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
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.”
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.
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 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.