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+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-03-26 | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes. | | It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying | | and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages. | | To copy the text into an editing program: | | --Display this page in your browser. | | --Select all. | | --Copy. | | --Paste in a document in your editing program. | | If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send | | an e-mail to email@example.com and mention Plain Text Pages. | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [ Additional Contacts: Gene McCarty 512-389-4651 or firstname.lastname@example.org ] March 26, 2009 TPWD Seeks Modest Increase to Licenses, Boat Fees AUSTIN, Texas -- Most hunters, anglers and boaters in Texas could see a modest $2-$4 bump in license and boat registration/titling fees if a proposed 5 percent across-the-board increase is approved in May by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the fee increase is necessary to address critical needs. "As you know license fees were last increased in 2004 and prior to that there had been no increase in eight years," Gene McCarty, TPWD's deputy executive director for administration, told commissioners. "Since that time, our operational costs have increased an average of 6.1 percent, while our fund balances continue to dwindle." McCarty said the department initially considered a 10-15 percent increase, but scaled back due to the current economic downturn. "Instead we are proposing a very slight increase of 5 percent rolled up to the next dollar," he explained. "This fee increase will not create new programs or services. The last fee increase in 2004 was just enough to maintain current levels of service. This increase will do the same. " Under the proposed increase, hunting licenses would go from the current price of $23 to $25, while the popular Super Combo all-inclusive license would increase from $64 to $68. Fishing packages would increase by $2. McCarty noted the cost for all of the special endorsement stamps would not go up. The vast majority of boat owners in Texas would also see only a small increase in boat registration and titling fees under the proposal. Biennial boat registration for vessels less than 16 feet in length would increase from $30 to $32 and those in the 16-26 foot range would go from $50 to $53. Two exceptions pertain to larger craft. Those vessels 26-40 feet in length would increase by $40 and 40-foot-plus vessels would go up by $110. These larger increases are necessary because the department has been undercharging for these larger boats for many years in comparison with smaller boats, especially when considering the fee as a percentage of boat size and value. A complete list of proposed fee changes can be found online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/license_and_boat_fees/. The public is invited to comment on these proposals by visiting the TPWD Web site or by writing TPWD Public Comment, attn. Robert Macdonald, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744 or email email@example.com. --- On the Net: Tables of the proposed changes: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/license_and_boat_fees/ -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, firstname.lastname@example.org ] [RM] March 26, 2009 Experience a Slice of Frontier Life During Fort Richardson Days JACKSBORO, Texas -- Come celebrate the 142nd anniversary of the existence of Texas' northern-most U.S. Army fort during Fort Richardson Days on April 17 and 18, and see what frontier life was like in the 1870s. More than 3,000 visitors typically show up during the weekend for the annual living history event, including 1,100 school children who are invited to the fort on Friday, April 17. The celebration takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the Fort Richardson State Park & Historic Site one-half mile south of town on U.S. Highway 281. Entry fees are $3 per person for individuals between 13 and 64 years of age, and $2 for persons 65 and older. On Saturday, Fort Richardson visitors can see Wild West gunfights; cavalry, infantry and artillery drills; flintnapping, spinning, blacksmithing and weaving demonstrations; and equipment displays. Lipan Apache tribal elders will be sharing their heritage from their encampment, which includes a period tipi. In addition, the event will include a 1 p.m. melodrama presented by Weatherford College students and a 7 p.m. dance featuring old-timey music and dance instruction. There will be food and souvenirs for sale, with proceeds supporting the Friends of Fort Richardson. More than 100 re-enactors in period attire bring the frontier days to life in what was the most heavily garrisoned military installation in the U.S. during the Indian War of 1870-74. Fort Richardson, built in 1867, also served as the regimental headquarters for the Sixth U.S. Cavalry from 1871 to 1873. Seven original structures, six built of rock, and two reproduction barracks will be open for tours during the special event. The most impressive of the original buildings is the two-story rock hospital built for $140,000 that dominates the fort's parade grounds that once spanned the length of four football fields. Visitors also can step inside a two-story, frame home that remains as the only commander's quarters of its kind left standing in the U.S. It was but one of more than 50 buildings that existed during the fort's heyday when more than 700 troops occupied the fort established to protect westbound settlers from hostile Indian tribes that dominated much of West Texas in the 1860s and 1870s.Though the weekend focus will be on the Fort Richardson Days event, visitors also can enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational options, including camping and traversing the nine-mile Lost Creek Reservoir Trailway. For more information, call the fort at (940) 567-3506. -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR] March 26, 2009 Missing Boater Recovered on Belton Lake, Search Continues for 2 on Richland Chambers Reservoir AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Game