Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances — Texas Kangaroo Rat

Texas Kangaroo Rat Candidate Conservation Agreement

A CCAA is a voluntary agreement between you, TPWD, and USFWS that incorporates certain conservation measures into your Wildlife Management Plan in exchange for covering certain activities from additional regulation if TKR is designated as an endangered or threatened species. To enroll, each landowner works with a TPWD biologist to develop or tweak your management in ways that benefit TKR and support your current activities. Conservation measures and covered activities can include:

  • Potential Conservation Measures:
    • Prescribed grazing
    • Prescribed fire
    • Brush management
    • Early successional habitat
    • Disturbed edge habitat
    • Range planting/reseeding
    • Maintenance of dirt roads
    • Prairie dog colony conservation
  • Covered Activities:
    • Agrotourism
    • Agricultural Operations

In-person Meetings

  • December 5, 2023 at 6pm
    4-H Exhibit Building
    2215 Harold Street
    Vernon, Texas
  • December 6, 2023 at 6:30pm
    Southern Plains Electric Coop
    1900 Avenue C
    Childress, Texas

Potential TKR Critical Habitat

Properties in the following counties can apply for the CCAA: Montague, Clay, Wichita, Archer, Wilbarger, Baylor, Hardeman, Foard, Childress, Cottle and Motley

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Texas Kangaroo Rat (TKR)?

The Texas Kangaroo Rat is a nocturnal rodent with long hind feet, long tail and external cheek pouches. It is a four-toed kangaroo rat with a conspicuous white tuft on the tip of its long tail. It has buff-colored fur and is white underneath, and as its name implies, it hops.

What does Texas Kangaroo Rat habitat look like?

Clay loam surface soils that support support native short grasses (buffalo grass) and small to medium sized mesquite. Mesquite is not required, but TKR is often found in association with scattered mesquite shrubs and sparse, short grasses in areas underlain by clay soils. Also found along fencerows adjacent to cultivated fields/dirt roads.

What is the basic ecology of the Texas Kangaroo Rat?

Texas Kangaroo Rats burrow into soil with openings usually at base of mesquite or shrub. They are active throughout the year, nocturnal, and feed on grass seeds, insects, and annual and perennial forbs. Texas Kangaroo Rats metabolize water from foods but will drink water when available. Young are born in underground nest chambers. Texas kangaroo rat is solitary, and each individual maintains multiple burrows and/or entrances. While usually solitary, individual TKR will maintain a burrow adjacent to other TKRs in a “clustered” configuration.

In what Texas counties is the Texas Kangaroo Rat found?

Current populations are found in Childress, Cottle, Hardeman, Wilbarger, and Wichita counties. The TKR historical range includes Montague, Clay, Wichita, Archer, Wilbarger, Baylor, Hardeman, Foard, Childress, Cottle, and Motley counties. CCAA applications will be considered for any property found within the 11-county historical range.

Is the Texas Kangaroo Rat an endangered species?

The Texas Kangaroo Rat is not currently federally listed as threatened or endangered, although it was proposed for listing as endangered on August 17th, 2023. Typically, a final decision is made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in about 12 months after the listing is proposed. New enrollment in a Candidate Conversation Agreement with Assurances closes once a species is federally listed as Endangered or Threatened, but the agreement, and its terms, stay in place for those who are already enrolled. The Texas Kangaroo Rat is listed as threatened by the State of Texas.

Is there a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for Texas Kangaroo Rat.

Yes, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) secured a Programmatic CCAA in 2022 for conservation of the Texas Kangaroo Rat. This means that TPWD holds the permit and has the authority to enroll landowners into the umbrella agreement via a Certificate of Inclusion (CI). Properties in the 11-county historical range may be eligible for enrollment in the TKR CCAA.

What is a CCAA?

A CCAA is a voluntary agreement between the USFWS and a non-federal entity (TPWD in this case, who then enrolls landowners through a Cooperative Agreement). The CCAA provides a net conservation benefit to a candidate or proposed species (TKR in this case) through implementation of specific conservation measures. The CCAA also provides regulatory assurances (for covered practices) to participating landowners that no further land, water, or resource-use restrictions will be required beyond those agreed to in the Cooperative Agreement. TPWD utilizes Wildlife Management Plans (WMP) tailored to provide benefits for the TKR as the Cooperative Agreement under this CCAA. Joining the CCAA authorizes incidental take should the species become listed. For further information, visit Candidate Conservation Agreements Fact Sheet (

What is the goal of a CCAA?

The objective of a CCAA is to work together with landowners under voluntary agreements to enhance habitat and populations of species that are candidates or proposed for listing, but not yet listed as endangered or threatened.

Who is eligible to enroll in the CCAA?

Any property within the historical 11-county historic range can apply for enrollment. Properties may be given higher priority, however, if they are within or near a known TKR population center.

What is a candidate species?

These are species for which the USFWS has enough information regarding their biological status and threats to propose them as threatened or endangered, but listing is currently precluded by higher priority listing activities.

What is incidental take?

Under the ESA, “take” of endangered and threatened species is prohibited without special exemption. Take is defined as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in an such conduct. This can include destroying habitat or removing other elements from the landscape that are necessary for the survival of a protected species. Incidental take is take that is incidental to, but not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. Although it may be unintentional, incidental take is still a violation of the Endangered Species Act and can result in legal action if not authorized under an agreement like a CCAA.

