|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-11-06                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 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. 6, 2006
TPWD Unveils Slate of Possible Regulation Changes
AUSTIN, Texas -- Among the possible changes in hunting and fishing regulations next year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering altering restrictions on spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre and a 16-inch maximum length limit on largemouth bass on a handful of lakes.
TPWD staff briefed the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Wednesday, Nov. 1, 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 2007 meeting determines the final regulation changes.
The most dramatic change being discussed addresses coastal fisheries biologists' concerns about declining numbers of legal-sized spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre bay ecosystem compared to historic levels. Although officials point out the seatrout populations in this bay system are on par with numbers statewide, they believe proactive steps will help ensure and enhance the future health of this world class fishery.
TPWD will be gathering public input during the next six months on a variety of strategies emphasizing possible reductions in daily bag limits to achieve management goals.
In addition to regional seatrout regulations, TPWD is considering the following potential changes.
--Increasing the minimum length limit on sheepshead to provide sufficient protection for this popular fish to reach sexual maturity and thereby ensure sustainable productivity.
--Provide protection for diamondback terrapins by banning harvest. Biologists are concerned about the possibility of a growing commercial market for the species.
--Increase the minimum length limit for retention of a tarpon to 90 inches.
--Expand current rules prohibiting use of airboats to rally or harass schools of fish to include all boats.
--A modification to the spring Rio Grande turkey season to offer better hunting opportunity to hunters. Two years ago TPWD simplified spring Rio Grande turkey seasons by merging the north and south zones into a single zone and increased hunting opportunity by adding a week to the season. In the process of monitoring and evaluating the new season, staff has concluded that while the 44-day season is fine, hunting opportunity can be optimized by reinstituting the zone system, allowing the South Texas season to open earlier and the North Texas season to run later.
--Eliminate the double tagging requirement for mule deer on properties operating under Managed Lands Deer permits and make those permits available for use during the archery season.
--Increase the possession limit for striped bass on Lake Texoma to 20 to eliminate confusion among anglers and more closely align with Oklahoma limits.
--Create a 16-inch maximum length limit for largemouth bass on a handful of lakes to address management concerns over lack of improvement in bass population structure and current limits. Seven lakes are being considered, including Bridgeport, Bryan, Cypress Springs, Georgetown, Hawkins, Joe Poole and Nacogdoches.
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/)

[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Nov. 6, 2006
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
We love youth hunts, just not during the school day
A landowner called Polk Co. game wardens Oct. 23rd, stating he had two trespassers stopped who were hunting on his property. Upon arrival, two 15-year-old males were apprehended. Truancy charges are pending against the parents and children for skipping school to hunt. The juveniles were issued citations and released to their parents.
Grim duty on the border
On the evening of Monday, Oct. 23, Starr and Zapata Co. game assisted the Starr County Sheriff's Office with recovering five drowning victims from the Rio Grande River. The bodies were recovered approximately 10 miles below the Falcon Lake Dam. All the victims were Mexican immigrants attempting to enter the country illegally.
Sure it's poaching
On Oct. 22, Tarrant and Wise Co. game wardens received a call about trespassers. While the wardens were investigating, they discovered a bucket of deer attractant and noticed signs of illegal hunting. The wardens made contact with an individual in a red Dodge pickup nearby and found that he was in possession of a bow and arrow, camouflage clothing, and a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle, marijuana and methamphetamine. The subject was interviewed and confessed to hunting without landowner consent, but he did not believe that what he was doing was considered poaching. Cases are pending.
A subconscious plea?
On Oct. 21, a Palo Pinto Co. game warden was being followed by an individual in a vehicle who was flashing him with his bright lights. The game warden allowed the vehicle to pass, and then he stopped the vehicle. The game warden found the man to be intoxicated, and while searching his vehicle noticed there was blood in the back of the vehicle. The game warden questioned the individual about the blood and was informed by the man that the day before he had killed a pig while hunting off the roadway. He said that he wrapped the pig in a plastic bag and tossed it out at another location. The individual was cited for DWI and littering, hunting off the roadway, and no hunting license. Cases are pending.
