Game Warden Field Notes

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The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

The bandit wasn’t the one in the cage — July 16, a Grayson County game warden followed-up on a complaint about a feed store in Van Alstyne that had a baby raccoon in a cage. The game warden went to the business and was able to locate the animal. The suspect, who had held the animal for two months, was cited for possession of a fur-bearing animal without a permit.

Any age the right age for first fish — Also July 16, a game warden hosted a fishing event at Heritage Park City Lake for five residents from Pittsburg Assisted Living. An 88-year-old woman was sitting in her wheel chair on oxygen when she caught the very first fish on her life. A 79-year-old woman also caught her very first fish. The next day, the game warden hosted another fishing event at the lake for four residents of Mt. Pleasant Assisted Living. A man with a disability caught his first fish in many years. Many fish were caught and a good time was had by all.

Jumping the Gun — During a day patrol July 14, Galveston County game wardens filed on a commercial Gulf shrimp boat captain for a violation of the Gulf closure. The boat was caught dragging a trawl approximately six miles off of the Jefferson and Galveston County shoreline. During the early morning of July 15, while patrolling aboard the Captain Murchison, Galveston County game wardens filed on a second shrimp boat captain for the same violation. Some 2,546 pounds of shrimp were seized from the second vessel and sold for $5,092. Cases pending.

Efficient, maybe; legal — not really — July 13, a Brazoria County game warden filed on two individuals for taking fish by illegal means and methods. The two men had set a gill net along the south shoreline of Christmas Bay. A wade fisherman ran across the net while he was fishing and reported it to the game wardens. The two suspects were located relaxing in a nearby duck blind, and were in possession of an ice chest full of fish, including several redfish and speckled trout, already taken from the net. Cases pending.

Other things not to do when intoxicated — Right before closing, a customer walked into the TPWD Waco District Office to renew his boat registration. An administrative technician noticed that the customer appeared to be impaired. In fact, while at her window the customer almost fell asleep while standing. The technician asked for the customer’s driver’s license and told him that she would return after making a copy. During this time, she contacted the Department of Public Safety office, which is located next door, and asked that a trooper come over. A trooper arrived within minutes. After a brief discussion with the customer, he was arrested for DWI and transported to the McLennan County Jail. Case pending.

Falcon fish thieves thwarted — On July 11 at approximately 8:45 p.m., a Zapata County game warden and a Webb Country game warden were patrolling Falcon Lake when they noticed a Mexican boat enter Texas waters and set out gill nets. The Mexican boat finished setting their nets and headed north out of sight. Both game wardens decided to follow them to see where they were going. After a short boat ride, they observed the Mexican boat setting more gill net in the back of a cove in Texas waters. The game wardens pursued the Mexican boat but the occupants were able to beach it before they could get to them. As the wardens approached the beached boat, they noticed that it had run aground and the motor was about 4 feet up on the bank. The game wardens tied the patrol boat to some brush and waded into the water and spent the next hour and 15 minutes pulling the boat out of the mud and back into the water. The boat and motor were seized along with approximately 2,200 feet of gill net.

Munchies strike at the worst times — July 11, a Newton County game warden observed a vehicle driving extremely erratically. After finally stopping, a Newton resident exited the vehicle with no shirt on and with blood covering his face and chest. The subject advanced on the game warden’s patrol vehicle where he was quickly placed into custody. A small bag of suspected marijuana was recovered from the vehicle. While transporting the subject to the jail, he attempted to eat the baggy by retrieving it with his mouth from the console of the patrol truck. The subject was charged with DWI, possession of marijuana, tampering with physical evidence and assault on a public servant.

Sort of, almost the right idea — July 10, a Hays County game warden received an Operation Game Thief complaint reference a fawn deer being tied to a porch at a residence near San Marcos. On arrival, the game warden saw the fawn in question. As he walked towards the residence, a man exited the house to meet him. The game warden asked about the fawn, and the man said: "Just a minute." He went back into the house, returned with his wallet then handed the game warden a valid hunting license with a deer tag missing. He pointed to the fawn where he had attached a deer tag, and told the game warden he wanted some tender venison for Labor Day. Case pending; fawn relocated to a rehabilitator.

