Requirements for Wildlife Management Use
The first requirement for wildlife management use qualification on a tract of land is purely technical and is not related to the property’s actual use to manage wildlife. The law restricts the land that may qualify for wildlife management use. To qualify for agricultural appraisal under the wildlife management use, the tract of land must be qualified for agricultural appraisal under Tax Code Chapter 23, Subchapter D, (also called 1-d-1 or open space agricultural appraisal), at the time the owner decides to change use to wildlife management use.
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 2002 must be able to show the land was qualified for and appraised as agricultural land in 2001.
Land qualified for timber appraisal is not eligible to qualify for wildlife management use. Timber land is qualified under Tax Code Chapter 23, Subchapter E. The law limits wildlife management use to land qualified under Subchapter D of Chapter 23. Similarly, land qualified for agricultural appraisal under Article VIII, Section 1-d of the Texas Constitution and Chapter 23, Subchapter C Tax Code (also called 1-d agricultural appraisal) is not ineligible for wildlife management use. The property must be used to generate a sustaining breeding, migrating or wintering population of indigenous wild animals.
The second requirement for qualified wildlife management use is that the land must be used to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating or wintering population of indigenous wild animals.
- An indigenous animal is a native animal that originated in or naturally migrates through an area and that is living naturally in that area, as opposed to an exotic animal or one that has been introduced to the area. In this context, 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 it 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 indigenous wildlife population must be produced for human use.
The law requires an owner to propagate the wildlife population for human use. Human use may include food, medicine or recreation. Land will not qualify unless the owner propagates the population of wild animals for a human purpose.
The use of animals for food and medicine is self-explanatory. These uses result in a product and require active participation. 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.
Is the land used for three or more wildlife management practices?
Under the law, an owner must perform at least three of seven listed wildlife management activities on the land. An owner may qualify by doing more than three, but may not engage in fewer than three of the activities. These activities are explained in detail in Part Two of this booklet, but a short summary of each management activity listed in the law appears 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.
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 artificial 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.