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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-08-31                                    |
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Aug. 31, 2017
Game Wardens Stress Boating Safety During Labor Day Weekend
AUSTIN - With Texas game wardens continuing to assist the recovery efforts in Harvey affected areas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging extra vigilance from boaters and recreational water users in other areas of the state heading into Labor Day weekend.
"Much of Texas has experienced heavy rains that caused flooding, debris and increased water flows along many lakes, rivers and creeks," said Cody Jones, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. "All boaters - including those who engage in rescues - should take precautions to keep themselves and their family safe by wearing lifejackets and following other boating safety recommendations this Labor Day weekend."
So far this year, 31 people have died in Texas public waters, an increase from 29 in 2016. Boating accidents have also increased from 146 last year to more than 150 this year. Many of these incidents could have been prevented by following important safety precautions while on the water, like wearing a lifejacket, checking the weather before entering the water, using a safety ignition kill switch and knowing the rules of the waterway by taking a boater education class.
Another main concern during holiday weekends is Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) - or operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 percent - which doubles the risk of being killed in a boating accident. So far in 2017, Texas game wardens have arrested 125 people statewide for BWI. BWI is strictly enforced and carries penalties similar to driving while intoxicated penalties, including possible Driver's License suspension.
Basic boating safety precautions like avoiding alcohol and wearing a lifejacket also extend to paddlecraft. As participation grows in kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding; accidents, fatalities and injuries involving them are growing as well. In 2016, Texas had 11 paddle craft fatalities, making up 31.4 percent of all boating fatalities for the year.
Paddlers can find a free online safety course on the TPWD website, and for larger vessels, anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, must complete a boater education course to operate a personal watercraft or a boat with a 15 horsepower rating or more. Boater education courses are regularly offered in many locations around the state, or boaters can find a selection of online boater courses that can be taken anytime.
For more boating safety tips and information, visit the TPWD Water Safety page online or visit the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety page online.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Aug. 31, 2017
New 2017-2018 Fishing Regulations
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted a suite of changes for the 2017-2018 saltwater and freshwater fishing season this year. All new regulations take effect Friday, Sept. 1, and can be found in the Outdoor Annual.
For saltwater fishing, Texas modified harvest regulations for certain offshore species to be in line with federal rules to reduce confusion among anglers. The changes to saltwater fishing regulations include:
--Increasing the minimum size limit to 99 inches for scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks;
--Establishing a 24-inch minimum size limit and a 4 fish per day bag limit for black grouper;
--Establishing a bag limit of catch and release only for Nassau grouper and;
--Increasing the minimum size limit to 24 inches for gag grouper.
For freshwater fishing, changes include:
--Modifying largemouth and smallmouth bass regulations to catch-and-release only on the 38-mile stretch of the Devils River from Baker's Crossing to Big Satan Creek along the downstream end of the Dan A. Hughes Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area;
--Establishing a catch-and-release-only rule for largemouth bass and sunfish in Bedford Boys Ranch Lake (Tarrant County) and;
--Adding Alabama bass to the list of game fishes, and updating bass regulations for Alan Henry Reservoir in Garza County to reflect this change.
Earlier this year in April, a rule was changed to require a $60 permit for the collection of gizzard and threadfin shad from public water for use as bait and the possession or sale of nongame fish if the container capacity used to hold the shad exceeds 82 quarts.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Aug. 31, 2017
CWD Sample Collector Trainings in the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have partnered to coordinate chronic wasting disease postmortem sample collector trainings in the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos. As part of the state's increased CWD surveillance, we are providing the opportunity for landowners/managers, taxidermists, and veterinarians to be trained to collect tissues for disease testing under TAHC's Certified CWD Postmortem Sample Collector training program.
This will be a classroom format as well as hands on training for sample collection. Trained individuals will then be able to sample harvested CWD susceptible species such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, red deer, sika, etc. on their properties. Trained individuals will also be able to sample harvested CWD susceptible species for other hunters and provide those samples to TPWD for CWD testing to meet mandatory testing requirements in the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos CWD Zones. Individuals who participated last year must also attend this year's training to receive necessary check station supplies. Space is limited to the first 50 participants for each training and registration is mandatory to attend. Interested participants are urged to sign up as soon as possible.
Upcoming training classes:
Amarillo
AgriLife Extension Building, 6500 W Amarillo Blvd
9 AM - 12 PM on Sept 26
Van Horn
Van Horn Convention Center, 1801 W Broadway St
9 AM - 12 PM on Nov 18
Please contact Laura Leal with TAHC at (512) 650-0475 or laura.leal@tahc.texas.gov to sign up for the trainings.
Please visit www.tpwd.texas.gov/cwd and www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/elk-deer/ for more information about CWD, CWD management, and new CWD regulations.
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