Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Nov. 5 public hearing adopted interim rules for captive deer movement requirements to provide the deer breeding industry with continuity and consistency through the 2015-16 hunting season.
The interim rules will replace emergency rules currently in effect that were developed as appropriate measures to protect white-tailed and mule deer in Texas in response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a captive deer breeding facility in Medina County this summer. Those emergency rules would have expired prior to the end of deer season.
The new rules allow all deer breeders that met previous movement qualifications, except a CWD-positive facility, the opportunity to continue to move and release breeder deer in an effort to balance the needs of the many and varied landowner, management, and deer hunting interests in the state. The interim rules increase the probability of detecting CWD in permitted deer breeding facilities and release sites where it exists, which would allow TPWD and TAHC to promptly implement a response plan designed to contain the disease to that immediate area.
A significant component of the new rules is the requirement that breeder deer may be released (liberated) only on release sites that are surrounded by a fence of at least seven feet in height and that is capable of retaining deer at all times.
The interim rules are adopted by the Commission as temporary measures with an Aug. 31, 2016 expiration. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department plans an extensive review of the interim rules following the conclusion of the current hunting season, and with input from stakeholders will develop new proposed rules for Commission consideration next spring.
In conjunction with the review process, TPWD is planning a symposium in January involving nationally-recognized authorities on CWD science and research. Among the issues to be discussed include live testing options for CWD.