|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-02-02                                    |
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   SEARCH: public comment

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Feb. 2, 2004
New Fishing Stamp Triggers Need To Revamp Licenses
AUSTIN, Texas – The creation of a new freshwater fishing stamp by the last Texas Legislature was designed to defray costs of fish hatchery construction and repair, but it also created an opportunity for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to revamp its licensing structure to better serve anglers' needs.
Agency officials have been wrestling with ways to incorporate the new stamp into the mix of existing fishing and hunting licenses while maintaining a "user pay, user benefit" philosophy of not charging customers for services they don't utilize. A set of proposed changes were unveiled Jan. 28 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Finance Committee that include new license options and revisions to existing licenses. The recommendations will be up for public comment and the Commission is expected to make a final decision at its April 8 meeting. Any changes would take effect Sept. 1.
The freshwater fishing stamp carries a $5 price tag and is expected to generate about $4.5 million annually. The temporary stamp would be required to fish in Texas fresh water beginning this fall for the next 10 years. TPWD plans to earmark a portion of the revenue from the stamp toward relocation of the aging Jasper Fish Hatchery. By statute, revenue from the stamp can only be used for the purchase of game fish for stocking in public waters such as the state's winter trout stocking program. Another provision of the law eliminates the freshwater trout stamp and the special muzzleloader stamp.
According to the new proposed licensing structure, anglers could choose from several fishing packages: a freshwater fishing license ($28 for residents, $55 for non-residents), a saltwater fishing license ($33 for residents, $60 for non-residents) or an all water fishing license good for both fresh and saltwater ($38 for residents, $65 for non-residents). All packages come with the appropriate required stamps.
Similar license packages would also be available in conjunction with hunting licenses, including a freshwater combo ($47 for residents, and $15 for seniors), a saltwater combo ($52 for residents, $20 for seniors) and all water combo ($57 for residents, $25 for seniors). The popular super combo, "one stop shop" license package would incur just the additional cost of the freshwater stamp ($64), as would the senior super combo ($30).
TPWD is also recommending changes in temporary fishing licenses, eliminating the 3-day resident, the 5-day non-resident and the 14-day temporary and replacing them with a 1-day temporary with an option to buy additional daily privileges at the time of purchase. A 1-day resident license would sell for $13 for freshwater, $18 for saltwater and $23 for all water privileges. Non-residents could purchase a 1-day license for freshwater for $20, for saltwater ($25) or for all water ($30). Residents could purchase subsequent days for $2 each and non-residents for $5 each.
TPWD is proposing a summer's end license valid for the months of July and August. The freshwater version would cost $25; while the saltwater would run $30 and an all-water license $35.
The agency is also considering for convenience sake a "year-to-date," all water fishing license valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Currently, all licenses expire each year on Aug. 31. The proposed cost of this license option would be $45 and available to Texas residents only.
Comments on the proposed license changes can be made in person at public hearings to be scheduled across the state, in writing to Gene McCarty, TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744 or by e-mail (gene.mccarty@tpwd.texas.gov, Subject: Proposed Fishing License Changes).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Feb. 2, 2004
TPWD Proposing More Eastern Turkey Hunting
AUSTIN, Texas – Turkey hunters in East Texas could be looking at a month-long spring season and opportunities in additional counties beginning in 2005 if proposals by state wildlife biologists pass muster.
The recommendation by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to double the season length for eastern turkeys to 30 days with an April 1 opener marks another milestone in the state's successful effort to restore the wild turkey on suitable habitat in East Texas. Since 1987, Texas has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation and other partners to transplant from other states more than 7,000 wild, trapped eastern turkeys to the Pineywoods. Texas hunters paid the $3.5 million price tag for the project.
Since 1995 when Texas' first spring eastern turkey hunting season was opened in Red River County, TPWD has maintained a conservative approach – a 14-day season, mandatory check stations, one gobbler bag limit – to give the birds ample opportunity to establish themselves in new haunts. As turkey numbers have increased and flocks expand into new areas, the agency has steadily increased hunting opportunity by opening a spring season in 42 East Texas counties.
Other proposals offered by TPWD would add two more counties to the mix beginning in 2005, Hardin and Liberty, and expand the season to encompass all of two others, Montgomery and Tyler counties.
The recommendations were presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee at its Jan. 28 meeting. Each year, TPWD considers changes in hunting and fishing regulations to achieve resource management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities.
TPWD will be gathering public input at public meetings during February and March, and the commission will determine the final regulation changes at its April 8 meeting.
