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Old 10-16-2019, 12:37 PM   #1
Sackett
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Default Elk in Texas - Why hasn't TPWD Made them a game animal or protected?

Like the title says, why are Elk (An animal species that previously resided in Texas), listed as a non-game animal or not protected? I feel there is a hypocritical stance from TPWD when comparing Black Bears which are also making a comeback in the state. As a hunter and conservationist, I'd love to see elk at numbers high enough to justify a season on. I'm sure theres a good reason why they are not, but I'd like to hear it from those that know.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:38 PM   #2
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Believe they consider them a sub species?
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:39 PM   #3
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Like the title says, why are Elk (An animal species that previously resided in Texas), listed as a non-game animal or not protected? I feel there is a hypocritical stance from TPWD when comparing Black Bears which are also making a comeback in the state. As a hunter and conservationist, I'd love to see elk at numbers high enough to justify a season on. I'm sure theres a good reason why they are not, but I'd like to hear it from those that know.
Elk were declared a non game animal by the legislature in the mid 90's therefore TPWD has no regulatory control over them outside of providing hunting opportunity to the few that are on state parks/public lands.

Last edited by El General; 10-16-2019 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:39 PM   #4
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I have been wondering the same thing.....


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Old 10-16-2019, 12:39 PM   #5
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Like all things TPWD follow the money..
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:42 PM   #6
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There is a meat eater pod cast where Steve interviews the director of TPWD and this is discussed
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:43 PM   #7
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There is a meat eater pod cast where Steve interviews the director of TPWD and this is discussed
Yes. Great podcast and I think Carter Smith did a great job representing our state.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:44 PM   #8
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Yes. Great podcast and I think Carter Smith did a great job representing our state.
Agreed
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:44 PM   #9
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so private ranches out west can sell hunts for them without the TPWD getting involved.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:45 PM   #10
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There is a meat eater pod cast where Steve interviews the director of TPWD and this is discussed
Yep. He goes over with Steve exactly why they are not a game species. I think they should be and require a tag but that’s just me. Like said above as well, follow the money.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:45 PM   #11
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The native elk subspecies were wiped out, the ones here now are reintroduced from a different subspecies.

I do agree that they should be managed as game animals but I can see a LOT of ranch owners making cash off of them not wanting that to happen.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:46 PM   #12
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If they recognize it as a game species then they have to have a management plan along with many other things that cost big $$. That and with all the exotic ranches with captive elk getting out, the state has to be sure that these are elk coming in from NM (which they are) and not some disease riddled barnyard elk herd. Takes time to do that type of testing. Another thing to look at is the lack of public land in Texas “elk country”. Whether or not the state recognizes them as a game animal, they will still be on private land and the general public still will not be allowed to hunt them without paying private landowners. I don’t see the up side to recognizing the herd unless the landowners and the state can work side by side on the issues and processes that will come with it. In my experience most, not all, but most landowners don’t want state over site of what they do with their animals on their land. And yes, being as they aren’t recognized yet, the elk are theirs at this point.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:47 PM   #13
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Meateater episode 177 Poison v. Choppers.

https://www.themeateater.com/listen/...on-vs-choppers
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:47 PM   #14
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I've personally seen elk in cooke and wise county, seen some killed in deer season. Alwas heard they were escapees from the powerline companies going through high fence ranches. I really wish the state would do more to try to accomplish an established herd.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:48 PM   #15
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Meateater episode 177 Poison v. Choppers.

https://www.themeateater.com/listen/...on-vs-choppers
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:58 PM   #16
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The native elk subspecies were wiped out, the ones here now are reintroduced from a different subspecies.

I do agree that they should be managed as game animals but I can see a LOT of ranch owners making cash off of them not wanting that to happen.
Actually, this is probably not true or at least unprovable. Some people claim that the elk native to Texas were Merriam's elk. There is no real scientific data that Merriam's elk were really a subspecies and there is no real data that Merriam's elk were the subspecies native to Texas. If Merriam's are a distinct subspecies, it is likely that some areas, like around El Paso had Merriam's elk. But, elk that were in the panhandle would likely have been Rocky Mountain elk. previous to European contact, elk were in abundance on the great plains. Would that have been a separate but undocumented subspecies of elk? Who knows.