Wardens today recovered the body of Jarod David Dawkins, 27, who was missing since the boat he was on capsized March 17 near Sparta Valley Park on Belton Lake. Dawkins' body was recovered at 9:03 a.m. just north of the water treatment plant near Westcliff Park. On the 41,000-acre Richland Chambers Reservoir southeast of Corsicana, four game warden boats as well as a boat from the Henderson County Sheriff's Office and a command center from the Navarro County Sheriff's Office continue searching today for 72-year-old Jerry King of Athens and his grandson, 17-year-old Jerrod Rachel. The two men were fishing on the lake March 24 when, sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., they disappeared. Game Warden Capt. Gary Dugan said that searchers have been able to narrow the likely area of the accident by accessing King's GPS (global positioning system) logs and following the track of the boat from the day of the accident. "The wind was blowing pretty hard out of the south-southeast that day, and conditions were rough," Dugan said. "We still don't know exactly what happened, but there is some damage to the bow of the pontoon boat and it appears that a large wave may have caused one of the boaters to go overboard and the other went after him." Neither man, apparently, was wearing a lifejacket. "Life jackets are a big issue," said Game Warden Maj. Alfonso Campos, chief of marine safety enforcement for TPWD. "About 90 percent of the boating fatality victims we recover are not wearing life jackets. Children 12-years-old and younger are required by law to wear life jackets anytime a vessel is not anchored or tied-up. If adults would make that leap and think of a life jacket the same way we think of seatbelts in automobiles, we'd have a lot fewer fatalities." Dugan, who is leading the Richland-Chambers search, said three of the game warden boats are equipped with side-scan sonar and the search team has requested divers to assist in locating the victims of the accident. On 12,000-acre Belton Lake, about 5 miles north of the City of Belton, the week-long search involved game wardens, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rangers and members of the Bell County Sheriff's Office. Frederick D. Munger II, 39, of Belton, died in the March 17 accident, and three other passengers on the boat survived. "The investigation is ongoing, but it appears that the boat was overloaded, nobody had a life jacket on and alcohol was involved," said Game Warden Maj. Rolly Correa, who led the Belton Lake search. "People who live on the lake or spend a lot of time out there sometimes get complacent and just get in the boat and go. This is a tragic reminder that accidents like this can happen to anyone and can happen in seconds." Severe weather on both lakes hampered search efforts Wednesday. Despite increased boating safety outreach and education efforts and enforcement of safe boating regulations across the state, 2008 saw a 10-year high in the number of boating accidents (271) and fatalities (61) across Texas. At the same time, the number of registered boats in the state has fallen slightly. "Sadly, nearly all of the boating fatalities we've seen in the past year were preventable," said Campos. "Boaters under the age of 18 are required to complete an approved boater education course, but that $13, one-day class is optional for everyone else. We believe even the most basic boater safety education makes a difference on the water." Campos said that approximately one-third of boating fatalities in Texas are alcohol-related, and suggested that boaters designate a sober driver on the water and for the ride home. A person convicted of boating while intoxicated may be jailed for up to 180 days and fined as much as $2,000, as well as lose their automobile driver's license. For more information about safe boating, please visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/responsible/index.phtml For more information about approved boater education courses, go to: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/boater_education/index.phtml -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, email@example.com ] [SL] March 26, 2009 Commission Adopts Sweeping Changes to Deer Regulations AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted a series of wildlife and hunting related regulations that expand special buck antler restrictions and liberalize antlerless harvest opportunities in dozens of counties. The new rules take effect during the 2009-10 hunting seasons. Citing strong support for the changes during the public comment period, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff said the new rules reflect a shift toward biologically-based communities for managing deer populations. One of the biggest changes involves further expansion of the department's successful antler restriction regulations into 52 additional counties where biologists have identified a need to provide greater protection of younger buck deer. According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, the antler restrictions have significantly improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect. New counties under the antler restriction rule this fall include: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young. The department got overwhelming support to increase whitetail bag limits in several areas of the state with growing deer numbers or populations sufficient to support additional hunting opportunity. The department is increasing the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). Counties affected include: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young. In addition, the department is increasing the bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans-Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer. Another change increases the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Counties affected include: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler. The department also extended whitetail hunting from 16 days to the full general open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless). Areas of the state having sufficient antlerless deer populations to warrant additional hunting