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Texas to Consider Sweeping Deer Hunting Regulation Changes

From Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

-- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has transitioned away from political boundaries for the purpose of monitoring white-tailed deer populations and toward biologically-based communities or Resource Management Units (RMUs).

The department has identified 33 unique RMUs across the state having similar soils, vegetation types and land use practices they believe will more accurately capture deer population dynamics. The intent is to develop deer season bag limit frameworks based on these units, although implementation will still track county boundaries to avoid confusion among hunters.

In a briefing of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee, TPWD unveiled an extensive suite of potential regulation changes in deer harvest throughout much of the state. The department will be gathering public input on the possible proposals during the next couple of months and present to the commission in January a comprehensive set of proposals.

Those proposals will then go back out for official comment during a series of public hearings around the state next spring. A final decision will be made by the commission at its March 25-26, 2009 public meeting.

Expansion of Antler Restriction Regulations
One key potential change involves further expansion of the department's successful antler restriction regulations into 52 additional counties where biologists have identified a need to provide greater protection of younger buck deer. In these counties, data indicates more than 55 percent of the harvested bucks are two-and-a-half years of age or younger, which creates an imbalance in the deer herd age structure.

According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect, the antler restrictions have improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity.

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