Dove Hunting Season Set in Texas for 2014

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the dove hunting season dates and bag limits are finalized for 2014 and that they will provide dove hunters more opportunity later in the season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the 2014-2015 Texas dove season, which includes a 70-day season and 15-bird daily bag statewide. The traditional September 1 dove season opening day in the North and Central Zones remains and in 2014 that will fall on a Monday, Labor Day.

The season will extend longer on the backside, but the first segment in those zones will be shorter than last season, closing on Monday, Oct. 20. The season will reopen Friday, Dec. 19 and run through Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 in the North and Central Zones.

Dove Hunting Seasons in Texas

In the South Zone and Special White-winged Dove Area, the first segment will be shortened by five days compared to last year, and those days would be added to the end of the second segment. The South Zone opens Friday, Sept. 19 and runs through Monday, Oct. 20. The second segment will run Friday, Dec. 19 through Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015.

The daily bag limit for doves across the state of Texas is 15 and the possession limit is 45.

The Special White-winged Dove Area will be restricted to afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting the first two full September weekends on Sept. 6-7 and 13-14. Dove hunting in this part of Texas will reopen Friday, Sept. 19 and continue through Monday, Oct. 20, and then reopen Friday, Dec. 19 through Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. During the early two weekends, the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit will be 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

Based on overall habitat conditions this year, it looks like dove season should be hot across much of Texas in early fall. Lots of doves, both mourning and white-winged, have been observed over the past few months and nesting and production should be strong. That bodes well for Texas hunters, so I’m really looking forward to Sept. 1.

“Abandoned” Fawns and Other Wildlife Best Left Alone

As wildlife become active this time of year, many animals are on the move and taking their young as they search for resources. Some may appear abandoned, so people in rural and urban environments may find themselves coming across adolescent animals that appear to need human kindness but sometimes the less human interaction the babies get, the better.

Gone are the spring days of wobbly fawns and baby birds just out of their shells, yet these and other animals are still only a few months old. Most are adolescents being cared for by their mothers and these young animals often stray and appear to be abandoned. Some may appear listless from the heat or lack of water. This is not the time to help out, wildlife experts say.

“Many people discover apparently lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing, and this sometimes does more harm than good,” said Mark Klym of the Wildlife Diversity branch at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “People should leave young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. It is best to observe a wild creature from a distance for a while in order to make that determination.”

Staying too close to the baby may keep the mother from returning, Klym said. Continue reading

Wildlife Management Field Day for Coryell, Hamilton & Lampasas Counties, Texas

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is hosting a multi-county Range and Wildlife Management Field Day May 6 in Coryell County for landowners interested in managing both wildlife and livestock on their ranches. The multi-county field day is from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Harman School Community Center, located about four miles off of Farm-to-Market Road 580 on Harmon Road, and the field portion will be from 1-4 p.m. at the Hannah Ranch following lunch.

“Many landowners in Texas are beginning to see the value in managing for wildlife on their ranch,” said Brian Hays, associate director of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and a speaker at the program. “Landowners interested in wildlife management and habitat can take advantage of various incentive programs to diversify their income through good land stewardship for livestock and wildlife.”

Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent for Coryell County, said various AgriLife Extension staff will discuss turkey and quail biology and management, feral hog biology and abatement, and rangeland evaluation during the morning session. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expert will speak on wildlife management planning and Proposition 11, which allows landowners to retain their agricultural property tax valuation for wildlife management. A U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service expert will discuss proper brush management techniques such as dozing, prescribed fire and herbicide application. Continue reading

Suburban Deer Management in Pennsylvania

White-tailed deer are a enjoyed by landowners and hunters in rural areas, but this is not so much the case in suburban and urban settings like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, many cities across the US are starting to take a closer look at increased suburban deer management programs. Not because they want more deer, but because they need less. They are simply trying to cope with overabundant deer populations.

Whitetail are a prolific species that does well in areas where hunting is non-existent, and that type of land is increasing because of suburban development, many of which include greenbelts where deer thrive. Add to the good habitat, few natural predators in these areas the fact that city ordinances and property owner associations ban hunting and the whitetail numbers just keep going up, up and away. The time for a new deer management plan has arrived:

Source: “In urban deer management, the Game Commission is falling on its face,” said Robinson resident Randy Santucci, president of Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania. “Just jacking up the doe permits doesn’t solve the problem — it’s up to 61,000 in 2B.”

