TPWD Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Regulation Changes

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering alterations to hunting and fishing regulations that could increase opportunity and simplify rules. TPWD staff briefed the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Wednesday, Jan. 26, about a series of issues that could result in changes to hunting and fishing regulations next season. Each year, TPWD considers changes in hunting and fishing regulations to achieve resource management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities consistent with good stewardship. Among the most prominent proposals being considered is a continuance of special buck deer harvest regulations in six- Post Oak Savannah counties. Based on findings from a three-year experiment in those counties, biologists believe the restrictions are helping create a healthy deer population. Under the proposed regulations hunters in the affected counties could harvest a buck only if it meets the following prerequisites: * A deer having a hardened antler protruding through the skin and at least one unbranched antler or: * A deer having an inside spread measurement between the main beams of 13 inches or greater. For the 2005-2006 hunting season, TPWD is proposing to add a second buck to the bag limit in counties with the special antler restrictions with one buck tag reserved for harvesting a deer with at least one unbranched antler. This alteration addresses biological concerns about inadvertently protecting spike bucks, according to Mitch Lockwood, TPWD White-tailed Deer Program leader. Austin, Colorado, Fayette, Lavaca, Lee and Washington counties would remain under the buck antler restrictions and the proposal would also expand the coverage to 15 additional surrounding counties with similar deer population issues. The new counties being considered for the 2005-2006 season are Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, DeWitt, Fort Bend, Goliad, Gonzalez, Guadalupe, Karnes, Jackson, Wilson, Matagorda, Victoria, Waller and Wharton. Following is a summary of proposed changes to this year’s hunting and fishing regulations: Proposed Hunting Regulation Changes White-tailed Deer * Consolidation of doe day categories. Currently, TPWD offers seven different sets of doe day combinations, including no days, four days, nine days, 16 days, 23 days, 23-plus days and full season. Wildlife biologists are suggesting consolidating doe days in 36 counties and cutting the options back to no days, four days, 16 days, 23 plus days or full season doe hunting. They also are looking at eliminating doe day restrictions in 33 counties, mostly in the Panhandle. * Simplifying the aggregate buck-bag restriction in one-buck and two-buck counties. This proposal would consolidate all of the one-buck counties into one zone, which would allow hunters to take a buck in three different one-buck-only counties or they could hunt in multiple two-buck counties, provided they do not exceed the county bag limit or take more than three bucks in all the two-buck counties combined. * Creation of an appeals process for deer permit programs. * Prohibition of hunting by remote control. This issue centers on the use of Internet technology as it relates to the taking of game animals and game birds. * Removal of Hunt and Washington counties from the list of counties where the use of dogs to trail wounded deer is prohibited. Mule Deer * Extend Managed Lands Deer Permit program to include mule deer. This proposal would allow landowners under an approved wildlife management plan to enter voluntarily in a habitat-based permit program, which would allow greater flexibility in managing mule deer harvest. With this proposal, permit holders could hunt from the first Saturday in November through the first Sunday in January. Turkey * Several proposals that would consolidate and standardize turkey hunting regulations, including: standardizing the spring season length in the eastern and western halves of the state; standardizing the season length and bag composition for fall turkey seasons; and implementing youth-only spring turkey seasons for Rio Grande turkey. * TPWD is also looking at the possibility of opening fall and spring seasons for Rio Grande turkey in Cameron and Zapata counties. Lesser Prairie Chicken * A proactive measure to address long-term habitat loss impacting lesser prairie chicken populations incorporated a two phase proposal that would close hunting season statewide, and create a limited harvest option for properties with a wildlife management plan for Lesser Prairie Chickens. Managed properties would have a harvest quota. Proposed Fishing Regulation Changes Lake Nasworthy (Tom Green County) * Fisheries biologists are looking into changing harvest regulations for red drum from the current 20-inch minimum length limit and daily bag limit of three fish, to no length and no bag limit to allow for maximized harvest of red drum. TPWD will not be managing red drum at Lake Nasworthy due to the shutting down of the power plant facility there, which will likely result in water temperatures too low to maintain red drum. North and South Arms of the Concho River (Tom Green County) * Define waters (North Concho from O.C. Fisher Dam to Bell Street Dam and South Concho from Lone Wolf Dam to Bell Street Dam) that are covered by special regulations for blue and channel catfish (no minimum length limit and pole and line only angling) and where statewide regulations (12-inch minimum length limit and no gear restrictions) are in effect (South Concho above Lone Wolf dam) Toledo Bend Reservoir * Remove 12-inch minimum length limit for spotted bass. Limit will be the same as statewide limit (no minimum). Proposed Coastal Fishing Regulation Changes * Due to concerns about vulnerability to over harvest of certain live mollusks and other inter-tidal species along the Texas coast, TPWD is looking to establish a closed season along a small area of South Padre Island including the Brazos Santiago Pass and running on the bayward side of the island to Marisol Drive from Nov. 1 through April 30. The closure would protect species such as hermit crabs, starfish, sea urchins and periwinkles. The proposal would also establish a daily bag limit of 15 univalve snails in aggregate and no more than 2 each in the daily bag of lightening whelk, horse conch, Florida fighting conch, pear whelk, banded tulip and Florida rocksnail. 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 (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) TPWD Public Hearing Schedule * March 9, Sherman, County Courthouse, West Courtroom, 2nd floor, 100 W. Houston St. * March 9, Seguin, Seguin Court House, 101 E. Court St. * March 9, Alpine, School Auditorium, AISD Administration Building, 704 West Sul Ross Ave. * March 10, Paris, County Courthouse, 231 Lamar Ave. * March 10, Hempstead, County Road & Bridge, 775 Business 290 * March 10, Van Horn, Van Horn Community Center, 400 Jones St. * March 14, Nacogdoches, 101 W. Main, District Court Room * March 14, Pampa, 218 N. Russell, Gray County Courthouse * March 14, LaGrange, La Grange Fire Hall, 155 E. Colorado * March 14, Wichita Falls, NW Texas Field & Stream Assoc. 2005 SW Pkwy. * March 15, Childress, Childress County Courthouse, Commisioner’s Courtroom, 100 Ave. E NW * March 15, Jefferson, County Courthouse Annex, 114 W. Austin St. Room 210 * March 16, Southlake, City of Southlake Office Bldg. 3rd Floor Training Room, 1400 Main St. * March 16, New Boston, County Courthouse, Central Jury Room, 1710 Bowie Dr. * March 16, Aspermont, Courthouse Community Meeting Room, Hwy 83 * March 16, Victoria, Patti Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro * March 17, San Angelo, Angelo State University M.I.R. Center, 7945 Grape Creek Rd. * March 17, Lampasas, County Courthouse, Dist Court Room * March 17, Dalhart, Dallum County Courthouse, 2nd Floor, 414 Denver * March 21, Plains, Plains Community Building * March 21, Port Isabel, Community Center, 213 Yturria * March 21, Sulphur Springs, County Courthouse, 118 Church St. * March 21, Dickinson, Dickinson TPWD 1502 FM 517 East * March 21, Ft. Stockton, Small Community Bldg. 109 Rooney St. * March 22, Kennedy, 303 W. Main, Kennedy City Hall Auditorium * March 22, Kerrville, 700 Main, Kerr County Courthouse, Court Room #2 * March 22, Andrews, Courthouse Annex, 215 NW 1st St.

– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide

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