. I am 17 years old and I am from Brownsville, Texas, and I'm honored to be here today. I have been with the Texas Youth Hunting Program since I was about 11 years old, and I don't have a single bad thing to say about it.

TYHP has taught me not only about wild things and places, but how to care for them through hunter ethics. On the youth hunts, we are taught that hunter ethics is doing the right thing even when no one is watching and I know that I don't need to be in a deer blind or on a fence line to do that. I can use that no matter where life puts me.

The Texas Youth Hunting Program has meant a lot to me, especially with all the opportunities and friendships it has allowed me to build. I have been on many gorgeous ranches and have seen some incredible things I would not have experienced if it was not for the program. Because of the exposure it has given me, I now know that I want to be a ranch manager or a game warden. I plan on taking all the experiences I've had with TYHP and knowledge I've gained thanks to it and putting it back into future generations.

I have completed the volunteer training and volunteered on several hunts and I have loved all of them. This past year, me and my dad completed the hunt master training and this coming year we will be leading our first hunt and I am very excited for that because the best part of TYHP to me is all the time that I get to spend with my dad and all memories that I have and those are some of the things that I cherish most about it and I can't wait to look forward -- and I look forward to expand upon that in the years to come. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Rachel. You did great.

Edward and then Jeremy.

Hello, Edward.

MR. EDWARD BOCOCK: Hello. Good afternoon.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good afternoon.

MR. EDWARD BOCOCK: My name is Edward Bocock and I'm 16 years old and I've been with the program for about four years. The Texas Youth Hunting Program is a community of men and women who come together to provide opportunities for youth to participate in hunting activities safely, legally, and ethically, while learning about the value -- the valuable roles of leadership and hunters and how they play that role in the wildlife conservation.

This community of landowners and TYHP staff teaches hunting with the added benefits of fortitude, patience, and trust. The hunting trips forge virtue and community through the countless activities and experiences that truly cannot be found in any other organization. For example, the first two deer hunts I harvested were at Powderhorn Ranch, it allowed me to help fill my family's freezer just before the COVID-19 lockdown.

TYHP has taught me many skills such as tracking game, processing game, and shooting accurately on the range. TYHP has also taught me why generosity and conservation is so important in the process of paying it forward to the next generation.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today and thank you for all the exciting trips that allow me to harvest amazing animals, meet fascinating people, and experience the beauty of hunting through TYHP. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Edward.

Jeremy Shull.

MR. JEREMY SHULL: Yeah, good afternoon. My name is Jeremy Shull and it's an honor to be here to speak with you today about TWA's program, the Adult Learn to Hunt Program. I'd like to first start by thanking TPWD for your support of that program.

I grew up in a single-parent household whose family had a tradition of hunting, but not one that I was ever exposed to, save for the bearskin rug in grandma's room. It wasn't until several years ago that I watched a documentary that had a statement that went something like this: If you eat meat, you should be willing to go harvest that meat.

It really resonated with me. I decided that I was going to find the lowest barrier to entry and I picked -- went and got a shotgun, I bought a bucket, I went out into a field the beginning of September to take part in what I now know is a Texas tradition holiday of dove season opener. I scared a ton of birds that day. Let them know I was there to get them. Unfortunately came home empty handed, but I wanted more. I wanted to fill my freezer as well. And how do you do that as an older person, as an adult?

So Googled around. I found Stewards of the Wild. I joined that organization if for no other reason than to network with other like-minded people and find out just how to do the thing. My first event was the Catch, Clean, and Cook event. I met Adam Comer at that event who introduced me to a gentleman named Matt Hughes, who ran the Adult Learn to Hunt Program and delivered the news that, "Sorry, this year our docket's full. We can't accept any more hunters. But if you send me an e-mail, I'll let you know how to get in touch and apply."

I stayed close to that. I sent him an e-mail. He ended up telling me that season we had an opening. I got to go out with that group, and it changed my life forever. I met a mentor. We went out to Mason. I filled the freezer. Asked all the dumb questions possible and I never felt stupid for asking them. They answered everything I needed to have answered to make me feel comfortable in going out and doing that on my own.

I've since become a mentor to that program. I volunteer in that program. A hunt master myself. I've worked with TYHP as well as a mentor in their program. So it's really been something really amazing to me and I wanted to thank this group and TWA for providing that program and for your folks and your support of that program. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jeremy.

Sorry, I forgot to call out. Charles Eckel, then Kenny Ruiz, and then Robert Ramirez.

I see some people getting up, which it's an opportun -- is I'll ask as you speak, if you have an opportunity to leave the room, we have lots of people outside trying to get in.

So, Charles, you here? There you are. Charles, then Kenny, then Robert.

Good afternoon, Charles.

MR. CHARLES ECKEL: Good afternoon. Thank you for having us. My name's Charles Eckel with Lyssy and Eckel. We have spoken in the last several years about copper and zinc and what it does for misfolding prions. We are excited with the research that we've been able to do with the help of Minnesota Prion Research and Outreach showing that how copper amino acid and zinc amino acid is able to slow and sometimes stop the misfolding of prions and that's very big and we are excited about the preliminary findings of the USDA funded study with Parks and Wildlife, Caesar Kleberg, and Minnesota Prion Research and Outreach as well. So there's a lot of steam growing in that category as well and that's a -- we're very thankful for y'all's input as well.

Since 2001, we have conducted studies on the native habitat here in Texas and in New Mexico and we know that there is no copper and no zinc available in most of that habitat and so we know that a lot of these issues that are coming forth are being exacerbated naturally unless they're helped on a nutrition level.

We're in the preliminary stages of planning additional copper studies as to how they can block the misfolding of prions and we're getting some help as well from UT Health and that's really exciting.

Prion diseases as a whole are impacted by copper. That including Alzheimer's dementia, ALS, Type II diabetes. And so many of those doctors that we visit with are also headed down the line of a nutritional deficiency rather than a neurological. So we're very excited. We're very thankful for y'all coming alongside as well with y'all's own studies. So, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Charles, and thank y'all for the research you're doing.

Kenny, then Robert, then Mike Shehane.

Hello, Kenny.

MR. KENNY RUIZ: Hello. My name is Kenny Ruiz. I'm here today to speak to the fact that supplemental copper is not all created equal. I am a Key Account Manager at Zinpro Corporation. As part of my role, I serve on the Global Beef Advisory Team and as Global Small Ruminant Advisory Team with Zinpro.

At Zinpro, we have been manufacturing organic trace minerals for over 50 years, with over 350 peer-reviewed publications proving not just increased bioavailable, but more importantly bioefficacy, proving that supplemental copper is not all created equal, just like all protein sources are not created equal.

It's widely known in the agriculture industry that the oxide form of trace minerals is of little value in supplementing livestock. So how is Zinpro different?

Zinpro minerals utilize a unique absorption pathway unlike sulfates and oxides. Zinpro link a specific metal to an amino acid. Specifically our minerals utilized the amino acid transport system to be absorbed. The chemical structure of our mineral allows for it to be soluble, stable, resistant to antagonists, absorbable, and metabolically active. Feeding our mineral amino acid complex has resulted in a decrease in inflammatory responses, improved hoof health, uterine health, memory health, and overall productivity of the animal.

That being the case, for a trace mineral to be available for use in the animal, it must make it to the small intestine, get absorbed out of the gut, and into the bloodstream, same as in humans. Once in the blood, it can now travel throughout the body to specific cells and tissues.

My goal today was to make you aware of the different copper sources available and the superior benefits of Zinpro copper over all sources. In closing, I'd encourage you to review the independent research done MinPro and Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute as it relates to CWD. Thank you for your time. Have a blessed day.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kenny.

Robert, then Mike, then John Sertel -- Sertel.

Hello, Robert.

MR. ROBERT RAMIREZ, JR.: Hello. Hi. I'm Robert Ramirez, former Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education Manager and I've come before you to -- with regards to Senate Bill 1236. My question to the Commission is going forward, what are we going to do to prevent this type of legislation in the future?

Obviously rifle prohibition and anti-bowhunting in a Texas public-held navigable stream after September 1st is going to be illegal. So my question is: Is what is the Commission going to do going forward that the public land hunters have lost conservatively 675,000 acres of unencumbered hunting in the State of Texas? So my question going forward again is: What are we going to do to preplace that? Okay? What are we going to do to stop this antihunting legislation?

I want to direct y'all to May 27th, 2023, and the Senate Hearing. In that hearing, Commission -- or Senator Perry at the 27:30 mark, outlined exactly the intent of this law and it was an antihunting law. That's what it is. You can go there and look at it. So, again, thank you for the time to bring this to your attention. My concern is that these rivers are held by river authorities. The Lower Colorado River Authority prohibits hunting. Sabine River, Brazos River Authority, stroke of a pen now can prohibit bowhunting on these river systems. A lot of these WMAs are held in these river systems.

So my question again: What are we going to do to prevent this antihunting legislation in the future?

Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Robert.

Mike, then John, then Myles Irvin.

Hello, Mike.

MR. MIKE SHEHANE: Hello. My name's Mike Shehane. I'm a Bowfishing Association of America State Representative for Texas. I'm here on behalf of anglers and bowfishermen with a growing concern overpopulation of gator gar and current regulations. Last time I was here, it was lobbied into necessary short -- shark and oyster regulations instead of being voted on independently.

I stand behind conservation when unbiased data can be proven and not for personal financial gain. I don't agree with Texas Parks and Wildlife being advised by Bubba Bedre on a gator gar population number or regulations, being it's a direct conflict of interest and being he owns and operates one of the largest rod-and-reel guide services. I work in close relations with his partners and other rod-and-reel guides, which are all in agreement that Alligator gar populations were never threatened or in decline since one per person regulation was implemented in 2009.

It's been brought to my attention that some of these guys are only tagging Alligator gar over 6 foot instead of all gator gar caught in -- in -- caught, which then skews the research data. It is believed that the current restrictions was purposely implemented to target and deter and/or limit bowfishermen. The biggest concern large apex predator fish is overpopulation in the rivers and waterways. It is directly affecting the game fish population such crappies, White bass, and catfish. A vast amount of game fish are being found in the stomach contents of these fish.

The cause and effects of overpopulation will eventually lead to more regulations and restrictions for anglers and these game fish. Daily bag limits will have to be dramatically cut as to not to deplete these species in the Trinity River. The Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists acknowledge that gator gar populations were sustainable and no further restrictions were needed, but were placed lobbied anyways. It's a general consensus among anglers and bowfishermen who regularly fish these waters that the best course of action to correct this overpopulation is to revert back to 2009 regulations of one gator gar per person any size and possible changes in the future of one over 48 and one under 48 to get these checks and balances.

I gave y'all some papers and some pictures. I hope y'all can all see what I'm talking about.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mike.

MR. MIKE SHEHANE: All right, thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thanks for making the effort to come.

John, then Myles, David Rowsey.

Hello, John.

MR. JOHN SERTEL: Hello. Good --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Myles, if you'll start heading up and get close.

MR. JOHN SERTEL: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and Department staff, as well as my fellow stakeholders and conservationists joining us here today. My name is John Sertel. I'm the R3 Statewide Chair for Texas BHA. I'd like to thank the dedicated PDWD[sic] employees who work hard every day. The biologists, technicians, administrative staff, state game wardens, park rangers, and all those who play support roles in the field and in offices throughout the state. You truly make Texas the envy of the country.

In line with the Department's position, Texas BHA supports controlling CWD, maintaining our public lands to include Fairfield Lake State Park, conservation of our oyster reefs, and overall management of the state's valuable natural resources and keeping in line with the North American Model of Conservation.

With that said, BHA and many hunters across the state were disappointed at the passage of SB 1236, which now makes it a criminal offense to utilize firearms and archery equipment within our public riverbed and stream systems. We do not blame TPWD for this law change, but believe that contrary -- excuse me -- to the Department's R3 efforts and its passage further reduces what public land Texas has for hunting purposes.

We are looking forward to the resolution of the Trinity River cutoff situation in Henderson County and believe this is another example of long-standing public property becoming privatized.

Once again, we appreciate the Department's good work throughout the state and continue to emphasize the importance of public land and water access for all Texans. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.

Myles, then David, then Parker Holt.

Hello, Myles.

MR. MYLES IRVIN: Hi. Thanks for giving me the chance to speak today. My name is Myles Irvin. I represent the deer breeders in Johnson County. I just want to talk about main overall topic of land fragmentation. There's -- just to give some context, I'm not really much of a hunter. I'm really more of a conservationist. I like raising the deer. I like going out and feeding them and that's -- that's what really brings me joy. And I understand that each deer sacrifice helps to take care of the land that they're on and how important that is to preserve the wildlands of Texas.

And, you know, what is the most precious resource in Texas? It's not oil or natural gas. It's land. 3 percent of Texas land is owned by the public. 97 percent is private owned. I live in Johnson County, which has been rapidly developing faster than I could ever anticipate and those wildlands, those lands in-between, are disappearing more and more. And I worry about a future where people aren't able to run hunts on their lands, they aren't able to pay for the land, it ends up getting broken up and sold, that land gets developed and that wildlife habitat is gone forever.

We don't have a whole lot of -- I mean, we have a lot of land. This is Texas. But it disappears more and more every year and we need to do all we can to support the hunting industry and the deer breeders of Texas because they do a lot of good for the environment, more than most people realize. No one wants an infected deer and no one fights CWD more than the deer breeders do. So I thank you for listening to us today and for your consideration. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Myles.

David, then Parker, then Taylor Garcia.

Hello, David. Good to see you.

MR. DAVID ROWSEY: Good to see you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thanks for coming.

MR. DAVID ROWSEY: Thank -- thank all you Commissioners for having us here today. My name is David Rowsey. I'm a captain in the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay area down near Corpus Christi. Been on the water for 35 years. Seventeen -- last 17 as a full-time guide. I'm here today with regards to the Speckled trout fishery, the freeze, and the long-term future of that most viable fish.

Following the devastating freeze of 2021, the five-trout bag limit, its 15- to 25-inch slot limit is no longer sustainable for the recovery of our fishery. As the emergency freeze measure sunset, a new scoping process should be started immediately to permanently lower the daily bag -- bag -- bag -- and further tighten the slot limit to account for the unprecedented number of user harvest and to maximize the future spawns from 2024 and forward.

Our current 15- to 25-inch slot limit is essentially focused on almost every breeder-aged fish in the bay for harvest. There's almost zero chance of us ever getting back both quality and biomass back in the bay with this model. There are simply too many hands in the jar to not tighten restrictions so that we are more focused on reproduction instead of harvest.

This is unstainable and must be changed to match the pressure on the fishery along with the post-freeze population of the trout remaining. Currently saltwater fisherman are north of 1.7 million users, coupled with the estimates that the Texas coastal population will double by the year of 2050. It becomes very clear that the traditional slot and bag limits for Speckled trout are far too generous and to have -- far too generous to have a sustainable future for either quality or quantity of the species if action is not taken now, especially following this freeze of '21.

As further evidence of the amount of pressure on the resource, the economic impact of the Texas saltwater fisheries has more than doubled from 1.88 million -- billion in 2008 to 4 billion in '21, that paired with the sporting goods sales tax jumping from 113 million to 117 mill -- 172 million in that same timeframe. Based on these numbers, it's very clear to see that the number of sportsmen spending that money is far outpacing the population of the -- population that the five-trout bag limit was intended for.

Commissioners, make no mistake, the Speckled trout is the money fish on the Texas coast in our unique coastal state. Everything within Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's power should be done to make sure this trout fishery is not only abundant in sustained numbers, but also in trophy class fish again. Currently we have neither. Sportsmen --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You need to wrap up, David.

MR. DAVID ROWSEY: Sportsmen are not spending the money on licenses, boats, and gear to have a mediocre fishery to come home to. Making the assumption that everybody in this room has a rainy -- rainy day fund for emergencies, with regards to Speckled trout, we do not have enough money in the bank when it comes to the present day trout fishery. Another freeze or algae bloom in the near future has all the potential to bankrupt us with regards to already low trout population that is in recovery at present time.

Now is the time to be proactive for the health of this fishery instead of being reactive later in the case of another natural disaster.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: David, I need you to wrap up. Okay?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: You need to wrap up, please.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you though for --

MR. DAVID ROWSEY: All right.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- coming and we got your letter. I'm very aware of it. Thank you.

MR. DAVID ROWSEY: Okay, very good. Thank you-all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Parker, then Taylor, then Craig Williams.

Hello, Parker.

MR. PARKER HOLT: Good afternoon. Good afternoon to the Committee. I'm Parker Holt. I live here in Austin. I support the previous comments from an avid angler's position. For 25 years I have primarily spent wade-fishing in the Laguna Madre and the Lower Laguna with artificial tackle primarily targeting trophy-class Speckled trout. I want to thank all the Committee here both for your time and your service to this vital resource we all share, which some are so passionately committed to protecting. I hope you will listen to those of us here today who share this passion with an open mind, both for today and the future.

I currently am fortunate enough to fish the Texas bay systems about 45 days per year. Along with the Texas coastal fishery, I spend quite a lot of time in Montana, Wyoming, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Florida, and the Bahamas where conservation is a practice among regular anglers like myself is the rule rather than the exception. So I've seen the benefits of that firsthand.

Over these many years, I have fished more and more over time primarily in the last ten years and I have kept detailed logs and records and recorded my own catch, as well as a friend -- my friends and fellow anglers of trout over 25 inches. My records will show almost -- almost a perfect decline over that amount of time and as you consider that I have fished more and more and hopefully become a little bit better each year and my number of trophy-class fish has steadily gone down as my days on the water have increased.

I believe that it is quite obvious to anyone that spends much time at all on the water and listens to those that do, that you will see more than what a simple gillnetting survey will reveal. The simple fact is that today there are more boats that can run further and much faster. There are more guides, more anglers, more tournaments than ever before and none of those seem to be slowing down whatsoever.

It is clear that the current five-bag limit is just simply not sustainable. I ask that you put a value in the commentary given here today by those that spend so much time on the water and hear what they have to say and what they know to be out there from the men and women that spend this time out on our bay systems in support of this vital resource. I ask --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Parker, you need to wrap up.

MR. PARKER HOLT: I ask that we make a change now to please consider a lower bag limit and a true slot for the Speckled trout. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you for coming.

Taylor, then Craig, then Brett Sweeny.

Taylor Garcia? Hi.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: The light -- if y'all will kind of help monitor the light, that will tell you where -- when you get yellow, you know you need to wrap up. Can you see the light?

MS. TAYLOR GARCIA: Oh, yes, I can. I didn't know it was down there. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. Welcome.

MS. TAYLOR GARCIA: Okay. Thank you guys for hearing us out all today. First of all, I know everybody is talking about sustainability and that's a word you're going to hear over and over and it's going to be mundane at one point, but it matters. I'm here talking on behalf of a younger generation. I'm in my mid-20s. I'm a female. I am not the average angler that is on the water well more than 100 days a year. I live on the coast. I live in Corpus Christi. Conservation is very important to me. I've been blessed and lucky enough to fish all over the Upper Lower Laguna, really every bit of the coast of Texas. It's truly a beautiful place. We are so blessed to have the ecosystem that we have and the estuaries that we have and I ask you guys to really consider what other states are have gone. Florida's a perfect example.

While we don't have the water issues, depleting your main resource is definitely something and I want to provide a statistic or really a number. In 2022, there was 1,771 guides in Texas alone. That's one guide for every two-tenths of a mile along the Texas coast. I ask you guys to consider, you know, five fish at the prime breeding size is not sustainable. How do you compensate for that many fish being harvested?

There's a bunch of guides on the water. There's people that aren't guides that are tearing the trout up every day. As soon as the limit went back, you see people posting fish on the board and that's a big thing. But my goal here is to provide a different perspective. Long term, what does it look like? 15 to 25 inches is our main breeding fish. I ask you: Why deplete your primary resource?

My hope is to represent the younger generation of anglers and provide yet another perspective just many women -- men and women have children, I'd like to see that when I have kids and they're older, my hopes of fishing for trophy Speckled trout isn't a -- you know, I talked to these guys. David Rowsey, perfect example. He's been a mentor and I've idolized him. Great angler. Lots of great anglers here today. I'd rather not see myself in a decade talking about yet the good old days again because fishing for Speckled trout can be good, but with proper regulations and conservation and focusing on the sustainability, we can continue our trophy-class trout. So thank you guys for your time and hearing us out. I appreciate it very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Taylor. Thank you for your love of the bays.

Craig, then Brett, then Bink.

Hello, Craig.

MR. CRAIG WILLIAMS: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, Commissioners. Appreciate the time. I want to speak more from a macro-perspective. These guys made great points. The details are there for increased population density of fishermen on the coast. The freeze was really bad. But from a macro-perspective, I think we need to look at how we can be proactive to keep the Speckled trout population intact and where we need it to be in the future the way it was when we were younger.

We used to always enjoy the resource where there was an abundance. It seems like we're always running on a deficit now. I think what I'd like to ask is that the Commission direct Parks and Wildlife to begin the scoping study so that we can hopefully try to revamp these rules back to the emergency procedure which we really appreciate that you guys put in order. It's made a tremendous impact. It's been very helpful and I believe that when you go through the scoping process, I think you're going to find that the majority of anglers on the Texas coast, recreational like myself or guides, are going -- are going to agree and think that we need to stick with the three-fish limit and I think where it is now is fine, if not even maybe 15 to 20 inches. Give some people -- give everybody a chance to take some fish home, but let's leave some for our children in the future. Thanks for the time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Craig.

