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Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
- Better safe than sorry: Val Verde County Game Warden Isaac Ruiz responded to a call on Oct. 16 from an elderly lady worried about a turtle that had taken up residence in her rural backyard. Acknowledging that the turtle was not doing anything destructive, she said she feared it was creating a tripping hazard for her. Ruiz located a Texas tortoise behind the woman’s house, safely relocating it to another area.
- It’s still illegal, even if you use a company car: Parker County Game Warden Ronald Mathis on Oct. 18 filed on two subjects for hunting deer in closed season after finding them shooting a doe from a public road. The subjects, who were hunting from a company vehicle, initially denied their activity. Cases pending.
- Traffic stop leads to illegal hunting charges: Liberty County Game Warden Adam Broll received a call Oct. 16 from a Kenefick police officer regarding a vehicle he had pulled over. The officer noted blood and hair on the tailgate and in searching the vehicle found two .22 cal. rifles, a spotlight, and three deer antlers. The driver admitted shooting three white-tailed deer the night of Oct. 14 off a public road, as did two of his friends. Liberty County Game Warden Daniel Diaz came to assist in the investigation. The wardens obtained written statements from the subject and his two accomplices. When interviewing the third subject, they discovered there had been two additional people in the vehicle on the night in question. After interviewing those subjects, they returned to the original suspect and interviewed him again. During the this interview, they learned that the subject and one of his friends had also been hunting on the night of Oct. 13, and killed another white-tailed deer and a red stag. The meat from these two animals was seized and donated to people in need. The original three deer had been dumped on the side of the road and were not salvageable. All five individuals were cited and will pay civil restitution for the deer.
- Careful with the bragging: Orange County Game Warden Clint Caywood on Oct. 17 received information about a Vidor man who had reportedly taken two small white-tailed bucks and was bragging about it at work. The informant said the man would have his wife come out of his lease before him to make sure no one was around before he emerged. Warden Caywood found out the man would be hunting on Oct. 19, and was hiding near the lease gate when the man came to the road. After making contact, the warden found he had no tags missing from his license. The man denied having taken any deer but agreed to let the warden search his residence. Caywood along with two Orange County sheriff’s deputies followed the man to his home. While the warden checked the man’s freezer, his daughter said, "Daddy shot a four-point and a six-point a couple of days ago." After the warden searched the grounds outside and interviewed the man, it was determined he had killed two small bucks and failed to tag them. One buck had a 5-inch spread and the other 8 inches. The meat and antlers were seized. Cases and restitution pending.
- Operation nets shrimp violations: During the night of Oct. 13, Jefferson County Game Wardens Chris Swift and Steve Satchfield, along with Orange County Game Warden Clint Caywood worked night shrimpers in south Jefferson County. With the help of TPWD Special Operations wardens, they filed 13 shrimp cases, one undersized fish case, and one illegal cast net case. More than 100 pounds of shrimp were seized. Cases and civil restitution pending.
- Couple just out for a walk help wardens: Harris County Game Warden Susan Webb received an Operation Game Thief call on Oct. 15 reporting illegal hunting in a subdivision at Lake Houston. Warden Webb arrived to find a couple who said that while walking along the greenbelt they heard a gunshot, located the poachers and photographed them before they left. The warden found an 11-point buck about a mile from the trailhead in an area that would, but for the drought conditions, normally be under water. This is within the Houston city limits and densely populated. Harris County Game Warden Kevin Creed and Waller County Game Warden Kevin Glass assisted in the investigation, which continues.
- No free lunch, no free trucks: Webb County Game Wardens Calvin Christian and Weston Burris were checking hunting camps in northern Webb County on Oct. 15 when they found a vehicle with an out-of-date registration sticker. Checking its registration, they found it had been reported stolen. When the landowner and ranch hand returned from their hunt, they were questioned about the vehicle. Turned out that the vehicle had been abandoned on the landowner’s property and they were using it as a farm truck. The vehicle was impounded and hauled to Laredo.
- Watch your lights if you’re fishing without a license: Central Texas game wardens on the nights of Oct. 14-15 worked with a TPWD aircraft to look for spotlighters. Numerous suspicious lights were seen from the air and wardens were able to make contact with most of those doing the spotlighting. While no hunting cases were developed, wardens did find two fishermen on Lake Somerville who had picked the wrong time to play with a flashlight. Both were cited for no fishing license by Game Warden Eddie Hines.
- Taking a dead buddy’s boat: In a felony tampering case filed late last year by TPWD Special Operations Sgt. Ned Nichols, the defendant was charged with forging documents to gain illegal ownership of a deceased friend’s boat. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 27 months in prison. The boat was seized at the offender’s home, its titling corrected to show true ownership, and returned to the family of the deceased.
- Florida man convicted for Lacey Act violations: Loren Willis, 62, of West Palm Beach, Fla. has been found guilty by a jury on two charges of conspiracy to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation, and transporting or selling a fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation. The verdict came after a two-day trial in U.S. District Court in Lufkin before Judge Ron Clark. Willis was found not guilty of one additional charge of conspiracy to make or submit a false label for a fish that would be transported in interstate commerce. The trial was the culmination of what began as a nine-month joint investigation between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Special Operations Unit and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In August 2010, the two agencies began investigating multiple individuals who were taking alligator gar illegally from the Trinity River, and subsequently selling the fish domestically and internationally.
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