opportunity will be getting more doe days this fall. The department is increasing antlerless deer hunting in the following areas: --from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties; --from 30 days to full-season either-sex in Cooke, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties; --from four days to16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties; --from four days to 30 days in Cherokee and Houston counties; --from no doe days to four doe days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties. The department is also expanding the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected include: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season. In East Texas, the department is establishing a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthening the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and altering the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season. New counties affected include: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson. The department is also adding one additional weekend and 10 additional weekdays in January to the current youth-only season. The department also established a one buck only, antlerless by permit, nine-day mule deer season for Parmer County, the first ever deer season for that county. In other action, the commission approved a temporary, indefinite suspension of the current lesser prairie chicken two-day season in October until population recovery supports a resumption of hunting. Hunters are urged to check the Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations for county and species specific rules before going afield this fall. The annual will be available online and wherever hunting licenses are sold beginning Aug. 15. -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org ] [SL] March 26, 2009 TPWD Proposals Would Increase Dove Bag, Extend Season AUSTIN, Texas -- Changes proposed for the 2009-10 Texas dove season include a 70 day season and 15 bird daily bag statewide, pending adoption of federal guidelines. Additionally, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced a proposal to move the South Zone opening to the Friday nearest Sept. 20, but no earlier than Sept. 17, which means it will open on Sept. 18 this year if approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late June. TPWD staff announced the proposed dove season changes during the Regulations Committee meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Wednesday, March 25. The changes to season length and bag limits reflect anticipated implementation of new federal guidelines for dove management based on the Adaptive Harvest Model (AHM) now being applied to doves as it has been for ducks for the last decade. AHM harvest management uses variables such as monitoring data, population data and harvest information from band recoveries to develop season structures. The Service has developed three options for mourning dove bags, all based on a 70 day season, including a 22-bird liberal bag, a 15-bird moderate bag and an 8-bird restrictive bag. Application of this new approach in a mock format using data from the past 30 years demonstrated that the moderate package would have been in place all during that period. The Service has evaluated factors affecting mourning doves and concluded the Central Management Unit, which includes Texas, will be in the Moderate Package (15 birds) for the next three years. Final adoption by the feds is expected in late June. Under this season structure, changes will be an increase from 60 to 70 days in season length in the North Zone and an increase from 12 to 15 birds in the daily bag in the Central and South Zones. The proposed dove season in the North and Central Dove Zones would run Sept. 1-Oct. 25 and reopen Dec. 26-Jan. 9, with a 15-bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves. TPWD is also looking at altering the South Zone opener to offset calendar shifts that have penalized Texas hunters in the past. Currently, federal frameworks prohibit Texas from opening the South Zone prior to Sept. 20. TPWD Commission policy has been to open the dove season on the first Friday after Sept. 20, unless the 20th falls on a Saturday. So, in effect, in most years Texas' South Zone has opened an average of three days later than federal frameworks allow and as late as Sept. 25. This year, TPWD is proposing the South Zone open on the Friday nearest Sept. 20, but no earlier than the 17th. The Central Flyway Council approved the recommendation last week and TPWD migratory game bird staff has been discussing this proposal with the Service technical staff since last fall and it has been well received. If formally approved in late June b, the South Zone would open on Sept. 18 this year. Next year, the 20th falls on a Monday, so TPWD would propose opening on Friday, Sept. 17, 2010. Under the proposal, the South Zone would run Sept. 18-Nov. 3, reopening Dec. 26-Jan. 17 with a 15 bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves. Possession limit is twice the daily bag for all migratory game birds except light geese which currently does not have a possession limit. The Special South Texas Whitewing Area would open to white-winged dove afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting Sept. 5-6 and 12-13 and reopen Sept. 18-Nov. 3 and again from Dec. 26-Jan. 13. The daily bag limit is 12 birds, not more than four mourning doves during the first two weekend splits and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens the aggregate bag limit will be 15. The Service is also reviewing a proposal to give TPWD the option to adjust a portion of the boundary of the special whitewing area. This potential change would remove portions of Jim Hogg and Starr counties. These areas are not as high a quality white-winged dove habitat as other portions of the area. If removed, these portions would fall under the South Zone dates and bag. TPWD plans to hold a public hearing prior to the May 27 commission meeting to evaluate public support of this proposal. TPWD is proposing no changes to other early migratory game bird seasons other than to reflect calendar shifts. If Texas gets a 16-day September teal