Brett, then Bink, then Evan Smith.

Hello, Brett.

MR. BRETT SWEENY: Good afternoon, guys. You know, I'm not going to sit up here and repeat all these numbers and surveys and statistics that they've already presented you. I'm kind of here just to plea and beg to listen to the guys and the people that are on the water daily.

You know I, myself, I'm out there probably two, 210 days a year. I've seen the results of this trout adjustment. Let's just keep working at. We can always do better and that's all I plea is we need to start a scoping process to permanently adjust the Speckled trout limit and that's all. I'm going to leave it at that. Y'all have the numbers. Good evening.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brett.

Bink, then Evan, then doc -- oh, Greg. Dr. Stunz.

Hello, Bink.

MR. BINK GRIMES: Mr. Chair, how are you?


MR. BINK GRIMES: I appreciate the emergency order. We saw in the last two years, it's really changed our fishery at Matagorda. We were hit hard in Matagorda and, you know, the three-fish limit has really -- has really helped. We've kind of taken a stance at my lodge, Sunrise Lodge. You know, we haven't kept -- I can tell you -- a handful of trout in the last two years and the people that we talk to on our boat, they get on board. It's our -- it's our responsibility as captains to promote conservation. We ask that you keep it at three. We would ask that maybe, you know, we go to 15 to 20.

I have a hard time putting a knife in a fish that's a 20-inch fish that could be a two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half-year-old deer. You know, we manage our deer fishery[sic] that way. I would ask that we might do that. We just beg and plead with you, please -- please, let's err on the side of conservation.

What we're seeing at Matagorda this summer is sickening of the killing that's going on. We started out -- it started out everybody was on the side of, man, let's do what's right for the fishery and then the croakers came out and fishing with live finfish is a detriment to our trout fishery. I ask that you will consider that as well. I know it's a -- it's a money issue with the bait camps and I understand all that. But, man, it's -- it's sinful what's going on out there in Matagorda right now. There's so many people that the irony of it, it took this freeze and a fish kill to change our attitude and most attitudes have changed; but there's still folks out there that are -- that are not erring on the side of conservation and we ask that you take it out of their hands and help us. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bink. Good to see you.

Evan Smith, Greg, and then Chris McKinley.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Dr. Stunz is up next and then Chris.

MR. EVAN SMITH: Good afternoon. I'm Evan Smith. I just want to say I agree completely with the croaker comments that were just said. I'm a resident of Rockport, Texas, and I'm an active volunteer for the Mid-Coast Sea Turtle Rescue and San Antonio Bay Partnership. I am also an avid fisherman. For the last year and a half, our trout have been given a second chance. Thanks to the actions of Texas Parks and Wildlife, we've been able to see some recovery.

I'm aware that this is not a popular -- or that wasn't a popular decision with some, but it was a necessary decision post-freeze. I'm primary located in the San Antonio Bay area, so I'll speak to its condition.

San Antonio Bay and its trout population have had a very rough last ten years or so, beginning at the rapid rise in fishing pressure from both guides and sportsmen alike. Then Harvey came in 2017 and decimated the seagrass that was along the entire length of the Matagorda shoreline and San Antonio Bay, as well as Cedar Bayou becoming closed. We then allowed an entire fleet of oyster boats to decimate the reefs that used to dot San Antonio Bay and perhaps the most devastating blow was dealt when the freeze occurred and wiped out the native mangrove populations and killed untold amounts of marine life, specifically the less freeze-tolerant Speckled trout.

This situation has been repeated along our entire coast. The rise in pressure, advances in technology, and the loss of habitat have Speckled trout facing their greatest challenge in modern history. This challenge requires us to continue to take a proactive approach to protecting our bays for our children and their children.

Today I'm here to propose a three bag -- three -- or continue with a three-trout bag limit at the 15- to 20-slot. I just think in my experience that is the most reasonable thing. It allows those who still want to keep fish to keep them, but it also will protect our breeders. I think it's just time we make a change and err on the side of conservation for a change, be proactive. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Evan.

Greg, then Chris, then Wayne Davis.

DR. GREG STUNZ: Thank you, Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director. I appreciate you giving me a few minutes to talk about Spotted seatrout and this iconic fishery. I just want to add a little bit to what you heard today and essentially to -- I would encourage you-all to proceed with this scoping and further proactive measures in regulating that fishery.

I just want to add maybe a science layer to what we've already heard today. I think, you know, that the freeze that we just saw shows us how fragile our resources are. It's a robust population one day. The next, you know, it's sort of devastation for some areas. Because we had these nice proactive measures in place, we're recovering really well; but we don't -- we're not quite out of the woods yet and that's why I'm supporting moving forward while we have the momentum.

If you just had to look, you know, across the Sabine River, you can really tell what happens when we dig yourself a hole a little too far with trout and redfish populations and we certainly don't want to get there with what we have. In addition, you heard about, you know, this astonishing growth that, you know, you can walk out the door here and see everyone that wants to come to Texas. Of course, they're going to want to recreate in all the areas that you-all are managing and so that's going to be another problem where we really need -- you know, in many areas, not just the Spotted seatrout.

But we want to be real proactive with that. The good news is you-all have the best science -- scientific team behind you. I guess I should have mentioned, you know, who I am. I'm Greg Stunz. I'm with the Harte Research Institute and I also direct the Sportfish Center, which works very closely with your Agency to provide the science to help you-all make the most informed decisions and so that's one of the reasons I'm here today to say I really think this -- to be very analogous to what we did with the Red drum. This may have been before your time; but if you recall, science showed we could add four Red drum to that limit. Everyone said, "No. You know, we really appreciate what we've got. We recognize the value and iconic nature of what we have at our hands and we don't want to risk that."

I think that's what you're going to hear with the Spotted seatrout side is that, "Hey, we kind of like what we've got. We catch plenty of fish and we want to kind of maintain that." And so I encourage you to see if that's what comes out of the scoping process and then move forward with that. So thank you, Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Dr. Stunz.

Chris, then Wayne Davis, then John Lewis.

Hello, Chris.

MR. CHRIS MCKINLEY: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Christopher McKinely. I am an avid saltwater recreational angler from Bay City, Texas, and would like to speak with you today about Speckled trout and introduce you to a program that I have started called Trout Tagging Texas. Let me start by saying that I am passionate about catching Speckled trout and have devoted much of my time in tournaments and for general pleasure in pursuit of these fish.

As a child, I grew up fishing with my grandfather who was always in the tournament scene and he ingrained the passion for the sport and competition inside of me. Now that I am older and have kids of my own who enjoy the resource, I would like to see them wading down the shoreline, eyes focused on conservation, following the same footsteps imprinted by my grandfather so long ago.

The freeze of February of '21 had devastating impacts on the Speckled trout fishery in the bays in which I fish. During the freeze, my family and I spent our time in Sargent, Texas, where I put a boat in the water every other day to assess the damage. The number of dead fish, with Speckled trout appearing to be the most abundant, was enough to bring tears to any angler's eyes. After the freeze, we had caught only a hand -- a handful of trout until we had a big push of fish come in from Hurricane Nicholas. After witnessing the affects of the freeze, I wanted to do something to raise awareness about the importance of trout conservation through catch and release and getting further understanding into how these fish move throughout our bay systems and surf zone.

That's where I got the idea to start a tagging program. I wanted to learn migration habits, how fast these fish will grow in different bay systems, and how many fish we may have by the amount of recaptures reported. Trout Tagging Texas has 50 plus volunteers across the entire Texas coast. Today we've tagged 485 Speckled trout and have ten reported recaptures. An angler out of Matagorda has reported two tagged fish and one of them was recaptured nine days after tagging almost 10 miles away from the original location. Another fish was captured on the beachfront 92 days later after traveling 29 miles from East Matagorda Bay. In fact, we've had two fish leave East Matagorda Bay and recaptured in the surf. When a fish is tagged or recaptured, we collect location data, length, and weight data and when possible, the bait or lure utilized.

All this information is being shared with the Harte Research Institute on a monthly basis, adding to their tagging program database. It is my hope that citizen science data generated from Trout Tagging Texas will benefit the understanding and conservation of these important fish. Thank you and I hope y'all have a great day.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Chris, and thank you for providing that information to the Harte Institute. It's invaluable.

Wayne Davis, John Lewis, and then Brad Bomby -- I can't tell -- see the writing.

Wayne, how are you?

MR. WAYNE DAVIS: Commissioners, good. Thank you, sir. My name is Wayne Davis. I'm a full-time fishing guide in Port Mansfield. I am here today because I recognize the importance of what we, Texas Parks and Wildlife and anglers alike, have accomplished over the last few years since the devastating freeze of 2021 as it relates to our Speckled trout fishery.

In short, action and sacrifices taken over the last couple of years has resulted in just a hint of what our trout fishery could be in the great State of Texas. We have been good stewards of the resource for many years and even more so since the freeze. We have and continue to have conversations with our clients and colleagues about a world- class fishery Texas is known for. And since the emergency regulations were enacted, some -- if not most -- feel those regulations or something similar could be appropriate for our trout fishery moving forward.

I am confident that by working together, we can find an amenable balance for those seeking trophy trout and table fare for their families. Everyone, including myself, love a good, fresh trout meal. I am here today to ask for your help in considering public scoping meetings regarding this issue and do so as soon as possible. This is a moment in time that we should not pass on. The recipe for a paradigm shift as it relates to our trout fishery has never been so ripe.

I have personally witnessed the results of the emergency regulations enacted some two and a half years back and come September 1st, it will sadden me and many others to see the fish we have been protecting the last two years plus be subject to being removed from our bay system. So, again, I ask the Commission to help by executing in a timely manner public scoping meetings as mentioned earlier.

I am personally here to help in any way possible, as I'm sure others in the room are as well. Rescheduling trips and driving 350 miles to speak at this meeting is just a small sacrifice that could result in huge dividends in the future. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Wayne. Thank you for making the effort.

John Lewis, then Brad, then Shane.

Hello, John.

MR. JOHN LEWIS: Hello, Commissioner. Thank you for allowing me to speak. I just wanted to say that I'm one of the guys that was a little ticked off when we went from ten to five, but now I see the wisdom in that and I wanted to thank the Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife for reducing it once we experienced the freeze, reducing the bag limit.

I want to encourage you guys to do some studies on trying to see what it looks like to permanently reduce that and keep it reduced to either a two- or a three-trout limit and reducing that size. We all know that mostly 20 and above are the female trout and those are the ones that lay the most eggs, so that's what's protecting. If we had a big White-tail ranch, we wouldn't go out and shoot all the does. Otherwise, we would never have any offspring.

So just being pragmatic about moving forward, I want to encourage you to stand -- to continue to reduce that population. There's plenty of fish in the sea. There's lots of Red -- Red drum, Black drum, all different kinds of good eating fish. So I think that by reducing the trout limit, it reduces the amount of trout that gets spoiled in freezer bags in freezers across the State of Texas. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: A lot of good comments and I think we will be interested in doing some scoping and looking -- looking into all those issues from the trout fishermen.

Hello, Brad.

MR. BRAD BONEY: Good afternoon. My name a Brad Boney. I'm with the Texas Oyster Association. Came here on behalf of the group today to mention something. I was -- I attended a restoration workshop a couple weeks back that was productive and collaborative and want to especially point out Emma Clarkson for doing a great job of doing that.

With that, we also have an ask. As some of y'all know, legislatively we had asked for an opportunity to put together a working group, an advisory working group, and that's what I'm here today to ask for that, an advisory working group to work to provide input that can be used on the regulation aspect of whatever's done. That's all I'm here for today. Thank you very much for your time. Y'all have a great day.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brad. Thank you for your brevity.

Shane. Hello, Shane.

Then Hunter Denette, then Tyler Torwick.

Welcome, Shane.

SHANE BONNOT: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman. Shane -- and Commissioners. I'm Shane Bonnot with CCA Texas here to make a couple of brief comments. One or two about oysters and then Speckled trout.

Regarding oysters, yesterday our Executive Board voted unanimously to support a motion and we're going to commit -- we're pledging 5 million dollars to oyster reef restoration along the Texas coast in areas that are closed to oyster harvest. So we'll be working with our partners, governmental, institutional, and nonprofit partners to identify areas where we can have enhanced oyster restoration work.

I serve on the -- I have the privilege of serving on the Oyster Regulations Workgroup, which is put together after that March 2022 meeting at the charge of this body and we've had several meetings to date and I'm looking forward to continuing to meet with that group and I'm hopeful that we can come out with some sound recommendations to improve the sustainability of the fishery.

And then finally regarding trout, the Commission did the right thing in going down to three fish with a slot limit to help the fishery recover from the freeze. We appreciate those efforts, and you guys did the right thing regarding that. Obviously, there's angler appetite as you've heard here today to go out to scoping and we would encourage the Commission to direct staff to do that.

CCA Texas has concerns about the abundance of trout along the middle coast. So we think it's time to go back out to scoping and look -- find out what we can do to help the fishery. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Shane. And we've been talking about this for quite some time. So please pass on to your members and your board thank you. It's a huge commitment for oyster restoration, 5 million dollars.

SHANE BONNOT: Yes, sir. Will do. Appreciate it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: That means a lot.

Hunter, then Tyler, then Tom Goynes.

Hello, Hunter. Come on down.

Then Tyler's up next, then Tom.

MR. HUNTER DENETTE: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Hunter Denette. I'm the owner and operator of a full-time guide service, ATX Bass Guide Service, here in Central Texas targeting Largemouth bass, Striped bass, hybrid Striped bass primarily on Lake Buchanan. Today I want to talk about what I'm seeing and some suggestions to improve our fisheries around here in the Austin area.

Lake Buchanan is one of the top Striped bass and hybrid Striped bass lakes in Texas, but I have some concerns for the lake. Number one thing I'm concerned about is the water level. Currently we're in a drought, but the drought is not going to last forever. The lake is going to fill back up and it's going to go back down and we're going to run into the same problem again. Currently there's only one boat ramp open on the lack, which is Burnet County Park. All the other boat ramps are closed, unless you can do a beach launch using four-wheel drive. This is working for now and works for us guides who do this professionally; but to the average boater, to come out on the weekend, this might be very difficult for them.

Another thing that we're seeing with the lake being so low is there are a lot of stumps and trees sticking up out of the water. Sometimes 50, 60, 70 feet of water, which is posing a very serious threat to navigation. For the guides, we're dealing with it; but for the average boater, it's going to lead to disaster. The lakes downstream however are constant level. Recent stockings on Inks Lake receive very few fish. 4,000 fingerling Striped bass stocked in 2023 and again at 2021 at 8,000 fingerling Striped bass. And before that, it's been many years since they've received any stocking at all compared to the millions of fish that are received annually every year on Lake Buchanan.

Lake LBJ and Inks Lake are both constant level, which means that boaters can enjoy easy lake access year-round. These lakes both contain huge amounts of forage bait fish for hybrid Striped bass and Striped bass to eat, along with flowing water from discharge areas in which these fish thrive in. Every year we also experience high winds, which can make boating and navigating very dangerous on Lake Buchanan. Inks and LBJ, however, are very narrow and provide great protection from wind, resulting in less canceled trips for guides and less disappointment for recreational boaters who otherwise wouldn't be able to go fish in Lake Buchanan.

For over ten years, the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corporation, which is a nonprofit entity, has been taking funding through donations and raffle events to put 1 million hybrid Striped bass in Lake Buchanan every year in addition to the Texas Parks and Wildlife stockings. This spring I got the pleasure to assist in the stocking of these fish for everyone to enjoy. If funding is needed, us fellow guides and lake residents can help raise money to create and sustain annual stockings of Striped bass and hybrid Striped bass for Inks Lake and LBJ for future generation -- future generations to enjoy. Thank you for your time, and I appreciate the opportunity to be heard.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Hunter.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Tyler, then Tom, then Mack -- Mike McClabb.


And then, Tom, if you'll start heading up and Mike after that.

Hello, Tyler.

MR. TYLER TORWICK: Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to hear our input. My name's Tyler Torwick. I'm a full-time fishing guide right here in Austin, Texas, and I've been guiding full time for about six years now and I've had the opportunity to take thousands of anglers fishing.

I want to start by saying I think Texas Parks and Wildlife does a fantastic job and does more for any -- more for anglers than any other state's fish and game department. Now with that said, I always think there's room for improvement, especially when it comes to the management of our local fisheries. So I'm here to speak on behalf of the local anglers here in Austin, especially those that love Lake Travis like I do.

I'm here to ask the state to start reinstating the Striped bass stockings back in Lake Travis. As you may be aware, stockings for Striper were stopped back in 2017 and have never been reinstated. Landlocked Striper can't spawn on lakes like Lake Travis, so they can only reproduce via the stocking efforts of your biologists.

In 2021, I e-mailed Mukhtar Farooqi, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, and according to him, the reason they stopped these stockings was simply because they conducted creel surveys of anglers at the boat ramps and came to the conclusion that anglers didn't like catching them or that they weren't targeting them. I'm here to tell you that I -- that without a doubt, that's not true. As a guide, I can tell you from personal experience talking to local anglers, talking to clients, that people love Striped bass.

Out of all the guided trips that I offer, that is by far the most requested and unfortunately, I no longer can even offer those trips simply because the population's declined to next to nothing. But, like I said, based on how many people I've talked to and interactions with other local anglers, there is a big demand for it.

So currently -- kind of like Hunter talked about -- Lake Buchanan and Canyon Lake, they get all the attention when it comes to stockings. But you've got anglers right here in Austin that are getting passed over when it comes to, you know, the desire to go Striper fishing without having to drive to those other fisheries.

The reason that I'm asking for them to be stocked back in, is not for personal gain, rather I know for a fact a lot of local anglers want those and I want to be here to speak up about that. Personally, I would be happy to work with biologists and provide material if it's a matter of educating people about, you know, how to catch them and that they're here for their enjoyment. So I'd like to work together in improving our local fishery and thank you for allowing me to bring this to your attention.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tyler.

Tom, then Mike, then Katherine Glaze.

Hello, Tom. Good afternoon. Welcome.

MR. TOM GOYNES: I was told to turn -- turn this one on, so.


MR. TOM GOYNES: Hopefully, it worked. Thank you for this opportunity. I really appreciate it. My wife and I own a campground on the San Marcos River and we serve Boy Scouts and church groups or at least we try to serve them. For about the last five years, things have gotten really bad. I mean, we probably -- we had the most drunks per camping foot of any river in Texas, I think. Don's Fish Camp and Texas State Tubes operate and now that New Braunfels has its can ban, we get lots and lots of drunks and the music. Have y'all ever heard Yung Joc? You don't really want to. Don't look him up. But we get a lot of this X-rated rap music.

We're pretty much shut down now all summer long. No -- no Boy Scouts can come. And it kind of -- it seems to me that the only place on state-owned property where you can shotgun a beer and throw down a beer can is on state-owned rivers. But anyway, Monday night the Texas Rivers Protection Association -- it's already flashing yellow. How is that possible?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Two minutes.

MR. TOM GOYNES: Two more minutes? I'll take it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: No, sir. Two minutes total.

MR. TOM GOYNES: Anyway, they overwhelming passed -- are in support for Proposition 14. We want to give y'all a million dollars. But that gave me the idea why don't instead of me asking you again for a linear state park, why don't I ask you to ask -- respectfully ask the Legislature for an amendment that would allow state park regulations, particularly no public consumption on our state-owned rivers? Rivers of Texas belong to the Texans, all Texans. They have to be G-rated. I appreciate it. Look over that thing I sent. Oh, and if you can, come visit me. Come look at the problem. I'm going -- we'll even give you a beer. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tom.

Mike, then Katherine, then Kevin Good.

MR. MIKE MCCLABB: Hello, Commission.


MR. MIKE MCCLABB: Hello, Commission. I'm Mike McClabb. I've known Tom Goynes for about 45 years. I used to work for him in college. I was a river guide. So you know what? He said you need to run for council and Martindale and I did. I got elected 2018. I won by two votes. You know what we did? We got a can ban and we're putting parks in and we're following you guys.

Okay, we just initiated paid parking because it was out of control and we had garbage and trash and litter. It's improved. Okay? So there is a point, folks, if you get elected to office, you have the power to do something. And you guys have the power to do something and I want you to help us because we need help, but we're making a difference. Because as he said, there's Don's and there's Texas State Tubes, but not in Martindale, Texas, because we have a can ban and we have an alcohol ban and we enforce that. So if you're a family and you want to come enjoy the Texas rivers, we take care of you.

They're all around us, but our parks are our protection. You know what? You've got a billion dollars I hope you get. And we've got more land that we would love to partnership with you guys. Come to Martindale. Come to Martindale and help us out because we're 10 miles from the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Okay? Beautiful place. Work with us, help us, and let's make that river great and do the right thing for the rivers of Texas and for the people of Texas, not for those stinking, drunk tubers.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mike.

Katherine, then Kevin Good, then Phil Lamb.

Hello, Katherine.

