Question: Wildlife “Exemption,” Edwards County
“I am inquiring about your services regarding the preparation and submission of a wildlife exemption plan. We recently purchased a small 195 acre ranch in Edwards County, Texas, less than a year ago that had an existing agriculture tax exemption. The previous owners managed about 70 goats and we decided not to pursue that option due to the existing drought conditions.
As of now, all goats are gone of of the property, which needs the rest. Instead, we placed 5-350 pound broadcast corn feeders, two alfalfa feeders and one protein feeder for whitetail deer on the property. They have been running since we purchased the place and expect to run them year round, with the exception of the protein feeder.
The property has three wells in which two are working, which is quite an asset for a piece of real estate in Edwards County. We intend to run a water line to a trough as a supplemental water source. The property also has a strong spring that runs year round. We also have been performing selective clearing of the numerous cedars and will continue to do so for years to come.
We also placed a hog trap to reduce the number of feral hogs that are on the property and have been slowly reducing the number of predators (coyotes, bobcats, foxes) with the use of a game call. We are very wildlife oriented on the property and are interested in wildlife management, but not entirely sure of the requirements for wildlife use for the tax valuation. Please contact me if you are interested in assisting with the process.”
Wildlife Management Use for Ag Tax Valuation
First, congrats on you property. A tract of land with 3 wells and a spring in Edwards County is quite a find indeed. It sounds like you are doing plenty of management practices to take advantage of the wildlife tax valuation, so that is a good thing. It’s always to note though, that the management practices that qualify for wildlife for the “wildlife exemption” actually vary by ecoregion within Texas.
A management practice that can be used for qualifying in one county may not necessarily work in another, if they are found within different ecological regions of the state. The really important aspect of applying is making sure that you intend on performing at least 3 of the 7 practices. Often times, several management activities will fall within the same practice. You can’t double dip with regards to the practices you perform, even though they may be beneficial.
A well structure wildlife management plan will identify the 3 practices that a property owner has elected and outline specifically what her or she will do on the land for the wildlife species that you are to be managed for. It sounds like white-tailed deer are of interest to you, so it would make sense to provide supplemental water and supplemental food, although corn feeders are not typically considered as providing supplemental food for deer unless they are used as part of an overall deer management program (bait) which involves population reduction.
Brush management would be a great practice to include in any wildlife tax exemption plan filed in Edwards County. Juniper (cedar) is abundant just about everywhere and controlling this plant over the long term is much warranted on any property out that way. Let’s discuss your plans for the ranch so that we can make sure you meet the requirements for habitat/brush control as they pertain to wildlife management use.