|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-11-07                                    |
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   SEARCH: public comment

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 7, 2005
TPWD Unveils Possible Hunting and Fishing Rule Changes
AUSTIN, Texas -- The success of resource management efforts on a variety of fronts has led Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists to recommend several possible changes to next year's hunting and fishing regulations. Among the topics being considered include: an expansion of special regulations affecting the harvest of whitetail bucks based on antler characteristics, creation of an upland game bird management permit program and elimination of the trophy red drum and tarpon tagging requirements.
TPWD staff briefed the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Wednesday, Nov. 2, on a slate of possible changes designed to increase recreational opportunity and further enhance the state's fish and wildlife resources.
The annual regulatory review process begins each fall after resource assessments by biologists and game wardens, as well as independent recommendations received from various groups. During this scoping portion of the process, TPWD gathers public input and weighs the biological implications of each issue before presenting the commission with a set of proposed regulation changes in January. Additional discourse is sought during special public meetings in the spring, and the commission at its April 2006 meeting determines the final regulation changes.
Following is a summary of those potential changes.
Potential Wildlife Regulation Proposals
White-tailed Deer
Expansion of antler restriction harvest rules in all or portions of 40 additional counties in East and Central Texas. The rules are currently in place in 21 southeastern counties. The purpose of this potential proposal is to ensure a balanced age class structure for a healthy deer herd by shifting harvest pressure away from young bucks, which typically comprise upwards of 60 percent of the annual harvest. Under this regulation, a legal buck is one which has (1) at least 1 unbranched antler, or (2) an inside spread measurement of 13 inches or greater. Under the suggested provisions, the candidate counties would see an increase in the buck bag limit from one to two; however, no more than one buck may have an inside spread measurement of 13 plus inches. The candidate counties are: Bell, Bosque, Bowie, Burleson, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Comal (east of Interstate 35), Comanche, Coryell, Delta, Eastland, Erath, Fannin, Franklin, Gregg, Hamilton, Harrison, Hays (east of Interstate 35), Hopkins, Houston, Lamar, Lampasas, Leon, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Somervell, Titus, Travis (east of Interstate 35), Upshur, Williamson, and Wood.
TPWD is also looking into standardizing harvest regulations in Upton County, which currently has split regulations, to four deer, no more than two bucks, and no antlerless permit required
Upland Game Birds
Expansion of the successful Managed Lands Deer Permit program to include similar provisions for adjusting season length and/or bag limits for upland game bird species, including quail, turkey, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chickens on properties with a wildlife management plan where certain habitat management practices are implemented.
Include regulations governing the recreational take of alligator in the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation.
Potential Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes
Lake Colorado City (Mitchell County)
Change harvest regulations for red drum from the current 20-inch minimum length limit and three fish daily bag limit to no length and no bag limit.
Mountain Creek Lake (Dallas County)
All fish species in Mountain Creek Lake are managed under statewide length and bag limits. The regulations would be changed to catch-and-release only for all species.
Marine Creek Reservoir (Tarrant County)
Current harvest regulations for largemouth bass consist of statewide 14-inch minimum length limit with a five fish daily bag limit. The regulation would be changed to an 18-inch minimum length limit. The five fish daily bag would be retained.
Statewide baitfish exceptions
Add Kinney County to current list of bait fish exceptions. Current regulations are: "In Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Ector, El Paso, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Val Verde, Ward, and Winkler counties, the only fishes that may be used or possessed for bait while fishing are common carp, fathead minnows, gizzard and threadfin shad, golden shiners, goldfish, Mexican tetra, Rio Grande cichlid, silversides (Atherinidae family), and sunfish (Lepomis)."
TPWD will be seeking public input on the possibility of making bowfishing a legal means of take for catfish.
To comment on freshwater fishing proposals, send an e-mail to ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov.
Potential Coastal Fishing Regulation Proposals
Largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti)
The National Marine Fisheries and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service have listed the smalltooth sawfish as endangered and, therefore, it is now endangered in Texas under PWC Chapter 68. Because of the extreme difficulty that anglers will have in distinguishing the smalltooth sawfish from the largetooth sawfish, protection of both is believed to be the only way to protect the listed species. This proposal would prohibit the taking of both.
Red Drum
TPWD will scope two proposals to eliminate the red drum tags. Either option would continue to ensure protection of red drum in Texas and provide the benefits of having the tags without the administrative issues of maintaining tags in the license system. The options presented are:
--One red drum larger than 28 inches may be taken as part of the 3 fish daily bag limit.
--One red drum larger than 28 inches may be taken in addition to the 3 fish daily bag limit
A potential proposal to eliminate the trophy tarpon tag and implement a bag limit of one fish with a minimum size limit that corresponds to the state record. This will allow fishermen to continue to challenge that record while preventing the retention of any other tarpon that may be caught.
Black Drum
TPWD also will scope a proposal similar to the tarpon recommendation of one fish above a maximum size limit (i.e., set at the state record) for black drum.
Southern Flounder
Changing the possession limit on flounder so that it is equal to the bag limit for the recreational fishery. This is already the case in the commercial fishery. This will create some redistribution of the current catches in the recreational fishery and basically limit a person to 10 fish per trip instead of the 20 fish bag they can keep if they fish past midnight now. Part of the rationale is that since flounder mortality from the recreational and commercial harvest makes up only 18 percent of its mortality, changes in the directed fishery will not have a large impacts to the overall population. Current trends in the fishery suggest that recent emphasis on shrimping effort and bycatch are starting to show signs that the flounder fishery is improving.
Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis)
TPWD will scope a proposal to list tripletail as a game fish, place a minimum size limit of 17 inches and a 3 fish bag limit. Alabama has a 17-inch minimum * and bag limit of three and Florida has a 15-inch limit and bag limit of two.
In addition to these potential proposals, TPWD is looking at the possibility of increasing the fee for hunter education courses from $10 to $15. The increase would enable the agency to recruit more hunter education instructors and thereby provide more convenience through additional class offerings and related enhancements to the program.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning 800-792-1112 or by visiting the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/)
* Correction, Nov. 7, 2005: The original version of this news release incorrectly stated length limit. The typographical error has been corrected. (Return to corrected item.)