MAYOR KATHERINE GLAZE: Hi. Thank you, Commissioners and Chair, for allowing me to speak. I am the current Mayor in Martindale, Texas. It's only 1,200 people, but we are actively seeking funding to extend our park system. Most of Martindale is in the floodway or in the floodplain and so we are constantly fighting the floods, but the land can be used 99 percent of the time for parks and so we have through buyouts purchased some land and it belongs to the City of Martindale. Someday we would like to see it be a regional park or even a state park.

There are so many people who -- especially since COVID happened -- are seeking recreational areas to get into the river. So much so that we finally had to start charging for parking just about a month ago to lessen the amount of people. So we have partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. We have a conservation easement that some folks have established about a mile up from where the park system is and also our Rocka site and we would dearly love to continue working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mayor, and we'd love to work with you guys, talk about maybe the possibilities. Thank you.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Kevin, then Phil, then Brian Trusty.

Kevin, welcome.

MR. KEVIN GOOD: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Kevin Good and I represent Texans for State Parks. I want to applaud the Commission for their extraordinary work this past year, the centennial of Texas state park system. You know, it's been a great year to really expand the awareness of state parks across the state. I think Rodney and all the park staff members have done a great job in greeting these new users, working to educate those folks, and really providing the opportunities for these new users to get out and recreate in the outdoors.

We're excited about the upcoming opening about Palo Pinto State Park and look forward to other new parks on the -- that are on the horizon, such as the Kronkosky State Natural Area and Powderhorn Ranch down on the coast and we really applaud the efforts of staff to add additional acreage to our existing state parks with the recent addition to land at Honey Creek being a prime example of those extraordinary opportunities.

At the same time, we also want to urge continued development of new state parks and the search for those new state parks and we want to express our support for the continued efforts of the Agency on behalf of preserving Fairfield Lake State Park.

But most importantly today, I want to really thank and applaud the Commission for your support of the upcoming Proposition 14 vote. That's really going to be a game changer for state parks and it's going to be the most important conservation effort on the state park system in more than 50 years. Please keep up the good work and thanks for all that you do.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kevin.

Phil Lamb, then Brian, then Andy Don Emmons.

Hello, Phil.

MR. PHIL LAMB: Hey, good afternoon, Commission. Thanks for having us this afternoon. My name is Phil Lamb. I'm here today speaking on behalf of my family and park goers from the Dallas area. My family, we're annual state parks holders. I have three sons, and we use our state parks all the time. From Tyler State Park, crystal clear water at that lake to the Canyons of Palo Duro to growing up and spending Thanksgiving at Possum Kingdom, you know, we're at our parks on a regular basis. And, you know, we understand we don't own these parks; but we are stakeholders of all of our state parks and we treat them like we own them. We care about them deeply and thanks to this Commission, these parks have been set aside and cared for over a hundred years now and we're thankful for that happening.

Which brings me to the important issue that you-all have been considering for the last few years of Fairfield Lake State Park. And Fairfield is -- you know, it's a hot topic. And we're thankful for how serious this Commission is taking that issue and the issue of eminent domain and possibly condemning that park or that land to preserve it as a park and I ask that you continue that action, that course of action that you're looking at so closely. It's important.

And I'm glad that you-all have narrowed your scope of possible use of eminent domain. You're not looking to use it broadly, but only in the narrow circumstance of protecting a piece of land that has been a park for so long. And that's why, you know, Fairfield and all of our parks in North Texas are so important. We don't have that many parks around Dallas. So Fairfield Lake State Park is a critical asset for the millions of folks that live in that area.

With all of these things in mind, I encourage this Commission to continue their course. Look at what the Constitution mandates that you-all do and that's preserve these parks for the public use. We ask that you continue that course on Fairfield. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Phil.

Brian, you're up. Then Andy, then Sandy.

Hello, Brian.

MR. BRIAN TRUSTY: Thank you, sir. Chairman, members of the Commission, Dr. Yoskowitz, it's nice to be with you today. My name is Brian Trusty. I currently reside in Dallas, but I grew up just down the road in Wimberley, that's my hometown. I'm a fifth generation Texan and for the last ten years, I have also served as your chair of the State Parks Advisory Committee.

I am deeply entrenched in the value and the role of Texas -- of state parks, particularly here in a state like Texas which is heavily privately owned. As these state parks -- you know, Texas state parks, in particular, are the primary backbone through which current and future generations get to access nature and the outdoors, which I consider to be an inalienable right as it is so important for our overall health and well-being, for our local communities and economies, and for conserving some of our state's most significant natural and culture resources.

You-all are the protectors of our natural and cultural heritage and I appreciate what you do every day and that great work.

I was in the room in February earlier this year when Governor Abbott said we needed more state parks. And he's right, we do need more state parks. Our populations are exploding. We're becoming increasingly urbanized and lands are increasingly difficult to conserve. What is happening at Fairfield Lake State Park is a travesty, that this is an asset that has been used and enjoyed for over 50 years by so many people to be potentially taken away for the benefit of a small few and the profits of a private developer.

I applaud the work that the Commission is doing and the hard work in investigating your options in retaining ownership of that park. I appreciate the hard decisions that you've had to make so far and the decisions that lay ahead and offer my unwavering support for whatever decisions you have to make in order to preserve the state park in the future. Thank you for your great service to the State of Texas and for your leadership in these challenging times.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brian.

Andy, then Sandy, then Cyrus Reed.

Hello, Andy. Welcome back.

MR. ANDY DON EMMONS, JR.: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioners, for letting me talk today. I was here a couple months ago. Only landowner and business owner in Freestone County that showed up to speak their mind and I know y'all had a horrible, tough decision on doing the eminent domain. I can see it in y'all's faces. But it was the right choice to do in this situation.

We're not taking -- y'all are not taking land from some rancher that's been down there for hundreds years like my family has been. Y'all are taking back a park that's been here for 50 years. And I also want to say you have a lake that's slowly turning into a swamp that's got to have water flowing through it and I think y'all are the only folks that can really manage that. Not some private developer.

My ranch is about 6 miles directly south of that lake and that water has stopped flowing and it needs to be flowing back to all us ranchers south of there. Thank y'all and thank y'all for considering using eminent domain in this situation. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Andy.

Sandy Emmons, then Cyrus, and then Dennis Walsh.


MS. SANDY EMMONS: Hi. I have to lower the mic.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: That's okay.

MS. SANDY EMMONS: How are y'all today?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: How are you?

MS. SANDY EMMONS: Okay. I know I'm going to make this quick because -- thank you again for letting us speak. Today I'm here on behalf of almost 3,000 members of Save Fairfield Lake State Park that Texas citizens began as a movement in February to keep the park and lake out of the hands of a private developer. We want to thank you for your vote and decision to pursue condemnation and eminent domain as a last resort to save the 2022 park of the year.

It's been a terrible summer season in Fairfield for small businesses without the 80,000 plus visitors that usually visit the park. A big part of them come during the summer and spring break. My husband Andy Emmons and I know because of his family business that relies partly on the park visitors.

We ask that when you regain control of the park and the lake, to please get it up and running as soon as possible, despite the destruction that has occurred at the hands of Shawn Todd. We look forward to welcoming back all the campers, the RVers, the hikers, the boaters, the kayakers, the trail riders, and fishermen that have visited the park for over 50 years.

In regard to the Commission policy on the use of eminent domain, I'm against Texas Parks and Wildlife limiting its use. I'm afraid that the fight against developers and investors who want to own our water and natural areas will never end. We need every acre of public land to stay public, keep Texas wild, and keep creating state parks. Thank you, guys.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Sandy.

MS. SANDY EMMONS: And women.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Cyrus, then Dennis, then Wanda.

How are you?

MR. CYRUS REED: Thank you. My name is Cyrus Reed. I work for the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter. I wanted to thank the Commissioners, Executive Director, and all your staff for all you do for Texas. We obviously are in big support of state parks and of additional parkland and I'm here to ask you to be bold. I'm here to ask you to be bold tomorrow when you make decisions about eminent domain and the use of it in limited cases like Fairfield State Park, which we support; but also very much appreciate Item 13 and getting ahead of the game with Colorado City Lake State Park, where I've been several times. That's a similar situation to Fairfield, but you're getting ahead of it. You're going to try to purchase it now so we don't get in the situation in future.

And then I would ask you also in your Land and Water Conservation Plan, we'll be making comments on that. I'd ask you to be bolder and I'd ask you to be bolder than looking at 33,000 additional acres into the future because we now have voters who are ready -- hopefully -- to can pass a constitutional amendment for a billion dollars and I hope in that billion dollars, you'll also be bold. Yes, use the interest first; but when there are opportunities, unique opportunities to grab land before it's developed or before the water rights are sold out before -- you know, before our feet -- under or feet from us, to act.

And so I'm just here on behalf of Sierra Club and our members. Also just on behalf of my family and my three kids and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and the many state parks I've been to and enjoyed with so many other people and thank you for your work. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Cyrus.

Dennis Walsh, Wanda Beard, Elena Stephens.

Hello, Dennis.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: Hello. How are y'all today?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Fine. Welcome.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: I want to thank you for the opportunity to come out here and speak on behalf of Fairfield Lake State Park. In 1978, I started as a seasonal worker across Onion Creek and McKinney Falls State Park and I had 26 years with Parks and Wildlife. I transferred out to East Texas with the Texas State Railroad, which they told me all I needed was a strong back and a weak mind. Well, I advanced through the track and bridge crew to be the bridge foreman at the State Railroad and then the cities of Rusk and Palestine relinquished city parks, which became Rusk Palestine State Park and I advanced to park manager. From there, I went to Fairfield Lake in 1987.

And I've had three children born there. That was our home. Our babies grew up there. It's more than just a park to me. I retired a number of years ago. My wife is a schoolteacher there in Fairfield, art and drama teacher and last September, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Went through surgery and chemo and afterwards, we bought a houseboat and we were looking forward to be able to spend some on Fairfield Lake. This was in December. And in February, we got the news Fairfield Lake was closing. So you can imagine what a heartbreak that is for just us. And that's just a snapshot of the 80,000 people that go to Fairfield Lake State Park.

It's the best park in the whole system according to the park award last year. So let me say, that's just a snapshot of all the other people and the situation in general with the leased parks. You know, they're in jeopardy. You've got the Zilker Park, developers are drooling over the opportunity to get in there and do that. You've got -- you can see the development along our interstate corridors, 35. You know, when I lived in San Antonio it was wilderness between San Antonio and Austin. Same thing with Interstate 45. It's following the same pattern.

The water issues, the South Llano River, you know, people are grabbing for water rights. It's -- you've got to get ahead of them. Like our last speaker said, be proactive. Get out there and see what you can do to prevent things like Fairfield Lake occurring. Draw the line in the sand. Say this far, no further.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You need to wrap it up.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: Eminent domain is I think the best example of government representing the people of Texas. Get out there and use it. Don't weaken it. Don't restrict it. Use it. Threaten the next land developer. Say, "If you try to destroy this park, we're going to use eminent domain. You're going to lose money." You know, stick --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Dennis.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: -- it to them.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. You need to wrap it up.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: And ignore the propaganda that's going around right now on Todd Interests. You know, they've thrown buckets of money at the media and they've practically bought Freestone County Courthouse for a day to get out there and what we call a bribe-b-cue. They basically --


MR. DENNIS WALSH: -- are bribing people to --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. I need you to wrap it, Dennis. Thank --

MR. DENNIS WALSH: -- come to their side.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- you for making the trip.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: So you're being tasked, Governor Abbott --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: We're past our time, so please -- we have a two-minute limit, I don't know --


CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- if you see the red light.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: Well, hold fast. I think if this went to a popular vote, it would win by a landslide.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, sir.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: Hang in there.


Wanda, Elena, Andrea.

And I probably haven't mentioned it lately. I don't know if you can see the lights, but it's two minutes and there --

MS. WANDA BEARD: Oh, it's bright. Yes.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- should be a yellow light and a red.

Welcome, Wanda.

MS. WANDA BEARD: Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I support what they said. I support eminent domain. I am sad that Todd has pushed us this far. I am a third-generation rancher in that county and arounding[sic] counties and I am not scared that y'all are going to come get my property if you use it. Y'all have a great day.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Wanda.

Elena, Andrea, John Shepperd.

Hello, Elena.

MS. ELENA STEPHENS: Hi. Thank you. My name is Elena Stephens. I am a -- I live in Dallas and I've lived in Dallas my entire life. I have camped my entire life. And so I want to thank everyone on this Commission and I the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

I'm also a retired public schoolteacher and so I have shared my love of nature with my low-SES students and one thing I have noticed the last year or so that I've been more active camping and kayaking and hiking -- which is great, I love it all -- is that there are much more younger families and much more -- many more families of color, especially since COVID. So I think when you close a park, it becomes an equity issue as well as a conservation issue and all of the other issues that have been -- that have been brought up here today.

Please, please, this is a perfect use for eminent domain. Please keep Fairfield Lake State Park a park for everyone in the State of Texas. Anyway, thank you so much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, ma'am.

Andrea, John Shepperd, Zach Spector.

Hello, Andrea. Hi, welcome.

MS. ANDREA LAUREANO: Hi. Good afternoon. My name's Andrea and I'm here with Environment Texas in support of, you know, the state and Texas Parks and Wildlife saving Fairfield Lake State Park. A 2001 report estimated that Texas needed 1.4 million new park acres by 2030 to keep up with demand in a rapidly increasing population, but Texas Parks and Wildlife has only had the resources to add 200,000 acres in the last 20 years. We can't afford to take a step backwards here.

The facts strongly support the state's position. Texans have enjoyed this land for over years 50 years and the state has invested over 72 million dollars and we're at risk of losing this beautiful property to, you know, land developers for private, luxury development rather than for, you know, the general public.

I grew up in Fort Bend County, just a short drive away from Brazos Bend State Park and it felt like having my own piece of wilderness right outside my door where every tree, path, and lake had special memories of exploring and adventure. And this state -- or this state park not only enriched my childhood with its beauty, but it also instilled a deep appreciation for conservation in me. And I can only imagine how I would feel if it was being destroyed so that developers could build luxury residencies there.

The people of Fairfield Lake State Park, the people that visit it, the families that take their children there to explore, they deserve better. They deserve Fairfield Lake to stay open and to be saved. It's really important for the state to protect it from being built on, and we can't afford to lose another state park. Eminent domain should only be reserved for exceptional and unusual circumstances and I agree with Texas Parks and Wildlife that this is one of those circumstances. I know you guys would rather not do this, not go this route; but I'm proud of you for doing the right thing and doing what needs to be done to save Fairfield Lake. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Andrea, thank you.

John. Hello, John.

Then Zach, then Sarah Coles.

MR. JOHN SHEPPERD: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is John Shepperd. I'm with the Texas Foundation for Conservation and I'm here today to offer my full support for the actions the Commission is taking to save our beloved Fairfield State Park and I'd like to take this opportunity to make you aware of how this development project is apparently being financed.

On June 2nd, 2023, Luminant filed a warranty deed in Freestone County that deeded the property to an entity named FLG Owner, LLC. FLG is the legal entity created by Todd Interests to own and develop the property. That same day, a company called CMB Investment -- Infrastructure Investment Group filed documents that detailed a 92-million-dollar loan to FLG. These are all public records in the Freestone County Clerk's Office.

So who is CMB Infrastructure Investment Group? Well, they have a website and I encourage you to look them up themself. But they provide a vehicle for wealthy foreign investors to obtain green cards through the Federal EB-5 Visa Program and I use the word "wealthy" because the current minimum investment is 800,000 U.S. dollars.

The people of Texas have a right to know that apparently, according to public records, foreign investors have a lien on this property and the collateral is what you would expect: All the land; improvements; income from current and future leases; and the most interesting part to me, the water rights.

So this begs the question: What if FLG defaults on the loan? Does the State of Texas want to hand over the rights to a significant source of water in North Texas to a group of foreign investors?

We don't know anything about these investors. We don't know if there are 92 of them. We don't know if there's one of them. We don't know their nationally or if they're from countries friendly to the United States or if they are enemies of democracy. The people of Texas and the citizens of Freestone County deserve to know exactly where all this money is coming from and who is holding the purse strings. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.

Zach, Sarah, then David Terre -- Tory -- I can't read it.

Hello, Zach.

MR. ZACH SPECTOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Zach Spector. I'm here today individually to read the letter that I've provided to all of you on behalf of community and business leaders from Dallas, including Rod Sanders, the founder of Highland Homes; David Litman, the CEO of Travel Funders Network and the cofounder of; Garrett Boone, the cofounder of the Container Store; Mary McDermott Cook, the President of the Eugene McDermott Foundation; George Bristol, the author and conservationist; Morton H. Meyerson, the former CEO of Electronic Data Systems and the Chair of 2M Companies; Martha V. Leonard, the former Board Member of Tarrant Regional Water District; Brent A. Brown, the founder of BC Workshop; and Trammell S. Crow, the founder of EarthX and EarthxTV.

I don't have time to read this letter in its entirety, but I encourage all of you -- all of you to.

"If you love Texas state parks, we urge you to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's efforts to reopen Fairfield Lake State Park. After months of good faith negotiation stalled, a private developer purchased the land and closed the park in early June. On June 10, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to exercise its right to condemn the property. Our State Constitution charges the Commission with the preservation and conservation of natural resources on behalf of the public. It seems particularly ironic to see the park's gates chained in the midst the centennial celebration this year. In a state where more than 95 percent of land is privately owned and drought wreaks havoc on our rivers and lakes, countless Texans are standing in support of the efforts to protect affordable public access to the outdoors. For more than 50 years, Parks and Wildlife has managed the park and its lake to sustain and conserve native plants and animals for the enjoyment of all. A vital services that would no longer exist in a private gated community. As community leaders and advocates for the public's ability to enjoy the natural resources of our state, we express our strong support for TPWD's efforts to buy the property and reopen it as a park so that Texas families continue enjoying it for generations." Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Zach.

Sarah, then David, then Lloyd Lane.

Hello, Sarah.



MS. SARAH COLES: Thank you for having me today. My name is Sarah Coles, and I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Children and Nature Network. Our mission is to ensure equitable access and connection to nature for all children in Texas. We do this because we know that children and families who regularly spend time and play and learn outdoors are healthier physically, mentally, perform better in school and have -- connect -- better connected to each other.

A key to these outcomes is access to nature and I want to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife and this Commission for everything you do to ensure that access to nature for all of Texas' children and families throughout the state and through our state parks and programs like local park grants, co-op grants, educational programs, neighborhood fishing, hunter education, and much more.

Over the last 13 years, we have worked closely with TPWD and cannot imagine our work without the support of this wonderful Agency. This work includes our project since 2021 to promote time and nature as a key part of a healthy lifestyle and our state parks are a wonderful resource for Texas families.

In Texas we have over 30 million people living in the second largest state in the country and a total of 10 percent of the United States' school age population. Meanwhile, we only have 5 percent public land for people to connect to nature and recreate. With 85 percent of our population living in urban areas, many neighborhoods do not have easy access to natural areas and our state parks are an important place to connect with nature across the state.

This is why we support the Commission's work to reopen Fairfield State -- Lake State Park and I want to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife on the celebration of this 100 years of state parks and applaud the efforts in this way. Thank you so much for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Sarah. Thanks for coming.

David, then Lloyd, then Spencer Frith.

Hello, David. You've --

MR. DAVID TERRE: Good afternoon, y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- got your bass shirt on.

MR. DAVID TERRE: Yeah, I got my fishing shirt on. So my name's David Terre and I'm the State Conservation Director for the Texas Bass Nation. You might be surprised to know that Texas has 40,000 BASS members in our state. More than any other state, which is traditional for Texas.

If you remember, we wrote you a letter in June that expressed our support for the condemnation process that you were undertaking. We want you to know that we continue to support you in that effort going forward and we also recognize the courage that -- to stand up against -- stand up for your angling constituency, which is very large in the State of Texas.

Lake Fairfield is a gem of a fishery as shown by the results of your own ShareLunker Program. Your wonderful state park there provides everything that anglers need for a day's fishing. I mean, boat access, pier access, camping, all the great facilities there.

Unfortunately a growing Texas now needs more public access, not less. And unfortunately Texas anglers are losing power plant reservoirs across the state due to development, change of views, those types of things. We can't afford to lose any more of our fisheries. Lake Fairfield is one worth keeping for sure. Our anglers have fished it more than 50 years, them and their children.

So let's continue to preserve and protect this great fishery for current and future generations of anglers in Texas. We really want to appreciate -- we really appreciate y'all's support in this and hope you'll continue. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, David. Thanks for coming.

Lloyd, then Spencer, then Robert McBroom.

Hello, Lloyd.

MR. LLOYD LANE: Hello. How are y'all, Commissioners?


MR. LLOYD LANE: I'll start by saying that I can appreciate the people that want y'all to get out ahead of any more situations such as the Fairfield State Lake Park. I wish that that could have happened in this instance, and we wouldn't be talking about this right now.

The first thing I'd like to say is I'd like to talk about the word "necessary" being one of the -- one of the constitutional limitations that's required for using eminent domain. That it must be -- a property must be necessary for public use. You know, when a pipeline company or a power line uses eminent domain to come across someone's property, that particular project generally affects people in a good way. You know, up to millions of people. It's an infrastructure for power and whatnot.