In addition to the turkey season proposals, TPWD is considering modifications to the late youth-only deer season designed to reduce confusion and increase opportunity. If approved as proposed, the changes would extend the same opportunities granted youth during the early youth-only season to the late season, including the opportunity to harvest bucks where county regulations provide that option.
Other recommendations advanced by the agency include:
--Implementation of a 4-day doe season in eight East Texas counties where the current antlerless harvest is by permit only.
--Re-establish the season framework in the Panhandle for pheasants to a 30-day season opening on Dec. 1.
--Implementation of fall season for Rio Grande turkey in Denton and Johnson counties.
--Implementation of a 14-18 inch slot limit for largemouth bass on San Augustine City Lake (San Augustine County).
--Implementation of an 18-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass and restricting angling to pole and line only for new Lake Pflugerville (Travis County), which is scheduled to open in 2005.
--Alteration of rules on community fishing lakes (statewide) to eliminate length limits for blue and channel catfish.
--Implementation of statewide regulations for white bass and white bass/striped bass hybrids on Lake O' the Pines (Camp, Marion, Morris, and Upshur counties) and Pat Mayse (Lamar County) and removal of the downstream tailrace areas from the boundary definitions for these two reservoirs.
--Creation of a boundary definition for Lake Murvaul (Panola County) to extend the 14-21 inch slot limit for largemouth bass to the downstream tailrace area.
--Modification of saltwater perch trap rules to incorporate degradable panels
--Inclusion of "star trap" as legal gear to capture crabs in Texas.
--Legalize the use of minnow traps in saltwater.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made at any upcoming public meeting or to TPWD, Attn: Robert Macdonald for wildlife issues, Paul Hammerschmidt for saltwater issues and Ken Kurzawski for freshwater issues, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, or by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Feb. 2, 2004
Feeding of Wildlife Banned In Texas State Parks
AUSTIN, Texas – Following the lead of other states and America's national parks, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted Thursday to amend state code to prohibit visitors from feeding wildlife in Texas State Parks.
The proposed state park operational rule change, which was published for public comment in the Texas Register in December and received only six comments -- four against the proposal -- is expected take effect in March in all 120 state parks.
Walt Dabney, Texas State Parks Director, told commissioners the feeding ban addresses a very real human health and safety issue and follows the lead of America's national parks and most park systems. He pointed out that the feeding of wild animals in state park campgrounds perpetuates habitat degradation, can lead to an unnatural and unhealthy increase in animal population levels, and increases the possibility of the transmission of diseases and of humans or pets being injured or killed by wildlife.
"When wild animals begin associating humans with food, they don't become less wild; they lose their inherent fear of humans. Thus, with animals and humans in close proximity, increased chances of wildlife biting, charging, goring, or kicking visitors becomes a real possibility. Having wild animals living in an unnatural environment where they are being fed is not what we want," Dabney said.
Dabney cited two close calls that could have been "horrible" for park visitors because of an aggressive javelina at Choke Canyon and aggressive feral hog at Fairfield Lake State Park. Park personnel, he said, were forced to shoot the hog and the javelina which were endangering campers.
"Our knowing about these incidents and allowing it (feeding) to continue is a tragedy waiting to happen," Dabney said. "In some parks, we were allowing people to feed them corn and even selling the feed. By continuing to allow feeding of wildlife in state parks, we would be knowingly allowing a dangerous situation to occur.
State park law enforcement officers and game wardens will have the authority to enforce the feeding ban rule and could charge flagrant offenders with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by as much as a $500 fine. However, Dabney said the emphasis would be on educating park visitors about the rule change through posted signs and issuing warnings to first-time violators and other measures. Only in the most serious situations, according to Dabney, would violators be issued a citation.
The new rule, which applies to wildlife feeding only in state parks, is not meant to prohibit "reasonable things, like having bird feeders that are designed to keep out other animals" placed in designated wildlife viewing areas, the state parks director said. He said park managers may allow, on a case-by-case basis, bird feeders that do not allow other wildlife to access the feed. Park managers may also allow feeding outside of campgrounds or other developed areas to bring wildlife to observation or photography blinds in controlled situations that don't cause animals to associate humans with feeding.
"We're not trying to discourage one of the most enjoyable activities in our state parks – the viewing of the wild animals – but it's not acceptable to have these animals bedded down in our campsites or rummaging through coolers," Dabney said.
With the approved amendment, the "wildlife" section of the Rules of Conduct in State Parks now states that it is an offense to: "feed or offer food to any wildlife or exotic wildlife, or to leave food unsecured in a manner that makes the food available to wildlife or exotic wildlife, unless specifically authorized by the department. The feeding of birds may be permitted on a park-by-park basis as prescribed by the department."