Wildlife Management Plan

Habitat Management

Predator Control

Erosion Control

Conducting Census

Providing Food

Providing Shelter

Providing Water

    Wildlife Tax Exemption

     In 1995, Texas voters approved Proposition 11,  which allowed for the agricultural appraisal for land used to manage wildlife.  This allowed Texas landowners the option of converting their current agricultural exemption to a wildlife exemption if certain conditions were met.

The Tax Code, defines wildlife management as:

Actively using land that at the time the wildlife management began was appraised as qualified open-space land under this subchapter in at least three of the following ways to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating, or wintering population of indigenous wild animals for human use, including food, medicine, or recreation:

(A) habitat control;

(B) erosion control;

(C) predator control;

(D) providing supplemental supplies of water;

(E) providing supplemental supplies of food;

(F) providing shelters; and

(G) making census counts to determine population.

 

Qualifying for the Wildlife Tax Exemption

     1) Land must be qualified for Agricultural use at the time the owner changes use to wildlife management use.

This qualification is purely technical and is not related to the land's actual use to manage wildlife.  In other words, the land must have been qualified and appraised as agricultural land during the year before the year the owner changes to the wildlife management use. For example, an owner who wishes to qualify for wildlife management use in 1996 must be able to show the land was qualified for and appraised as agricultural land in 1995.

 

     2) Land must be used to generate a sustaining breeding, migrating, or wintering population of indigenous wild animals.

An indigenous animal is one that is native to Texas. 

Land may qualify for wildlife management use if it is instrumental in supporting a sustaining breeding, migrating or wintering population. A group of animals need not permanently live on the land, provided they regularly migrate across the land or seasonally live there.

A sustaining breeding population is a group of indigenous wild animals that is large enough to live independently over several generations. This definition implies that the population will not die out because it produces enough animals to continue as a viable group. 

A migrating population of indigenous wild animals is a group of animals moving between seasonal ranges.

A wintering population of indigenous wild animals is a group of animals living on its winter range.

The law requires an owner to propagate the wildlife population for human use. Human use may include food, medicine or recreation. 

A recreational use may be either active or passive and may include any type of use for pleasure or sport. Bird watching, hiking, hunting, photography and other non-passive recreational or hobby-type activities are qualifying recreational uses. The owner's passive enjoyment in owning the land and managing it for wildlife also is a qualifying recreational use.

 

     3) Is the land used for three or more of the following activities?

Meeting three of the possible seven management activities should be described in detail in the properties Wildlife Management Plan.  This will also show evidence of the land's primary Use and Degree of Intensity that are described below.

Habitat Control (Habitat Management). A wild animal's habitat is its surroundings as a whole, including plants, ground cover, shelter and other animals on the land. Habitat control or habitat management means actively using the land to create or promote an environment that is beneficial to wildlife on the land.

Erosion Control. Any active practice that attempts to reduce or keep soil erosion to a minimum for the benefit of wildlife is erosion control.

Predator Control (Predator Management). This term means practices intended to manage the population of predators to benefit the owner's target wildlife population. Predator control is usually not necessary unless the number of predators is harmful to the desired wildlife population.

Providing Supplemental Supplies of Water. Natural water exists in all wildlife environments. Supplemental water is provided when the owner actively provides water in addition to the natural sources.

Providing Supplemental Supplies of Food. Most wildlife environments have some natural food. An owner supplies supplemental food by providing food or nutrition in addition to the level naturally produced on the land.

Providing Shelter. This term means actively creating or maintaining vegetation or artifical structures that provide shelter from the weather, nesting and breeding sites or "escape cover" from enemies.

Making Census Counts to Determine Population. Census counts are periodic surveys and inventories to determine the number, composition or other relevant information about a wildlife population to measure if the current wildlife management practices are serving the targeted species.

 

     4) Primary Use

The law requires agriculture to be the primary use of the land.  This requirement is particularly important for land used to manage wildlife. For example, land devoted to wildlife management can be used as a residence for the owner, but the land will not qualify if residential use and not wildlife management is the land's primary use.  An appraiser should consider the following:

Is the owner implementing an active, written, wildlife management plan that shows the owner is engaging in activities necessary to preserve a sustaining breeding population on the land? While the law does not require an owner to have a management plan, a plan is clear evidence of the owner's use of the land primarily for wildlife management. A good plan will usually list wildlife management activities with the appropriate seasons and/or sequence of events.