According to the Parks and Wildlife data, the use of eminent domain on this particular property will only affect about 1 percent of the park goers in the State of Texas. So I don't know how we can think that it's a necessary piece of property. And if it's not necessary, then it wouldn't fall under the ramifications of eminent domain.

So the other thing I'd like to say is that I feel as you guys being appointed Commissioners, that you have a fiduciary obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer money. If you have been appropriated 125 million or if you get a billion, it doesn't matter the amount to be good stewards. I just don't think that we should treat Fairfield -- what used to be a state park -- like that's the only acreage available when we know that there's a lot more acreage from willing sellers that's available in the State of Texas. Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner. Thanks for coming, making the effort.

Spencer, than Robert.

MR. SPENCER FRITH: Good afternoon, Commissioners. Thank you for letting me be here today. My name is Spencer Frith. I am the President of Get Outside Alliance, a Texas-based nonprofit that looks to get Texans outdoors and invested in their state parks. Additionally, I've had the privilege of sitting on the State Parks Advisory Committee since 2018, where I've gotten to work with and learn from many wonderful women and men who are united to help our state parks.

In my time traveling from communities, meeting with volunteers, and helping parks as far as McAllen all the way up to Daingerfield, it's been a very hot topic to talk about what's happening with Fairfield. It could be because less than 5 percent of this state is reserved for public use. It could also be because of the numerous amount of health and community benefits that come from having state parks or it could be because we all anticipated celebrating the centennial with new parks instead of fighting over keeping one open.

The fact of the matter is Fairfield is a difficult decision and what you-all are doing is very hard. That becomes very obvious in that eminent domain has not been used since 1980 for Texas Parks and Wildlife. But the fact is this not for the creation of a new park. This is not for the idea of what could be in the future. This is about preserving something that is necessary, that has seen real tax dollars be invested.

Since 1971 in the acquisition and since 1976, the opening of park to the public, Texas has invested 70 million dollars of infrastructure of taxpayer's money to this park. That is what we are looking to preserve and Texas supports that overwhelmingly. Thank you-all very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Spencer.

Robert, then Bernadine Dittmar, and Bill Applegate.

Hello, Robert. Welcome.

MR. ROBERT MCBROOM: Hello. Thank you. Yeah, my name's Robert McBroom. I'm a resident of Freestone County. I'm not in support of eminent domain for obvious reasons of land rights. The concern is the use of the taxpayer's money. I heard in the listening room here the term common sense and as I'm looking at it, my concern is the use of taxpayer's money for the use of eminent domain to secure purchase of Fairfield property, which obviously the value that Todd had was about 110, which I know you guys will negotiate accordingly. But still what is that negotiated price? What is the price that come to as an acquisition that -- we're going to have to pay something for it.

And so if you're looking at what's available in the market, just a quick check, I'm looking -- you know, a comparable type of property, is like Padgitt Ranch, 5,900-acre ranch, Coleman County, it's got 10 miles of shoreline, good water infrastructure, hunting, one of the best bass fishing lakes and they've got it on the market for 24 million dollars. Okay?

We're talking with Lake Fairfield -- I don't know what you guys have in mind offering, but there will be a cash acquisition even with that eminent domain. Is that correct? I mean, there will be a price paid, right? A fair market value of some sort.

And so all I'm saying is that let's shop around and look. Right now that park is -- it's not what the park was when you closed it. Okay? The offices are gone. They're completely demolished. All right? The -- the -- they're cutting roads through there. Docks are gone. So it's not like you're going to be able to move in there tomorrow and open the lake back up. You're going to have to go back in and build. You're going to have to reinstitute the infrastructure. Probably do some work around the lake itself. I had heard some comments around water flow within the lake.

So my concern is more not whether I'm for the park. I love state parks and I love what you guys do and I appreciate it. It's more of concern of what is the price that we're going to pay and a comparative price in the market. And based on the 110 million that Todd paid for it, which is what the energy company wanted, right, it makes sense for them at that price because of the development. But at the price for a state park, it's way over -- over -- too much money. Even at half that, it's probably over. You can buy four to five parks of the same amount of property for that kind of money. So that's -- that's my concern. I appreciate your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Robert.

MR. ROBERT MCBROOM: Thank you, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thanks for making the trip.

Bernadine, then Bill, then Jim Brooks.

Hello. How are you? Good to see you.

MS. BERNADINE DITTMAR: Thank you. Good afternoon. I'm Bernadine Dittmar. Members of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Chairman Aplin, Dr. Yoskowitz -- I'm sorry if I mispronounce that -- it's an honor to stand before you today. I represent our ranch, our low-fence ranch Dittmar Dittmar Hushky that was established in 1863, the memory of my husband, and the native wildlife of Texas.

I first would like to thank the Commission for their presence at the dedication of the memorial at Black Gap Wildlife Management Area honoring my late husband Dr. Bob Dittmar, Dewey Stockbridge, Brandon White. These men were true conservation heroes. I remember Bob's passion for all animals; but elk, Mule deer, antelope, especially the Bighorn sheep and White-tail held a special place in his heart. During his experience with Texas Parks and Wildlife, I know there was a never a decision made that did not include scientific research, hours of deliberation and consideration for what is best for all parties; but paramount was always what is best for the native species of Texas.

I saw firsthand how hard the men and women of team Texas Parks and Wildlife -- I call them team because they care so greatly about the same thing, they are a team -- work to do what they felt was best for the wildlife. You also have had to make huge decisions recently. I want you to know how much I appreciate your dedication and time making rules to protect our native wildlife. I know all too well those decisions never come easy.

I want to recognize the hard work, time, and difficult decisions Texas Parks and Wildlife has made to help monitor and defend against the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. These efforts do not go unnoticed, are very much appreciated by the Texans across the state who deeply care about the wildlife and want our wildlife to be there for generations to come.

I cannot imagine a world where a deer or a healthy deer is a rare sight. If Bob were here today, he would be so proud of this Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and he would pray that we're doing enough. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bernadine. We miss Bob. Thank you. Thank you for coming. I know you do horribly.

Bill, then Jim Brooks.

Hello, Bill.

MR. BILL APPLEGATE: Hello. Commissioners, Bill Applegate here. It's my pleasure to come to you today and congratulate you and your staff, each and every member for another year of outstanding wildlife management in the State of Texas. The animal rights community has attacked mountain lion management here in Texas and nationwide they are known to doctor photographs, stage film clips, and enlist the testimony of hunters, trappers, veterinarians, and others often for pay and with no stake in the matter.

Now mountain lion management in Texas has developed over the years where landowners can raise lions if they want to and they can manage them if they need to and it works and it's practically no cost to the state.

The petition you received last year has a number of elements and they're aimed at reducing harvest and creating research opportunities. Now many of those elements can be debunked with science, such as animal cruelty, the need for 36-hour trap checks, and gadgets placed on trapping equipment. I have learned over time to identify misleading and biased information in some of these private research reports and I encourage you to rely only on Department-generated research when you are making your decisions on this.

And the mountain lion is the favorite anything of mine in the whole world and if I truly believed that its sustainability was in jeopardy, I would have signed that petition myself; but they're doing fine. And issuing management mandates on landowners will not be well received and perhaps an alternative approach would be to educate landowners on the options and different techniques available at hand so they can customize a plan for themselves. And God bless each of you, each of your staff, and all the wildlife in the great State of Texas.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bill. You made a long drive. Thanks for coming.

Jim. And then after Jim, the Commissioners will just take a few minutes break, let everybody -- and then we're going to go back -- we're going to get started on the next big stack.

Hello, Jim.

MR. JIM BROOKS: How are y'all today?


MR. JIM BROOKS: My name's Jim Brooks. I'm a damage control management. My concerns here today are Texas predators. Coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions are listed as predators in Texas. They have been for longer than I can remember. But several years ago, someone in their infinite wisdom added them to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, along with Bengal tigers, rhinoceroses, orangutans, and all the other exotics.

Now when that changed, prior to that, you could apply to the state for a permit to keep a dangerous wild animal. But when they changed this, they changed the permit fee to leave it to the individual counties to say we'll charge a permit fee or, no, we won't allow you to keep them.

My county, along with most the other smaller counties, went the easiest way out and just said, no, you cannot keep one and I understand that. It wouldn't -- it would be cost prohibitive to -- for a county to establish and maintain a permit program for, in my case, one or maybe two trappers in the county that would want to hold a coyote or a bobcat.

We -- as trappers, we need these animals for urine collection because their urine -- the pure urine of like species is the very best bait that you can find for predator control and that's what -- I would like to see some kind of variance or something where a trapper could legally keep a coyote or bobcat or lion in captivity. Thank y'all very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jim.

Couple-minute break, Commissioners, and then we'll get right back at it.

We'll be -- we'll be right back shortly. Just a few minutes.

(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. We're going to get started again. Thank you for your patience. Same thing. We're going to do the same thing. Get lined up, if you will, two minutes, watch the flashing light. We're going to start with Marty Berry.

Marty, you hear.

MR. MARTY BERRY: That'd be me.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: There he is.

Michael Moon and Kevin Davis.

So, Mike, come on and Kevin get in line and then Tim Glass is next.

Hello, Marty. How are you?

MR. MARTY BERRY: How you doing, Mr. Aplin?


MR. MARTY BERRY: Greetings from South Texas. I'm Marty Berry. I'm from Corpus Christi. I wanted to say something about the oysters because I said I would. I had one of the first permits, along with a couple other gentlemen. I would impel y'all please go buy some more oysters. Everything's great. Thank you. Let's move on.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: By the way, we toured y'all's facility. It's wonderful.

MR. MARTY BERRY: I knew that. Than you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I'm very excited about that.

MR. MARTY BERRY: I am too. I think it's great for Texas.

I want to also speak about CWD as a landowner and the CWD efforts by Parks and Wildlife and please don't be offended. I'm just going to tell you the truth and a lot of times as the owner of a company, when people tell me the truth I get mad and I understand that and -- but y'all have been in charge of CWD for over ten years and CWD has turned into a disaster for the State of Texas.

We're putting up billboards now. Parks and Wildlife's putting up billboards that's chasing off hunters and you may not think they're chasing off hunters; but just trust me, you're chasing off hunters. When we lose a generation, we don't bring that next child in, we lose them. They don't -- people don't run to Walmart by a 30-06 and say let's go hunting today. Y'all know that. It's something that's passed down through families and family friends and when they come out now and I'm collecting brain stems and retro lymph nodes, it scares them. They don't like it. They all want to donate their meat now. They'd rather take an Axis or a Nilgai or something else that they're not worried about. And we've done too good a job of that.

And I would implore you one thing. This is a huge industry. There's a lot of people involved. A lot of families have already been knocked out. I would ask for you to find the very best scientist, PhD scientist, people that turn in papers regularly, people that study this disease, find the best. You've got a 500 plus million dollar budget. You can afford it. You're putting tons of people out of business that have not done anything wrong and we've been looking for you to be the leader in this and you need to be leaders.

We need to find those people. If you need the help with it, I can give you about ten names. They're out there. They're pure scientists. Follow the science. We're all willing to follow the science. I am a breeder, a deer breeder, and I've been a deer breeder and I will stay a deer breeder as long as I can. And even if you disagree with that, I'm sorry. But the facts are the facts. We need the very best eyes on this, the very best brains, and follow the science. Let's decide is there a stepping off place because I can't find that out. Where does it end? What is the end game for Texas and CWD? I would like to know that. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Marty. Thanks for making the trip.

Michael, then Kevin, then Tim Glass.

Hello, Mike.

MR. MICHAEL MOON: Hello. How are y'all? Howdy. I'm just a farmer and rancher from Bell County. I happen to be on the Farm Bureau Board there in the county. We're having trouble with number of deer. Our numbers on -- our county is split with I-35. One side of the county has doe permits. The other side of the county doesn't. We're getting so many numbers of deer that it's hurting our corn crops, damaging vehicles.

Between my house and the main road is about 6 miles and every morning I can count 25 to 30 deer. Well, all these mamas have two babies running behind them now. They're doubling on us. I don't hunt anymore. Haven't hunted in 20 years. But we don't have the number of hunters in Bell County. Bell County is not noted for deer hunting, but we have the deer now.

Thirty years ago, we didn't; but now we do. So I ask you to look at the numbers, do studies there in Bell County, and please issue some permit -- doe permits -- for the east side of the county. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Michael.

Kevin Davis, Tim Glass, John Cappadona.

Hello, Kevin.

MR. KEVIN DAVIS: Hey, good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. My name's Kevin Davis. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Deer Association, and I appreciate your time today. I was appreciative of the conversation this morning regarding scrapie. I think that was a great conversation to have and the thing that -- that interests me most about that is the science behind its eradication. And so that science involved genetics. It involved the actual farmer using genetics and that's exactly what Texas deer breeders are doing and they are going to be the entity that solves CWD through genetics. And I just wanted to share that with y'all because I firmly believe it.

Additionally, we spent -- the Texas breeding industry spent 20 million dollars since 2021 complying with the regulations requiring antemortem testing prior to movement. That requirement is working. The detections this spring and summer are evident of that and the system in place that prevents movement once a facility is epidemiologically linked to a positive facility, prevents all movement. So the discussion around identification of deer and the need to do that under emergency rule, I have to disagree respectfully because the facilities of concern are already locked down and can't move deer and they remain locked down until they are no longer considered epidemiologically linked. So there's that.

I would ask that the Commission consider rolling back that emergency provision requiring external ID and rolling back that in the proposal that was made today and let's have that discussion downtown like we did in 2019, which the Legislature clearly indicated that it needs to be a downtown discussion at the Capitol. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kevin.

Tim, then John, then Chris Methner.

Hello, Tim.

MR. TIM GLASS: Howdy. Good day, Commission. My name's Tim Glass. I'm a deer breeder in the State of Texas and what I want to talk to you about today is CWD landscape, some of the data that was presented to you earlier today and, quite frankly, the way it was presented, it painted bleak portrait about CWD in the State of Texas. So I'm hoping I can shed some light on what we're seriously dealing with here.

Based on the most recent material I have, there's 540 CWD positive animal detections in the state. 101 of those are free-range animals, 398 breeder pens, 41 release sites. Hunt County alone in a breeding facility represents 114 of those positives. Uvalde County represents 188 positive detections, which the vast majority of those are in a single breeding facility. These two locations represents 56 percent of all positive cases within the State of Texas. Two facilities. However, this Agency represents constantly that these numbers -- presents them and leaves out the simple facts about the scope of CWD on our state landscape.

Oddly enough, neither of these two counties has had a positive free-range animal today. It's strange.

In contrast, free-range wildlife represents almost 20 percent of all positive detections in Texas. Leaving less than 25 percent of all other detections inside breeding facilities. When you consider that Parks and Wildlife only tests less than half of 1 percent, deer breeders test over 40 percent annually, it appears to me that my -- I should be more concerned as a deer breeder about deer outside of my pens, not inside my pens.

So I just -- I just ask that this panel unite with deer breeders and follow the science. We know what the science is and the majority of deer breeders are breeding the science today. We can use the eradication program of scrapie and we can solve the CWD issue in Texas, but we need your help and I just ask for your help. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim.

John, then Chris, then Lin Poor.

Hello, John.

MR. JOHN CAPPADONA: Hello. I'm John Cappadona. I'm a deer breeder in Santa Fe, Texas. And I shouldn't be here today. I should be with my wife who's having gallbladder surgery, with my youngest son moving into his dorm to start his freshman year of college in Victoria. But no, I'm hundreds -- hundreds of miles away with my hat in my hand asking the state to not -- not only quit moving the goaling post on my industry, but maybe loosen some of the regulations keeping me from growing my business.

I need my business to pay for her surgery and his second tuition payment, which is due next Friday. I hear people talking about generational ranch. I'm saving up so that one day I can have that through breeding deer so that I can pass that on to my family too.

I'm nervous. Seventh grade social studies taught me that the role of government in the simplest form was to keep the potholes filled and the citizens safe. What we're doing with CWD checks neither of those boxes. It's been proven many times that CWD is not transmittable to humans and has never negatively impacted a White-tailed herd, not in free-range and not in the breeder pens.

You know what has? A state biologist rifle looking for the disease with a .04 percent prevalence rate after one fat, otherwise healthy, deer had the misfortune of testing of a test and finding one misfolded prion in them that probably wouldn't have affected them until many years later, if at all. Then they kill them all. History will look back favorably upon the scientific White-tailed breeder as the one who fixed CWD through study and genetic resistance. It will not look favorably upon those pushing this agenda of more and more testing and employing lobbyists to use the power of the state regulators to leverage their competition out of business.

Rules for thee, not for me, is what's being pushed by them and it's wrong and we all know it. Through the use of live testing, the state can help us stamp out CWD, thereby saving small businesses like mine and saving thousands of deer who are culled each year by looking for a disease just to satisfy a grant or some political interest. The current way of dealing with CWD is barbaric; but if we work together, we can do better. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John. Thank you for making the trip and wish your wife the best.

Chris, then Lin, then John True.

Hello, Chris.

MR. CHRIS METHNER: Good afternoon, Chairman Aplin, Commissioners. My name is Chris Methner. Thank y'all dearly for the opportunity to voice our opinions today. I'm a graduate of Texas A&M University. I've been a wildlife and fisheries biologist for the past 18 years. I own a company that -- we work with low-fence and high-fence properties and all aspects of freshwater fishery management all across the southeastern United States.

I would like to present to you-all a few important facts. In a two-year span, the White-tail breeding industry in Texas has tested over 80,000 White-tailed deer for Chronic Wasting Disease, while monitoring a current total population of less than 74,000 deer in breeding facilities. In comparison, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department tested 16,538 White-tailed deer from March 1, 2022, to April 3rd, 2023, while monitoring an estimated population of 5.1 million. To equate the testing rates between the two, TPWD would have to test approximately 2.4 million animals annually. There's no graph, no map, and no equation that can logically explain the vast difference in the testing rates between the two entities.

Here are a few additional facts. 100 percent of White-tailed deer from breeding facilities that are released onto properties have a negative antemortem Chronic Wasting Disease test within eight months of their release and 100 percent of White-tailed deer released from breeding facilities are released onto properties only surrounded by 7-foot plus tall game-proof fence. 21,804 White-tailed deer were released from breeding facilities in 2022.

Texas Parks and Wildlife estimated 680,671 White-tailed deer were harvested in 2022-2023 hunting season. Hundreds of thousands of those carcasses were moved across the State of Texas and across the nation. Texas Parks and Wildlife tested 13,239 of the 680,671 hunter-harvested deer.

CWD has numerous ways to spread other than from breeding facilities, such as hay, feed, natural movement of deer, birds, varmints, carcass movement, cross-species contamination, contaminated environments, spontaneous cases, and on and on. This disease has spread from Colorado across 27 states and four provinces. Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Virginia, New Mexico, and Tennessee all have CWD and all have zero deer breeders.

The breeding industry is unequivocally the most proactive group in the nation of monitoring for CWD, is one of the only true solutions as proven in other species such as sheep and cattle where similar diseases are successfully controlled through utilizing genotypes bred into animals by breeders.

It is my humble opinion it is time all of us work together to be one of the first states in the United States to implement true solutions to the disease and preserve the species we all deeply love. Thank you dearly.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Chris.

Lin, then John True, then Tommy Herring.

How are you?

MR. LIN POOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to speak today. Commissioners and Dr. Yoskowitz, I appreciate it. I'm going to give some of my time back today because I don't think I can throw any better data than Chris Methner just threw at you. So I'm going to give you a little bit back.

The one thing I am going to correct is when Marty came up here and said y'all have been in charge of CWD for ten years. I hold in front of you a videotape, a VHS tape from 21 years ago when Dr. Ken Waldrop with Animal Health Commission came to this building and spoke to about 30 game wardens and wildlife biologists and he talked in that presentation about putting a CWD plan together that was rationable, reasonable, and responsible. And here we are 21 years later still talking about the same things.

So I ask this Commission as you look at emergency rules, to take into consideration the small business effects that this has on small breeders like myself, as well as the large ones. And I appreciate your time today. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Lin.

John, Tommy, Steve Wieser.

Hello, John.



MR. JOHN TRUE: Chairman Aplin, members of the Commission, Dr. Yoskowitz, thanks for the time today. For the record, John True, now former President of the Texas Deer Association. I took my role on as President of TDA in the spring of 2021, right when all the madness was about to begin and I couldn't believe then that we really -- we were doing the same things we did in 2015. Our first detection in a pen happened in 2015 and even today, it blows me away that we're still running the same traces and tiers. We've added some tiers to the deal, but we're still -- we're still killing animals that have no scientific chance of being sick from the source facility.

We've learned most importantly what you should and shouldn't do when CWD is detected a positive facility. Doing nothing either at the fault of the breeder or waiting months and months for Parks and Wildlife to call and sit down and issue a herd plan, let's this disease spin out of control. Conversely, through the actions of the OX Ranch that we're seeing in Uvalde County and a couple of the latest positives that we've seen, aggressive proactive steps to stop the exposure works through culling, antemortem testing, and implementing Dr. Chris Seabury's data, we're seeing the fruits of those labors.

The OX Ranch has been through multiple rounds of antemortem testing. They haven't had a single additional positive. They stopped the exposure and have a chance at life after a positive.

