The Texas Wildlife Association provided invited testimony and recommendations in Austin today to a House Committee studying ways to improve deer breeder compliance with existing laws and regulations.
The House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism invited TWA to testify as part of its consideration of the interim charge. Representatives of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Deer Association, and the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society also delivered testimony.
TWA White-tailed Deer Management Committee Chairman J. David Anderson of Houston provided TWA's testimony. Anderson is a TWA Executive Committee member, an owner of a family ranch in Duval County, and a licensed deer breeder. TWA estimates it has 300-400 members involved in the Texas deer breeding industry. There are nearly 1300 licensed deer breeders in the state.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials said 33 percent of licensed deer breeders failed to meet required reporting deadlines in 2010, and 28 percent of licensed deer breeders failed to meet required reporting deadlines in 2011. Anderson said education is a key to improve compliance rates.
"We feel one of the primary issues is that some potential Permit applicants do not fully understand the 'expectations' that come with the Breeder's Permit. I didn't fully understand it when I got my Deer Breeder permit," said Anderson. "More effort should be put into front end education of the applicant, and with TPWD's manpower issues, it should be at the applicant's expense - maybe a training video with a short quiz following the viewing (much like taking defensive driving on-line), with continuing education requirements. There needs to be, on the front end, a clear understanding with what holding this permit means, the permit holder's obligations under the law, and the ability of the permit holder to do business."
Anderson said there need to be appropriate consequences associated with missing deadlines and other non-compliance matters. He added that this needs to be clearly spelled out to the applicant before he or she moves forward with an application, and there need to be increasing fines at defined stages of non-compliance.
Click here for a copy of Anderson's testimony to the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism.
TWA takes the position that 1) the Deer Breeder permit is a privilege, not a vested right; 2) the Deer Breeder permit, and its use, is a tool in the deer manager's toolbox to influence wild deer populations; 3) the economic value of the Deer Breeder permit to a permittee (or a beneficiary) is derived from hunting; and 4) The Deer Breeder permit should do no harm to the broader hunting economics or to the broader native, wild deer populations.