Deer hunting in 4 urban counties, silencers open for public comment

Deer hunting next season in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Galveston counties took a step toward approval last week during a meeting of state wildlife officials.

The recommendation was made Jan. 25 during a presentation to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Regulations Committee.

Also, TPWD staff proposed allowing the use of firearm silencers for hunting game birds and game animals, including deer.

The Regulations Committee, however, tabled staff recommendations addressing bobwhite quail hunting until additional population data is available later in the summer.

(See related quail story here.)

Now begins a public comment period on all the proposed recommendations. (Contact information appears at the bottom of this article.)

Wildlife officials cited the rules for Grayson County, the only county in Texas with an archery-only deer season, as a starting point for the Dallas metro area counties being considered for an open hunting season.

Under the proposed amendment, an archery-only full-season, either-sex whitetail season would be allowed in Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties.

Also, TPWD staff is proposing to implement the Harris County season structure in Galveston County.

The deer season in Collin and Rockwall counties has been closed since 1976 after agricultural development had virtually eliminated deer habitat.

Since that time, agriculture has been gradually displaced by the extensive growth of the Metroplex, which has resulted in highly fragmented habitat and minimal populations of white-tailed deer, mostly in riparian areas surrounding lakes and streams.

The staff, however, believes that there is no biological reason to prohibit hunting and this is a way to increase hunting opportunity, according to a TPWD news release.

Opening a season would also provide an additional method for addressing nuisance deer issues.

Regarding the proposed allowing of silencers, TPWD staff has determined that there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use of these sound suppressors, according to the news release.

If approved, they would be legal for taking alligators, game animals or game birds.

TPWD officials noted, however, that if the proposal is adopted, it will not relieve any person of the obligation to otherwise comply with any applicable state, federal, or local law governing the possession or use of firearm silencers.

Finally, TPWD is proposing to eliminate pheasant season in four coastal counties. In 1976 the department stocked pheasant in seven counties along the upper Texas coast in an effort to create hunting opportunity.

By 2002, surveys indicated no pheasant populations in four of those counties, and the seasons in those counties were closed.

Surveys now indicate that there are no pheasants remaining in Chambers, Jefferson, or Liberty counties, either. Therefore, the department proposes to close the season in those counties because there are no birds left to hunt.

People can comment on any of these issues during public meetings that will be scheduled around the state, or they can send comments directly to TPWD.

All comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by mail, phone or e-mail to:

Robert MacDonald (512) 389-4775, robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. 

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