For the life of me, I'll never understand why some of the data is presented to you the way that it is. I get that you have to rely on the info from staff to make the most intelligent decisions. I just wanted to clarify the questions created in May concerning the efficacy of antemortem testing. It works. It's reliable. Yes, there have been 25 instances where a deer received an antemortem not-detected and then was postmortem positive within eight months. All of those came from CWD positive farms where CWD wasn't addressed. Those animals were subjected to CWD exposed 24/7.

We have yet to have one example of an animal not associated with a positive facility being missed by an antemortem test. Please use the tools in our toolbox going forward. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John. Thanks for coming by and giving us your perspective.

Tommy, Steve, then Chris Timmons.

Hello, Tommy.

MR. TOMMY HERRING: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Tommy Herring, and I am a permitted Texas deer breeder. My facility H2H White-tails is located Walker County. I have been in the operation now for over five years. Without the help of my family and our love for deer, it would not have taken place, of course. But one of our main goals in this is well-being of our animals and that is the reason why I am here today so that I can talk to you about reasonable regulations that will control CWD in White-tail deer and other families of cervids.

Regulations that will benefit this fight against CWD on our White-tails while keeping the utmost respect for the ranchers, their diligence, and caring for these animals and their investments. I know a lot of deer breeders have been working on CWD genetic resistance within their herds at their own cost. This has been the results of these studies and research that Dr. Seabury has done in CWD to find the answer for our deer industry.

In my understanding, the USDA has received a grant from deer breed -- for deer breeders to fight CWD through genetic resistance that is being used in other states as we speak. Please help us fight CWD in a realistic approach such as this. With the help of genetic resistant genes, breeding raised -- breeder-raised deer, when released, will help spread the resistant genes of CWD in deer. This will be the betterment of the entire deer industry of Texas.

Would not it be great to see a win-win situation that controlled CWD across all ranches, even your own?

With that said, it is with great appreciation that you have given me time for my thoughts to be presented to you on these circumstances that are affecting all of us today. Thank you again and God bless all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Thomas. Thanks for making the effort to come down.

Steve, Chris, then Haiden Mensik.

Hello, Steve.

MR. STEVE WIESER: Hey. My name's Steve Wieser, Starbuck Whitetails. I'm a scientific deer breeder for 15 years McLennan County. Last weekend I attended the Texas Trophy Hunters Q and A with Dr. Reed, so I got information from his slide show. We've done since 2012, 328,933 total CWD tests, with 552 positives. That is less than two-tenths of 1 percent of deer tested have tested positive. So .168 percent.

And Dr. Reed testified that there were five cases that actually had the spongiform with the brain issue. Those cases were actually collected and sent in by a tuberculosis research vet and they were killed from a car or a bullet. So none of those deer actually died from CWD. They died with it.

With a percentage like that, it proves that killing deer to find the disease is mostly successful at killing deer and businesses and ineffective at finding the positives. So in a chance for us to work together with Parks and Wildlife and Texas Animal Health, I'd like to suggest some fixes.

First of all, testing 100 percent of rehabilitation animals that are put back into the wild. They're currently not being tested at all. Testing requirements for DMP permittees to do a certain percentage of theirs to find out where the disease is. And then I would recommend using the billboards that you're using for advertising hunts for underprivileged kids, Make-a-Wish Foundation, vets, handicapped, on all the state parks and wild -- state parkland in every county in the state and test all the harvest.

Then I would suggest you guys buy deer from scientific deer breeders that have been breeding to the Dr. Seabury's genetic breeding markers so we would release deer that have immunity or good genetics to the wild. So also I encourage release sites at low-fence to do the same, buy deer from us. We're the solution, not the problem. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Steve.

Chris, then Haiden, then Riley Ann Price.

Hello, Chris.

MR. CHRIS TIMMONS: How are you today?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Fine. Thank you.

MR. CHRIS TIMMONS: Chairman, Commissioners, my name's Chris Timmons. I'm a member of the CWD Task Force, White-tailed Advisory Committee, and a past member of the Breeder User Group. I'm here representing the Deer Breeders Corporation, or DBC, and I've been involved in the deer breeding industry for 23 years.

Sometime today your staff plans to present and suggest new rules and regulations and I'd like to address four important issues. Among those is to require tonsil biopsy tests for all antemortem testing. If you've never seen a tonsil biopsy, it's a cruel and morbid procedure. Rectal biopsies are much easier to take and even by USDA standards, it is more accurate across the board.

Another proposal is additional required testing for release sites. The deer going to release sites are tested with a non-detect result before they're released. Once those deer are released into a high-fenced ranch, they're considered wild deer. So now not only would you be double-testing the same deer, but you'd be requiring private property owners to test their wild deer inside the fence with no requirements for testing of wild deer outside the fence and that's wrong.

TPWD's Educate the Public campaign for CWD is, in our opinion, scaring the public, scaring the hunters. It was -- we just feel like it was approached wrong. When you go to the website, it is so biased against deer breeders it's sickening. Pointing the finger at us like we're the cause of CWD.

If you truly believe that CWD is a threat to Texas deer, as the strategically placed billboards scream, then why aren't we testing everything? Why aren't we testing all hunter-harvest deer statewide?

Testing all deer is the only way to get an accurate assessment of the prevalence in the wild because the prevalence numbers we're using right now are nothing more than an educated guess based on very little data.

We can work together and would like to work together to solve this problem. And just like scrapies in sheep that was eradicated across the U.S., through selective breeding of resistant genes thanks to Dr. Seabury who's identified those genes in our deer, we will do the same. Breeders are the the only solution and our only hope for eradicating CWD in Texas. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Chris.

Haiden, Riley, then Shiloh Sosa.

Hello, Haiden.

MR. HAIDEN MENSIK: Hello. Thank you, Commission, for allowing this opportunity to talk to you guys. My name is Haiden Mensik. I'm here to you -- I'm here today to talk to you about CWD. I own an outfitting business, I'm a property owner, and I practice ranch real estate. Like so many others at this meeting, my livelihood depends on the survival of the White-tailed deer. I have guides, chefs, and ranches that count on our hunting sales to stay afloat.

Unfortunately over the last ten years, several of my friends who breed deer have been forced out of business due to the practices that Texas Parks and Wildlife has forced them to participate in to stay in business. There have been claims made that CWD prion can be transmitted to humans. Yet there has never been a case reported that a human has contracted CWD. Research shows that there's a strong species bear between cervid CWD and humans. I've had countless clients and potential clients ask me about this. It's clearly hurting Texas hunting, as Mr. Berry mentioned.

I believe there are other major threats to White-tailed deer such as EHD and anthrax. It could be argued that EHD and anthrax have killed far more White-tailed deer than CWD. Yet neither gain a fraction of the attention. When these two show up, there's nothing left. It's scorched earth. They're all dead. Yet I don't see any billboards or Facebook ads about them.

CWD was discovered in 1960s. It's perplexing that our deer populations have not faced significant declines if CWD is as catastrophic as Texas Parks and Wildlife and other individuals portray it to be. Shouldn't all deer be gone by now, both breeder deer and wild deer? Instead our White-tail deer numbers are actually growing.

We need to use common sense to fight this disease and focus on the facts, not false information that seems to be circulating the internet. CWD is everywhere. It's not just in breeder pens. The number of deer tested in the wild versus the number of deer in breeder facilities is not comparable. We test 100 percent of deer released from breeder facilities. Yet the number of wild deer tested don't even come close to being equal. It seems like deer breeders are the low hanging fruited here.

The more you look, the more you're going to find. We know that's been proven true and it seems like we aren't putting much effort into looking other places besides deer pens. I believe the longevity and resilience of our White-tailed deer herd rests on the shoulders of deer breeders. Their efforts have resulted in the development of healthier and genetically diverse herds, which ultimately contributes to an overall stronger White-tail deer herd for Texas. By breeding CWD resistant genetics, I believe that deer breeders hold the key to preserving White-tailed deer in Texas.

I ask that you take all these things into considerations with your effort to counter CWD. I ask that you follow the science and the facts. We can combat this, but it's going to take everybody to work together. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Haiden.

Riley, then Shiloh, then Billy Oehnig.

Hello, Riley.

MS. RILEY ANN PRICE: Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Riley Ann Price. I come from Hermleigh, Texas, in Scurry County out west where you can get an Allsup's burrito and you can get windblown. I came here today to speak to you about CWD.

My husband and I are multigenerational agriculturalists. We are cotton farmers. We provide for our family solely through the cotton farming operation. We farm in a five-county radius, including Scurry, Nolan, Mitchell, Fisher, Borden Counties. We farm approximately 25,000 acres.

This is what I can tell you. All I know is ag. I'm an agriculturalist to my heart. I'm a conservatist, and I'm a wildlife enthusiast. And when you put the issues at hand in the hand of the producers, you will see change. My husband and I stood on the front lines when we eradicated boll weevils in West Texas. They're 100 percent eradicated now. A thing that we never thought we'd see in a West Texas cotton field.

I remember as a young child hearing my grandparents talk about breeding brucellosis out of cattle and scrapies out of their sheep herds. When you turn and you give the problems to the producers and they follow the science, it can simply be resolved. It is truly that simple. We have the science. The deer breeding industry is collecting the data. Now we just need to follow it. I've personally seen the effects of one year of breeding moving the bottom line at a deer farm. It is possible, and I ask that you give the deer breeders the opportunity. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Riley.

Shiloh, then Billy, then Kris Killian.

MR. SHILOH SOSA: Hello and thank y'all for having me. My name is Shiloh Sosa and I'm a proud Texan, a wildlife biologist, and ranch manager. I currently live in Webb County and the ranch encompasses Webb and La Salle. I wasn't -- I wasn't going to speak today because I think that some people prior to me have really nailed it the way I would like to portray it.

I -- one thing I'd like to say that I represent is three little brown-haired, brown-eyed girls that they're my girls, they're my daughters, and they love to hunt. The 5-year-old is begging daily "When can I shoot my first deer, Daddy?"

I say, "Well, you're still too little."

But I want to preach to y'all to follow the science. We're there. We're getting there. We're going to eradicate this and y'all need our help and just stop the overregulation and stop the pushing and the pushing and the pushing. I think the bigger problem is the scare tactics with the billboard is in the push for CWD. My oldest daughter's 12 and she finally got a whiff of it and is asking me a ton of questions. She doesn't understand. We've been -- I've been breeding deer for 20 years, and she doesn't understand why it's a big problem now.

But I think we need to focus more on trying to get our hunters back and license sales up and I want my daughters to have kids that hunt too and I want them to have the passion to shoot their first deer and I think we need to focus more efforts on that instead of just overregulating and pushing deer breeders. Let's do this together and save all this, save the White-tailed deer. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Shiloh.

Billy, then Kris, then Cloey Saylors.

Hello, Billy.

MR. BILLY OEHNIG: Mr. Chairman, gentlemen. My name is Billy Oehnig. With my operating partners, we own and operate the Blue Creek Whitetails. I've been a supporter of Texas Parks and Wildlife for well over three decades. I also support the Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

You say that CWD is an important issue for you. It is not. I'm all the way here from Tennessee to get my two minutes, which is unheard of, to unmask the real agenda. Follow the money. Extinguishment of all of the deer breeders is your goal. There are those of you who have voiced this repeatedly in private conversations, but there's not a one of you that will say it publicly. You're in search of a solution. You have the solution: The demise of all of us.

You're now in search of the problem. The solution that you so desperately seek is to callously destroy all of us, our small businesses, wreck the lives of all of our rural employees, our managers, and all of our families. You're in search of the problem to justify your goals.

If, if deer herd health was your goal, you would look at all of the problems that affect us. You don't even know and your biologists don't even know the top ten things that kill White-tailed deer. I challenge any of you to tell me what they are. You don't know. We know.

If CWD is really the problem, then you know as your fearmongering suggests, you would be implementing multiple strategies to eradicate CWD. But that's not your goal. If you were addressing CWD, you would be doing it with all the animal species that carry it. You would be requiring mandatory testing of all species harvested every year -- elk, White-tailed deer, Mule deer -- that exists everywhere in the wilds, not just in breeding facilities. Instead you enchore -- you choose to employ draconian assassinations of innocent deer. Nontransparent tactics designed just to put us out of business, to ruin the lives of all of our employees. Shame on you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Billy, wrap up, please.

MR. BILLY OEHNIG: I can't do it in two minutes.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I'm sorry. I've asked 120 people so far to do it in two minutes.

MR. BILLY OEHNIG: I challenge any of you to have a civil, rational conversation with me for more than two minutes. Otherwise, this is a whole needless exercise. It cannot be done.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Kris, Cloey, and then Bobby Schmidt.

Hello, Chris.

MR. KRIS KILLIAN: How y'all doing today?


MR. KRIS KILLIAN: Thank you. So I wanted to address the tonsil biopsies. We're already doing rectals, but tonsil testing is the easiest way to facilitate mechanical transmission of CWD because the biological tools are more difficult to disinfect and no instruction on proper disinfection have historically been provided to the certified sample collectors.

For these and more reasons, USDA does not even allow tonsil testing in the herd certification program and has -- has cautioned against tonsil testing. Efforts -- efforts to prove that tonsil testing is superior to other testing are not supported by data obtained and/or published in the National Veterinary Service Laboratory, as well as USDA staff. Testing data from TVMDL has proven to be somewhat variable considering the NVSL finds CWD in tissues that TVMDL does not and doesn't find it when TVMDL does.

Chain of custody on samples from Texas have also been proven to fail. This leads -- this leads to results seemingly created to fit an agenda instead of created by science. Therefore, tonsil data obtained from TVMDL for comparison to other tissues cannot be replied upon -- relied upon to access[sic] test sensitivity or test performance. Only results obtained from the National Veterinary Service Laboratory can be used for this purpose.

Also Alan Cain mentioned earlier that CWD can be transmitted through semen. There's no proof on of that whatsoever. I mean, if he can provide a peer-reviewed data or something on it; but, yeah, there's studies going on right now about that, but they've never found CWD in any semen collections. So I appreciate it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kris.

Cloey, then Bobby, then Jody.

I'll remind everybody, if you can after you've spoken, if you can to clear the room because we have many people outside still waiting to try to get a seat.

Hello, Cloey.

Then Bobby, then Jody Rae Phillips.

MS. CLOEY SAYLORS: 103, the number of adult deer we have in our pens. 8056, tag ID number of doe with the given name Cupcake. She prefers watermelon over animal crackers for a snack and prefers they come straight from your hand.

One, while the lowest number value on this list, it has had the highest impact on our herd as it represents the patriarch buck of our herd that was required to slaughtered by Texas Parks and Wildlife just last month. Negative, the test result.

Hi. I'm Cloey Saylors. A fourth-generation produce and livestock farmer. While these all seem like random numbers in a database, they're extremely important numbers to my family, the other deer breeders represented in this room and the hunters across this great State of Texas.

Like many in this room today, my family's livelihood is in jeopardy. While I'm fully aware of the sacrifice and hardships that come with farming livestock, like my 5:00 a.m. livestock feedings, 6:00 a.m. fawn feedings, that all comes before school, where I have cheerleading or FFA practices at 7:00 a.m. I'm also old enough to understand that farming pays for my education, the clothes on my back, the roof over my head, and even puts our food on the table.

I'm the future of my family's business. But due to overregulation and overreaching, my future is bleak. The idea that our deer can be taken in an instant with the option to test them out of the situation, just seems unfair to say the least. We are at a turning point in our industry where we have the technology to make more common sense decisions when involving CWD.

Like scrapies was able to be bred out of sheep, I believe deer breeders are the only ones who have a chance to breed CWD resistant White-tails. That's only possible in breeder pens, as the control testing can simply not be done across the entire state's wildlife population. But with current depopulation state of mind, we kill all opportunities to get the end goal of eradicating this disease.

The regulations that are being presented as tools that will slowly put us away as an industry. This emergency rule alone will keep up to 50 percent of breeders from moving animals to pasture. With the price of feed and antemortem tests, it's hard to miss a year of sales and not go out of business. When making decisions today in regard to financial hardships your ruling can make across Texas, consider families like mine that would incur catastrophic income loss. Think about the tractor salesman and his son who -- looking to go to college next year. Think about the fence builder who promised his daughter dance lessons. Think about me, a 15-year-old young woman who took the time today to speak to you about my family's livelihood and passion to continue generations of hard work.

Your decision today will have direct impact on what my future looks like. The last number I want to leave with you today is 2023, the year you can make a positive impact for all of us here today. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Cloey, thank you for coming.

Bobby, then Jody Phillips, then Mark Mueller.

Is Bobby in? No Bobby Schmidt?

Jody Rae Phillips, then Mark Mueller, then Richard Enzenauer.

Hello, Jody.

MS. JODY RAE PHILLIPS: Hello. My name is Jody Phillips. I'm the newly elected President of the TDA, and I speak today with the clear message as a conservationist in unity with deer breeders across this great state who all aim to preserving our natural resource.

While we all recognize that CWD is a problem, we also all recognize that we can solve it as an industry. Since 2021, deer breeders have funded over 20 million dollars in antemortem testing, seven -- over 7 million dollars in genetic resistance testing and have proven to be a compliant industry. The science and technology is available to us as deer breeders to solve CWD through sustained breeding practices and the preservation of genetically resistant breeding.

We have the tools in front of us to provide a sustainable future for years to come. The current rules have made a devastating economic impact on our billion-dollar industry and to many families. With these setbacks, it makes the path toward a solution almost impossible.

I stand in unity with leadership and a clear path to a solution. So I ask two things. For a meeting with the Commissioners and TDA leadership and other deer breeder leadership to discuss how this solution can come to fruition, to work with you guys for this to work for everyone because there is a solution there to solve it. Also an open mind toward a clear and understanding of what deer breeders can provide through the science. The science cannot be duplicated outside of a deer pen and we're standing today with the solution and we would like the opportunity to show it. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jody Rae. Appreciate it.

Mark, then Richard, then Brian Wilson.

Hello, Mark.

MR. MARK MUELLER: Good afternoon. I am Mark Mueller, a proprietor of a small family hunting ranch operation nestled in McCulloch County. An area also designated as a permitted Texas release site. Throughout the years, our endeavors have led us to acquire deer for our family ranch with a twofold purpose: To enhance genetic excellence for hunting and to foster a deeper outdoor connection for our four boys.

As a result, our four boys have not only cultivated a robust work ethic while tending to our flourishing herd, but have also embraced an infectious enthusiasm for life on the ranch, frequently inviting friends to enjoy our remarkable herd and animals.

Yet a shadow looms over our shared acquisition and aspirations due to the prevailing regulations that are on course. We harbor genuine concerns that these rules might jeopardize the viability of the breeders that we collaborate with. Insights from our breeders reveal that all deer must undergo a prerelease negative test, which logically suggests the efficacy of current testing methods.

Presently our foremost concern impels us to address the Commission. We believe that the consistent imposition of regulations upon the breeders jeopardizes our ability to instill the important values in our children and future for the ranch and guide them towards becoming the conscientious custodians of the land that we have today. Moreover, the emergence of the genetic resistance in White-tail deer ushers a new dimension. An opportunity to educate our children about safeguarding our family's business and cherish the legacy of hunting with the utmost respect, we implore the Commission to reconsider the pursuant of additional rules and regulations that could inadvertently impede the flourishing deer breeding industry. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mark.

Richard, Brian Wilson, Jerrad Johnson.

Hello, Richard.



MR. RICHARD ENZENAUER: My name is Richard Enzenauer and I am owner of A and A Whitetails in Hempstead, Texas. I am here today to voice my disregard for your emergency rules and hereby disavow any and all recognition of your emergency rules. You have proven yourselves unholy fit to serve these. None of you are deer farmers and that is exactly who you're targeting and none of you have any standing. You don't have any skin in the game, so why are you doing it?

Our deer are captive -- our deer in captivity are private property. Captivity is defined in the Parks and Wildlife Code Section 44.001 as keeping of game animals in an enclosure suitable for and capable of retaining the animal. It is designed to retain at all times under reasonable and ordinary circumstances and to prevents entry by another animal.

When last September, September before last, you were sitting right next to Mr. Carty when we even called our animals private property. It's at 14:53 in the video.

Game animal means a Pronghorn antelope, a Collard peccary or javelina, or a red or gray squirrel. Nowhere does it say deer. Therefore, your perceived purview of our livestock is invalid. Texas Parks and Wildlife Code 1.011, property of the state clearly states -- and this was settled in 2020 -- all wild animals for furbearing animals, wild birds, wild fowl inside the borders of this state are property of the people of the state. Nowhere does it say the government of the state.

Along with the Public Trust Doctrine that an animal must be legally removed from the wild before property rights can arise, when deer are born in breeding facilities, they have been removed from the wild. Therefore, our deer are private property and are exempt from this Commission's purview and overreach.

Other items that disqualify the members from this Commission for your negated legitimacy to lead are as follows. Number one, as a whole you have not followed the legal steps to enforce your emergency rules. There's little to no cost analysis for your rules. No probable economic cost to persons required to comply with your rules and you overstay your rules. Emergency rules are not meant to be permanent. Number two, tell us all: Why is it that Ken King after excoriating this Commission over the CWD issue in 2021 got almost 50,000 dollars in campaign donations afterward, collectively from this Commission, got assigned to another committee unrelated to TWPC, Dave Phelan who assigns chairmanships to the committee got fifty-five hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars and the new Chairman Trent Ashby received a total of 11,500 dollars? That's all I have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Richard.