Anyway, with genetic testing we have learned alot about what is a species and what isn't. Most subspecies designations that were based on physical characteristics have gone away and that is likely what would happen if you were able to test a Merriam's and a Rocky Mountain elk.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:59 PM   #17
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I've personally seen elk in cooke and wise county, seen some killed in deer season. Alwas heard they were escapees from the powerline companies going through high fence ranches. I really wish the state would do more to try to accomplish an established herd.
Yeah, I have seen free ranging elk in Brewster and Jeff Davis counties.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:00 PM   #18
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Actually, this is probably not true or at least unprovable. Some people claim that the elk native to Texas were Merriam's elk. There is no real scientific data that Merriam's elk were really a subspecies and there is no real data that Merriam's elk were the subspecies native to Texas. If Merriam's are a distinct subspecies, it is likely that some areas, like around El Paso had Merriam's elk. But, elk that were in the panhandle would likely have been Rocky Mountain elk. previous to European contact, elk were in abundance on the great plains. Would that have been a separate but undocumented subspecies of elk? Who knows.

Anyway, with genetic testing we have learned alot about what is a species and what isn't. Most subspecies designations that were based on physical characteristics have gone away and that is likely what would happen if you were able to test a Merriam's and a Rocky Mountain elk.
Interesting, I had not heard that. Thanks for correcting!
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:00 PM   #19
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I'm just fine with things the way they are. I should delete the thread before this gains traction!

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Old 10-16-2019, 01:02 PM   #20
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I have been on a very large ranch in W. Texas and have seen more than 100 elk....there are a bunch out there and are under very little pressure.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:12 PM   #21
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I have no idea the answer, but can elk jump a normal barbed wire fence? If not, seems like it’d be pretty much impossible to have a “native” free ranging elk population as they’d never cross property lines.


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Old 10-16-2019, 01:15 PM   #22
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There were tons of elk on the old Independence creek ranch in Terrell county, which was high fenced. When the Nature Conservancy bought the ranch they took all of the fencing down. This helped populate the Trans Pecos with elk.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:16 PM   #23
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I have no idea the answer, but can elk jump a normal barbed wire fence? If not, seems like it’d be pretty much impossible to have a “native” free ranging elk population as they’d never cross property lines.


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Yes. Like it isn't even there.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:20 PM   #24
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If they recognize it as a game species then they have to have a management plan along with many other things that cost big $$. That and with all the exotic ranches with captive elk getting out, the state has to be sure that these are elk coming in from NM (which they are) and not some disease riddled barnyard elk herd. Takes time to do that type of testing. Another thing to look at is the lack of public land in Texas “elk country”. Whether or not the state recognizes them as a game animal, they will still be on private land and the general public still will not be allowed to hunt them without paying private landowners. I don’t see the up side to recognizing the herd unless the landowners and the state can work side by side on the issues and processes that will come with it. In my experience most, not all, but most landowners don’t want state over site of what they do with their animals on their land. And yes, being as they aren’t recognized yet, the elk are theirs at this point.
The cost to TPWD is not an issue. First, bureaucracies generally are in favor of gaining regulatory control over anything. Secondly, profits from the sale of elk tags would offset the cost of a management plan.

Figuring out which elk are privately owned and which are not is sticky, but they have set precedent with whitetail on this issue already.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:21 PM   #25
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Yes. Great podcast and I think Carter Smith did a great job representing our state.
One of my favorite episodes.

The elk population in SE Edwards county is certainly growing, that I know to be certain.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:22 PM   #26
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The legislation would have to pass a bill moving regulatory control from the Texas Animal Health Commission to Texas Parks and Wildlife for elk to be regulated as a game species. TPWD already recognizes them as a native game species, but they have no regulatory control.

If you want elk to be regulated by TPWD, then write your state senator and congressman.

I think elk should be managed as a native game species, but I don't think that changing control from TAHC to TPWD is going to increase hunting opportunity or herd numbers unless TPWD started an active restocking program, which at least in the short term is probably unlikely unless it was specifically appropriated by the legislature.

Last edited by El General; 10-16-2019 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:30 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Bullseye07 View Post
I have no idea the answer, but can elk jump a normal barbed wire fence? If not, seems like it’d be pretty much impossible to have a “native” free ranging elk population as they’d never cross property lines.


