Game bird stamp changes to aid conservation.
By Tom Harvey
When hunters buy Texas licenses this fall, they'll purchase new game bird stamps mandated by recent legislation.
Senate Bill 1192 replaces three game bird stamps with two new ones. The $7 white-winged dove stamp and $7 wat-erfowl stamp are now combined into a single $7 Migratory Game Bird Stamp required to hunt ducks, geese, white-winged doves, mourning doves, white-tipped doves, sandhill cranes, woodcock, snipe, rails and gallinules. The $5 turkey stamp has been replaced by the $7 Upland Game Bird Stamp required to hunt turkey, quail, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chicken. TPWD estimates the two new stamps will generate up to $1.5 million per year for conservation work.
Mourning dove hunters who were not required to buy the white-winged dove stamp are now required to have the new Migratory Game Bird Stamp. This new stamp probably will affect only about 40 percent of dove hunters, because about 60 percent of all dove hunters already purchase the white-winged dove stamp or a combo license that includes it. By the same token, TPWD estimates that only about 40 percent of quail hunters would feel the economic impact of the new Upland Game Bird Stamp.
The stamp upgrade addresses changing conservation needs. Mourning dove breeding surveys show a long-term population decline, and research is needed to find ways to help. In contrast, whitewings have expanded their range considerably since the whitewing stamp was created in 1971. In spite of this, TPWD has not been empowered to allocate whitewing funds to research on mourning doves. Likewise, quail and other upland game birds, in addition to the wild turkey, will benefit from funds generated by the Upland Game Bird Stamp.
Conservation groups lined up behind the stamp change. TPWD's Game Bird Advisory Board and the Texas Quail Council helped craft the stamp change concept. Other groups supporting the legislation include Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, the Texas Audubon Society, the Dove Sportsman's Society, Sportsmen Conservationists of Texas, the Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Farm Bureau.