Brian, then Jerrad Johnson, then Ben Schmidtke.

Hello, Brian. Welcome.

MR. BRIAN WILSON: Hi. So in 2015 when the first positive in a White-tailed breeding facility popped up positive for deer scrapies, breeders across the state were forced to a decision make. The decision was lose your business and/or lifesavings or live test to the TPWD. All this so you and the squeaky wheel would have their degree of certainty that deer breeders are not the problem.

Prior to that, we advanced our genetics through AI, did farm tiers, moved deer from breeder to breeder, even some DMP guys bred pasture does and moved the buck back to the facility. All this per your Department's regulations.

The testing to a lot of you here was a disappointment because the deer breeding community was back in business for lack of finding the CWD. Now the only major change that has happened prior to 2015 to today is now y'all have boots on the grounds in our business. I've been involved in several inspections and have not one time had a warden or employee of TAHC do anything to protect our livelihood from you bringing CWD onto our farms. Not once have you -- have they wore any form of PPE or cleaned their boots or did anything.

So everything we did before was not an issue; but now that we have boots on the ground, CWD is getting more prevalent. My question, statement, whatever you want to call it, is how do we know with any degree of certainty that this Department is not spreading CWD into our business through pen inspections? Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brian.

I can't read it. Jerrad -- Jebbid -- Johnson, Ben Schmidtke, and then Frank Marino.

How are you? Welcome.

MR. JERRAD JOHNSON: I'm doing all right. I moved to Texas about a year and a half ago. I've been participating in White-tail hunting for over 20 years, both before and after I got out of the service. Quick question: How many of you are from California? Because I moved out here from California and I saw exactly what you guys are doing to these people in this state happen there and it destroyed it.

I was going to talk about the propaganda campaigns that you've got going on. There's no point. A lot of other people have brought it up. All I'm going to ask you is: Would you pass the same legislation and the same rules if your qualified immunity wasn't protecting you? Because I'm about to get rid of it. Be in touch.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I guess thank you's in order.

Ben, Frank, Tim Condict.

Hello, Ben.

MR. BEN SCHMIDTKE: Hello. Good afternoon. Thank y'all for letting us come talk. My name is Ben Schmidtke, and I'm the ranch manager of the Silverhorn Ranch in Duval County. I've been hunting and ranching my entire life and licensed deer breeder now for the last 17 years. I'm here today to express my frustration and opposition to the ways in which Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been managing Chronic Wasting Disease in our state.

I realize this is an extremely complex issue and involves many things that I do not understand. Therefore, I really do appreciate the time and effort you-all have put into helping defend our wildlife. My concern though is very simple. We are going to allow our government to overregulate us out of the solution.

It is no secret that TPWD has implemented numerous regulations onto different deer management permit holders. From Triple T to TTP to deer breeders, et cetera, we have all felt more regulation. Some of this may be necessary, but I believe we have crossed the line. Overregulating the deer breeder permit out of existence is not going to make CWD go away. Ruling through the use of emergency rules is not going to make CWD go away. Killing countless deer throughout the state where CWD detected is not going to make CWD go away.

I truly believe that if we continue down this path, we will look back five years from now, still have CWD on the landscape; but now with deer breeders out of business and a resulting decline in deer hunting in our state.

Deer breeders are leading the way with science-based breeding that may be a monumental solution to stopping the spread of this disease. Deer breeders have developed numerous -- developed testing methods and tested more animals than anyone else in the state. Now I know I'm beginning to bore you with the same thing every other pissed off deer breeder has said today, but I really think that we need to figure out a way to work together in stepping towards solutions, knowing that CWD will still be found along the way; but in time, Texas will be the model for all other states in how to manage this disease. I have no doubt our state can do this and I want to help any way that I can.

This can only start with giving deer breeders regulations as tools that we can work with and not put us out of business with. I will now close with reminding you-all of the famous Thomas Jefferson quote: Most bad government is a result of too much government.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Ben.

Frank, then Tim, then Brad Hassig.

Hello, Frank.

MR. FRANK MARINO: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Frank Marino. I am the President of the Deer Breeders Corporation. I don't understand why this Commission is selling CWD as an emergency. CWD has been around for years and is not caused by deer breeders. Yes, there has been CWD positives discovered in breeder facilities. What else would you expect when only breeders are testing 100 percent of their herds in order to exist and control the spread of the disease?

What makes no sense at all is that you are not also testing all harvested deer in the state since this disease is such a priority and an emergency. There were probably more deer hit and killed by automobiles last night in the Austin area than deer lives taken across the country by CWD since its discovery. Texas Parks and Wildlife, along with TAHC, have destroyed more deer than this so-called dreaded disease that is not harmful to humans and takes several years to claim the life of an infected deer. Again, what's the emergency?

There's no shortage of deer in Texas. Burdensome rules and regulations have been put into place targeted directly towards harming, financially ruining, and devastating the lives of deer breeders, along with diminishing their property values in an effort to scare, discourage, and ultimately drive out breeders, the most valuable and important resource available to remedy the so-called emergency.

Using the most recent science available today, breeders are already focusing on breeding CWD resistant animals using genetic profiles and markers to eradicate the threat. We all should have the same goals. We all should be working together, hand in hand to produce the healthiest White-tail herds anywhere in the country. Instead, Texas Parks and Wildlife is eliminating deer breeders who supply superior animals that direct hunters to Texas from all over the world to hunt magnificent White-tails in our great state.

Texas Parks and Wildlife should be supportive of breeders who provide ranches the trophy animals necessary to bring billions of dollars in revenue associated with our deer hunting and breeding industry. Thank you for the time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Frank.

Tim, Brad, then Verona Butler.

Hello, Tim. Welcome.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and Dr. Yoskowitz. I'm Tim Condict with Big Time Deer Solutions from Seminole, Texas. In 2015, we said we would not make the same mistakes made by other states. We said we were better than ruining people's lives and dreams with the same fake rational of CWD being a deer breeder disease.

We not only didn't stick with the original plan, we basically told the northern liberal states that use agencies to suppress people's rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to hold our beer. We have allowed the loudest, most fringe liberal elements of anti-American, anti-deer breeder, elitist hunters to use this disease as a weapon to accomplish their goal to eliminate my freedom to do what I love. Their rights don't trample mine. They copy the tactics elitist liberals by pointing their finger at others for the problems they create with the animals that are allowed to go wherever, however far, and spreading disease to our healthy contained animals.

They falsely blame the movement of breeder deer for the spread of the disease, yet we haven't figured out how the -- how one index herd in the state of Texas got CWD to start with. Only the uninformed could call for tonsil testing our animals. The dangers of spreading disease to other herds or animals is exasperated through tonsil testing. We just had two tonsils called positives that were changed to negative at NVSL. I have personally informed Mr. Cain immediately that the tests were wrong. They were contaminated on the sample and the paraffin block. I don't care how that happened. I care that a dumb hillbilly is the one that knew it was wrong.

The timing seems suspicious to breeders and rightly so because the loud fringe element was saying that the tonsil was the gold standard. The fact that this Department places more value on tonsil testing when peer-reviewed research proves otherwise is concerning. The research is done at all tests that pass from across the nation through NVSL. Tonsil testing is not even allowed by USDA on herd certification program herd. The number of animals being tested antemortem negative and postmortem positive is strictly limited to a chain of custody and mishandling.

In your Department's own projects and numer -- and record buck ranches, numerous samples collected were thrown out of the research because they were labeled as bucks but DNA showed they were does and vice versa. In the state's genetics analysis study, 2020 samples were either duplicates or mislabeled on sex by Department personnel. It's weird how all the mistakes make breeders look bad. We can do better. We are Texas. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Brad, Verona, then Keith.

And I'm going to ask everyone to help me with the -- we have the lights.

Please, Brad, if you can, try to help me with the time limit.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: And then Verona, then Keith.

Thank you, Brad. Welcome.

MR. BRAD HASSIG: Thank you. I'll keep mine short. Basically the 20 last speakers or so pretty much covered all the topics that I wanted to talk about. My name's Brad Hassig. I own and operate a deer breeding facility, as well as a couple release sites permitted in East Texas. Just -- just here, you know, voicing my concern over the emergency rules enacted. You know, prior to these rules, you had rules in place to detect and manage CWD and the rules have worked. I mean, nothing's changed. But yet we get a brand new set of emergency rules.

Just to keep it short, you know, the solution's the deer breeders. I mean, that's your only tool that you have to study this disease and I invite you to work with these folks and let's come to a solution together. Thank you.


Verona, then Keith, then Jonathan Letz.

MS. VERONA BUTLER: Good afternoon. My name is Verona Butler. I'm from the Pineywoods of East Texas. I've been in the deer industry for 14 years now. Graduated college and I'd say the deer industry found me. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, and I love it. So I've seen the deer industry be at its highs, at its lows. I was around when the first CWD positive came into a facility.

It's really sad to me that now we went from over 1,500 breeders -- we have, I think, a little over 600 facilities. But if you're where I'm from, we have four of those facilities. So those count as -- there's probably less breeders than what there actually is.

Everything that I was going to say, people have already said. So I just want to reiterate it. I don't agree with the emergency rules. I feel like the breeders are getting blamed. I do feel like that we're solu -- the solution. Help us help you fix this. If you look at other states and see what they've done in the past, like let's learn from their mistakes. Let's be better. We are Texas. Texas -- I'm very Texas proud.

Another thing that I am worried about is the hunting ranches if there's not enough deer for some of these places. I know just this year alone, people aren't going to have deer for their hunting places because we're shut down. So now we're turning away hunters, that's turning away revenue. Hunters are having to go other places and I would hate to see us lose more hunters in the State of Texas because they like coming to Texas when they can go to other states and not have as many regulations and I want to keep those people here and thank you for your time and listening to all of us. We appreciate it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Verona.

Keith Warren, Jonathan Letz, and then Justin Dreibelbis.

Thank you, Verona.

How are you?

MR. KEITH WARREN: I'm doing good. My name's Keith Warren. I've got a place in Guadalupe County. I'm a rancher and a deer breeder and I think -- I want -- I think everybody can agree that the White-tailed deer is a magical animal. It pulls everybody together. We all love the White-tailed deer and ever since I was a pup, I wanted to be around White-tailed deer.

I think most deer breeders became a deer farmer because they love White-tailed deer. They just can't get enough of it and nobody -- I don't care if you're a hunter or nonhunter -- nobody wants to see a sick animal. We do everything we can to make our animals healthy and keep our animals healthy, whether it's high-fence, low-fence, no fence or in a deer pen and we do have science that will help protect our deer. And the thing is, I feel that we need to protect our deer from y'all and what I mean by that, there's never been a time in our lives that people have distrusted the government as much as they do now and for good reason.

I mean, it's like what happened to common sense? And when we sit here and we take a look at it, you look so hard at deer breeders, we want to solve the problem. We don't mind the testing as long as it's fair. What's happening is you're looking at us with a laser focus vision and you have the ability to be able to test 28 million acres with the flick of a switch. You control 11,000 MLD Permits and 28 million acres across the state and it would be so easy.

You've done 13 emergency rules against deer breeders since 1999 -- or 2019. Why couldn't you make an emergency rule immediately and require the first ten deer killed on every MLD to be tested? Within a six-month period of time you would have a snapshot of exactly where CWD is across the landscape. They always want to know more. That would give them a whole lot of information real quick. Like I said, nobody wants sick deer.

And I look at it, I think common sense. We want to trust government. We want to protect our deer, but we've got to protect our deer from you. Okay? Because if you're not willing to look for it in places that you could look for it, then it's obvious to us why you're not looking for it. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Keith.

Jonathan, then Justin, then Dan[sic] Draeger.

Hello, Jonathan.

MR. JONATHAN LETZ: I started out good even -- or good afternoon, but it's really good evening. Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Jonathan Letz and I am President of the Texas Wildlife Association and a landowner in our great state.

First, I would like to thank the Commission and the Department staff for the continued partnerships we have with the Texas Youth Hunting Program, Adult Learn to Hunt Program, and Texas Big Game Awards. We believe that our partnership in these programs is vital to the growth of hunting and hunting heritage in Texas.

Now to CWD. This past spring and summer, an unprecedented number of CWD positives were detected in deer breeding facilities around the state. In fact, counting the suspect positive from earlier this week, we are now up to ten new CWD positive facilities since the beginning of the year and resulting in a spiderweb of trace-outs that's continued to grow.

Action was sorely needed by the Department to address the situation. TWA and others requested by formal petition for rule-making additional measures be taken to help control the spread of CWD. In late July, the Department issued emergency rules that, one, required antemortem testing on all White-tailed deer that are moved from one breeder -- deer breeder facility to another deer breeding facility and, two, to prohibit the removal of permanent visible ID tags from breeder deer.

TWA is supportive of both these emergency rules and supports both becoming permanent. TWA also supports the comprehensive list of rule improvements that were presented this morning and we look forward to making comments to that in the future when the time is appropriate.

CWD is a real threat to our rural economies, our private working lands, and the future of hunting in Texas. We appreciate the seriousness in which you are approaching this process and hope that you will continue to make meaningful steps towards slowing the spread of CWD. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jonathan.

Justin, then Dan, then Mickey Hellickson.

Hello, Justin.

MR. JUSTIN DREIBELBIS: Mr. Chairman. Hello, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis. I'm with Texas Wildlife Association. I think we may have gotten our wires crossed a little bit on our box checking, so I'm going to yield my time. But thank you very much for your leadership on this important issue. It's very important, and I can't tell you how much our membership appreciates it. Thanks.


Dan, then Mickey, then Brian Treadwell.

Hello, Dan.

MR. DON DRAEGER: Hi. It's actually Donny. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman --


MR. DON DRAEGER: That's all right. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. My name is Donny Draeger. I'm a private -- I serve as a private lands wildlife biologist and Chair the Big Game Committee for the Texas Wildlife Association. I'd like to commend both the dedication -- dedicated staff and esteemed Commissioners for their past and ongoing efforts in addressing CWD.

The current set of rules proposed by the staff represents a monumental step forward in safeguarding our wildlife resources. I'm fully supportive of all the recommended rules. Today we will hear -- hear and have heard various testimony, some of which may be divisive and potentially misleading in nature. I propose that we remove the political, economic, and emotional layers surrounding CWD in Texas White-tails. Stripping away these elements allows us to focus on the most crucial question: Is this the right thing to do for the resource?

While arguments on both sides may touch on the three above aspects, none of these should supersede the paramount concern of the Department, which is the well-being of the 5.8 million native deer in Texas. The artificial movement of live CWD susceptible species undeniably poses the greatest threat to native deer herds in Texas. Short of a complete cessation of all captive deer movement, the suggested rules represent a practical approach. Given the industry's low compliance rate of only 40 percent in required testing of exposed release sites, retaining visible identification upon release becomes imperative.

It's important to note that the antemortem testing has known limitations in detectability and should not be considered as a reliable individual test, but rather as a tool for herd surveillance. Therefore, the six-month residency requirement in breeder-to-breeder testing proposals are essential to prevent an overestimation of the antemortem test capabilities.

In essence, it comes down to this: White-tailed deer in Texas, whether they be breeder or native, are collectively owned by the people of Texas. The Parks and Wildlife Department is entrusted with the responsibility in managing this public resource. At the core of this partnership lies the profound trust that the people of Texas place in Parks and Wildlife to conscientiously do the right thing for the resource.

Once again, I want to express my gratitude to the Commissioners and to the TPWD staff for their unwavering commitment to combat the spread of CWD throughout the great State of Texas. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Donny.

Mickey, Brian, and then Mary Pearl.

Hello, Mickey.

DR. MICKEY HELLICKSON: Hi, everyone. I need to move this closer to my glasses. My name is Dr. Mickey Hellickson, and I am a wildlife biologist specializing in trophy deer management. Over the course of my 35-year career, I have represented over 200 ranch owners across more than 2 million acres of South Texas and the Hill Country. My clients and I are concerned that yet another tool -- like the popular Triple T Program -- is unnecessarily being removed from our deer management toolbox. There is no quicker or cheaper way to consistently grow bucks over 200 inches in the wild than to involve breeder deer.

Recent scientific research on the Matador Ranch owned by former TPWD Commissioner Mr. Dan Allen Hughes, found that not only do released breeder deer survive at a very high rate, but they are also highly productive as well. Recent actions by TPWD indicate an unjust bias against deer breeders starting with the mischaracterization of high-fenced release sites as free-range. Another example of bias occurs with how differently elk are treated versus White-tailed deer.

Somehow it is still legal today to import live elk from other states across the state line into Texas. Just two Saturdays ago, I personally attended an exotic wildlife auction in San Marcos where 19,500 dollars was paid for a mature bull elk in a breeding facility more than 1,200 miles away in Minnesota to be delivered live to Texas next month. This elk breeding facility is in Rice County, which is also within a CWD management Zone No. 605.

Finally, thanks to genetic research by Dr. Seabury, deer breeders all across Texas are now selectively breeding their captive herds to genetically reduce susceptibility to CWD. I predict that in the not too distant future, breeder deer will once again be transported all over Texas to be purposely released onto low-fenced properties in order to combat against CWD. And I have a handout for each of you, a letter that I wrote this morning.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mickey. You can just give it -- yeah, right there to -- thank you.

Brian, then Mary Pearl, then Jenny Sanders.

Hello. Welcome.

MR. BRIAN TREADWELL: Hi. I'm Brian Treadwell. I'm a fifth-generation rancher and a past winner of your Statewide Lone Star Land Steward Award. I want to thank you for the service you provide fighting in the ring for wildlife and wild places. I'm here to advocate for the last two words of the mission statement: Future generations.

Conservation is the delivery of wild resources to future generations. Role of conservation is under attack today and cannot be undervalued in the purpose behind shared public ownership of wildlife resources cannot be negotiated or compromised. The privilege to confine deer in breeding pens is the same concept as our driver's license. It comes with responsibility, and that privilege can also be revoked. Some need to be reminded it's a privilege.

Great tolerance has been extended for some of these resource degrading practices, but the importance of visible ID on released deer has to be even clearer today than it was the last time it was publicly discussed here. Visible ID is the single most reliable step for disease trace back and prevention in agriculture.

Regardless if a susceptible cervid species self-identifies as CWD, mad cow, or scrapies, the exposed carry an unjustifiable threat potential to wild populations and human health risk. Agriculture has know since Gregory Mendel in the 1850s where excessive line breeding for a single characteristic such as antlers, results in genetically impoverished individuals with reduced immune function, actually pointing the finger at deer breeding husbandry as a potential source for CWD and in itself incapable of breeding a solution.

CWD is a community-wide issue and proof that the stewardship of wild things resides with the public. Unfortunately, it's a statewide issue because the continued allowance of artificial movement has greatly facilitated the spread of CWD. The Commission must protect resource over a business model and halt all hooves from hitting trailer floors until we know more.

There's a lot of pressure being applied to you here over the kind of bucks that get folded over and stuffed into pockets. Fortunately, you are commissioned to only be concerned with the kind of bucks that give a snort as they bound away. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brian.

Mary, then Jenny, then Bill Eikenhorst.

Hello, Mary.

MS. MARY PEARL MEUTH: He's a lot taller than I am. Good afternoon, Chairman Aplin, Vice-Chairman Scott, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Mary Pearl Meuth. I'm here today as the President-elect of Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Texas Chapter represents over 900 wildlife professionals and wildlife students who stand ready as a network of scientific information and expertise for the Department's staff and leadership.

Our members are taught in universities and work devoted as professionals to ensure that wildlife resource decisions are made after consideration of relevant, scientific information in consultation with resource stewards and partners and follow the principles taught to us by heroes like Dr. Doug Slack.

We strongly believe that in the face of the variety of adaptive challenges you will -- you will undertake this year and in the future -- issues like CWD, mountain lions, or Gulf Coast oysters -- you as decision-makers need tangible, achievable solutions underwritten by the scientific method and vetted by regulatory experts. As you know, science, policy, and human expectations do not always operate on the same relative plane.

We applaud you Commissioners for the responsibility you've taken on to juggle these uneven planes with the end goal of safeguarding our wild things and our wild places. Thank you once again for your swift reactions to the increased disease index of CWD in captive facilities across the state. Texas Chapter supports the actions proposed by staff earlier today, including, but not limited to, refined surveillance and containment zones, antemortem testing requirements, movement restrictions, and permanent visible identification of captive-raised deer.

We want to thank your staff and your leadership for their steadfast focus on the stewardship, management, and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Texas. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mary.

Jenny, then Bill, then Frank Jacobs.

Hello, Jenny. Welcome.

MS. JENNY SANDERS: Hello. Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz, thank you for entertaining this testimony. My name is Jenny Sanders from Apple Springs, Texas. I'm a natural resource professional, a small-acreage landowner, and a hunter who's very concerned about CWD and particularly the spread of CWD via the unnatural movement of susceptible cervids, including White-tailed deer.

I want to thank the Commission and the staff for your steadfast dedication to our wildlife resources, especially in the face of such vocal and forceful opposition. I am in support of the proposed rules package that was presented this morning and the zone proposal you will consider tomorrow. I'm especially pleased by the ID retention measure and hope that all efforts will be made to enforce this rule, especially considering the tranche of movement that we will no doubt see in the coming weeks.

