Wildlife Exemption in Texas

Texas landowners have more than one option when it comes to maintaining a low agricultural tax rate on their property. In 1995, Texas voters approved Proposition 11 that also allowed an agricultural tax appraisal for land used for wildlife management. This allows landowners the option to convert their land’s ag valuation to a wildlife tax valuation, which is termed a “wildlife exemption.” To qualify for the wildlife exemption, certain conditions must be met. Our land consulting services can help you through the conversion process.

Specifically, the Texas Tax Code defines wildlife management as actively using land that at the time the wildlife management began was appraised as qualified open-space land (1-d-1). Under this subchapter, a wildlife management plan must be developed for the property that identifies at least three habitat management practices to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating, or wintering population of indigenous wild animals for human use, including food, medicine, or recreation. Under a wildlife tax valuation, landowners receive the benefit of the low ag tax rate without having to perform traditional farming and ranching practices.

Land may qualify for the wildlife tax exemption if it is important 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 the land or seasonally live there. The wildlife management practices that can be implemented for the wildlife exemption include providing supplemental shelter, providing supplemental food, providing supplemental water, habitat control, erosion control, predator control and census surveys/counts.

An indigenous animal is one that is native to Texas, and so this tax conversion does not include the management of exotic and feral species. 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.

An important component of the wildlife exemption is that the landowner must use the property in a manner that propagates a wildlife population for human use, which includes food, medicine or recreation. A recreational use may be either active or passive and may include any type of use for pleasure or sport, including activities such as bird watching, hiking, hunting, photography and other consumptive and non-consumptive recreational activities. Let our land consulting service help prepare your required wildlife management plan for the wildlife exemption in Texas.