Deer

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP), which includes establishing fees for participation in the MLDP and clarifying existing program provisions.

“The MLDP is an extremely popular program that provides landowners and land managers with additional flexibility to manage deer populations, improve habitats, and provide greater hunting opportunities,” said Alan Cain, TPWD white-tailed deer program leader.

“Increased participation in the MLDP has made it challenging for wildlife staff to administer the program and provide technical guidance to participants. In response, the Texas Legislature earlier this year enacted Senate Bill 733, which authorizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to establish a fee for participation in the MLDP.”

The proposed fee amendment would establish:

*A $30 fee for each management unit within a property that is enrolled in the Harvest Option (HO), provided the property is not part of an aggregate acreage enrolled in the MLDP.

*A $30 fee for each aggregate acreage enrolled in the HO.

*A $300 fee for the first management unit of each property enrolled in the Conservation Option (CO), plus a $30 fee for each additional management unit of a property enrolled in the CO.

*A $300 fee for each aggregate acreage enrolled in the CO.

*A a $30 fee for each management unit of a wildlife management association or cooperative enrolled in the CO. TPWD says the fee amounts were selected after soliciting and receiving input from department staff, stakeholder groups and advisory committees regarding what would be a reasonable fee for participation in the MLDP considering the benefits received, the demands on department staff in administering the various options available to landowners under the MLDP, and which would not result in significant attrition from the MLDP by landowners.

The intended purpose of the fees is to support additional biologist positions and maintenance of the department's online Land Management Assistance (LMA) system that is used to administer the program.

 In addition to change in the MLDP program, TPWD is considering making changes to freshwater fishing regulations on four public reservoirs. The proposed changes are as follows:

*Moss Lake: Modify the 14-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass to a 16-inch maximum length limit to encourage the harvest of smaller fish.

*Lake Nasworthy: Remove the current 10-inch minimum length limit on crappie to help restructure the crappie population in the reservoir, where fish are currently experiencing below-average growth rates and high natural mortality prior to reaching 10 inches.

*Texoma: At Lake Texoma and the Texas waters of the Red River below the Denison Dam, staff are considering modifying harvest regulations for blue, channel, and flathead catfish to standardize the regulations for these species on both sides of the reservoir and the river.

For blue and channel catfish, the potential changes would specify no minimum length limit, a 15-fish daily bag limit, and anglers could harvest only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater.

For flathead catfish, the change would specify no minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag limit. In addition to standardizing regulations with Oklahoma and making harvest limits less complicated for catfish anglers, the potential changes could increase protection of larger blue catfish on the Texas side of the river.

*Brushy Creek: Modify the 14-inch limit on largemouth bass. Also, reduce the bag limit and eliminate the minimum length limit on blue and channel catfish downstream from the lake to the Williamson/Milam County line, and implement a pole-and-line only, two rod maximum gear restriction to reduce the potential overharvest of fish caught by other means.

The proposed regulation changes are available for review in the Texas Register (sos.state.tx.us/texreg/pdf/currview/index.shtml). The public comment period is open through January 23, 2020, when the TPW Commission will meet to vote on adopting the changes.

MLDP comments should be directed to Alan Cain, (830) 480-4038 or email alan.cain@tpwd.texas.gov. Direct comments on freshwater fishing reg changes to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries Director of Information and Regulations, ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov or 512-389-4591.

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