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Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Banged-up and busted: On March 4 a game warden lieutenant was on his way to his regional office when he drove up on a traffic accident that had just occurred. While the lieutenant was checking on the passenger of one of the vehicles, the driver threw out several small bags of marijuana. The lieutenant collected the evidence and turned it over to DPS.
Hot work: On Feb. 27, while patrolling around the Delta Lake area, a Hidalgo County game warden came across an individual who had driven his vehicle off into a ditch. The game warden was calling for a tow truck when he noticed the van catch fire. The game warden was able to remove the elderly man from the vehicle to safe distance and call for the fire department. The game warden was able to keep traffic from venturing through the burning area until fire-rescue personnel showed up to extinguish the blaze.
Lost and found: On Feb. 24, a Dimmit County game warden received phone call from the sheriff’s office about a 911 call relating to a hunter who was lost on a 38,000-acre ranch near the Dimmit and La Salle county line. The game warden contacted a colleague, who was able to contact the hunter by cell phone. The hunter sounded extremely tired and panicked. The hunter’s truck had broken down around 7:00 p.m., and it was now 11:00 p.m. The hunter’s partner, who was suppose to wait at the truck, had successfully walked back to camp and realized his buddy was not there but was unable to help since it was his first time on the ranch and he did not have keys to any vehicles. The lost hunter was eventually located at around 1:00 a.m. with the help of lights and sirens and the cell phone. He was returned to camp without injury. The hunter stated he thought he knew the ranch well enough to take a short cut across the pasture but got turned around.
Netter invasion: On Feb. 24, Val Verde County game wardens seized 300 feet of gill net from the Texas side of the Rio Grande and returned numerous fish to the water. The wardens were working several miles above the Pecos River when they located the net.
Whodunnit? Must have been a game warden: A number of District 1 and District 2 game wardens participated and assisted with the Who Dunnit Camp at the Department’s "Life’s Better Outside" event at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Wardens reversed their roles as game wardens and posed as hunters at a mock hunting camp. Hundreds of participants ranging from kids to grandparents enjoyed playing the part of a game warden and discovering several violations at the camp, including a stolen weapon, a weapon with a silencer, an improperly tagged set of antlers, an ice chest with deer meat beyond quartering, feathers and talons of a protected bird, undersized fish on a stringer, illegal fishing devices, and a bag of illegal narcotics.
Oysters on the half-ton: On Feb. 23, Galveston County game wardens caught a commercial oyster fisherman who was storing oysters in the back of his truck overnight. This is a violation of the Health & Safety Code, which requires commercial oysters to be refrigerated within 18 hours of harvest. The State Department of Health Services was contacted and 21 sacks of oysters were destroyed. Case pending.
Officer! Follow that boat! On February 22, Webb County game wardens were checking for water safety compliance on Lake Casa Blanca. After checking several boats, the wardens were approached by a fisherman and his daughter. The man said that a maroon and white ski boat was driving recklessly. He said the boat passed by him so closely that it pulled line off his reel and rocked his boat violently. He said he also noticed that the boat had several small children in it, and the adults appeared to be drinking beer. The wardens began looking for the boat and were stopped by another fisherman who complained about the same boat. The wardens located the boat and stopped it to perform a water safety inspection. Upon pulling up to the boat, the wardens noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. Float tests were performed, and the wardens escorted the driver to shore for standardized field sobriety tests. The man indicated multiple clues on each test. The driver was arrested for BWI, refused a breath analysis, and was transported to the Webb County Jail. Case pending.
It could have been worse: On Feb. 22, Victoria County game wardens were patrolling Lavaca Bay when they came across a boat that was high and dry on a sand bar. There were no occupants seen in the boat, but one was found on a spoil island a hundred yards away. The owner of the boat was found uninjured and transported to the boat ramp where his vehicle was located. He was grateful for the ride to the boat ramp.
Bad luck gets worse: On Feb. 21, Throckmorton and Shackelford County game wardens were working hog hunters in Haskell County when they began to follow a truck that was driving very erratically. After running on the wrong side of the road for about a ¼-mile, the truck was stopped. The driver was given field sobriety tests, which he failed. He stated that he had a few drinks because he was having a bad run of luck. The subject was arrested for DWI and turned over to the local trooper. His bad luck continues.
Those cast nets work real good: On Feb. 21, Webb County game wardens were checking fishermen near the Lakeside Subdivision on Lake Casa Blanca. The wardens noticed three men walking away from the shoreline. The men were carrying cast nets, and one of the males was carrying a stringer with several fish. The wardens asked the men if they had any more fish, and the men retrieved a cooler from the back of one of the trucks. In all, the men had netted nine tilapia, three undersized crappie, and one 22-inch bass. Fortunately, the bass was still alive and was able to be released back into the lake. The wardens asked the men for fishing licenses and identification. The men said they did not have either. The fish and three cast nets, one being 15 feet in diameter, were seized.
Wouldn’t a license have been cheaper? Feb. 20, while checking bank fishermen at Lake Benbrook, a Tarrant County game warden observed two men fishing, each holding a fishing pole. When the game warden approached the two men, only one was fishing, and the second fishing pole was gone. The other subject later admitted to throwing his pole in the water because he did not have a fishing license. Case pending.
Gumshoe work leads to dumping charges: On Feb. 13, a Palo Pinto County game warden discovered paint cans that had been illegally dumped. Using the paint codes on the cans, game warden visited the paint store and found the owner’s name and address. After visiting with the resident, the game warden filed on the two subjects the home owner had hired to paint his house. Cases pending.
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