Texas Proposed Wildlife Changes: Turtles

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has proposed changes to Chapter 65 of the Texas Administrative Code (T.A.C.) regarding four species of turtles. These species are:

  1. red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans);
  2. common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina);
  3. smooth softshell (Apalone mutica), and;
  4. spiny softshell (Apalone spinifera).

We have provided the full details below but to summarize:

  1. These four species will no longer be exempt from certain actions and will be placed upon an elevated nongame wildlife list, 31 T.A.C. §65.331 (e);
  2. these species cannot be removed for commercial activity, even on private lands and private waters;
  3. the breeding of animals collected on private land would be illegal;
  4. bans certain methods for catching turtles on private lands, including some nets;
  5. new commercial activity rules will apply involving these turtles (new rules for nongame dealer permit or nongame permit);
  6. additional conditions under Section 65.327 must be followed including: supply proof animals came from another state, send notice of import/export within 24 hours, maintain documentation, etc. (link below);
  7. it would remain legal to have these turtles as pets without a permit, but: you must possess six or fewer specimens of a species and you cannot engage in commercial activity with these species;
  8. Commercial activity - The sale, offer for sale, exchange, or barter of nongame wildlife.

Detailed Changes

This link provides full details to Title 31 Section 65.327. As proposed, the four species would be elevated to the controlled nongame species list, 31 T.A.C. §65.331 (e). There will be additional regulation which must be followed by anyone working with these species.

LINK: www.txrules.elaws.us/rule/title31_chapter65_sec.65.327

The below language would be removed from Title 31 T.A.C. §65.328. Their direct mention in this section is what allowed for certain activities.

(b) Any device used to take turtles shall be set such that:
(1) the opening or entrance to the device remains above water at all times; and
(2) the holding area of trap provides a sufficient area above water to prevent trapped turtles from drowning.
§65.331. Commercial Activity.
(a) (No change.)
(b) Turtles.
(1) The holder of a nongame permit may possess, transport, sell, import, or export common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta), or softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera, A. muticus) in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, provided that take occurs on private land or private water.
(2) The holder of a nongame dealer's permit may possess, transport, sell, resell, import, or export common snapping turtle (Chelydra
serpentina), red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta), or softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera, A. muticus) in accordance with the provisions of
this subchapter, provided that take occurs on private land or private water.

These four species would be added to 31 T.A.C. §65.331 (e). See the full list with these species added at:

LINK: www.sos.texas.gov/texreg/archive/April202018/tables-and-graphics/201801505-1.pdf

Additional Information

We are alerting Texan stakeholders and those doing business in Texas for several reasons. If the proposal passes, obviously they will need to be aware of what it means and the changes. Pet owners must also be aware of the changes.

Deadline and Contact Information

The Commissioners will vote on this proposal on August 23, 2018. Any comments must be submitted by 7:00 AM August 22, 2018. Public comment of under three minutes will also be allowed at the TPWD Commission meeting on August 23.

Commission Meeting: 9 a.m. Thursday, August 23, 2018 (agenda to be posted at www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/meetings)

Location: TPWD Headquarters

4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744Austin

Comment deadline: 7:00 AM August 22, 2018.

Online link for comments:   www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/201808_commercial_collection_freshwater_turtles.phtml

Note: Commenters must identify their Texas county residence.

Comments on the proposal may also be submitted to Meredith Longoria at:

e-mail: meredith.longoria@tpwd.texas.gov or phone: (512) 389-4410

TPWD Commissioner addresses:

LINK: www.tpwd.texas.gov/about/tpw-commissioners

Article written by USARK