season, the dates would be Sept. 12-27, while a nine-day season would run Sept. 19-27. The proposed season for rail and gallinule is Sept. 12-27 and Oct. 31-Dec. 23; for snipe, Oct. 31-Feb. 14; and for woodcock, Dec. 18-Jan. 31. The public is encouraged to provide comment on these proposals by visiting the TPWD Web site or by writing TPWD Public Comment, attn. Corey Mason, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744 or email email@example.com. -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR] March 26, 2009 Changes in Flounder Regs to go into Effect Sept. 1, 2009 AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners today approved a reduction in the recreational and commercial bag limits for southern flounder and set a reduced bag limit for the month of November with take that month limited to hook and line. The commission also approved several changes related to federal consistency issues for sharks and other species and a paddle craft licensing and training program. Scoping and public comment on these issues has been ongoing since the fall of 2008, with more than 10,000 comments received by the department. Flounder -- The new regulations adopted by the TPW commission today are an attempt to reverse a long-term downward trend in the abundance of southern flounder. TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division data shows that the relative abundance of flounder has fallen by about 50 percent since the early 1980s. The new regulation reduces the recreational bag limit from 10 to 5 fish, and the commercial bag limit from 60 to 30 fish. Hook and line anglers will be permitted a 2 flounder daily bag limit during the month of November, with take by all other gear prohibited. Modeling suggests that the new regulations will result in an increase of spawning stock biomass of slightly more than 80 percent over six years, with the majority of that recovery taking place in the first several years. Public comments on the flounder regulations ran about 95 percent in favor of bag reductions and 90 percent against a November closure. TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Science and Policy Director Robin Riechers noted that many persons opposing the November closure said they wanted a longer closure that applied only to the gig fishery including the months of October through December. Anglers all along the Texas Gulf coast reported a rebound in flounder numbers in 2007 and 2008, also reflected in TPWD sampling, but even that short-term increase in relative abundance places numbers near the bottom of the long-term trend. "We'll look at our data every year and come back to you either to talk about the success we've had or further actions we need to take," Riechers told commissioners. Previous actions specifically impacting the flounder fishery have included establishing a 60 fish bag limit for the commercial fishery, a 10 fish bag limit and 20 fish possession limit and the establishment of the 14" minimum size limit in 1996. In 1999 the Texas Legislature established a limited entry program for finfish licenses which includes license holders who predominantly fish for either flounder or black drum. In 2006 the Commission approved a change in the regulations that made the possession limit equal to the bag limit of 10 for recreational anglers . Federal Consistency - The TPW Commission approved changes to regulations for several species managed jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to become more consistent in terms of bag and size limits. Sharks -- Specifically, this item changes the minimum length limit for those species allowed from 24 inches total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose, blacktip, and bonnethead sharks which will retain the current 24 inch TL minimum length limit. For the allowable shark species the bag limit will remain one fish per person per day and a two fish possession limit. In addition a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following shark species: --Atlantic angel, Squatina dumerili --Basking, Cetorhinus maximus --Bigeye sand tiger, Odontaspis noronhai --Bigeye sixgill, Hexanchus vitulus --Bigeye thresher, Alopias superciliosus --Bignose, Carcharhinus altimus --Caribbean reef, Carcharhinus perezi --Caribbean sharpnose, Rhizoprionodon porosus --Dusky, Carcharhinus obscurus --Galapagos, Carcharhinus galapagensis --Longfin mako, Isurus paucus --Narrowtooth, Carcharhinus brachyurus --Night, Carcharhinus signatus --Sandbar, Carcharhinus plumbeus --Sand tiger, Odontaspis taurus --Sevengill, Heptranchias perlo --Silky, Carcharhinus falciformis --Sixgill, Hexanchus griseus --Smalltail, Carcharhinus porosus --Whale, Rhincodon typus --White, Carcharodon carcharias Other Species -- The regulation changes include species that have been found to be in an overfished condition or undergoing overfishing. The changes include: increasing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34 inches TL, and establishing minimum size limits of 16 inches total length for gray triggerfish and 22 inches total length for gag. The bag limit for gray triggerfish would be 20 per person and for gag grouper it would be set at 2 per person with the possession limits being twice the daily bag limit. Paddle Craft Licensing -- TPW Commissioners approved a change that would allow paddle craft operators to receive a saltwater guide license by demonstrating certification or proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course and CPR/First Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association (ACA) Coastal Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment or British Canoe Union (BCU) Four Star Leader Sea Kayak Certification. -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR] March 26, 2009 Alligator Gar Bag Limit to go into Effect Sept. 1, 2009 AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved a number of proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations, including the state's first measure aimed at protecting alligator gar. The prehistoric-looking predators can live as long as 75 years and are the largest freshwater fishes in Texas. The statewide regulation on alligator gar will change Sept. 1, 2009, from no length or daily bag limit to a one fish per day bag limit. The bag will apply to both recreational and commercial fishing. