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Public Meetings To Seek Input on Hunting, Fishing Proposals
AUSTIN, Texas Hoping to gain public comment on a variety of issues ranging from a temporary deferral hunter education requirements to changes in fishing licenses, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled a series of 19 public hearings throughout the state during the month of March.
TPWD considers changes to hunting and fishing regulations and related policies each year and entertaining public input on those proposals is a key component in the process. Public comment taken during the open meetings will be considered when agency staff presents final recommendations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in early April.
Highlighting this year’s set of proposals is a deferral option from hunter education requirements that would allow an individual who purchases a Texas hunting license and is accompanied by a licensed hunter who is at least 17 years of age and already meets hunter education requirements to hunt for the remainder of the license year. The deferral would cost $10 and be offered one-time-only. The new hunter would also receive a $5 discount off the price of a hunter education course, which costs $10, but only if the course is taken prior to the end of the current license year. The deferral would be available to out-of-state hunters as well as those in the military who are stationed in Texas or coming home on leave.
Another recommendation would double the spring hunting season length for eastern turkeys to 30 days with an April 1 opener. Since 1995 when Texas’ first spring eastern turkey hunting season was opened in Red River County, TPWD has maintained a conservative approach a 14-day season, mandatory check stations, one gobbler bag limit to give the birds ample opportunity to establish themselves in new haunts. As turkey numbers have increased and flocks expand into new areas, the agency has steadily increased hunting opportunity by opening a spring season in 42 East Texas counties.
TPWD is also proposing to add two more counties to the eastern spring turkey season beginning in 2005, Hardin and Liberty, and expand the season to encompass all of two others, Montgomery and Tyler counties.
The department is also looking at expanding the state’s fishing license options as it prepares to incorporate the new $5 freshwater fishing stamp into the licensing system. The endorsement would be required to fish in Texas fresh water beginning this fall for the next 10 years. TPWD plans to earmark a portion of the revenue from the stamp toward relocation of the aging Jasper Fish Hatchery. In addition to hatchery renovation and repair, revenue from the stamp can be used for the purchase of game fish for stocking in public waters such as the state’s winter trout stocking program.
According to the new proposed licensing structure, anglers could choose from several fishing packages: a freshwater fishing license ($28 for residents, $55 for non-residents), a saltwater fishing license ($33 for residents, $60 for non-residents) or an all water fishing license good for both fresh and saltwater ($38 for residents, $65 for non-residents). All packages come with the appropriate required endorsements.
Similar license packages would also be available in conjunction with hunting licenses, including a freshwater combo ($47 for residents, and $15 for seniors), a saltwater combo ($52 for residents, $20 for seniors) and all water combo ($57 for residents, $25 for seniors). The popular super combo, "one stop shop” license package would incur just the additional cost of the freshwater stamp ($64), as would the senior super combo ($30).
TPWD is also recommending changes in temporary fishing licenses, eliminating the 3-day resident, the 5-day non-resident and the 14-day temporary and replacing them with a 1-day temporary with an option to buy additional daily privileges at the time of purchase. A 1-day resident license would sell for $13 for freshwater, $18 for saltwater and $23 for all water privileges. Non-residents could purchase a 1-day license for freshwater for $20, for saltwater ($25) or for all water ($30). Residents could purchase subsequent days for $2 each and non-residents for $5 each.
TPWD is proposing a fishing license valid for the months of July and August. The freshwater version would cost $25; while the saltwater would run $30 and an all-water license $35. The agency is also considering for convenience sake a "year-to-date,” all water fishing license valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Currently, all licenses expire each year on Aug. 31. The proposed cost of this license option would be $45 and available to Texas residents only.
Another proposal would eliminate the need for a license tag to be attached to deer killed on Level 2 or 3 MLD properties, by special permit on public hunting lands, by special antlerless permit on US Forest Service Lands, or by LAMPS permit. Deer killed in those scenarios are required to be tagged anyway, and the department wants to eliminate what amounts to a 'double-tagging' requirement. The change would also eliminate the requirement for hunters under these scenarios to complete the license log, since deer harvested under these types of permits are part of department-approved wildlife management plans that specify a finite harvest quota for each property.
