TPWD Sets Public Hearings On Fee Increases, Dove Rule Proposals
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is inviting public input during a series of upcoming hearings around the state on a series of proposals to increase fees and alter dove hunting season frameworks.
The department is conducting 21 public hearings to present recommendations seeking a $2 – $4 bump in license and boat registration and titling fees. The department says the fee increase is necessary to address critical needs.
Under the proposed increase, hunting licenses would go from the current price of $23 to $25, while the Super Combo all-inclusive license would increase from $64 to $68.
Fishing packages would increase by $2.
The department said 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, while 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 larger boats for many years in comparison to smaller boats, especially when considering the fee as a percentage of boat size and value.
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 department is proposing to move the South Zone opening to the Friday nearest Sept. 20, but no earlier than Sept. 17.
That would put the opening on Sept. 18 this year, if approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late June.
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.
Also during the public comment period, TPWD will be scoping calendar options for the additional 10 days of hunting in the North Zone for the 2010-`11 season.
The proposed South Zone dove season 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also reviewing a proposal to give Texas 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, the department said. 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.
Additionally, the department 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.
Public comments can also be made on the website or sent to Macdonald’s e-mail address.