Monthly Archives: August 2015

Transfer of Breeder Deer: Texas Movement Standards

Landowners and Texas deer breeders interested in transferring deer must heed new movement standards. White-tailed deer breeders will be able to resume animal movements under a plan finalized yesterday by staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). The Breeder Deer Movement Qualification Standards Plan will take effect upon the filing of Emergency Rules by TPWD and will be in place through the 2015-16 Texas hunting season. Details of the plan are available online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/cwd.

Key elements of the new deer movement plan

  • A framework giving breeders who met previous movement qualified standards an option to move and liberate deer. Movement qualification is also dependent on administrative compliance with deer breeder permit regulations and statutes.
  • Enhanced options for closely-monitored herds with a status of “fifth year” or “certified” in the TAHC Monitored Herd Program. There are no additional release site requirements for ranches that receive deer only from these herds.
  • Additional Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in deer breeding facilities. Under the plan, the vast majority of the 1,300 permitted deer breeders in Texas can gain movement qualified status by testing two or fewer animals.
  • There will be CWD testing requirements for a proportion of deer that are harvested on some release sites.

The goal of the Movement Qualification Plan is to provide deer breeders with options prior to the September 22 deadline for movement and liberation of bucks and before the 2015-16 hunting season. This is just one of many steps Texas is taking to mitigate the spread of CWD after it was detected in deer from a Medina County deer breeding facility earlier this summer.

“We have received and tried to be responsive to the extensive feedback from the state’s many and varied deer management interests in developing this revised plan,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. “In the development of this framework, both agencies are balancing the need to minimize the risk of unwittingly allowing the movement or liberation of Chronic Wasting Disease-positive deer on the Texas landscape while adopting reasonable movement qualification standards that allow qualified deer breeders to begin moving and liberating captive deer. The complexity associated with the development of this framework is immense.”

A joint agency CWD Working Group will now focus efforts on developing individual herd plans for affected deer breeders and develop a plan for strategic sampling of hunter harvested deer from free-ranging populations this fall.

“Our goal was to protect the health of free-ranging and captive breeder deer, while maintaining business continuity for the breeder industry,” said Dr. Dee Ellis, TAHC Executive Director. “We believe this plan accomplishes those goals.”

Factors such as level of connectedness to the index facility, level of testing in the TAHC Monitored Herd Program, relative percentage of the overall herd that has been tested, and variable liberation criteria are all being considered in development of the herd plans.

The TAHC and TPWD are continuing the investigation of the index facility in Medina County, where 42 deer have been euthanized and tested for CWD.

“The results from the partial testing of the animals in the Index Facility, as well as samples from the CWD-exposed herds, are important to making reasonable, prudent, and responsible decisions for the remaining captive herds, neighboring landowners, and wild deer,” said Clayton Wolf, TPWD Wildlife Division director.

Texas Dove Hunting Season: Lock & Load!

Dove hunting is a big deal in Texas. We’ve got a number of dove species found across the state, but the most widely known species by hunters are mourning and white-winged doves. I always look forward to dove hunting season, and not just because it is the first a long line of Texas hunting seasons. September 1 is always looked upon favorably, even if it’s just a fair opening day.

Texas is home to lots of doves. Lots! Wildlife officials estimate Texas has a resident mourning dove breeding population of about 50 million birds. That is significantly more than any other state and about 18 percent of the nation’s total mourning dove population of 275 million.

The numbers increase substantially once the millions of migrant mourning doves from northern states that pass through Texas each fall, and a rapidly expanding white-winged dove population that has exploded to well over 10 million over the last decade or so. All those birds make for good dove hunting, which makes for a large dove harvest.

Last hunting season was great one according to harvest figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In summary, 300,000 Texas dove hunters shot more than 5.5 million mourning doves and nearly 2 million white-winged doves during the 2014-15 season. Fire up the grill. That’s a lot of bacon and jalepenos.

The banner harvest, up significantly from 2013, came largely as the result of optimum nesting conditions that put big numbers of young birds in the field ahead of the 2014 season opener. Wildlife officials are saying the upcoming dove hunting season may be just as good as last year thanks to abundant spring and summer rainfall that created banner nesting conditions for doves and left behind optimum habitat ripe with good dove forage.

No matter which corner of Texas you dove hunt, expect birds to be in good numbers. If you have food for our winged friends in the form of shredded sunflowers or waste grain in harvested ag fields, then expect great dove hunting. Good luck!