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TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Pursuit on the high seas. . . The crew of the TPWD law enforcement vessel, Captain Murchison, working with National Marine Fisheries Service agents, apprehended operators of a fishing vessel containing several thousand pounds of illegally harvested red snapper recently. The Captain Murchison chased the alleged poachers after dark for a long distance,while the alleged poachers were dumping fish overboard . The vessel was finally shut down and boarded and the Game Wardens discovered there were thousands of pounds of snapper remaining onboard. The fishing vessel carried a Class II commercial finfish license which allowed the harvest of 200 pounds of red snapper and was suspected of illegally harvesting red snapper and waiting until dark to land at a Texas dock. After searching Galveston Bay and adjacent waters, the Captain Murchison sighted the alleged vessel just before dark eight miles off the coast. Wardens confiscated more than 4,700 pounds of various fish species, mainly red snapper, and arrested the captain and crew on state charges.
Family court . . . On Nov. 7, Freestone County Game Wardens wrapped up an investigation into a group of hunters they had been watching since last year. All seven Dallas area subjects appeared in Justice of the Peace Court in Fairfield to answer charges they had killed several deer each and either tagged them with family member’s tags or did not tag them at all. Three bucks illegally taken during the 2004 season were recovered by the court, including a 10-point that scored 150 3/8 that was tagged with the hunter’s sister-in-law’s tag. Charges of hunting under the license of another, allowing another to hunt under his/her license, untagged deer, no harvest log, and no hunter education were filed with fines totaling almost $5,000.
If the guide says no, he means NO! On Nov. 8, a Schleicher County Game Warden received a call from a landowner agent informing him that one of his hunting clients had taken a white-tailed buck without consent. Upon investigation it was determined the out-of-state hunter was being guided by the agent and wanted to shoot a buck they had seen. The guide opposed and told him repeatedly not to shoot the deer because it was not a mature buck. The hunter stated he did not care and he was going to shoot it anyway. When interviewed about the incident, the hunter stated he did not know why he shot the deer and offered to pay for it. The landowner was adamant about charges being filed, so the county attorney was contacted and the case reviewed. State jail felony charges of take wildlife resource, white-tailed deer, without consent of the landowner were filed. The subject was arrested, bond set, and placed in jail. Restitution on the 120-class buck is also pending.
The pot calling the kettle black . . . On Nov. 7, a Schleicher County Game Warden received a call from a ranch accusing lease hunters on an adjoining ranch of shooting a deer that had crossed the fence and refusing to retrieve the harvest. Upon investigation, it became very apparent the deer was shot where it was found and not on the adjoining ranch. The individual who heard the shots and found the deer was interviewed; it was determined that he had shot the deer and concocted the story to tell his friends and the landowner because he did not have a hunting license. Cases and restitution pending.
Not a happy reunion . . . On Oct. 16, a Travis County Warden apprehended five subjects dove hunting after sunset. One had an unplugged shotgun. While the warden was issuing the citations and confiscating the illegally harvested birds, one of the subjects said, "Hey, remember me? You arrested me last year on a fishing license warrant." That might not have been a good time to reminisce.
A sinking ship . . . Wardens filed multiple felonies on a marine dealer for allegedly cheating on sales taxes for high-end bass boats in the range of $20,000 - $40,000. After a few months would pass, one of the owners would title the boats for less than half of the actual sales price, keeping the difference in sales tax. This company has been flying under the radar with this tactic for nearly three years. Second degree felony charges were filed with the Dallas County D.A. due to the number of violations (153 were identified). The case was then referred to the Comptroller’s office, which expected to collect over $100,000 in back taxes, fines and penalties.
Drive by shooting . . . On Oct. 23, a Val Verde County Game Warden filed 11 cases on four Houston residents for hunting dove over a baited area; hunting migratory birds (dove) from a motor vehicle and hunting quail in a closed season. The cases came about after the warden received information that a particular area might be baited. After locating the bait, the warden walked into the area and waited in the brush, where he soon heard the suspect vehicle and then observed the subjects shooting from the vehicle at dove and quail. He was able to follow the vehicle on foot and observe the suspects shoot several times before they stopped at a feeder full of maize. Cases and restitution pending.
How’s the fishing? A complainant recently told game wardens about a man who was fishing and keeping undersized redfish. The actor apparently was relying on lookouts and would likely dump the evidence in the water if a game warden vehicle was spotted. A Corpus Christi game warden that was at the local constable’s office when the call came in hitched a ride in the constable’s unmarked orange Jeep and was able to drive right up to the actors without incident. As the warden exited the passenger side of the vehicle, a female sitting in a chair next to a gray bucket full of small fish uttered an expletive and proceeded toward the bucket. The warden got to the bucket first. A person wade fishing just out from the bucket immediately started yelling, “Those fish are all mine.” As it turned out, the warden had cited this individual three years earlier for over- and undersized fish. After all was said and done, 19 undersize fish were seized, and the individual left with nine citations, and his companions accounted for three additional citations.
One too many . . . On Nov 10, a 47-year-old man with a long history of alcohol and drug abuse was convicted on a felony boating while intoxicated trial before a 12-member jury panel in the 71st District Court in Marshall. The defendant, who had two prior DWI convictions, faced charged stemming from an arrest for boating while intoxicated on Caddo Lake. The defendant was given five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine plus court costs.
It was that sixth shot that did it . . . On the night of Oct. 28, a Cameron County Warden and three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge officers ran a decoy deer operation on the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. At 11 p.m. a truck with two subjects approached the intersection where the decoy was deployed and fired six shots from a .22 rifle. After a short pursuit the truck was stopped. The two Port Isabel locals commented that they knew it was a decoy when on the sixth shot, the right antler was shot off and the deer continued to just "Look at them." State and federal refuge cases were filed.
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