Texans may Soon be able to legally display Hunting and Fishing Licenses on mobile devices

Millions of Texans may be able to legally display hunting and fishing licenses on mobile devices under measure spearheaded by Rep. Canales

With several million Texans required to carry state licenses to hunt or fish for sport or business, a measure that would allow digital images of those permits as proof of licensure is moving towards full approval in the Texas Legislature, according to Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.

If approved by the Texas Legislature and supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, HB 547 would take effect September 1, 2019.

“HB 547 would modernize requirements for hunting and fishing licenses by allowing a person to show a photo or digital receipt of a hunting, fishing, or combination hunting and fishing license on the person’s phone as proof of licensure,” Canales said. “Game wardens routinely allow hunters and fishers to show these images on their phones. This bill would codify (make law) what already is practiced in the field. Game wardens can verify identities and confirm through an existing database the appropriate hunting or fishing license.”
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg

Canales’ HB 547 is receiving broad support from Democrats and Republicans.

According to the House Research Organization, the Parks and Wildlife Code sec. 42.002 requires a resident to have a license to hunt animals in the state, with certain exceptions, and sec. 46.001 requires a person to have a license to fish in public waters in the state. Sec. 50.001 allows the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to issue a combination hunting and fishing license.

In addition to HB 547 allowing the Parks and Wildlife Commission by rule to prescribe compliance requirements for the above licenses, the legislation by Canales includes provisions to protect the privacy rights of Texans.

The display of an image that included one of these licenses would not constitute effective consent for a law enforcement officer or any other person to access the contents of the wireless communication device except to view the license information, the House Research Organization’s bill analysis noted. Also, a telecommunications provider could not be held liable to the license holder for the failure of a wireless communication device to display license information.

However, a court would not be prevented from requiring a person to provide a paper copy of the person’s hunting fishing, or combination license during court proceedings.

“Fishing and hunting has long been a tradition in Texas and I am hoping that this piece of legislation helps continue this tradition well into the 21st century and beyond,” said the House District 40 state lawmaker. “HB 547 simply clarifies in law what is already being allowed in the field by allowing Texans to show their digital receipt or a photo of their hunting or fishing license to game wardens to show proof of licensure.”
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:

A Texas hunting license is required before one can take most types of birds and mammals in the state, including both game and non-game species.