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Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
- Angler catches too many rainbows: Game Warden Cynde Aguilar received a call on Jan. 19 about a fisherman keeping too many fish. Warden Aguilar made contact with the man and found him with 14 rainbow trout over the daily bag limit of 5. Citations issued for fishing without a license, exceeding the daily bag limit and restitution.
- There’s more than one type of lease: Game Warden Michael Jaramillo received a phone call Jan. 11 from a local rancher who reported he had just witnessed an oilfield hand shoot a deer and that he did not have permission to hunt on his property. Warden Jaramillo arrived on the ranch and obtained a written statement from the rancher. After the rancher decided to sign a non-consent affidavit, a warrant was issued and the warden arrested the oilfield worker for hunting without landowner’s consent.
- Game warden helps DPS trooper in struggle: Palo Pinto County Game Warden Cliff Swofford was flagged down on Jan. 17 by a UPS driver, who said a DPS trooper on a traffic stop on I-20 was wrestling with a man in an attempt to get him handcuffed. Warden Swofford responded and assisted the trooper with detaining and controlling the subject while a search of his vehicle was conducted. A large amount of marijuana was found in the vehicle, and the man was arrested.
- Trespasser attacks game warden: January 21, Dallas County Game Warden David Bosecker was patrolling for night hunters in Hunt County when he spotted a subject trespassing at a barn and corral area. When Warden Bosecker approached the subject and told him he was under arrest, the man became belligerent and attacked him. Warden Bosecker arrested the subject and several cases are pending.
- Thinking globally, violating the law locally: Trinity County Game Warden Randy Watts received a call from a landowner on Jan. 22 about hog hunters trespassing on his high fenced ranch. The landowner found a dog with a GPS collar and a few minutes later the hog hunters showed up to get the dog. The landowner asked the hunters how they got in the ranch. They stated the gate was open and they would leave it like they found it. After the hunters left, the landowner checked his gate. His lock was missing and a new lock was on the gate. The landowner knew the identity of one of the hunters. Game Warden Watts called the hunter and met with all the individuals on the neighboring property. Citations were issued to five hunters for trespassing.
- Facebook helps tag illegal hunters: Newton County wardens Ellis Powell, Brian Srba, Landon Spacek, Bradley Smith and Jasper County warden Morgan Inman executed a search warrant on a Louisiana resident living in Newton County on Jan. 21. The warrant came after a four-month investigation, with warrants also being served on the subject’s Facebook account for e-mails and photos. As the interview was taking place, Louisiana game wardens were interviewing other subjects implicated by the man’s Facebook account. The subject admitted killing eight deer in the last few months and named several other subjects with numerous deer kills. None of the four main subjects have had a hunting license since 2004, with no deer taken in daylight hours during that time. Numerous charges filed with more interviews of other subjects pending.
- Wardens make plenty of case in coastal operation: During coastal operations Jan. 23-27, Galveston and Chambers county wardens filed cases that included a crew boat that was in possession of five bags of fish fillets, a commercial crabbing boat that was caught in possession of oysters, illegal stone crabs and no commercial licenses and a commercial gulf shrimp boat caught in possession of head-and-tailed fish, exceeding the limit of flounder and shark fins.
- TPWD-DPS youth hunt a first: Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Public Safety hosted a first-ever youth hunt on the DPS training facility in Williamson County on Jan. 14. The youth hunted, did some target practice, and enjoyed a hamburger lunch. A total of 13 kids attended the hunt and harvested 26 deer.
- Warden sinks boat theft plans: Fayette County Game Warden Calvin Harbaugh apprehended an adult and two juveniles in the act of stealing a 14-foot aluminum boat on Jan. 24. The boat had been chained to a tree on the edge of the Colorado River. The defendants had broken the lock, loaded the boat into the bed of a truck, and were about to drive off with it when apprehended.
- Spotlighting arrest “illuminates” outstanding warrants: While conducting a nighttime patrol Jan. 22, Game Warden Harry Rakosky observed a vehicle intermittently shining a spotlight into area farm fields. A citation was subsequently issued. The next day the court called the game warden to report that the subject had outstanding warrants. In response, the game warden went to the offender’s residence, arresting him for 3rd degree felony intoxication assault and 1st degree felony intoxication manslaughter.
- Some expensive red snapper: Cameron County Game Wardens Libby Balusek and Santana Torres were patrolling the Gulf of Mexico aboard the TPWD patrol vessel Whatley on Jan. 5 looking for incoming gulf shrimp and recreational fishing boats. Capt. Melinda Dunks (Game Warden Sgt. James Dunks’ wife) of TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division was aboard the resource vessel Kemp and reported that she had seen a bay boat heading toward an oil rig just outside state waters. After making contact with the recreational boat as it entered the jetties heading to port, the wardens determined that the three individuals on board had indeed been fishing in federal waters. They had 19 red snapper on board (14 of which were undersize), as well as 2 undersize gag grouper. The game wardens issued a total of eight tickets for over bag limit of red snapper, possession of undersize red snapper, and possession of undersize gag grouper. Cases and civil restitution pending.
- Wardens run South Texas youth hunt: A youth doe hunt was held on the Rockefeller Ranch at the Willacy/Kenedy county line Jan. 21. Six kids hunted and all harvested deer. Many of the youths took their first deer and the cell phones were sending pictures with deer to all the family and friends.
- Wardens make oyster cases: Game Wardens Raul "Pinky" Gonzales, Danny Kelso, Scott McLeod, and Derek Reeder checked numerous commercial oyster boats in Hynes and San Antonio bays on Jan. 27. Four captains were cited for undersize oyster loads. Approximately 98 sacks of oysters were returned to their reefs.
- Hog blood and ammonia discharged into creek: TPWD’s Environmental Crimes Unit participated in a search warrant at a Dallas meat packing company Jan. 20 involving the alleged discharging a waste consisting of pig blood and ammonia into Cedar Creek. During this pre-warrant investigation phase, samples were taken and analyzed at the TPWD laboratory and found to contain toxic level of disinfectants and ammonia as well as blood. Because the evidence that needed to be gathered was varied, the search warrant was a multi-agency effort. TPWD contributed law enforcement that provided security, gathered document evidence and did suspect interviews as well as providing a scientist who took samples and transported them to the lab. Other agencies included TCEQ, Dallas County Health Department, Environmental Protection Agency CID and City of Dallas Waste Water Department. An analysis of the suspect company’s discharge lines was necessary in addition to the sampling, interviews, and document search. Evidence collected during the operation will be organized, evaluated and analyzed. Charges pending.
- Plea accepted in emissions case: A plea was accepted Jan. 19 by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District regarding a natural gas refinery’s long-term discharges of dangerous emissions, including hydrogen sulfide and sulphur dioxide, a violation under the Clean Air Act. Three of the targets paid fines of $50,000, $22,000 and $15,000. Additional fines of up to $500,000 are possible. This case was a cooperative effort of the, EPA, TPWD, and TCEQ.
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