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Principal Issues
An owner’s wildlife management use must meet all the requirements to qualify for agricultural use, defined in Chapter 23 of the The Texas Property Tax Code. The following is a short discussion of the principal issues involved in agricultural use of land used for wildlife management. For a thorough discussion of these components, please refer to the State Comptroller of Public Accounts Manual of the Appraisal of Agricultural Land.

Primary Use
The law requires agriculture to be the primary use of the land. Wildlife management is an agricultural use under the law. The primary use 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.

The chief appraiser must gather and consider all the surrounding facts to determine whether the land is primarily used to manage wildlife. Some relevant questions include:
  1. Is the owner implementing an active, written wildlife management plan that shows the owner is engaging in all the activities necessary to preserve a sustaining breeding population on the land? While the law does not require the 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 the sequence of events.
  2. Do the owner’s management practices emphasize managing the population to ensure its continued existence over another use of the land? For example, does the owner refrain from allowing visitors on the land in years when the habitat is sensitive?
  3. Has the owner engaged in the wildlife management practices necessary to sustain and encourage growth of the population? In some cases, an owner must control predators and supply water when water is not adequate, supply shelter and food when natural food production is not adequate, and establish vegetation to control erosion. In other cases, less active management may maintain and encourage the growth of wildlife.
  4. Are there improvements - appropriate fencing for example - necessary to control or sustain the wildlife population? The owner may use land for purposes that are secondary to the primary use of wildlife management if the secondary use is compatible with the primary use. For example, an owner may engage in wildlife management and also operate a business in which bird watchers stay on the land overnight and watch for birds during the day (known as a bird-and-breakfast operation). This activity is secondary to the primary activity of managing the wildlife, but it is not incompatible with the wildlife management use. General principals of primary and secondary use are discussed in the Manual for the Appraisal of Agricultural Land.


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