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Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Wrong tag, wrong year, wrong state: In late August, a Terrell County game warden was contacted by a local landowner who had discovered a whitetail buck that had been dumped on the side of the road. Upon investigation, the game warden found the deer with last year’s mule deer tag connected to the antlers. The game warden contacted the hunter, who was located in Arkansas, and had him explain why his deer was dumped in the bar ditch. After the phone interview, the game warden mailed a citation for improperly tagged whitetail deer and littering. The subject has since contacted the court and paid his fine.
Everyone pitches in: Aug. 19, residents and business owners of Burkburnett, Iowa Park and City View got an early wake-up call around 12:30 a.m. with flash flood warnings. Game wardens from Clay County, Montague County, Archer County and Wichita County, along with volunteer firefighters, the area fire department, the sheriff’s offices, police department and even local businesses that had buses for transportation were involved in rescuing people from their homes. Many areas that had never flooded before were affected. An estimated 100 people and numerous pets were rescued.
More flooding: Aug. 18, Starr County received in excess of 16 inches of rain in an 18-hour period. It is estimated that 1,400 houses received flood damage and some 400 people were at least temporarily displaced by the flooding. Game wardens were called out early and assigned a deputy to ride along and assist in rescue by walking-in and via four-wheel-drive truck. As the water rose, game wardens were requested to bring the river boats from the state park and from Zapata. Rescues were continued by boat until the water receded and vehicles could again be utilized. It was a combined effort with Starr County Sheriff’s Department, all county fire departments, state game wardens, DPS troopers, Roma PD, and Border Patrol agents to make the necessary rescues and see that everyone went home safely. The low point of the day was when a house caught fire and fire units were unable to reach it due to high water and had to watch it burn from a mile away. The next day was spent with local game wardens assisting local law enforcement in patrolling the affected areas to keep out looters.
Warden talks suspect out of water: Also on Aug. 18, a Shelby County game warden entered a camp in the Sabine National Forest to check for reported hunting violations. When the game warden was spotted, one of the subjects at the camp who had been fishing jumped into Toledo Bend Lake. The game warden finally talked the subject out of the water and placed him under arrest for outstanding warrants. Another subject from the camp was also arrested for outstanding warrants.
Man throws wife in lake, everyone goes to jail: Aug. 17, a Grayson County game warden received a call from dispatch in reference to a domestic disturbance at Juniper Point on Lake Texoma. The dispatcher advised that a male subject had thrown his wife out of the boat during an argument. The game warden arrived at the scene just after sheriff’s deputies had arrived. There were three subjects, one female and two males. All were highly intoxicated. A witness was present and had observed all that took place. One subject was arrested for boating while intoxicated and the other two for public intoxication.
A three-hour tour: The same day, San Augustine County and Nacogdoches County game wardens searched for overdue kayakers on the Attoyac River between San Augustine and Nacogdoches County. The trip took longer than anticipated due to the numerous bends in the river and the large number of logs to be crossed. The novice kayakers were forced to spend the night, and they were found near their destination the following morning. The hapless kayakers were tired, hungry, and covered with mosquito bites.
Thanks, but about those pigs ... At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, a Waller County game warden received a road hunting call. The game warden responded to the area north of Hempstead to investigate. Contact followed, and after a short visit the case was solved. The violator was driving down a county road near his house and observed two nice fat hogs feeding in a pasture. The hunter, not wanting the hogs to damage the property, shot a hog. There were a couple of issues he did not take into account: the first was that he had shot from the roadway (claiming to have walked to the fence). The second was that the property owner did not want these pigs shot. They were his pets and were feeding with the horses. Case pending.
Snapper poachers apprehended: Aug. 15, two game wardens boarded an inbound gulf shrimp boat in the Brownsville Ship Channel and discovered numerous gallon-size bags filled with red snapper fillets. Four cases of possession of headed and tailed fish before final destination were filed in JP court. Monday morning the defendant was found guilty of all four counts and fined $125 each count.
Hit-and-run, and run, and run: On Aug. 11, a Harris County game warden patrolled the Seabrook area for fishing compliance. While patrolling to the next pier, she observed a Ford F-150 truck driving towards her with major front-end damage and a smoking left front tire. Concerned about safety, the game warden initiated her red and blue lights, but the driver ignored the lights and siren blasts and increased his speed. Unknown to the game warden, Seabrook Police Department had just received a call about a hit-and-run accident involving the fleeing truck, so two Seabrook units joined the pursuit within the first mile. The pursuit ended when the suspect missed a sharp turn and crashed into a power-line pole, three traffic signs, and a wooden fence. The suspect survived the crash but would not comply with orders from the game warden or the Seabrook officers to put his hands up. He appeared to be confused and not aware of his situation. After breaking the windows and prying the jammed doors open, the suspect was pulled from his truck, searched, and handed over to EMS. Cases are pending.
