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Gonzales Named Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year
AUSTIN, Texas — Game Warden Raul “Pinky” Gonzales of Refugio has been named “Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year” by the wildlife conservation and hunting organization Shikar-Safari International.
Gonzales graduated from the Texas Game Warden Training Academy in February 1987. His first duty station was in Rockport in Aransas County. During his tenure there, he active in what was then known as the “Redfish Wars,” which involved the prevention of gill-netting red drum and speckled trout for commercial gain. His efforts in this area are a contributing factor to the outstanding coastal fishing that many Texans enjoy today.
He hash also been involved in numerous water related search and rescue operations. One such rescue occurred when a boat containing three Texans capsized in Copano Bay in the late evening hours. One of the three men was found clinging to a wellhead a short distance from the capsized boat. He later told Gonzales that he was tired and ready to let go of his grip, and had it not been for seeing the game warden’s spotlight nearby, he would have given up and drowned.
In 1992, Gonzales transferred to Refugio County, where year after year he has consistently made numerous apprehensions of violators who take deer and other game illegally from county public roads.
During the spring turkey season a few years ago, he rescued three turkey hunters who were suddenly trapped on their hunting lease due to rising floodwaters. He was able to navigate his patrol boat inside the flooded property, maneuvering around trees, brush, and fence posts to make the rescue. One youth hunter, a frightened 11-year old boy, was consoled by Warden Gonzales, who gave the boy step by step instructions throughout the ordeal.
Earlier this year, Gonzales was instrumental in solving a string of burglaries for the Refugio County Sheriff’s Department where a large amount of stolen property was recovered. This case was a direct result of the trust that Gonzales has established in his community. A person who would speak only to Gonzales gave him information that enabled him and Sheriff’s deputies to recover the stolen property and make an arrest. Additionally, Gonzales discovered that the suspect had killed two calves. Using crime scene investigative procedures and a DNA forensics laboratory, Gonzales was able to identify ownership and the property from which the two calves were rustled, which lead to a guilty verdict.
Gonzales continues to contribute a column in the local newspaper that is well received by the community and he conducts at least one youth hunt annually in Refugio County to introduce youngsters to the outdoors. Many of Refugio County’s youth have taken their first deer on one of Gonzales’s annual hunts.
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