On second thought, maybe that wasn't such a good idea
Ellis, Kaufmann and Dallas Co. game wardens assisted in rescuing a family stranded on the Trinity River Oct. 21. A man had taken his three kids onto their flat bottom boat to make a trip downriver. The only problem was he launched at dusk in a boat full of holes and no running lights on a river he had never been on. The family quickly took on water and called 911. They made it to a sandbar and waited for help. A DPS helicopter was able to land on the bank to rescue them. After speaking with the father about boating safety, one of the game wardens issued him a citation for not having any lights after dark. The family was especially lucky because about 100 yards downriver was a waterfall.
Stock it and they will come
On Oct. 19, a Wichita Co. game warden filed eight cases for over the daily bag limit of channel catfish on four individuals who were fishing at Plum Lake after it had been stocked that morning.
Should have stuck to home repair
On Oct. 18, a Clay County game warden received a phone call about an individual who was shooting at turkeys. After the game warden's investigation, he filed on a subject for hunting turkey during closed season. The man was roofing a house when he noticed some turkeys walking across the yard. He then went to his truck, got his gun and began shooting at them. Case is pending.
Two strikes …
On Oct. 12, Bell Co. game wardens responded to a call in Morgan's Point about illegal hunting activity. The complainant actually saw the subject get out of the vehicle with the crossbow and walk towards the deer. After searching for awhile, game wardens located the suspect vehicle and -- no surprise to the wardens -- so were the same two subjects they had apprehended last year taking a deer in the same area as juveniles. This year one of them was 17 years old and the other was 16. They admitted to shooting at a 10-point buck but thought they had missed it. They were charged with hunting in closed season and made aware of how bad this could be, especially for the 17-year-old, if a class A misdemeanor had been filed. Cases pending.
Gator grabber
A South Texas game warden captain was given the opportunity to try out his new alligator "ketch-pole" Oct. 11 A Refugio Co. game warden had received a call from the sheriff's office regarding an alligator at a residence in Bayside. The game warden was off-duty and a long way from Bayside. The game warden made contact with his captain, who advised him that he was on his way home and not far from Bayside. The captain arrived to find a very frightened, confused and angry 4-and-a-half -foot alligator that was surrounded by a dozen people with cameras. The captain subdued the alligator and relocated the lil' critter to a nice new home in the Mission River.
In mid-October, San Patricio Co. game wardens got an easy one as they were checking dove hunters. As they approached a group of hunters alongside a county road, some birds flew across the road and one lucky hunter hit his target with the bird landing square on the hood of the game wardens' patrol vehicle. The hunters got a good laugh out of this until the game warden broke out the ticket book and educated them about discharging a firearm across a public road.
The wheels of justice
On Oct. 11, Cameron Co. game wardens were in county court on a case that was filed March 3, 2006, on a local commercial trotliner who was apprehended with 49 redfish. The jury found the individual guilty and assessed 2 years probation and 200 hours of community service along with the $7,220.51 of civil restitution. Case closed.
Old-fashioned gumshoe work
While patrolling a county road outside Ballinger in mid-October, a game warden discovered several deer carcasses, heads, hide, and feet dumped on the side of the road. As luck would have it, no tags were located but the large cardboard box that the remains were in had a shipping label from Concho Business Solutions, an office supply company. That company was contacted, and they advised the filing cabinet was shipped to the district clerk's office in Ballinger. The district clerk was contacted and stated the janitor took the box from her office. The janitor advised he gave the box to an adult probation officer. Lane went to the probation officer's home; she was not there but her husband was. You guessed it!! Appropriate charges filed.
Pizza party
On Oct. 2, a Tom Green Co. game warden was putting the "sneak" on some unsuspecting illegal dove hunters and was trying to find a way to approach them unnoticed, when he heard an approaching vehicle behind him. At first, he thought it was more hunters coming to join the ones he was watching, but as the vehicle got closer he saw that it was a pizza delivery truck. Being the innovative warden that he is, the game warden quickly saw that a solution to his problem was at hand and quickly stopped the pizza truck. It just so happened that the driver was trying to locate the same hunters and deliver their pizza. The game warden convinced the driver that it would be a good idea if he assisted in the delivery of the pizza, and the driver consented to let him ride along. To say the least, the hunters' jaws dropped when they saw a game warden getting out of the pizza delivery truck to delivery a pizza supreme and a few citations.
