|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-04-13                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 13, 2012
Major East Texas Deer Poaching Case Finalized
AUSTIN - State game wardens have wrapped up an extensive 16-month poaching investigation in East Texas that has netted stout fines and jail or prison sentences for four men responsible for illegally killing 30 deer in Wood and Rains counties.
Wood County Game Wardens Derek Spitzer and Kurt Kelley along with Van Zandt County warden Steve Stapleton began the investigation on Dec. 7, 2010 when a dead deer was found hanging from an oil well pump jack on a wooded 1,500-acre tract near Alba. Only the deer's backstrap had been removed, with the rest of the meat left to waste. The subsequent investigation, which involved an estimated 270 man hours, uncovered an extensive pattern of deer poaching in both Wood and Rains counties.
During the course of the investigation, the wardens conducted several protracted interviews, secured a large amount of evidence, and were able to document the illegal killing of 30 deer by four individuals. All of the deer had been killed at night from public roads with the aid of a spotlight over a three-month period.
In one documented incident, two of the men involved were found to have shot two deer behind a high fence at night and returned later with a pair of bolt cutters, which they used to cut a hole in the fence and remove the deer. Most of the deer meat in the investigation was found to have been wasted, with the violators often only taking the backstrap from the animals.
While probing the hunting law violations, the wardens recovered multiple stolen items and several theft cases are still pending. A total of 528 offenses were determined to have occurred with 40 of those being state jail felonies. Of the total offenses known, 22 charges were brought forward in Wood and Rains counties. Nine Class A misdemeanor charges and two state jail felonies were filed in each county.
Of the four defendants, three made plea deals with prosecutors with one of them entering a plea in exchange for a one-year sentence for hunting deer without a land owner's consent. The protracted investigation was finally closed on February 23 when the fourth subject changed his plea to guilty and received 3 years in state jail and $12,000 in fines for hunting deer at night, hunting with artificial light and hunting from a vehicle - all Class A misdemeanors. Sentences handed down added up to more than $41,000 in fines, 3,000 hours of community service and a total of 12 years of jail or probation time.
In addition, six firearms were seized and awarded to the state. Finally, all the defendants lost the privilege of hunting in the state of Texas for five years and will be paying civil restitution for the game animals taken.
For more information on the defendants and the charges filed against them, please contact Wood County Asst. Dist. Atty. Joey Fenlaw at 903-963-4515 and Rains County DA Robert Vititow at 903-473-5000, x. 115.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Bryan Frazier, (512) 826-8703, bryan.frazier@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 13, 2012
New Group Pavilion Opens at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Multipurpose Rec Hall Named in Honor of Amarillo-area Benefactor
CANYON, TX--Some 200 people from across the region turned out for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the long-awaited Mack Dick Group Pavilion in the bottom of scenic Palo Duro Canyon State Park on Thursday.
The ceremony was accented with a dramatic flair with the singing of the national anthem and other musical performances by members of the play "Texas"--complete with horses, cowboys and dancers--and a rendition of Texas Our Texas by Golden Spread men's chorus. Numerous speakers from TPWD senior leadership, the Amarillo Area Foundation and Partners in Palo Duro Canyon Foundation also participated in the day's agenda.
"The last great group facilities that were built in Texas parks, were done so back in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp; it's been long enough," said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. "It's befitting for a world-class place like Palo Duro Canyon State Park to have a world-class facility like the Mack Dick Group Pavilion."
Several years in the making, the new 4,080 square-foot building was constructed of stone and materials native to the Panhandle, and was made possible by a large donation from Amarillo-area businessman Mack Dick, for whom the multipurpose facility is named. It features meeting space, a commercial kitchen, restrooms, audio-visual equipment and stylish western furniture
Demand for the new Pavilion is high, as it has already been booked for numerous days this summer and even into the fall; expectations are that it will be popular for weddings, receptions, family reunions, parties, RV groups, and even corporate retreats.
"For people to come together and make this possible, I think it's going to allow generations of folks to come out and enjoy the canyon, and experience it in a way that continues the tradition of what the original vision of this park has always been," said Cory Evans, superintendent at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
For more information, contact Palo Duro Canyon State Park staff at (806) 488-2227, or to make reservations for the new Mack Dick Group Pavilion, contact the state park customer service center at (512) 389-8900.