TPWD Unveils Possible Hunting Rule Changes

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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 regulations. Among the topics being considered include: an expansion of special regulations affecting the harvest of whitetail bucks based on antler characteristics and creation of an upland game bird management permit program.

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. Alligator

Include regulations governing the recreational take of alligator in the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation.