Proposed Amendment to Deer Management Permit Rules

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CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE MANAGEMENT

DEER MANAGEMENT PERMIT RULES

PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to 31 TAC §65.133, concerning General Provisions. Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter R, authorizes the department to issue a permit for the temporary detention of white-tailed deer for the purpose of propagation, known as the Deer Management Permit (DMP). The proposed amendment is intended to eliminate the risk of exposure to chronic wasting disease (CWD) for deer in deer breeding facilities as a result of breeder bucks returning from DMP facilities. Current permit rules allow a buck deer held under a deer breeder permit to be introduced to a DMP pen and then returned to a deer breeding facility prior to the release of deer from the DMP pen, if approved under a deer management plan. The proposed amendment would eliminate those provisions authorizing the return of buck breeder deer from DMP pens.

        The proposed amendment is in response to the threat of possible exposure to chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects some cervid species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, red deer, sika, and their hybrids (referred to collectively as susceptible species). It is classified as a TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy), a family of diseases that includes scrapie (found in sheep), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, found in cattle and commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease"), and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans. CWD can be transmitted both directly (through animal-to-animal contact) and indirectly (through environmental contamination). CWD has been detected in multiple locations in Texas, primarily in deer breeding facilities. The department, along with the Texas Animal Health Commission, has been engaged in a long-term battle to detect and contain CWD. If CWD is not contained and controlled, the implications of the disease for Texas and its multi-billion dollar ranching, hunting, wildlife management, and real estate economies could be significant.

2. Fiscal Note.

        Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rule as proposed is in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of administering or enforcing the rule.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

        Mr. Lockwood also has determined that for each of the first five years that the rule as proposed is in effect:

        (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rule will be the protection of indigenous wildlife resources for public use and enjoyment.

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

        The department has determined that the proposed rule will not result in direct adverse impacts on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities because the proposed rule regulates various aspects of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest public wildlife resources in this state and therefore does not directly affect small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. Therefore, neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

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

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

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

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

        (1) neither create nor eliminate a government program;

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

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

        (4) not affect the amount of any fee;

        (5) not create a new regulation;

        (6) will limit a regulation (by removing the opportunity for breeder bucks to be returned from DMP pens), but will not otherwise expand or repeal a regulation;

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

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

4. Request for Public Comment.

        Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Mitch Lockwood at (830) 792-9677, e-mail: mitch.lockwood@tpwd.texas.gov. Comments also may be submitted via the department’s website at http://www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/.

5. Statutory Authority.

        The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter Subchapter R, which authorizes the commission to establish the conditions of a deer management permit, including the number, type, and length of time that white-tailed deer may be temporarily detained in an enclosure.

        The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter R.

6. Rule Text.

        §65.133. General Provisions.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Any[Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, any] deer introduced into a pen containing deer detained under a DMP become free-ranging deer and must be released according to the provisions of §65.136 of this title (relating to Release of Deer).

                 (c) If approved under the deer management plan, [buck] deer held under the provisions of Subchapter T of this chapter (relating to Deer Breeder Permits) may be introduced into a pen containing deer detained under a DMP. Such deer may not be recaptured and must be [; however, any such deer within the pen when deer are] released with all other deer required to be released under the provisions of §65.136 of this title to become free-ranging deer.

                 (d) -  (g) (No change.)

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

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on

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