June 27, 2017

Texas Game Warden Field Notes

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

Baiting the Baiters

On opening day of the spring Eastern turkey hunting season, Red River County game wardens were revisiting areas they had discovered during recent patrols that had been baited with corn. They observed four separate hunters actively hunting Eastern turkey over bait in violation of state game laws. One hunter shot a turkey over the bait, but was unsuccessful in finding it. Other hunting license violations were also encountered during these contacts. Multiple cases are pending.

Net Loss

Responding to a tip from an Operation Game Thief call, a Tarrant County game warden caught four men fishing with a cast net and keeping game fish in violation of state fishing laws. The men were in possession of 130 crappie, 64 yellow bass, 8 black bass, and 37 perch. About 50 of the crappie and bass were undersized. None of the men had fishing licenses. The fish were cleaned and donated. Multiple cases filed.

Caught with the Loot

Game wardens patrolling the tornado disaster area in Van Zandt County to minimize looting problems and enforce a mandatory curfew stopped a suspicious vehicle filled with several miscellaneous items that appeared to be potentially stolen from homes in the area. Upon questioning the subject and searching the vehicle, it was discovered he was in possession of 18 grams of a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine, marijuana, scales, baggies, and other drug paraphernalia. With assistance from the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office and state troopers, the subject was then transported and booked into the Van Zandt County Jail for manufacturing and distributing narcotics, a first degree felony.  Cases are pending.

a.k.a Under Arrest

Smith County game wardens were patrolling Lake Tyler when they made contact with a group of individuals fishing in a park on the lake. One of the individuals identified himself by a name that wardens learned was an alias and tagged with outstanding arrest warrants. The suspect was arrested without incident, but had an extensive criminal history, including assault on a public servant and assault with a deadly weapon. The subject’s warrant was a felony theft warrant out of Smith County and felony evading arrest from Corrigan Police Department.

A Gator Tale

In March, a Duval County game warden got a tip about four individuals who had killed an alligator on the Nueces River in McMullen County. The individual gave the warden a list of the four suspects, a narrative of how the violation was committed and a picture of two individuals posing with the alligator. Several wardens executed a search warrant of a residence where two of the suspects were located. After initial denials of any knowledge of the event, one of the suspects admitted to catching an alligator and knocking it out with a paddle, then taking it to the bank to kill and skin.  He also implicated three other individuals in the crime; however, he claimed he had no idea where the alligator skull was. The second suspect was interviewed and corroborated the first suspect’s story and confirmed the involvement of two other individuals. A girlfriend of one of the suspects mentioned in passing the group typically throws all of their fish guts over the fence in the back lot. The game wardens searched the lot and found the alligator skull in the brush. One of the suspects knew where the third individual lived, and took the game wardens to his house. Upon seeing his accomplice and the game wardens, the third individual immediately acknowledged that they were probably there because of the alligator and admitted to his involvement in killing the alligator. All of the suspects filled out statements naming themselves and each other in the crime. In total, 16 citations and civil restitution for the alligator are pending.

Speared

Comal County game wardens responded to the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels near the Faust Street Bridge on a report of a person illegally shooting bass with a homemade spear gun.  Upon arrival, the wardens observed the suspect in the river with his spear gun and in possession of an undersized largemouth bass that he had caught/killed with the device. The man also did not have a fishing license. Cases are pending.

Prop Scar

Comal County game wardens were called to the scene of a boating accident at Cranes Mill Marina on Canyon Lake where a 19-year-old male was struck by a boat propeller when he jumped in the lake unexpectedly to relieve himself. The individual was struck on his left shin and calf and received a significant laceration requiring medical transport to University Hospital in San Antonio. The investigation is still ongoing.

Eaglets Down

A Stephens County game warden received a call about a bald eagle’s nest that had blown out of a tree near Hubbard Creek Lake Dam. The reporting party stated they had seen young bald eagles in the nest earlier that week and that there were mature eagles circling the area around the destroyed nest. The warden located the nest and found two juvenile bald eagles laying on the ground next to the nest. Both eagles appeared to be unharmed and in decent condition. Arrangements were made to take the birds to the wild bird rescue facility in Wichita Falls.

The Joys of Spotlighting

Game wardens responded to a call in Refugio County about a vehicle spotlighting from the roadway.  With assistance from the caller, the wardens stopped three individuals in a vehicle on a rural road.  After a lengthy investigation and interview, it was found the three subjects were, in fact, out joy riding with intentions of hunting from the road.  Multiple citations were issued.

Net Loss is Net Gain

Game wardens recently retrieved 31 sections of illegal gill net and four illegal crab traps from the Rio Grande River in Cameron County. The illegal net measured over 2,325 yards in length. The gill nets contained numerous species of fish including: snook, spotted sea trout, black drum, sheepshead, blue catfish, tilapia, carp and mullet. Many of the fish were able to be cut free from the net and returned to the Rio Grande River.

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