Do the owner's management practices emphasize managing the population to ensure its continued existence over another use of the land? 

Has the owner engaged in the wildlife management practices necessary to sustain and encourage the population? 

 

     5) Degree of Intensity for Wildlife Management Use

The degree of intensity standard for wildlife management land is determined in the same way as other agricultural uses. Wildlife management land usually requires a management of the land that encourages long-term maintenance of the population.

Because wildlife management activities are elements of the degree of intensity determination, an owner must be engaging in three of seven activities to the degree of intensity typical for the area.

 

Wildlife Management Activities and Practices  

HABITAT CONTROL (HABITAT MANAGEMENT)

A wild animal's habitat is its surroundings as a whole, including plants, ground cover, shelter and other animals on the land. Habitat control or habitat management means actively using the land to create or promote an environment that benefits wildlife on the land.

Activities that contribute to habitat control or management include:

Grazing management

Prescribed burning

Range enhancement

Brush management

Forest management

Riparian management and improvement

Wetland improvements

Habitat protection for species of concern

Managing native, exotic and feral species

 

EROSION CONTROL

Any active practice that attempts to reduce or keep soil erosion to a minimum for wild animals' benefit is erosion control. Some erosion control practices include:

Pond construction

Gully shaping

Streamside, pond and wetland revegetation

Establishing native plants

Dike, levee construction or management

Water diversion.

 

PREDATOR MANAGEMENT

This term refers to practices intended to manage the population of predators to benefit the owner's target wildlife population.  Predator control is usually not necessary unless the number of predators is harmful to the desired wildlife population.  Predator control and management should not be counted as one of the seven wildlife management activities necessary to qualify for agricultural use appraisal unless it is part of a comprehensive wildlife management scheme or plan. Some types of predator management and/or control are:

Mammal predator control

Fire ant control

Brown-headed cowbird control

Grackle or starling control.

 

PROVIDING SUPPLEMENTAL WATER

Natural water exists in all wildlife environments. Supplemental water is provided when the owner actively provides water in addition to the natural sources. This category of wildlife management activity includes providing supplemental water in habitats where water is limited or redesigning water sources to increase its availability to wildlife. Wildlife water developments are in addition to those sources already available to livestock and may require protection from livestock. Some examples of recommended practices include:

Marsh or wetland restoration or development

Managing well, trough and windmill overflow

Spring development and/or improvements.

 

PROVIDING SUPPLEMENTAL FOOD

Most wildlife environments have some natural food. An owner supplies supplemental food by providing food or nutrition in addition to the level naturally produced on the land. Grazing Management, Prescribed Burning and Range Improvement can be used to provide supplemental food.  Other ways to provide supplemental food include:

Food plots

Feeder and mineral supplements

Managing tame pasture, old fields and croplands.

 

PROVIDING SUPPLEMENTAL SHELTER

This term means actively creating or maintaining vegetation or artificial structures that provide shelter from the weather, nesting and breeding sites or "escape cover" from enemies. The best shelter for wildlife can be provided by a well managed habitat. Some practices listed below provide types of shelter that may be unavailable in the habitat:

Installing nest boxes and bat boxes

Brush piles and slash retention

Managing fence lines

Managing hay meadow, pasture or cropland

Half-cutting trees and shrubs

Establishing woody plants and shrubs

Developing natural cavities and snags.

 

CENSUS COUNTS

Census counts are periodic surveys and inventories to determine the number, composition or other relevant information about a wildlife population to measure if the current wildlife management practices are serving the targeted species. Such surveys also help evaluate the management plan's goals and practices. Specifically, this activity estimates species numbers, annual population trends, density or age structure using accepted survey techniques. Annual results should be recorded as evidence of completing this practice. The survey techniques and intensity listed below should be appropriate to the species counted:

Spotlight counting

Aerial counts

Daylight wildlife composition counts

Harvest data collection and record keeping

Browse utilization surveys

Census and monitoring endangered wildlife

Census and monitoring of nongame wildlife species

 

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