TPWD Proposes Opening Deer Hunting Near Dallas
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering opening deer hunting in three North Texas counties and another on the upper coast this fall as part of recommended changes to the 2012-13 Statewide Hunting Proclamation. TPWD staff recommended an open season for deer in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Galveston counties during a presentation Jan. 25 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Regulations Committee. In addition, the department is proposing to eliminate pheasant season in four coastal counties and permit the use of firearm silencers for hunting game animals and game birds. Staff recommendations addressing bobwhite quail hunting were tabled by the committee until additional population data is available later in the summer. Wildlife officials cited the rules for Grayson County, the only county in Texas with an archery-only deer season, as a starting point for the Dallas metro area counties being considered for an open hunting season. Under the proposed amendment, the current season structure in Grayson County would be altered to allow full-season, either-sex whitetail harvest. The amended Grayson County archery-only deer season structure would be implemented in Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties. In addition, the department is proposing to implement the Harris County season structure in Galveston County. The deer season in Collin and Rockwall counties has been closed since 1976 after agricultural development had virtually eliminated deer habitat. Since that time, agriculture has been gradually displaced by the extensive urban, suburban, and exurban growth of the Metroplex, which has resulted in highly fragmented habitat and minimal populations of white-tailed deer, mostly in riparian areas surrounding lakes and streams. The department believes that there is no biological reason to prohibit hunting and this is a way to increase hunting opportunity. Opening a season would also provide an additional method for addressing nuisance deer issues. In 1976 the department stocked pheasant in seven counties along the upper Texas coast in an effort to create hunting opportunity. By 2002, surveys indicated no pheasant populations in four of those counties, and the seasons in those counties were closed. Surveys now indicate that there are no pheasants remaining in Chambers, Jefferson, or Liberty counties, either. Therefore, the department proposes to close the season in those counties because there are no birds left to hunt. Regarding the proposed amendment allowing the use of silencers, the department has determined that there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use of firearm silencers for the take of alligators, game animals or game birds, and therefore proposes to eliminate the current prohibition. The department notes that if the proposal is adopted, it will not relieve any person of the obligation to otherwise comply with any applicable state, federal, or local law governing the possession or use of firearm silencers. Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department’s Internet web site and at upcoming public meetings to be scheduled around the state.