In another recommendation, TPWD is considering modifications to the late youth-only deer season designed to reduce confusion and increase opportunity. If approved as proposed, the changes would extend the same opportunities granted youth during the early youth-only season to the late season, including the opportunity to harvest bucks where county regulations provide that option.
Other recommendations advanced by the agency include:
- Implementation of a 4-day doe season in eight East Texas counties where the current antlerless harvest is by permit only.
- Re-establish the season framework in the Panhandle for pheasants to a 30-day season opening on the first Saturday in December.
- Implementation of fall season for Rio Grande turkey in Denton and Johnson counties.
- Implementation of a 14-18 inch slot limit for largemouth bass on San Augustine City Lake (San Augustine County).
- Implementation of an 18-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass and restricting angling to pole and line only for new Lake Pflugerville (Travis County), which is scheduled to open in 2005.
- Alteration of rules on community fishing lakes (statewide) to eliminate length limits for blue and channel catfish.
- Implementation of statewide regulations for white bass and white bass/striped bass hybrids on Lake O’ the Pines (Camp, Marion, Morris, and Upshur counties) and Pat Mayse (Lamar County) and removal of the downstream tailrace areas from the boundary definitions for these two reservoirs.
- Creation of a boundary definition for Lake Murvaul (Panola County) to extend the 14-21 inch slot limit for largemouth bass to the downstream tailrace area.
- Modification of saltwater perch trap rules to incorporate degradable panels
- Inclusion of "star trap” as legal gear to capture crabs in Texas.
- Legalize the use of minnow traps in saltwater.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made at any upcoming public meeting or to TPWD, Attn: Robert Macdonald for wildlife issues, Paul Hammerschmidt for saltwater issues and Ken Kurzawski for freshwater issues, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, or by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/involved/pubhear/).
2004 Statewide Public Hearing Calendar
All hearings start at 7 p.m.
- Amarillo Monday, March 8, Santa Fe Building #102, Ticket Office, 900 S. Polk.
- Anderson Thursday, March 11, Grimes County Courthouse.
- Cleburne Wednesday, March 10, Sheriff’s Administrative Office, 1102 E. Kilpatrick.
- Corpus Christi Tuesday, March 9, Conrad Blucher Building, Room 101, TAMCC, 6300 Ocean Dr.
- Crockett — Monday, March 8, Houston County Court at Law, 401 E. Houston Ave.
- Dayton — Thursday, March 11, First Liberty National Bank, 109 East Highway 90.
- Franklin — Tuesday, March 23, Robertson County Courthouse.
- Galveston — Thursday, March 11, Galveston County Courthouse, First Floor Jury Room, 722 Moody.
- Henderson — Wednesday, March 10, Rusk County Courthouse Annex, 21 North Van Buren.
- Kerrville — Tuesday, March 9, Kerr County Courthouse, District Courtroom #1, 700 Main St.
- LaGrange — Monday, March 8, LaGrange Fire Dept., 200 N. Franklin St.
- Longview — Thursday, March 25, Gregg County Service Center, 405 East Marshall (Hwy 80).
- Madisonville — Wednesday, March 10, Madison County Courthouse, 101 W. Main St.
- Midland — Monday, March 22, Old Midland County Tax Office, 709 W. Washington St.
- Palestine — Monday, March 22, Ben E. Keith Building, 2019 W. Oak.
- Rusk — Wednesday, March 24, Cherokee County Courthouse, 502 N. Main.
- San Antonio — Monday, March 8, Lion's Field Adult Center, 2809 Broadway.
- Southlake — Monday, March 22, Southlake Courthouse, 1400 Main St., Room B, 3rd Floor
- Spring — Wednesday, March 10, North Harris College, Room CE 101, 2700 W. W. Thorne Dr.
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