The next generation of anglers — On July 8, Calhoun County game wardens hosted a Kidfish for local students with disabilities. Twelve children in all enjoyed a morning of fishing and a hot dog lunch. Thanks to a local fish farmer, 300 donated catfish were stocked in a city lake to help improve the fishing. One game warden got a little wet when one of the boys decided that wade fishing would be more effective. Thankfully, the mud slowed the boy down a bit, so he didn’t get too far.

Excuse me, did you lose something? — July 6, while patrolling Cedar Creek Lake, a Cherokee County game warden began to hear screams near his location; however there were no signs of a boat in the area. The warden began to scan the area and finally noticed two young girls floating in the middle of the lake. The little girls were so small they could only be seen between waves. The scared little girls were safely plucked out of the water. It was determined that the girls had fallen off a tube while being towed by their grandfather on a PWC. The PWC and the driver were located approximately 1 mile away. After being educated on the dangers of towing skiers without a mirror or an observer, the girls were taken to the bank. Case pending.

Nope, he’s not impaired — July 5 a Wise County game warden, while patrolling Lake Bridgeport, arrested a Chico man for BWI and for evading arrest or detention. The man screamed obscenities at the game warden and a deputy, who was riding on the TPWD patrol boat, after being stopped for no lights at night. The subject jumped from his boat into the lake while being towed to shore for standard field sobriety testing. The subject refused all tests and requested a blood sample draw. Cases pending.

Sometimes a day at the lake is no picnic — While patrolling Lake Meredith July 5, game wardens from Hutchinson, Moore and Dallam Counties responded to an assault call at Fritch Fortress Campground. A male had physically assaulted his wife and male friend. When the wife called 911, the male took off down a cliff. After a short manhunt by national park rangers and the wardens, the subject was spotted swimming across the lake to Horseshoe Island. The wardens got back in the boat, picked up the park rangers, and proceeded to Horseshoe Island. The subject was spotted among the crowd that was camping on the island and arrested by the rangers and wardens. The subject was placed in Hutchinson County Jail on charges of assault, public intoxication, and evading.

A regular pharmacy — During the 4th of July weekend Denton and Callahan County game wardens arrested a Dallas man for possession of marijuana. In addition, eight grams of cocaine, five grams of methamphetamine, quart of GHB, numerous drug paraphernalia and several hundred dollars were seized on the boat. After a two-week investigation, in conjunction with the Denton County Narcotics Division, multiple narcotic dealers were identified and will be charged. Multiple felony cases are pending.

Only 11 days too soon — On Independence Day, Jefferson County game wardens were patrolling the Gulf of Mexico for illegal shrimping activity. At 9:30 p.m. the wardens made contact with a shrimp boat in the act of pulling four nets. The boat was seven miles offshore in Texas waters. The boat was boarded and taken to Sabine Pass and the captain arrested for shrimping in closed waters. The total catch of shrimp, 6,943 pounds, was sold for $10,414.

Another preventable tragedy — Also on July 4, Denton County game wardens received a call regarding the drowning of a three-year-old girl in the swim area of Little Elm Park at Lake Lewisville. The girl apparently drowned while her father, who had been drinking, walked away and left her unattended. A man walking in the water felt what he thought was a stick and discovered it was the little girl when he lifted it out of the water. The man and other witnesses began CPR. The child was pronounced dead at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

Nice tarpon, but ... — San Patricio County game wardens came across some interesting violations one weekend in July. The wardens were checking fishermen on the Nueces River and discovered a subject with a 30-inch tarpon. As unusual as it was to find a tarpon in the river, things just got better. They noticed some marks on the tarpon’s head and found the subject in possession of the undersized fish to be sitting on a bag with 75 feet of gill net. As the wardens finished that contact, another subject came walking down the bank and proudly showed off the catfish he had caught. The only problem was he caught them in a cast net. Shortly after that, the wardens waited for the last boat to come into the boat ramp. An oversized, untagged red fish was discovered in the boat.