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May 31, 2004
TPWD Proposes Increasing Civil Restitution Values
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time since 1985 for most wildlife species, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing increasing civil restitution values that violators are assessed when they illegally kill wildlife.
Kris Bishop, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Enforcement, recently briefed the TPW Commission on proposed amendments to Texas Administrative Code.
In 1985, the Texas Legislature passed amendments to the Parks & Wildlife Code by adding Ch. 12.301... "A person who kills, catches, takes, possesses, or injures any fish, shellfish, reptile, amphibian, bird or animal in violation of this code or a proclamation or regulation adopted under this code is liable to the state for the value of each fish, shellfish, reptile, amphibian, bird or animal unlawfully killed, caught, taken, possessed or injured."
The recovery value of injured and destroyed wildlife is determined on a per animal basis under rules adopted by the commission. For each animal, a value is assigned for each of eight scoring criteria (Recreation, Aesthetics, Educational, Scarcity, Environmental Tolerance, Economics, Recruitment and Ecological Role). The value of trophy wildlife species is determined by a formula based on the animal’s Boone & Crockett score.
The current values by which restitution amounts for wildlife species are calculated have not been changed since 1985, with the exception of the rules governing the value of trophy wildlife species, which were adopted in 1996. Since then economic factors such as inflation and real-dollar equivalence have eroded the deterrent power of the current amounts, Bishop said, in addition the cost to the department of administering and enforcing the rules has increased for the same economic reasons.
The proposed amendment to change values is to the Texas Administrative Code. The amendment also removes references to elk, because the Texas Legislature in 1997 designated elk as an exotic species and the department no longer possesses any regulatory authority on it.
Some examples of proposed changes include the following:
|Desert Bighorn Sheep||$2,850.50||$4,780.50|
|Bald Eagle (T)||$7,100.50||$11,907.50|
Staff has been directed to consider an adjustment to the amounts used in the current formulas for White-tailed and Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope and Desert Bighorn Sheep.
"If these recommendations are passed, the only people affected will be those who have damaged a wildlife resource so I do not forsee an abundance of opposition being voiced. But we do welcome any and all public comment," Bishop said.
The proposal will go to the Texas Register for public comment. Comments about the proposed rules may be submitted to Bishop, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4630; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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