TPWD Game Wardens To Be Federally Commissioned

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AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agents are attending a series of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden meetings in March and April to federally commission the wardens.

What does that mean?

There is a new memorandum of agreement between TPWD and the USFWS which says USFWS will provide TPWD wardens with training about federal laws and enforcement issues and TPWD wardens will then have the authority, for example, to seize evidence and make an arrest on federal wildlife violations. Federal cases will still be turned over to USFWS. In turn, TPWD will do training for the federal agents, giving them state jurisdiction.

"The cooperation between these two agencies has never been better, and this is just another sign of it," said Col. James Stinebaugh, director of law enforcement at TPWD.

Richard McDonald, USFWS Special-Agent-in-Charge of the southwest region (which includes Texas), said, "from a federal standpoint, this gives us 500-plus eyes and ears that we didn’t have before. And under state law, there were some cases where we wouldn’t have jurisdiction and we will have it now. For example, in the case of someone taking a deer in closed season, that is not a federal violation, so before, we could take the information as we saw it and provide it to warden. Now, we can seize the deer at the scene.

This gives both of us more tools to effectively protect the resources of the state of Texas," McDonald said.

Just about all TPWD wardens are getting federally trained. This is a first for Texas Game Wardens and other states have similar agreements with USFWS, Stinebaugh said.