Shoulda called that guy from Waller County: A Wharton County game warden with the assistance of the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Dept. of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, just completed an investigation that began back in April of this year. The case involved the killing of countless numbers of feral hogs, raccoons, other small mammals and ultimately turkey vultures that had consumed these carcasses. The USFWS special agent filed charges under the migratory bird treaty act on the land owner, who had baited the fence lines of his crop fields with several dozen large piles of corn that had been laced with the agricultural insecticide "Counter CR." Fines from the USFWS totaled over $600, not including restitution, while actions are still expected to be taken from the Texas Dept. of Agriculture which issues all pesticide licenses to farmers so they can dispense this type of dangerous chemical. The landowner is now seeking other means and methods of controlling his hog population.
If you’ll get the check, I’ll get the cuffs: On Aug. 8, Harris County game wardens were having lunch at a restaurant near the South Houston District Office. While at the register paying for their meals, these wardens interrupted a domestic disturbance between a married couple before a physical assault occurred. The couple had two small children with them. The husband was transported to the Harris County Jail where he could serve time for his warrants and cool off from his altercation with his wife.
Not very sportsmanlike: An Aransas County game warden recently completed an investigation regarding a tournament fisherman who caught a blue marlin and dumped the fish whole after weighing it in. The game warden tracked-down the fisherman and the fisherman stated that the fish was dumped back whole. Charges of waste of game were filed and the case was recently closed with a fine paid to the justice of the peace.
If you’re a game warden, wouldn’t I recognize you? Tues., Aug. 5, the Abilene TPWD law enforcement office received two reports of an individual impersonating a game warden around the local lakes. One of the reports was from a police officer who actually spoke with the individual and was told that he was with TPWD. The officer was in the middle of a contact and didn’t realize that there was something wrong with the identity of the guy that claimed to be a warden. The subject was checking licenses and IDs on young people relating to alcohol violations. The local wardens were notified to watch for the subject’s vehicle. On Wednesday night, the same police officer checked the lake area and didn’t find the individual but he talked to some young people at the lake and told them to call 911 if this suspicious person contacted them. A short time later (about 10:30 p.m.), the young people called 911 and reported the same situation. Officers responded and made a felony stop on the suspect vehicle. The suspect was wearing a gun belt with a Glock .40 caliber handgun and had two shotguns in the truck. The suspect had body armor and was in possession of binoculars and a thermal imaging unit. The vehicle was equipped with two sets of red and blue lights, take down lights, siren, electrical cutoff switches, a model 5000 Motorola radio, long blade knives, and other police or military equipment. The suspect was arrested for impersonating a public servant and unlawfully carrying a handgun. The suspect vehicle was impounded for evidence. A Taylor County game warden assisted with the investigation. It was determined that the suspect was an active member of the U.S. military, and it is suspected that some of the equipment he had belonged to the military and was being used without permission.
Falcon Lake poacher apprehended: On Aug. 4 at approximately 8:30 p.m., Zapata County game wardens were patrolling Falcon Lake when one game warden observed a Mexican boat enter Texas waters from his spotting position. The game wardens attempted to make contact with the vessel, but the occupant refused to stop and a pursuit ensued. After a short chase through the brush, the captain of the vessel finally halted. The game wardens were able to apprehend the subject, who was then filed on for fishing without a valid commercial fishing license and possession of illegal equipment in prohibited waters. The Zapata County Sheriff’s Office transported the subject to the Zapata County Jail. Both the boat and motor were seized along with approximately 2,000 feet of monofilament gillnet.
Talk about a cooperative subject: On Aug. 3, a Menard County game warden was flagged-down in Menard and was told there was a group of people smoking marijuana at the 8-mile river crossing on the San Saba River. The game warden approached the group and asked if they had been drinking. A couple of them stated they had a beer or two. The game warden pulled one of the subjects aside and asked if they had been smoking marijuana. The subject said: "The guy in the brown hat was smoking marijuana." The game warden asked "the guy in the brown hat" to come over to his patrol vehicle. The game warden asked him if he had been drinking and smoking marijuana. He stated he had drunk one beer and smoked a joint earlier. The game warden asked him if he had any more marijuana. He stated he had a bag on his front seat under his towel. The game warden asked for consent to search his vehicle. Consent was given and the marijuana was found on the front seat. The subject was transported to the Menard County Jail and booked in for possession of marijuana less than two ounces. Case pending.
Relaxing day on the water: Aug. 3, while patrolling Lake Waco, a McLennan County game warden performed a water safety check on a boat and discovered the couple were in possession of Xanax and marijuana. Cases pending.
So, did you hear about that consumption advisory? On Aug. 2, a Galveston County game warden filed on two recreational fishermen for being in possession of undersize spotted seatrout. The first violator was in possession of 39 undersize fish; the second individual was in possession of 29. Cases pending.
Polluter ordered to pay-up: A Panola County game warden recently received a disposition on a case he filed January 2007. The violator, a vacuum truck driver (the kind that cleans out septic tanks), was charged with unauthorized discharge of pollutant. He was sentenced to 160 hours community service, 5 years of felony probation, and $5,000.00 restitution to the affected landowner. Case closed.
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