At a recent meeting with the Board of Game Commissioners, Santucci presented ideas intended to help the agency to “reduce the urban deer population.”

Did he say “reduce?” For years, Unified Sportsmen has aggressively attacked the Game Commission’s deer management plan on the grounds that too many deer were being killed, asserting that the agency didn’t have the backs of Keystone State hunters. Twice in the last decade Unified challenged the agency in Commonwealth Court in unsuccessful bids to reverse the intentional reduction of the deer population.

In what could be seen as a softening of tactics, Unified Sportsmen’s president is now proposing ideas that would help the Game Commission to trim deer populations in urban areas. Santucci said he understands the irony.

“This is something from outside the box,” he said, “to help address the economic impact of hunters no longer going to camps in the mountains where there used to be lots of deer, and problems in the suburbs where they have the opposite problem of too many deer.”

The Texas Wildlife Tax Valuation: Not an Exemption, But an Option

Ag Property Taxes & Wildlife Management

Landowners that currently have an ag tax valuation on their property may consider the wildlife tax valuation. Taxes paid because of property ownership to the State of Texas, county or other entity can affect your ability to manage your land as you choose. These expenses should be at the forefront in planning whether you are thinking of buying land or planning next year’s management activities. The ag tax valuation for wildlife management is a viable way for land owners to maintain the low tax rate, but many Texas landowners know nothing about it. It’s not difficult to make the switch to wildlife, but is it for you?

Property taxes are decreased by having an agricultural valuation or a wildlife valuation when compared to a residential or commercial valuation. That said, just because you can meet the requirements for the wildlife tax valuation does not mean that you should convert your land. Think about your short and long term goals for the property, then choose the path that makes sense for you.

Wildlife Tax Valuation

Land is often degraded when managed simply to receive an ag tax valuation. If this sounds like the case on your property, and it is of concern to you, then the wildlife tax valuation may be right up your alley. Landowners that switch ag lands to lands managed for wildlife for tax benefits should have a genuine interest in native plants and/or animals. Please consider your original purpose for the land before managing in a new or unknown way.

Land Trusts and Conservation Easements for Plants, Animals

Land trusts work with private landowners to create conservation easements that conserve or preserve the land into the future. While the landowner can retain ownership of the land, he or she voluntarily and permanently restricts certain uses such as land conversion. Several tax benefits can be associated with conservation easements: income tax deduction, reduced estate taxes, and possibly lower real estate taxes.

The amount and type of tax benefits depends on a variety of factors, so contacting tax professionals and land trust experts is important before making a decision on your land. To learn more about the tax implications of conservation easements, and to find a land trust near you, visit the Texas Land Trust Council website.

Estate Taxes

Estate taxes paid by those who inherit land are expected to fluctuate greatly over the next few years. These taxes should be considered when doing any kind of estate planning as they may affect your heir’s ability to keep the land as you intend it. The federal government collects estate taxes and information can be found by contacting the IRS.

Bobcat Habitat: Do Bobcats Live in the City?

Can Bobcats Live in Urban Areas

“Bobcats have learned to thrive in urban areas and will always be a part of our urban wildlife community,” said Derek Broman, TPWD urban wildlife biologist in Dallas. “The goal of this research effort is to answer important questions about urban wildlife to help DFW area cities and counties improve communication to their residents about how wildlife and people can co-exist.”

Researchers, wildlife managers and local government officials from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Utah State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service-National Wildlife Research Center, and Welder Wildlife Foundation have begun a study on the ecology of bobcats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The purpose of the study is to better understand how bobcats live with humans in highly urbanized landscapes. Continue reading

Texas Mule Deer Hunting: CWD Check Stations

Hunters than plan on mule deer hunting in West Texas should be aware of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) check stations that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has established for the 2013-14 season. Wildlife biologists are reminding mule deer hunters and landowners in far West Texas about the protocols developed as part the TPWD CWD management plan.

The mule deer plan includes mandatory check stations for harvested mule deer taken inside the CWD Containment Zone, which covers portions of Hudspeth, Culberson, and El Paso counties. The wildlife management plan was implemented after CWD was detected in tissue samples from two mule deer in far West Texas during the summer of 2012. Those were the first cases of CWD detected in Texas deer. Ongoing monitoring will track the spread of CWD. Continue reading