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Nov. 7, 2005
Seagrass Protection Authorized for Redfish Bay
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissions on Nov. 3 voted to authorize seagrass conservation measures to protect ecologically important seagrass beds in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area near Rockport. The new rules will take effect May 1, 2006.
Shallow-water seagrasses in Texas bays provide vital nursery areas for diverse marine life, food and cover for game fish, bottom stabilization, and better water quality. Seagrass has declined in many areas on the Texas coast. In Galveston Bay, 95 percent of all seagrass has disappeared. In the Redfish Bay area, the total acreage of seagrass has declined by 13 percent since 1958. The area marks the northernmost extent of one important species commonly known as turtlegrass. This species is particularly susceptible to propeller damage because of the long recovery time when damaged.
This past January, the department acted to continue the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area through 2010 and sought input from anglers, fishing guides, conservation organizations and others on the best ways to protect shallow-water seagrasses from motor boat propeller scarring.
On Aug. 25, the TPW Commission authorized department employees to move forward and take public comments on the proposed mandatory seagrass rules, and the department held three meetings on the Texas coast to get public input.
The new rules define "seagrass plant" as five marine flowering plant species: clover grass (Halophila engelmanni), manatee grass (Syringodium filiformis), shoalgrass (Halodule beaudettei), turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum), and widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima).
The rules make it illegal to uproot seagrass anywhere within the state scientific area. This has been called the "area wide" seagrass proposal for Redfish Bay. Violations would be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. A separate proposal to create three smaller propeller up or "no prop" zones inside the state scientific area was not approved by the commission.
Alongside the new rules, department staff said they intend to continue and expand a concerted public education campaign, including extensive efforts to identify and mark access points into the area to minimize seagrass loss.
"We believe we can design clearly marked running lanes to get in and out of these sensitive seagrass areas in a fishing friendly way," McKinney said. "Local communities, fishing guides and conservation groups have said public education is important, and we welcome their help in that area. In fact, while game wardens will be enforcing the new rules, we expect and depend upon voluntary public compliance and support on this issue, just as with all hunting and fishing regulations."
McKinney said TPWD will monitor the results of the new rules and consider whether stronger steps are necessary if seagrass damage continues.

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Nov. 7, 2005
Texas Parks and Wildlife Land Process Improved
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Nov. 3 reviewed a new Texas Parks and Wildlife Department land transaction process designed to make sure that there is adequate and complete public notice of land transactions and that sufficient time is allowed to properly consider transactions.
This process was developed with input from outside stakeholders, including state agencies such as the General Land Office and the Texas Historical Commission, non-governmental organizations such as the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy, and landowner groups such as the Texas Wildlife Association.
The process covers four types of land transactions: purchases, sales, trades and transfers. A key provision is that all transactions will be discussed during at least two commission meetings. This means the commission will be briefed on a proposal at one meeting, then there would be a period of review with opportunities for public comment before the commission would act on the proposal at a subsequent meeting. Between commission meetings, a public input meeting will typically be held for major transactions. Any proposed transaction must be posted for public comment at least 30 days before a meeting in which action could be taken.
For land sales, the advance public notice would include sufficient detail to identify the property, price, and basic facts of the proposal. For land trades and transfers, sufficient detail would also be provided. For land purchases, there would be advance notice and an effort to communicate the general nature of the proposal, but this would not include the price, specific location, landowner's name and other details that could affect future land transaction prices or otherwise undermine the agency's negotiating position, a move also designed to protect the seller.
Sales of state-owned inholdings or parcels surrounded by non-TPWD land will be open to the highest bidder, but with the surrounding landowner having first right of offer.
"Housekeeping" transactions of small acreage can be approved by the executive director in consultation with the commission without going through the two meeting process and 30-day public notice.
All transactions are guided by the TPWD Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan, a 10-year operational plan which prioritizes public land needs.