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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-05-31                                    |
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   SEARCH: public comment

[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
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:
Animal	Current	Proposed
Nutria	$3	$5
Armadillo	$8	$13.50
Bobwhite Quail	$15.50	$26
Gray Fox	$35.50	$59.50
Javelina	$63	$105.50
White-tailed doe	$163	$273.50
Eastern Turkey	$525.50	$881.50
Ocelot (E)	$1,150.50	$1,929.50
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: kris.bishop@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 31, 2004
Proposal Would Allow Permitted Control of Cormorants
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing a new program under which managers of private ponds and lakes would be issued permits to control the double-crested cormorant, a fish-eating bird that some anglers and landowners consider a nuisance.
In November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule that allowed wildlife agencies in 24 states to control cormorants, with a requirement that states had to report the number and location of cormorants killed each year. To fulfill the federal reporting requirement, TPWD must require permit holders to report cormorant control data, hence the need for a Texas permitting system.
The department estimates there may be around 2,000 cormorant-control permits issued in Texas in the first year. Permits would cost $12 and would allow holders to kill cormorants on specific tracts of land near private water bodies such as ranch stock tanks or aquaculture facilities (fish farms). This addresses one of the key concerns-landowners and aquaculture managers trying to raise fish, only to see cormorants eat them. Large reservoirs, rivers and other public water bodies would not be covered by the proposal.
The double-crested cormorant is a long-necked, long-lived waterbird that nests in colonies, meaning they tend to congregate in one area where present. Federal biologists estimate there are 2 million double-crested cormorants in the U.S., mostly breeding in Canada and the Great Lakes, making it the most abundant of six cormorant species in North America. Cormorant numbers have increased by an estimated 7.5 percent per year since 1975. The birds eat mainly fish, up to one pound per day, usually smaller (less than six inch) bottom-dwelling school or "forage" fish.
Federal authorities say more study is needed to verify how cormorants affect fish populations, which fluctuate based on water quality, habitat and other factors. However, recent research at Oneida Lake in New York and eastern Lake Ontario suggests that cormorants can diminish the number of fish of catchable-size available to anglers.
Double-crested cormorants are one of about 800 bird species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it a crime to kill them, but gives federal biologists the authority to issue depredation control permits
The Texas cormorant control proposal would not apply to several similar birds, including Gulf-coast natives such as the neotropic cormorant, the anhinga and other fish-eating birds such as kingfishers, cranes and herons.
After the proposal runs in the Texas Register for public comment, the TPW Commission will vote on implementing it at the commission's Aug. 26 meeting.
Public comments about the proposal may be sent to John Herron, TPWD wildlife diversity program manager, john.herron@tpwd.texas.gov; or Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.
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