You know, ID is essential, as others have mentioned, as a standard disease management and protocol for -- in the livestock world and I think it should be very much considered to be a solid measure that we keep in place in CWD and White-tailed deer as well.

Look, there's no question that CWD is real and that it exists in the wild. It's not just a deer breeder problem. And while CWD -- but CWD moves very slowly in the wild and we all know that. It moves much more quickly via captive populations and livestock trailers and I think that's what Texans are concerned about. I want you to know that the broad hunting wildlife conservation and landowner community is behind you. Texans know CWD is real and we want to keep it as contained as possible. Texas is -- Texans are behind the Department in protecting the health and sustainability of our wildlife resources and our hunting heritage. Thank you and keep up the good work.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jenny.

Bill, then Frank, then Matt Wagner.

Hello, Bill. Welcome.

DR. BILL EIKENHORST: Chairman Aplin, Vice-Chairman Scott, Commissioners, appreciate the time. I appreciate your tenacity, and I appreciate your willingness to entertain all the comments today. It's very, very important to the future of our deer herd health.

Director Yoskowitz, I'd like to add to Bernadine Dittmar's comments. You've got a great team. It's deep. It's well organized. I don't always agree with all of them on everything, but it's a heck of team and you're doing a great job. We appreciate your service.

I'm really quick with this. You'll get some time back. I support the recent emergency actions. They were timely and appropriate. I support the proposed rules that were discussed this morning for future comment. I support the zone rules. And I just wanted to let you know that I really admire the precautionary philosophy that you're using in proposing these rules and how you're managing this.

Precautionary philosophy actions often do not create heroes. So keep in mind that when you're working to prevent disease. As a veterinarian for 44 years, I've encountered that a lot. You're a hero when you save the animal when it's sick, but you're not a hero when you're trying to prevent diseases. So I appreciate the time, and I'm glad to be here today.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bill. Thanks for coming.

Frank, then Matt, then Roy Leslie.

Hello, Frank. Welcome.

MR. FRANK JACOBS: How you do, sir? I'm Frank Jacobs. I'm a 72-year-old Navy Vietnam vet. I take my oath to the Constitution very seriously. On 10/2/2020, the Texas Supreme Court ruled the White-tailed deer in Texas belonged to we the people, not PWD. And we have rights. Now a citizen came to me extremely alarmed looking for facts because of the vague claims Parks was publicly making about CWD. I suggested she do an open records request.

In doing her research, she came across numerous Facebook posts and videos made by TPWD. Most ads stated: CWD is a real threat to Texas deer. If you see a sick deer, report it immediately.

She was left wondering: How do I report a sick deer? Who do I contact?

She found no answers. This created even more alarm, alarm, alarmism for her. Here is what her open records request was: Produce the total numbers of deer that exhibited signs of spongiform CWD between 2010 and July 2023.

Parks response was: Parks and Wildlife does not track the number of deer exhibiting CWD signs. Let me read that again: Parks and Wildlife does not track the number of deer exhibiting signs of CWD.

She was outraged and rightfully so. If CWD tells us -- or (sound made). Texas Parks and Wildlife tells us to report it, doesn't explain how to do so, and then doesn't track a sick deer, why should we believe anything Parks tells about CWD?

I can tell you that I do not believe Texas Parks and Wildlife. And there's a lot of brothers and sisters here today with me that I've checked with and they believe it too. Something that kind of summarized it for me, CWD is the new COVID-19 for deer. And the last thing I want to show you show, I'm going to show everybody. How in the world are you going to stop -- see, that's a wild pig eating on a dead deer. I don't know if that deer is CWD positive. But I know there's more dadgum pigs. That's the biggest problem we've probably got in Texas. They spread more disease than any animal I know of. Maybe I can be corrected.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Frank.

MR. FRANK JACOBS: Thank you, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Matt, then Roy, then Rodney Parrish.

Hello, Matt. Welcome.

MR. MATT WAGNER: Greetings, Chairman Aplin, Commission members. My name's Matt Wagner. I'm past President of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, certified wildlife biologist, and I consult on private ranches in Central Texas. I teach wildlife law and policy at Texas State University. Some of my students were here earlier today. But I want to thank you for the emergency action you took last month to tighten the rules regarding movement of breeder deer and slow the spread of CWD. I also support the proposed modifications of CWD zones as presented today.

In just the last six months, the Department has encounter unprecedented increase in CWD detections in seven new counties, including an additional ten deer breeding facilities, two release sites, and one free-ranging deer in a new county. The Department records indicate that within the last five years, those deer breeding facilities transferred over 9,700 deer to other breeding facilities, release sites, and deer management permit sites.

Despite the best efforts for testing, CWD has proved to be impossible to contain and threatens a 4 billion-dollar hunting economy. In a recent article published by the Wildlife Society, Texas spends the most of any other state in trying to manage this disease, over 2 million annually. Where do these dollars come from? Hunters. How do the 700,000 deer hunters benefit from deer breeding?

When a public resource is propagated and transported for private gain, how are the costs and benefits measured? Who bears the risks and reaps the rewards? How much risk is the Department willing to gamble with our deer herds, deer hunters, landowners, and our hunting economy?

For this reason, I urge you to take further steps to prevent the movement of breeder deer to prevent the inadvertent spread of CWD. Thank you for this opportunity.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Matt.

Roy, then Rodney, then Jason Chancey.

Hello, Roy.

MR. ROY LESLIE: Hello, hello. My name's Roy Leslie and you can probably guess that I'm completely in agreement on the rule changes. I'm a low-fence, no-lease landowner in far northwest Kendall County. I have no official credentials, other than more than 70 years in the pasture and being the only self-ordained certified nonbiologist in the room. I represent myself, my family, and a good size chunk of 350 people who signed the emergency petition.

I've campaigned for visible ID, neighborhood -- neighbor notification and complete containment of breeder deer since August of 2015. With all my open records requests and testimony, I could credibly have Chat GP 10W40 craft my presentation today, but you're stuck with me in person.

In Exhibit A of Item 8 of the preamble, several options were considered. One was to do nothing, one was do less testing, one was to do more testing, and one was to prohibit the movement of breeder deer. Doing nothing and less testing were rejected because they did not conform to the Department's, quote, statutory duty to protect and conserve the wildlife resources of the state. Stopping all movement was rejected because -- and I quote -- that would deprive deer breeders the ability to engage in the business of buying and selling breeder deer. It would place -- quote again -- an avoidable burden on deer breeders.

That aligns well with the mission statement of the Animal Health Commission. Not yours. I know you're in a difficult position. Unseen forces versus those of us openly representing the public often pull in opposite directions. You've watched political expedience take a hit in the last year from a journalism department embarrassment in June to a March pharmacy fiasco to the mysterious cancellation of your own access challenge last September. Putting politics over professionalism has cost credibility and led to cringe-worthy embarrassments.

I ask that you mentally replay your clear and concise mission statement before any decision or vote. We know how to stop the spread of CWD. We stop spreading CWD. You can choose to do more. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Roy.

Rodney, then Jason, then Kenny McCrea.

Hello, Rodney. Welcome.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: Hello. I've been a small breeder for 25 years. I'm 70 years old. I had a game plan to test so many deer a year. I couldn't afford to test them all, live test for CWD. I wanted out. I tested ten does this year. One doe -- tonsil biopsy. One doe come back suspect. They sent that same sample to the National Lab, Vet Lab. They said it was positive. I took the doe -- after Mitch Lockwood and a lot of people putting pressure on me, I killed the doe. I didn't dispose of her. I killed her.

I took her to A&M and they asked -- Dr. Hensley asked me if they could do further tests, do other samples. I said let's do anything we can to stop this disease, to help stop it. Mother nature put this disease out there. That's the way mother nature takes care of overpopulation, weak deer.

Anyway, they done the Western Blot Test on this doe. They didn't have enough evidence to call it a positive. I said the doe was never positive. The doe has never been positive.

Now your bunch have come to my house with a herd plan. You know what that is? Do any of y'all know what that is? They're going to kill my deer. Over my dead body.

I have a passion for these animals. I look out my window every morning, every evening, my grandbabies. I tell my deer, "They're not killing you." Nine of those doe were negative. A man bought two does from me in the fall. He immediately killed them. They were negative. The -- you're innocent until proven guilty. Y'all are calling my deer guilty while they're innocent. They've been tested negative.

I asked if we could release them into my high-fence. That's all I want. No.

I said, "Well, how did I get this if I have a closed herd?"

"Well, we don't know."

That's the most answer I've got from anybody from y'all's business. I've asked hundreds of questions since March and nobody is giving me a good answer. But I look at my deer every day and I tell every one of them, "You're not -- they're not killing you. They're not killing you."

I love my deer. I love my business. This isn't my business. This is passion. Now people, y'all need to get busy, take a bunch of educated deer breeders -- I'm just a danged old stupid farmer and rancher and dairyman. I've had a lot of animal health in my life. Fift -- 70 years. I was born in the dairy business. I know animal health. But y'all need to get some people with some education out here, y'all go back in that back room with them people, the same number, y'all sit down and hash this out before something happens that y'all are going to be ashamed of, we're going to be ashamed of.

I think Mr. Sid Miller mentioned the Bundy deal. Hello, people. Do y'all want that on your conscience? I wouldn't. I wouldn't. I'm not through yet.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Please, you're way over.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: I've spent 25 years and I'm justifying my deer's life.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I understand.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: I won't stay much longer. I just want y'all to hear me out.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: We've heard you. I promise you we hear you.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: No, no. This deal has got to stop. You've got to quit murdering deer that are innocent. You've got to quit. It's criminal what y'all are doing, it's unethical, and it's probably against the law. I'm not going to thank you for what y'all have done to me. No.

My deer are going to live. I want to turn them lose in my high-fence, but they won't let me because they said they might rub noses with the deer on the outside. Well, if I've had a closed herd how come -- how do they know that a wild deer didn't have it and rub noses with my pen deer and give it to them?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mr. Parrish.

MR. RODNEY PARRISH: Take care of business, boys.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Jason, then Kenny, then Micky McCrea.

Hello, Jason.

MR. JASON CHANCEY: Hello. A lot has happened since 1967. And 1994 when I was 14 years old, my dad handed my the keys to his F-150 pickup truck. I had permission to drive 20 miles to Effie Mae Martin's house and take care of her lawn. As part of my payment, she owned several thousand acres and I got to pick a parcel of land within that thousand of acres that I got to create as my own deer lease.

As I was driving my dad's truck as a 14-year-old to that deer lease and I passed highway patrol, they'd wave at me, my head barely poking over the top of the steering wheel. Since my dad was a game warden for Jack County, I guess they trusted his judgment that I could handle the responsibility. I never disappointed him in that trust.

In 1996, he introduced me to a local scientific breeder whose pens he had just inspected. When my dad vouched for my work ethic and desire to learn more about the White-tailed deer, the breeder offered me a job. Over the next six years, I learned a lot and grew more and more infatuated with White-tailed deer.

When I graduated college, that same deer breeder offered me a partnership with him; but I declined. At the time, all I had to offer him was a strong back and weak mind. Fifteen years later in 2017, that same breeder and I had a conversation and he asked me if I was ready to become a scientific breeder. After many late night discussions with my wife, we decided to sell our home, cash out our equity, and purchase a parcel of land just outside of Waco and start our own scientific breeding deer business. Little did I know how much had changed and how much was going to change over the course of the next five years.

The restrictions placed on the scientific breeders is suffocating. My father died in June of 2018; but after showing him my long-term business plan and him hearing the determination in my voice, one of the last things he said was "You just might make this work."

My father was not overly conservative in his politics; but I can assure you, he'd be rolling over in his grave at the burdensome rules and regulations placed on just one segment for the stakeholders for the White-tailed deer in the State of Texas. Rules and regulations shouldn't be selectively applied for political gain. With an infection rate of one in though -- or 5,000 according to Dr. Reed's slide show from TTHA on Sunday, I don't see how that qualifies as catastrophic, especially paired with the fact Parks and Wildlife only has one confirmed death of a White-tailed deer in Texas caused by CWD.

It's time to let us do what we do and that is breed scientifically. If CWD turns out to be a big killer of deer, breeders can be the cure. Dr. Chris Seabury has plenty of research already leading the way in his endeavor and many scientific breeders, including myself, have already started breeding for resistance. My scientific breeding operation is a family affair. My wife and three young kids are stewards of our land and our deer and hope to have it pay for their college in the future.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your time and attention and I want to thank the game wardens that are in attendance for their sacrifice to the service for the people of Texas and our native species. I know the sacrifices that you make, as well as your families. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Kenny, then Micky, then Tory or Jory -- I can't tell -- Rector.

Hello, Kenny.

MR. KENNY MCCREA: Hey. Kenny McCrea. I'm a landowner in Tom Green County/Irion County, a rancher, an avid hunter, and a wildlife manager. I'm coming at this at a little different perspective, guys. I am not a deer breeder. I don't own high-fence property. I've been rancher, a wildlife manager, an outfitter for the last 35 years and I've seen lots of good things in the State of Texas. We are the best place in this country to come and hunt White-tailed deer hands down.

I do work with the different operators. Over the years now, I have learned more and more and more about the breeding -- the business of the deer breeders and what it does and how it benefits us, us being non-deer breeders/hunters in the State of Texas. And, you know, I've seen -- I have personally seen two or three cases of EHD and I've seen how it's wiped out complete herds. I do helicopter surveys and manage off and on at different times in my career up to 200, 250,000 acres, mostly in West Central Texas. And I keep up with all the data. I'm a data's guy. I'm a numbers guy. And frankly, the numbers that I'm seeing on this whole deal just doesn't pan out and that's been beat today. Y'all know what those numbers are. There's no sense in me repeating them. So it doesn't make a lot of sense to me there.

I've also been involved in two cases of anthrax. One with my livestock, which happens to be sheep. So I'm very schooled on scrapie and anthrax and how that affects my livestock because that's part of my livelihood. I had it livestock and I've seen it in White-tailed deer and saw how it wiped out deer. I haven't seen -- in 35 years, I haven't seen one single case of CWD. I like that, and I do want to keep it that way. I don't want it to spread.

I've worked hand in hand with the Parks and Wildlife Department, with their biologists and their game wardens in my area through the MLD. I have several places under MLD and we work very stringently to keep the health -- the herds healthy. The hunters that I deal with for the last 35 years come from all -- almost every state I've seen in the last 35 years that come to Texas. They come here because of the western lure and because of Texas deer just because, you know, to put it bluntly, we're a target-rich environment because we do have so many deer and we do take such good care of our deer. And some -- some of those people still believe we have cowboys and Indians. It just amazes me; but, you know, they get a kick out of that.

But anyway, guys, I'm just coming from a different perspective. I'm on the -- kind of, you can say, on the outside looking in and I think there is some things happening to these guys that just doesn't seem fair. So I know you guys are hearing a lot and I'm asking that you would listen to the numbers. Like I say, I'm a number's guy and it just doesn't pan out. You know, it's not -- someone mentioned COVID-19. You know, COVID-19 was a bad thing and people died. But number-wise, this doesn't even -- it's not -- this is just a blimp[sic] on the -- on the screen compared to the numbers that COVID was. I want our deer to be healthy. I know you guys want our deer healthy.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kenny.

MR. KENNY MCCREA: We're all Texans. Someone mentioned, you know, Texans are behind you and we care about our deer. We're all Texans, guys. These guys that are deer breeders, those of us that are low-fence operators, you guys, we're all Texans. We all have the same love for our natural resources. And I just ask that you guys would consider all the things you're hearing when you make those decisions. Thank you.


Micky, Tory or Jory -- I can't tell -- Trent Barley.

If everyone will help me try to monitor the time if you see the light, please.

Hello, Micky. Welcome.

MR. MICKY MCCREA: Hello. How are you doing? Thank you for allowing us to speak today. My name is Micky McCrea. I am a landowner and a businessman, small businessman in Tom Green County. I grew up -- Kenny's my brother, by the way. We grew up in a family where our parents loved outdoors. We had the privilege of hunting and fishing in a different time with different ways, but we love -- grew to love White-tailed deer.

I want to comment on the approach to CWD that Texas Parks and Wildlife is taking. I was in San Antonio this weekend, was able to sit in on a presentation about CWD from Dr. Hunter Reed and it was very interesting. Afterwards there was a question-and-answer time and some very disturbing facts were brought to light according to what I heard and Dr. James Kroll had a question to Dr. Reed: How many documented cases of deer dying from CWD are there in Texas?

Dr. Reed, with some reservation in my opinion, said there were four Mule deer in El Paso County and one White-tail in Lubbock County and these were all free-range deer and this has apparently been over a span of about 10 to 12 years.

It's my understanding that CWD testing has been going on since about 2002. So four deer, free-range deer, how does that warrant the slaughter of over 2,700 White-tail deer in scientific deer breeding facilities by the Texas Parks and Wildlife? And about 99 percent of those that were depopulated tested negative. In my opinion, that atrocious and the people of Texas and the wildlife of Texas deserve better. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Micky.

Tory, Trent, and then Hugo.

MR. JORY RECTOR: Chairman, Commissioners, thank you guys for having us today. By the way, it's Jory with a J. But I answer to anything close.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. Thank you, Jory.

MR. JORY RECTOR: So I'm a Tom Green County landowner and I do have great concern regarding CWD and the way it's being managed. I'm a number's guy. I've gotten quite a bit of numerical data directly from the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Those numbers have been stated over and over and my calculations are consistent with what we've heard so far. Very, very small percentage of positives.

I would like to add that the CDC defines infectious rates of 5 percent as less -- or less as low risk and low concern. But we just heard that there's been over 2,700 deer killed by the Department indiscriminately. That's a far cry from protecting our Texas deer, as some of the media says that I've seen.

This has got to stop. This is wrecking businesses, killing deer. It's crazy. It's got to stop. We've got all kinds of studies showing genetic resistance. We've got other studies showing that copper and zinc could be the cure. Who knows, but we could find that out. I'd like to ask for expansion on that. It's sad that we're doing this over a less than 1 percent positive rate. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jory.

Trent, then Hugo, then John Kinsey.

MR. TRENT BARLEY: Hi. How y'all doing today? My name is Trent Barley. I'm a permitted scientific deer breeder in McCulloch County. I got to tell you, I absolutely love being a deer breeder. I love going in and seeing my deer every day. They love coming in and seeing me. You know, I love putting together the pedigrees and matching up how they come out and then seeing the kids and the offspring grow and then watching what you created grow.

I got to tell you, for my herd, I am all in on Dr. Seabury's research. I think if you use us deer breeders a tool, we will be able to combat and fight this deadly disease and, you know, it's the same thing we've done with cow, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, et cetera.

I've got to ask: How are you going to combat CWD in the wild? Will nongenetic DMP pens accomplish this? I don't believe so. Will MLD accomplish this? I'm not so sure. What is the cure? What is the end goal?

I can tell you. As a deer breeder, I believe we are the cure and I think you should kind of reduce some of the rules and regulations on us because it's very much very burdensome. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Trent.

Hugo, then John, then Kelly Langdon.

Hello, Hugo. Welcome.

MR. HUGO BERLANGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, Commission members, Dr. Yoskowitz, my name is Hugo Berlanga and I'm a former member of the Texas Legislature. I spent 20 years there, chaired numerous committees. And I couldn't agree more with the letter that was provided by Chairman Perry to this Commission and to the Governor's Office.

There's no doubt in my mind that this Commission has circumvented, in my opinion, through emergency rules 13 times since 2019. The transparency, the lack of public input is going out the window. Now some of the rules that you're proposing that you're going to take up tomorrow happen to deal with the identification of free-ranging deer.

Here's a letter in 2019. In working through Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Deer Association, Texas Wildlife Association, the Director of the Wildlife Society, and the Texas Breeder Co-op came to an agreement on what was put into statute and what you're proposing is to undo and you're providing and creating law that the Legislature has not given you that authority. That's bothersome. That's bothersome. And I think you need to look at that very carefully and you have an opportunity to undo that tomorrow if you want.

I checked with two other parliamentarians, former parliamentarians, and asked them can -- can a state agency rewrite what's in the statute? There was a reason why it was put on the statute. Because I don't have to tell you that it's always been a contentious issue dealing with identification on those deer and we did it in the statute so that it would take cooperation not only from Parks and Wildlife, but all the various stakeholders to agree to any changes. And you're undoing that. You're undoing that on your proposal for this coming -- for tomorrow. And it's unfortunate.

And if there's really a problem with CWD, Wisconsin had the foresight to bring Texans to Wisconsin after they had spent 35 million trying to figure out what to do with CWD. From Texas Dr. James Kroll. Why have we not taken our resources and put together a comprehensive plan and to look at the big picture?

Now if the end game is to do away with deer breeders, you're doing a great job because we're down to 700 down from a high of over 2,000 and a 2 billion-dollar industry that is being completely annihilated by overregulation and overregulation. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Hugo.

John, then Kelly, then Hillary Lilly.

Hello, John.

MR. JOHN KINSEY: Good evening, Chairman Aplin, Vice-Chairman Scott, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. My name is John Kinsey. I'm a certified wildlife biologist and past President of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. I have over a decade of experience, professional experience in wildlife, nine of which were as a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Today I speak as a licensed informed hunter and the father of two future Texas hunters and license holders.