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Yes they can, I almost hit a big 6 x 6 by Sanderson one night on the highway, I turned around because I couldn't believe it. I missed it by inches, it walked over to the fence and hopped right over it. I was in awe of his size and that I just saw an elk in Texas.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:36 PM   #28
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The cost to TPWD is not an issue. First, bureaucracies generally are in favor of gaining regulatory control over anything. Secondly, profits from the sale of elk tags would offset the cost of a management plan.



Figuring out which elk are privately owned and which are not is sticky, but they have set precedent with whitetail on this issue already.


What profits from the sale of elk tags?? Would they come on the Texas hunting license and everyone would get one? If that’s the case then I completely agree with you. There still wouldn’t be an opportunity for everyone to have a chance to hunt one as with the mule deer tag. But if they were designated landowner tags that were given to property owners and then sold by the owners I don’t see how the state would gain anything but control. Not arguing with you I’m seriously interested.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:37 PM   #29
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Default Elk in Texas - Why hasn't TPWD Made them a game animal or protected?

.

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Old 10-16-2019, 01:44 PM   #30
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so private ranches out west can sell hunts for them without the TPWD getting involved.


Yes


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Old 10-16-2019, 01:49 PM   #31
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I have been on a very large ranch in W. Texas and have seen more than 100 elk....there are a bunch out there and are under very little pressure.


Yes sir. The LF has an estimated elk population of 6500 last I heard. That might be the “very large ranch” you speak of


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Old 10-16-2019, 01:50 PM   #32
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We hunt in Edwards and have seen them on game cam, never a forked bull but some good lookin cows and a couple of spikes..

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Old 10-16-2019, 01:54 PM   #33
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This "subspecies" bit is all BS.

Elk were never "extinct" in Texas.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:56 PM   #34
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We have a resident herd on The LBJ Wildflower Center land. You can see them from MOPAC on occasion. Most of Texas was home to native populations way back in the day. I'd like to see them managed as a native species again some day. I just don't see it happening any time soon.
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:30 PM   #35
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I have heard about and seen photos of elk in the panhandle
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:40 PM   #36
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Only benefit at this point of making them a game animal would be stopping TPWD management of them in reference to Bighorn sheep.

Elk populations are growing. I personally am very happy I have immediate management over elk when they are laying over a circle of corn.
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:52 PM   #37
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I'd love to see some running wild in Menard County
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:54 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoof View Post
We have a resident herd on The LBJ Wildflower Center land. You can see them from MOPAC on occasion. Most of Texas was home to native populations way back in the day. I'd like to see them managed as a native species again some day. I just don't see it happening any time soon.
It wouldn't change the opportunity for people to hunt them any if at all. Most of them reside on private land and the private land owners are managing the herds so they aren't getting shot out of existence.

The ones on public land out west can already be shot if you are 1 of the 2 people to draw a tag.
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:32 PM   #39
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It wouldn't change the opportunity for people to hunt them any if at all. Most of them reside on private land and the private land owners are managing the herds so they aren't getting shot out of existence.

The ones on public land out west can already be shot if you are 1 of the 2 people to draw a tag.

Exactly!
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:40 PM   #40
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There is a meat eater pod cast where Steve interviews the director of TPWD and this is discussed
I listened to it and thought the director did a great job, but he danced all around that question like a politician. He never gave a good or relative explanation.
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:50 PM   #41
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I see no reason to want TPWD to have management control over Texas elk. As mentioned above already, they're mostly on private land, so access to hunt them for the general public would not be enhanced if they were a regulated game animal. You can already shoot them on public land draw hunts. Changing them to a native game species would probably DECREASE the public draw hunt opportunities. Right now, they're an "exotic", so TPWD wants them all shot. Make them a native game animal, and they'd decide that they need to be protected to get numbers up before allowing any more hunts.

Meanwhile. elk are being managed by landowners and their numbers are increasing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And especially don't fix it with a government solution.
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:56 PM   #42
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It wouldn't change the opportunity for people to hunt them any if at all. Most of them reside on private land and the private land owners are managing the herds so they aren't getting shot out of existence.