What are the recommended Conservation Measures for the Texas Kangaroo Rat?

The landowner and TPWD work together to develop a WMP that includes elements of the following practices:

  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Prescribed Fire
  • Brush Management
  • Early Successional Habitat Maintenance/Development
  • Disturbed Edge Habitat
  • Range Planting/Reseeding
  • Maintenance of Dirt Roads
  • Prairie Dog Colony Conservation

What are the Covered Activities for the Texas Kangaroo Rat?

Covered activities are those activities that could result in incidental take of an endangered species but are allowed under the CCAA agreement. More detailed descriptions of the covered activities for TKR are available in the full CCAA agreement. The TKR CCAA allows for the following covered activities:

  • Normal Agricultural Operations
  • Agritourism

How does a landowner enroll in this TPWD programmatic CCAA?

  1. The landowner reaches out to the local TPWD biologist to express interest.
  2. TPWD will do an initial assessment of the property to determine potential for TKR habitat.
  3. If the property has the potential to provide habitat for TKR or has a current TKR population, the TPWD biologist will work with the landowner to schedule a site visit.
  4. During the site visit, the landowner and TPWD biologist will review the terms of the CCAA and discuss the development of a WMP*.
  5. After the site visit, the landowner and TPWD biologist will review and finalize the WMP, delineate areas of potential TKR habitat, and complete CCAA enrollment forms.
  6. Confidential drafts of all documents are sent to the regional USFWS office for review and comment.
  7. Final documents are sent to the TPWD District Biologist, and then to the TPWD Conservation Initiatives Specialist for signatures.
  8. After completion, the landowner is provided with a Certificate of Inclusion (CI).

* The CCAA WMP can be a modified version of a WMP already in place with TPWD if it meets the criteria for conservation actions.

Does enrollment in the TKR CCAA require access to my land?

To monitor populations of Texas Kangaroo Rats, TPWD biologists will visit each enrolled property a minimum of three times during the length of enrollment period. Visits will occur at a mutually agreed upon time within 30 days’ notice by TPWD. Visits ideally occur at the beginning of enrollment, at some interim period during the enrollment, and near the end of the enrollment period.

What other responsibilities does the landowner have for monitoring and reporting?

Landowners will self-report their conservation measures and provide photos from two pre-selected photo points as visual evidence of conservation practices.

Will TPWD be doing any other monitoring work for TKR that is not on private property?

To monitor populations of Texas Kangaroo Rats, TPWD biologists will conduct on site nighttime spotlight surveys along unpaved public roadways for Texas Kangaroo Rats every other year.

Does enrollment in the TKR CCAA mean that information about my land and activities is given to the federal government?

Enrollment in the TKR CCAA requires that landowners share information with TPWD about conservation practices for the development of the WMP. Because the USFWS is a signatory to the CCAA, it is important that they review the WMP to ensure it will provide a net conservation benefit for the species (although names and addresses are redacted). Additionally, the enrolled landowner will provide annual reports on conservation measures to TPWD during the agreement period. However, TPWD takes landowner confidentially seriously, and removes participant names and addresses from annual reports sent to the USFWS. TPWD will grant USFWS viewing access to a password protected parcel database to conduct assessments on the species status, but names and addressed are redacted and TPWD does not allow anyone to download, possess, or distribute information from this database.

Will the terms of the CCAA change if the species is listed as Threatened or Endangered?

No, the terms of a CCAA cannot be changed for the duration of the agreement unless all parties agree to an amendment. Additionally, the USFWS will not require any additional conservation measures be implemented for existing Wildlife Management Plans (WMP) and signed Certificate of Inclusions (CI) that are in place and being implemented as agreed upon, without landowner consent. These assurances are often referred to as ‘no surprises’ or ‘regulatory certainty’.

Can a landowner still enroll if the species is listed by the USFWS as Threatened or Endangered?

No, and this situation leads to some urgency for interested parties since the window of enrollment is likely to close in about 12 months (~August 2024).

After becoming enrolled can a landowner leave the CCAA before the end date of the agreement?

Yes, agreements are voluntary and can be terminated at any time. However, any assurances offered under the agreement are removed once the agreement is terminated. TPWD can also terminate this agreement if the landowner is non-compliant with the terms of the agreement.

When does the current CCAA for the Texas Kangaroo Rat expire?

August 2032, which is ten years from the initial agreement date.

Can the CCAA be renewed?

Yes. Even if the species is listed, the CCAA can be renewed if all parties agree.

Does joining a CCAA affect land value?

Because a CCAA is a voluntary agreement with an expiration date, and the opportunity to opt out at any time, joining a CCAA would not be expected to impact on land values.

If the property is sold, is the new owner automatically enrolled in the CCAA?

The new landowner will have the opportunity to continue enrollment in the CCAA with all the assurance that it provides but they are not required to enroll.

Who should I reach out to with questions about the CCAA?

Your regional biologist is your best resource: TPWD: Find a Wildlife Biologist (
The Conservation Initiatives Specialist is a resource on CCAAs:
The TPWD Mammalogist is a resource on TKR ecology: