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TPWD Dedicates Justin Hurst WMA in Honor of Fallen Warden
FREEPORT, Texas — The site formerly known as Peach Point Wildlife Management area near here is being formally rededicated as the “Justin Hurst WMA” in recognition of the game warden and former wildlife biologist who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. The renaming of the site was made official during a special ceremony Oct. 12.
As a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist, Hurst devoted six years to the 15,612-acre WMA known for its lush wetlands and coastal plains harboring waterfowl and numerous aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species. As Peach Point’s area manager he was instrumental in the development of many waterfowl conservation projects on the site, including research into mottled duck ecology.
"Justin was dedicated to Peach Point,” recalls Hurst’s widow, Amanda. “He worked here every day, many nights and weekends. We had our first date at Peach Point. His love for waterfowl, especially the mottled duck, was evident in his work as a biologist and a game warden. Now, Peach Point will be dedicated to Justin."
Hurst started his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a biologist in August 1995 specializing in waterfowl management along the mid-coast. Fellow wildlife biologist Matt Nelson remembers joining TPWD at the same time as Hurst.
“He went to Peach Point and I went to Mad Island (WMA), both of us worked on the central coast wetlands project,” Nelson says. “We had numerous research projects going on at the same time and spent most weeks together; fish sampling, working up alligators and mottled ducks. A lot of late nights together running around the marsh in air boats. Justin was very enthusiastic, dedicated towards the resource and approached everything full-bore.”
At Peach Point WMA, Hurst was able to submerse himself in his passion for waterfowl and the marsh habitat. For six years, he built a reputation as a wildlife biologist who understood both the resource and conservation, and carried that reputation with him into conservation law enforcement.
Hurst became a part of the 48th Texas Game Warden Academy and graduated in August of 2002. While at the academy, Hurst shared his knowledge about waterfowl with fellow cadets and taught duck identification techniques.
After graduation, Hurst served about a year in Brazos County when a game warden slot became open in Wharton County, which allowed him to return to the marshland he cared about. On March 17, Hurst’s 34th birthday, he was killed while attempting to apprehend a suspected poacher.
The Justin Hurst WMA becomes the fourth wildlife area in Texas dedicated to a fallen game warden. A special monument has been erected at Justin Hurst WMA detailing his career.
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