The ones on public land out west can already be shot if you are 1 of the 2 people to draw a tag.
Well, they certainly ain't gonna let me hunt the Wildflower Center.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:12 PM   #43
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They are walking around the rock springs area. See them on camera yearly.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:20 PM   #44
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I see no reason to want TPWD to have management control over Texas elk. As mentioned above already, they're mostly on private land, so access to hunt them for the general public would not be enhanced if they were a regulated game animal. You can already shoot them on public land draw hunts. Changing them to a native game species would probably DECREASE the public draw hunt opportunities. Right now, they're an "exotic", so TPWD wants them all shot. Make them a native game animal, and they'd decide that they need to be protected to get numbers up before allowing any more hunts.

Meanwhile. elk are being managed by landowners and their numbers are increasing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And especially don't fix it with a government solution.
I agree. Next thing people will want Axis to be Texas Game animals
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:21 PM   #45
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What profits from the sale of elk tags?? Would they come on the Texas hunting license and everyone would get one? If that’s the case then I completely agree with you. There still wouldn’t be an opportunity for everyone to have a chance to hunt one as with the mule deer tag. But if they were designated landowner tags that were given to property owners and then sold by the owners I don’t see how the state would gain anything but control. Not arguing with you I’m seriously interested.
A lot of the way that TPWD manages things has to do with tradition. This is how we have always done it, and if it ain't broke don't fix it. For instance, many of the fairly odd doe harvest laws in East Texas are remnants from when county commissioners set the county's deer harvest laws. TPWD generally doesn't change them unless citizens of the county start asking for change.

So, from that perspective, it seems like they would put elk tags on your license like deer tags. But, there are not the abundance of elk like there are deer, so this wouldn't work.

I would think that the best way to create opportunity and make money would be for some number of the tags to go to landowners (like New Mexico). The landowner applies and receives say 5 tags. He can sell those tags to anyone he wants. When he sells that tag, the hunter has to buy a carcass tag from the state.

They could also set up a Big Time Texas raffle hunt with a private land owner.

Hunter opportunity would be limited unless they start reintroducing elk to some of the state public lands areas.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:21 PM   #46
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I think it's odd that in the draw hunts thhey even mention or restrict the number of elk that can be shot, when in theory the State is basically saying it's not supposed to be here...same with other exotics on draw hunts / public lands.

Seems unless the State wants to manage them, they would be fair game.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:27 PM   #47
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Quote:
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Well, they certainly ain't gonna let me hunt the Wildflower Center.
I was wondering why the south Mopac toll road extension has an Elk crossing sign posted.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:28 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by El General View Post
A lot of the way that TPWD manages things has to do with tradition. This is how we have always done it, and if it ain't broke don't fix it. For instance, many of the fairly odd doe harvest laws in East Texas are remnants from when county commissioners set the county's deer harvest laws. TPWD generally doesn't change them unless citizens of the county start asking for change.

So, from that perspective, it seems like they would put elk tags on your license like deer tags. But, there are not the abundance of elk like there are deer, so this wouldn't work.

I would think that the best way to create opportunity and make money would be for some number of the tags to go to landowners (like New Mexico). The landowner applies and receives say 5 tags. He can sell those tags to anyone he wants. When he sells that tag, the hunter has to buy a carcass tag from the state.

They could also set up a Big Time Texas raffle hunt with a private land owner.

Hunter opportunity would be limited unless they start reintroducing elk to some of the state public lands areas.

Already have the ability to work with private landowners for draw hunts, already extra on a few draws.

It’s going to cost more money to survey for LO tags then what tag revenue would bring in.

System isn’t broke and is working, don’t muck it up TPWD!!
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:49 PM   #49
Shane
Pope & Young
 
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Abilene, TX
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I agree. Next thing people will want Axis to be Texas Game animals
That would be crazy too! The axis are doing just fine. TPWD isn't needed there either.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:57 PM   #50
El General
Ten Point
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Houston
Hunt In: Coke County
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Already have the ability to work with private landowners for draw hunts, already extra on a few draws.

It’s going to cost more money to survey for LO tags then what tag revenue would bring in.

System isn’t broke and is working, don’t muck it up TPWD!!
As I mentioned above, I don't believe TPWD regulation of elk would lead to increased hunter opportunity unless they were mandated by the legislature to recover elk in habitats that can support them and the legislature provided funding.
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