Listen to your heart
A game warden filed 14 cases on Sept. 20 on a Gulf shrimp boat for having fish with heads and tails removed. The frozen fish were found in the microwave and gas oven in the kitchen area aboard the shrimp boat. The captain stated that he knew that was going to be a bad place to hide them. Cases pending.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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. 6, 2006
Hayes Named Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year
AUSTIN, Texas -- Game Warden Randall Hayes of Weatherford has been named "Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year" by the wildlife conservation and hunting organization Shikar-Safari International.
Hayes graduated from the Texas Game Warden Training Academy in June 1984. His first duty station was in Denton County. In April 1988, he left the Texas Parks and wildlife Department temporarily and went to work for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
In September 1989, Hayes requested reinstatement as a game warden and was assigned to Nueces County. In April 1993, he transferred to Weatherford, where today he handles all areas of game, fish, water safety and public safety enforcement through education, deterrence, and apprehension.
During his career, supervisors say Hayes has had an excellent work record and displayed a positive and willing attitude. He is a leader in his community by providing hunting and fishing opportunities for several youth homes. Hayes works with landowners to provide places for youth to learn and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities.
As an educator, Randall is a certified Marine Safety Officer Instructor, Boater/Angler/Hunter Education Instructor and a Certified Peace Officer Classroom Instructor. His experience and investigative skills have allowed him to make a wide variety of cases such as Boating While Intoxicated arrests, taking deer without landowner's consent, hunting deer from a public roadway, hunting deer at night, convicted felons hunting with firearms, and felony drug arrests.
Randall's commitment to providing safe public waters has made him a leader in Boating While Intoxicated enforcement. He continues to lead his district in Boating White Intoxicated enforcement and assists with training new wardens in this effort.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Nov. 6, 2006
Public Reefing Program, Offshore Aquaculture Regs Move Forward
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Nov. 2 adopted new rules that pave the way for a public reefing program in the state's nearshore waters. In a separate action, the Commission voted to adopt regulations governing offshore aquaculture.
The new rules concerning artificial reefs establish a mechanism to govern the deployment of artificial reef materials in coastal waters by private individuals or entities. The changes give TPWD the authority to inspect and approve the artificial reef materials prior to them being placed at an approved TPWD location.
Public reefing sites will be located in state waters less than 60-feet deep near each of the navigable Gulf passes. Each site will be 160 acres in size and divided into blocks approximately 260ft by 260ft. The center of the reef site will be marked by a 10-ft yellow spar buoy chained to an anchor. The public will be assigned an individual block to reef their materials.
"The purpose of this program is to increase marine habitat in the Gulf of Mexico through the creation of nearshore reefs and thereby enhance fishing and some diving opportunities," said Dale Shively, TPWD's Artificial Reefing Program coordinator. "We're going to develop reef sites that are closer to shore and will accommodate more small boat anglers."
The artificial reef program will continue the efforts to get larger materials suitable for reefing in these nearshore areas as well as efforts for larger structure offshore. This new initiative allows for more local coastal involvement in the program.
The new rules concerning offshore aquaculture provide a process for obtaining a permit to conduct offshore aquaculture in Texas state waters, while ensuring protection of Texas coastal waters and native stocks. The new rules will establish a $1,500 licensing fee for each offshore aquaculture permit and procedures that the permitee must follow in order to maintain the permit. These procedures include requirements which will ensure the genetic integrity and protection of wild stocks in Texas waters and other requirements regarding the facilities and the introduction and removal of aquatic organisms in those facilities. .
Offshore aquaculture, a growing concern in some parts of the world, is relatively new to the Gulf of Mexico.
"We are trying to get ahead of the curve for two reasons," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., director of TPWD's Coastal Fisheries division. "We see this coming on the horizon as a new development in the Gulf and we want to lay out a regulatory model that businesses can follow. Within that model, our primary goal is to protect our native fish stocks."
The new regulations for both programs go into effect 20 days after publication in the Texas Register.