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Division Director Phil Durocher told commissioners that Texas has the best remaining alligator gar populations in the country. "We have a window of opportunity to sustain populations by limiting harvest to one alligator gar per day. It's a good first step toward managing gar into the future," Durocher said. While research on the fish, which can grow to more than 250 pounds, is still in its early stages in Texas, biologists know that alligator gar are very long-lived animals and take a long time to reach sexual maturity, with females attaining an age of 12 years and a length of about 60 inches before spawning for the first time. Alligator gars also apparently require very specific spawning conditions, including flooded terrestrial vegetation or seasonally flooded backwaters. Current research being conducted by fisheries biologists in Texas includes investigations into size structure and year class strength in a mark-recapture study; a seasonal movement and habitat study on radio-tagged fish; and research that looks a the genetics of alligator gar populations as well as contaminants that may be present in the fish. Public comment on the alligator gar proposal was 167 comments against the department's recommendation and 233 comments in favor of the regulation, with the majority of concerns raised by bow and commercial fishermen. Blue Catfish -- Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County) Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Changes approved by the commission consist of a 25 fish daily bag limit with a 30 to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches will be allowed. Largemouth Bass -- Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties) The commission approved changes will make Lake Ray Roberts consistent with the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit). Lake Texoma -- Cooke and Grayson Counties Alligator gar -The commission approved a harvest closure in May to protect spawning adults in a portion of the lake that is within the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and a portion of the lake upstream of the U.S. Highway 377 bridge to the Interstate Highway 35 bridge. Blue and channel catfish -- The commission changed harvest regulations for blue channel catfish from a 15 per day bag limit to a 15 per day bag limit of which only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater may be harvested per day. --- On the Net: More information about alligator gar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/nonpwdpubs/media/gar_status_073108.pdf -30- [ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, firstname.lastname@example.org ] [TH] March 26, 2009 Tracy Large of Seguin Named Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year AUSTIN, Texas -- Game Warden Tracy Large of Seguin has been honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for his efforts in conserving America's wildlife. Large was recognized as the NWTF's Texas Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting here March 26. Game Warden Large graduated from the 44th Texas Game Warden Training Academy in 1996. His first duty station was in Cotulla, LaSalle County and he is currently assigned to Guadalupe County. Large presents numerous education and information programs to schools, clubs, civic organizations, Texas youth, and the general public. He coordinates and participates in activities that introduce youth, novice hunter and novice fishermen to outdoor related experiences, including but not limited to hunting, fishing, and boating for the underprivileged youth in Guadalupe County. The awards program cited Large for conducting his business on a very high level of moral character and integrity. He is well respected by co-workers, other Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel, and members of the community. Warden Large is the CPR/First Aid instructor in his region, which requires him to do annual updates and practical exercises to keep the game warden certifications current. He is a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) certified instructor, so he can teach other wardens mandated continuing education classes. The awards program noted Large has accomplished special achievements and goes beyond the call of duty by doing more than what is expected. He has achieved the level of Master Peace Officer as well as an employee recognition award certificate for outstanding team for his work with the Texas Game Warden Honor Guard in 2007. On Nov. 7, 2007, Warden Large conducted an investigation that resulted in the apprehension of two La Vernia High School students for shooting a Rio Grande Turkey with a 30-06 from a public roadway. The individuals had been seen by a rancher, who gave Warden Large their description. Citations were issued to the individuals for hunting turkey out of season. On Nov. 7, 2008, Warden Large completed an investigation in which a local feed store was selling live Rio Grande turkeys. The investigation resulted in the feed store being filed on for possession of live Rio Grande turkey; one individual receiving a citation for trapping and possession of live Rio Grande turkeys; and another receiving a citation for possession of live Rio Grande turkeys and for releasing the turkeys back into the wild. The NWTF initiated the State Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award in 2000 to highlight the contributions from wildlife officers across the country. In addition to playing a crucial role in helping to convict wildlife criminals, many wildlife officers volunteer their own time to help educate youth about the importance of wildlife, conservation and our hunting traditions. The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1973. It has worked with wildlife agencies restore American wild turkey populations from 1.3 million wild turkeys to nearly 7 million today. NWTF volunteers raise funds and work daily to improve critical wildlife habitat, increase access to public hunting land and introduce people to the outdoors and hunting. -30-