Wildlife Management Tax Valuation
Many landowners are interested in maintaining their property under a wildlife tax valuation simply because they want to preserve the habitat found on their land as well as provide for the native wildlife that need it for food, cover and shelter. The State of Texas believes that open space, good habitat and wildlife are important, otherwise the wildlife valuation would not exist. Among the statutory requirements for Texas property owners to qualify their agricultural land for wildlife management use is a mandate that owners perform at least three of seven wildlife management activities: These seven management practices include:
- Habitat control (habitat management)
- Erosion control
- Predator control (predator management)
- Providing supplemental supplies of water
- Providing supplemental supplies of food
- Providing supplemental shelters
- Making census counts (wildlife surveys) to determine population
The topics above offer detailed explanation of the kinds of practices that county appraisers will examine to determine if Texas landowners are meeting the requirements of the law. Some of the management practices listed may even require permits from federal, state or local governments. For example, before improving a wetland or controlling certain “predatory” bird species, an owner may need a permit. Or before a planned a prescribed burn, a property owner may be required to provide a map of the acreage. The appropriate legal authorities should be contacted for permit information before engaging in any of these types of management practices. Most management activities do not require special permits.
Wildlife Management Plan
A wildlife management plan should provide information on the property’s history and current use, establishes landowner goals for the property and provides a set of activities designed to integrate wildlife and habitat improvement. Such a plan is clear evidence that the owner’s use of the land is primarily for wildlife management.
A property owner must provide a wildlife management plan to the appraisal district. A plan must be completed submitted for each tract for which wildlife management use qualification is sought, unless the tracts are adjacent. The wildlife activities and practices contained in the plan must be consistent with the activities and practices for the ecoregion in which the property is located.
A complete wildlife plan is likely to include elements of all seven listed wildlife management activities. All activities and practices should be designed to overcome deficiencies that limit wildlife or harm their habitats. Each one of the activities should be practiced routinely or consistently as part of an overall habitat management plan. For example, scattering seed corn sporadically would not qualify as providing supplemental supplies of food, and occasionally placing barrels of water in a pasture would not meet the requirements for providing supplemental supplies of water. Although it takes a well-devised plan and active management for wildlife use, almost every landowner can implement qualifying practices on their land with proper instruction.
In addition, some activities that are appropriate for certain regions of Texas would be inappropriate in others. For example, some areas of East Texas may not require providing supplemental water for wildlife. And there may be no need for supplemental cover (shelter) in South Texas brush. Wildlife management plans should outline the activities appropriate to for the ecological region of Texas where the property is found. The regions are the Pineywoods, Gulf Prairies and Marshes, Post Oak Savannah, Blackland Prairies, Cross Timbers and Prairies, South Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Rolling Plains, High Plains, Trans-Pecos and Mountains and Basins.