I express my gratitude to the Parks and Wildlife staff for all their hard work in protecting our natural resources by providing timely science-based recommendations. I thank the Commission for making the correct and difficult decisions regarding CWD monitoring and management in Texas, most recently with your informed decisions pertaining to the increased prevalence of CWD in captive facilities throughout the state. I recognize and appreciate that the Department considers the triple bottom line when addressing wide-reaching issues such as CWD.

The results of the most recent human dimensions, economic, and scientific studies available clearly indicate that the best action for all three components of that triple bottom line regarding the state's White-tailed deer and White-tailed deer hunting is to eliminate all anthropogenic movement of CWD susceptible species outside of those instances with clear, science-based, ecological need conducted under strict protocols with ample monitoring, i.e. research and restoration.

I'm in support of the actions proposed by TPWD staff earlier today and plead to you stop allowing live animals to be translocated without having a true ecological or scientific need to do so, so that my daughters and I, along with every other hunter, may continue to pass our hunting traditions on for generations. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.

Kelly, then Hillary, then Wade Venable.

How are you?

MR. KELLY LANGDON: Good afternoon. My name's Kelly Langdon. I'm kind of an outsider looking in. I've got friends that are on Texas Parks and Wildlife, and then I've got friends that are deer breeders too. I'm personally not a deer breeder, but my family's got about a 1,500-acre ranch in Hood and Johnson County that we recently made the decision to put into a conservation easement. So I do consider myself a conservationist.

And just looking from the outside in, I -- you know, it does seem like some of the rules are biased against some of the deer breeders. And, I mean, nobody knows what the solution is. I don't -- I don't envy any of you guys. It seems like half the people here are wanting to give you a high-five and the other half are wanting to strangle you and your job -- it's not an easy job and I commend you for the job that you have done and Texas Parks and Wildlife for the history of Texas, has done an excellent job and I commend you for doing that.

But just moving forward, just look at the facts and the science. Make your decisions based on that and maybe look outside the box, maybe that deer breeders might be an asset rather than a liability. Thank you for your time today.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kelly.

Hillary, then Wade, then Doug Winn.


MS. HILLARY LILLY: Hi, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Hillary Lilly and I'm the External Affairs Director for the Texas Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. I'm here today to share our support for the adoptions of Item 6 and 8 on today's -- from today's agenda.

The Nature Conservancy's mission is to conserve the lands and waters that all life depends on. Since 1964, TNC's Texas Chapter has worked to conserve nearly 1 million acres of land and more than 200 miles rivers and streams in the state. Across our 37 nature preserves and more than 160 conservation easements, we provide habitat for nearly 900 animal species, including native Texas deer.

The establishment of the proposed containment zones, as well as the additional surveillance requirements, are huge steps in the right direction to protect the biodiversity in our state. In addition, we would like to commend the Commission for the emergency rules filed last month requiring antemortem testing of deer prior to transfer and the prohibition of identification removal. TNC feels strongly that these measures will positively impact the state's native deer population and they support our mission of protecting biodiversity in Texas. Thank you for the opportunity.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Hillary.

Wade, Doug, then JD Verfurth.

Hello, Wade. Welcome.

MR. WADE VENABLE: Ma'am, gentlemen. My name is Wade Venable. I'm a ranch manager and a deer breeder in Parker County. I speak to you today as a college graduate with a degree in wildlife and ecological sciences from Tarleton State University, class of 2015, a degree and a lifestyle I have dreamt of since I was a 15-year-old boy.

I didn't want to be a doctor. I didn't want to be a lawyer. I didn't want to be an engineer, as much as my parents wished I would have. As I stand here today as a 30-year-old young man, I can say I live the dream that I dreamt of as a 15-year-old boy and sometimes I often exceed that dream because I manage and own my own animals. It's not just my dream. It's the dream as the -- that I see in the eyes of the younger generations below me. It's the young hunters and outdoorsmen that visit our ranches, the young and the old employees we hire, the fresh out of college kids that we give their first step into their career. It's the intern that we bring in and teach the husbandry of our animals and how to love and care for the animals as we do. It is also the 15-year-old that dreamt as I dreamt and it also is the younger kids like my five-year-old daughter that runs down to our barn every day to look at our bottle babies, young and old.

The reason I bring up my dreams and the dreams of those in our industry and my educational background is because I still believe in the value of the scientific research that I was taught in pursuit of my wildlife education and in the scientific purpose of conservation research to wildlife ecology in both the public and private sectors.

However, as a member of the Texas deer breeding, I personally see the blatant disregard for any new academic research being done and even considered when it comes to CWD. We are getting regulations and rules placed upon us with no scientific backing and rules -- and reasoning for a lot of these rules are based on control through a fear of a disease and implemented with no prevail.

I would like to ask why there is not a cohesive effort by Parks and Wildlife and the deer breeders alike to find a way to come together on a common ground and put the research and scientific backing behind the disease and its prevention.

It's here. It's been here in both our native and captive deer. CWD will always be here and it has been in the states that we see CWD in today -- let me find my spot -- and I ask that we come together and just find a cohesive togetherness to find a prevention for this disease behind scientific backing and academic research and not fear-based advertising essentially killing the vessels that may or may not harbor the disease. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Wade.

Doug, JD, and then Kendall Walker.

Hello, Doug. Welcome.

MR. DOUG WINN: Good afternoon. My name is Doug Winn. I'm a small business owner. I'm a deer breeder, husband, outfitter, grandfather, dad. We've got a small ranch in Parker County. Been there 30 years. We high-fenced back in 2007 to improve our hunting and, of course, in 2013 we decided to go into the deer breeding business to help improve our genetics.

I've seen a lot of changes since we've started way back when. Some good. Some not so good. We started this business for our family, which are all involved in every aspect, for the love of the White-tails. It is not only a hobby, but is also a way of life which lets -- helps support our family, as well as others involved in the farming and ranching industry. We've invested our time, our money, our blood, sweat, and tears into these animals.

Now Parks and Wildlife is pushing this CWD scare tactic. I now get questions asked from different hunters, different people across the state that I run into: Is the meat safe to eat?

I mean, we're basically running people away from hunting, not just breeders. This scare tactic is hurting deer breeders, but it's also going to turn people away from hunting altogether and I don't think that's what y'all want; but please show me evidence where this disease has decimated any White-tail herds across Texas, across the whole entire nation.

So deer breeders are one of the few I think that can help with the studies and hopefully the curing of the spread of CWD. With all the new rules and regulations y'all keep imposing, you're killing this industry and costing deer breeders their livelihoods, as well as others in the hunting industry. I appreciate y'all's time. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Doug.

JD, then Kendall Walker, then Breanne Boyd.

Hello, JD. Welcome.

MR. JD VERFURTH: Good afternoon Commissioner. How are you today?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Fine. Thank you.

MR. JD VERFURTH: I'm going to make this short and sweet. My name is JD Verfurth, Tom Green County. I am a White-tail deer breeder. I have -- just going to repeat what everything else -- everyone else has said today. We're just really beside ourselves regarding this whole new emergency ruling for tomorrow's discussion.

So over the last 11 years, we have made no progress and the disease as presented to the masses as having a catastrophic affect on White-tail herds in Texas and sometimes that, we deem almost fatal. As of Sunday at the TTHA meeting, there has been one confirmed case in the White-tail and four confirmed cases in Mule deer to have actually died from CWD.

The validity of these deaths were questioned. If they were -- if there are 252 positives out of the suspected species in Texas in the last 11 years, the first positive that is a catastrophic problem, we should probably get a fresh set of eyes on this issue. We have a new chairperson. Since we are starting fresh there and it looks like THAC is getting a new director -- let's start with some fresh slate for the Director, the TPWD, the breeding program, administration, the CWD Task Force, the White-tail Advisory Board -- thank y'all.


Kendall, Breanne Boyd, and then Merrick Irvin.

Kendall Walker here?

Breanne Boyd, then Merrick Irvin, then Jerome Linyear.

MS. BREANNE BOYD: Good afternoon --


MS. BREANNE BOYD: -- Chairman and Commissioners and Dr. Yoskowitz. My name is Breanne Boyd and I represent the workforce of the Texas deer industry. I currently work at the G2 Ranch in Pearsall, Texas, and I love my job. I've been working with deer since 2006 and couldn't have imagined a more rewarding career.

My passion for White-tail breeding began in college when I was offered an internship at a ranch outside of College Station. I was to help bottle feed fawns and help with daily ranch chores. I didn't know much about animal husbandry, as I grew up in San Antonio and had never had the opportunity to raise anything except a dog. I don't have family land, and I don't have the money to buy land. This internship was a spark that ignited my love for ranching.

I took my experience and passion to the next level when I became a deer pen manager at a beautiful ranch in the Texas Hill Country. I credit this ranch for my maturity into adulthood. I worked there in my 20s and learned things such as how to drive a skid-steer, deliver a baby fawn, talk to hunters and business professionals. I grew from a timid, shy girl to a confident and eager young woman.

As for the deer and animals I love I work with every day, they have a target on their backs. Even if you follow the rules, comply with state regulations, and have clean and organized records, you are not safe. What is the point of being a certified herd? Why do we work towards that? Why are there so many -- why are there so many thriving, healthy deer dying when live testing -- live testing is available?

There's so much bloodshed and waste. I'm going to address the elephant in the room and ask: Where is the testing data done on the King Ranch? Does the King Ranch test for CWD? Why are some high-fence ranches allowed to only test 20 percent of their yearling bucks? The odds of them having a CWD is low because the disease is progressive. The data of CWD testing in the wild is manipulated and misleading and this needs to stop.

If CWD is such a threat to our beloved White-tail, we need to work together and stop feuding. It's ridiculous. If GEB scoring and breeding for CWD resistance is the answer, then we need to pool our resources together in that direction. High-fenced deer breeders are not the problem. They very well might be the answer. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Breanne.

Merrick Irvin, Jerome Linyear, Nash Murray.

MR. MERRICK IRVIN: Chairman Hildebrand, Commissioners -- I'm sorry. Not Hildebrand. Sorry. Chairman Aplin. My name is Merrick Irvin and I'm joining you in scrubs today as I just drove in from College Station -- I guess not just, a few hours ago -- drove in from College Station where I'm a first-year veterinary student at Texas A&M University. I skipped my classes today because I felt compelled to be here. I originally did not plan to come, but -- because I felt my words would fall on deaf ears, but I'm hoping that won't be the case.

All my life and certainly all my family's life stretching several generations, we have been avid outdoorsmen, hunters, and wildlife management specialists. With our affinity for animal husbandry and wildlife management, my family started raising White-tailed deer in 2008. I have to say I'm blessed to be brought up in this world and it has fostered my development to the young man I am today and helped me achieve my education in animal science and now veterinary medicine.

Deer breeders have been on the forefront of tracking and monitoring CWD, including our own herd, even before Texas Parks and Wildlife mandated us to do so. However, while being on the forefront of tracking and monitoring and testing, we are labeled by our fellow hunters as public enemy number one. That hurts. We have been proactive and understanding as the rules have become more restrictive. We have worked diligently to prevent and understand this disease with y'all; but with only around 550 breeder operations left, making up just under 80,000 total head of deer out of the 5.3 million total deer population in Texas, it seems unclear what the result of increased testing will do for less than 2 percent of the total population if it's already effectively at 100 percent testing.

Should we not be monitoring a wild -- the wild population to a similar degree if it is so concerning?

The rules and reactions to this disease has ostracized groups of hunters that contribute to the overall hunting industry, further cause undue stress and pain to the deer that have never been affected by the disease, and has caused unnecessary division and hate based on the height of a fence. We ask that you think negative image, the harm and the persecution this Department has painted on an industry that cares deeply about the animals we raise. Let's move forward together based on sound science and cooperation and our common interests, the Texas White-tailed deer population. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Merrick. By the way, I don't recommend skipping class, but...

Jerome. Jerome and then Nash and then Mia Bonin next.

Hello. Welcome, Jerome.

MR. JEROME LINYEAR: Thank you so much, sir. Good afternoon. My name is Jerome Linyear. I'm also fellow class-skipper from Texas A&M, I will admit. I am a master's student studying animal science at Texas A&M University. In particular, I focus on ruminant animal nutrition. Last summer I had the privilege of interning with a deer breeding operation. Something I never thought that I would have the privilege to do.

During those three months, not only did I learn how much skill and care that it takes to raise these magnificent animals, but also the amount of passion it takes to withstand the many challenges that come along with it. That said, I want only to see the deer breeding industry grow and prosper.

Deer hunting is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and satisfying past times and the families that raise these magnificent animals for our harvest must deserve our utmost respect and admiration. However, I can't imagine that these new regulations that require abundance of time, labor, and capital to comply with will allow for the growth of the industry or the prosperity of the breeders. I understand that disease prevention is critical to the animal and human population alike, but a lot of these new regulations do not seem to do anything but make it more difficult for breeders not only to afford to raise these animals, but to market their product to their consumers. In both cases, they lose money.

A couple of questions that need to be objectively answered are: Will the enforcement of these new regulations allow for the growth and prosperity of the deer breeding profession or will it result in even more breeders going out of business and being unable to sustain the legacy that some have spent generations forging for themselves and their family names? Additionally, how will these required procedures impact the well-being of the animals themselves, particularly regarding their stress levels? Will an increase in complex testing procedures result in stress levels of these animals increasing or decreasing?

In any case, I must reiterate that these procedures are incredibly stressful to the financial well-being of these producers. Before last year, I had never truly experienced deer hunting. But after the privilege of hunting one of these deer ranches, I now look forward to the opening of deer season every single year and fully intend to indulge in the joys of White-tail hunting for decades to come.

I hope we can all come together and answer these questions from a logical, science-based, and objective angle and not let politics get in the way of progress. Thank you-all for letting me speak.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jerome. Good job.

Nash Murray, Mia Bonin, Lavonne Berdoll.

MR. NASH MURRAY: Respected members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, my name is Nash Murray. I come before you today to address two matters of significance that warrant your consideration. Firstly, I emphasize the critical need to reinstate democratic processes and entrust our elected Legislators with the governance of deer breeders. The imposition of post-legislative emergency rules by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department poses challenges to our effective contribution to wildlife conservation.

A collaborative approach is imperative. One that upholds the authority of our elected representatives and ensures our voice and decisions that deeply impact our sector.

Secondly, I urge you to acknowledge the substantial potential within the deer breeding community to combat the threat of CWD and safeguard our invaluable natural resources. The looming specter of CWD underscores the urgency, while the capacity of deer breeders to develop CWD resistance white deal -- White-tailed deer exists. A partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and deer breeders holds the promise of solutions aligned with the Agency's mission to conserve wildlife and protect habitats.

Should CWD continue on its current trajectory, we stand ready and committed to channel our expertise and resources towards addressing this -- these pressing challenges.

In closing, I respectfully implore the esteemed Commissioners to reflect upon these pivotal matters: The restoration of democratic principles fosters enhanced collaboration and communication, augmenting the fabric of wildlife conservation. Furthermore, harnessing the capabilities of deer breeders in the fight against CWD offers a path to safeguarding our national heritage for generations to come. Your time and thoughtful consideration are deeply appreciated. Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Nash.

Mia, Lavonne.

Is there anyone else in the audience that wishes to speak to the Commission that has not filled out a tag?

Because, Mia, you're next to last and then Lavonne's next. But I want to make sure if anyone has been inadvertently skipped, please just let us know.

Okay, Mia, you've got floor.

MS. MIA BONIN: Okay. Well, good evening, Committee members and everyone else that is here in attendance for this public hearing. I'm sure you're all quite tired after a day full of meetings and now four hours of public testimony. So I'm going to give you something a lot cuter to look at than me. This is my son Cade who's 18 months old now and he is born and raised on our White-tail farm. He loves these animals. The animals love him.

I actually came and spoke here this time last year in regards to how I felt that the Department mismanaged the Chronic Wasting Disease outbreak in 2021 and I am here again to express my discontent. Now I can stand here and spit out statistic after statistic and research papers until the end of the day. You guys have heard that all day long. I'm just going to kind of skip to the emotional and personal testimony that I have to give to you and you've heard a good portion from my colleagues today. They're a lot more polite than I'm about to be.

I'm pissed and I feel that there are many within the industry that are as emotional and upset as I am. I don't necessarily speak for everybody, but can tell you we're not happy. I'm tired. We're all tired. We're tired of being polite when we're being disrespected by this Department. I'm not sure if you guys know how it feels to have your staff members laugh at us over the phone when we're trying to protect our herds. I'm tired of not being taken seriously. I'm tired of following the rules and still being punished and getting caught in the endless spiderwebs that your Department weaves. We're being told to kill more of our herd just because enough of them didn't die the year before and that just doesn't make sense. Isn't that the goal to not have them die?

How can you call yourselves purveyors of wildlife conservation with that kind of attitude?

I'm tired of feeling as though your Department has a vendetta to destroy the livelihoods of Texas deer farmers. You're creating a monopoly with low-fence native White-tail and monopolies are illegal. Watching you continue to tighten your grip on the throats of these families who depend upon these animals to provide for them, but also treat them like family. I'm tired of seeing legitimately innocent White-tail being murdered by the hundreds year after year, only to prove that the propaganda and fearmongering is illegitimate.

But it doesn't make a difference. You still give the orders to kill. I don't see the world instantly killing animals because they've been exposed to rabies or instantly killing humans because they've been exposed HIV or AIDS. You're supposed to be advocates and protectors for the native wildlife of the State of Texas and yet you've deemed yourself -- deemed yourselves the executioners and I'm just tired. We all are. And this new petition for rule-making that Dr. Reed presented this past weekend is an absolute joke.

You're funding the research on the back -- on the backs and at expense of the breeders and landowners, all the while putting them out of business just the same. This is sick, and it's twisted beyond compare. These animals deserve so much better than the current rules and regulations in place and they deserve better than you, but you are who we have. You are who's been assigned to be the purveyors. It's your time t step up and make more suitable decisions. The problem is not in our pens. It's in the untamed wild and a mother nature that you cannot control. Please be better because my son's future depends upon it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mia.

Lavonne, it's you.

MS. LAVONNE BERDOLL: Good afternoon.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: How are you? Welcome.

MS. LAVONNE BERDOLL: I'm Lavonne Berdoll. I'm from LB Whitetails over here in Bastrop County. Our family has been raising White-tailed deer as a permitted deer breeder since 1997. We've been a part of the Texas Animal Health Commission's CWD testing program since it began, testing every eligible death long before it was required. Unfortunately, that voluntary effort on our part has been completely disregarded in the current agenda here at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Even so, we continue to raise our deer in a closed, certified herd following a science-based approach to CWD management through genetic analysis. We are, like our fellow deer breeders, working to find long-term solutions before it becomes a problem. The overregulation by the Parks and Wildlife Department of deer breeding industry is causing unnecessary deaths of deer that we're supposed do be protecting.

Instead of coming here today to restate all the same facts y'all have heard each year about the deer, the good impact the deer breeding industry has in our great state, I want us all to take a moment to reevaluate our purpose. Whichever side of these issues you're on, we all share a common interest. We love the great outdoors. We care about the creatures Our Creator has entrusted to our care. Now is the time to seek guidance from that Creator, to hold each of us accountable for our actions in caring for these creatures.

So at this time, I ask that everyone listen with an open mind, an open heart for this simple prayer. Heavenly Father, Creator of all, thank you for creating this beautiful land, the great outdoors in the best state of the country, and the amazing creatures that call it home. Thank you for giving all of us the opportunity to care for these creatures, especially the White-tailed deer. We are grateful for your guidance to new research that helps us better care for these animals and pray that you will guide all of us to appreciate the effort each person in our community is making to care for these precious animals. Guide us all to work together and to never lose sight of our purpose in your greater plan. Thank you for the rain and please continue to shower us with your blessings. May your will be done. Amen. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Lavonne.

Is there anyone here today in the audience that hasn't had on opportunity to speak? I want to make sure that everybody has that -- an opportunity.

So I want to thank everybody for coming and staying -- coming early and staying late. Been a lot said, a lot of information.

It's -- you know, Commissioners, it's something to hear the absolute complete different perspective on sometimes the same topic or same subject and just the difference in perspective, if you will. And the last lady Lavonne said -- and many, many others said before -- but she said that we all have a common interest and in this particular CWD, although we've had lots of subjects today, it's the -- basically the White-tailed deer. I mean, largely the White-tail and we do all have common interests.

So I just -- I've heard that the breeders can be the solution and I do think they absolutely could provide a huge benefit in the direction and the detection and learning how to deal with this better.

And so, David and staff, I would just encourage that we try to find the common ground, the common interest because some -- there's a perception that we're not and we try to fill that -- fill that gap and use the resources of all these people that love Texas and love deer and figure out how we can work to manage, you know, this incredible, hideous disease.

And I don't begin to say that we -- that we totally bridge every discrepancy, but I feel -- or difference -- but I feel like maybe we can fill some of it and get closer and listen to that -- listen to both groups. Listen -- we've heard from ranchers, landowners, conservationists, what they've said and we've heard from the scientific breeding group. And so let's see where we can find that common interest.

It's been a long day, Commissioners. Anybody have anything else they would like to say or add before we close the meeting?

Okay. Hearing none, this Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned at 6:35 p.m. Thank you very much.

(Annual Public Hearing Adjourns)



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, 2025

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