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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-09-29                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a month old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 29, 2017
Lampasas County Man Indicted in Deaths of Bald Eagles, Vultures
Faces Additional Charges for Allegedly Killing Vultures
AUSTIN - A Lampasas County grand jury has returned an indictment against a Bend, Texas, man on two counts of killing bald eagles, a protected non-game animal. Jackie Brister, 82, also faces additional charges alleging he captured and killed numerous other non-game birds, including black vultures and turkey vultures.
Texas game wardens launched an initial investigation after responding to a call regarding a wounded bald eagle discovered near Bend on Jan. 11, 2017; the bird did not survive. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wardens determined the eagle had been shot by a rifle. Further investigation uncovered evidence of additional taking of protected non-game animals.
With help from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Criminal Investigations Division and the Lampasas County Sheriff's Office, cases were made and filed with the Lampasas County District Attorney's Office.
In addition to citations for the taking of a state threatened species and non-game birds, Class C misdemeanors punishable by fines of $25-$500 for each case, Brister also faces a Class A misdemeanor violation for hunting without landowner consent. That charge carries a possible fine of $500-$4,000 and/or up to a one year state jail term. Brister could also face civil restitution for the eagles in an amount to be determined exceeding $10,000 each.
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[ Note: This item is more than a month old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 29, 2017
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Struggles with Math
A game warden was on patrol opening day of dove season in Bee County and, while checking a group of hunters, found numerous violations. When the warden contacted one individual with a pile of 14 dove on his truck who was still actively hunting, the hunter stated he needed one more bird to finish out his 15-bird daily bag limit. "What's in the bag?" the warden asked, pointing to the man's game bird bag. He then reluctantly produced one dove from his game bag. When the warden asked him if he had any more birds, the math-challenged hunter sheepishly withdrew three more from his bag. Cases were filed for exceeding the daily limit on dove.
Hogging the Squirrels
Game wardens were working the Cooper Wildlife Management Area on the Delta/Hopkins County line, checking teal hunters, when they heard several shots and people hollering in the river bottom. The wardens located a small vehicle and decided to wait for the hunters to return. As they waited, more shots and hollering were heard. A subject eventually returned to the car and retrieved several water bottles. Contact was made and the wardens determined the hunter was attempting to conceal the location of his hunting buddies. A search of the vicinity uncovered three subjects hiding in the woods in possession of five dead hogs. A search of their bags revealed several squirrels wrapped in plastic bags and a subsequent search of the vehicle's trunk revealed several more squirrels concealed in plastic bags. One of the hunters had a warrant out of Dallas County for driving while intoxicated. Charges are pending for hunting/possessing squirrels during closed season.
Brought to Bay
A Hunt County game warden was on patrol when he heard over the radio that a Greenville police unit was in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle. The suspect driving the vehicle was a wanted fugitive in Oklahoma. The fleeing vehicle eventually wrecked on a gravel road in southern Hunt County. The suspect evaded officers and disappeared into nearby woods. A perimeter was set up by numerous officers in the area. The warden responded along with a prison search dog team. Mounted on horseback, the warden and officers from the prison followed the search dogs into the woods where the suspect was quickly located hiding in a tree. The suspect was taken into custody and the warden escorted him to a waiting Greenville PD squad car.
360 Divided by 8 Equals Zero
Webb County game wardens on patrol encountered eight hunters who seemed to be having great success based on the amount of shooting that they were doing. Upon contacting the individuals, one of the wardens walked into the field and immediately noticed large amounts of milo scattered throughout the field. Baiting fields to attract migratory game birds during hunting season is illegal, as is hunting dove over bait. An inspection of one hunter's vehicle revealed two empty bags of milo feed in the truck bed. After speaking with all eight hunters, they admitted to knowingly hunting the baited area, as well as placing the bait the previous day. The wardens subsequently seized approximately 360 mourning and white-winged dove and cited eight hunters for various hunting and baiting violations. Civil restitution is pending. All edible resources were donated.
Good Catch
A Morris County game warden observed two people fishing on Big Cypress Creek and made contact to check for compliance. Neither subject had a fishing license. An ID check revealed a warrant against one of the individuals for organized crime out of Upshur County. While getting the warrant confirmed, a Lone Star police officer arrived on scene for backup. While being patted down for the officer's safety, one subject was in possession of five grams of methamphetamine and prescription drugs in his pocket. Both subjects were transported to the county jail. Inventory was conducted on the vehicle and an additional 20 grams of methamphetamine was found along with a digital scale. The citations and charges are pending.
Fetch Him Up Rex!
While checking fishermen at a local community lake near Greenville late one afternoon, a Hunt County game warden approached an individual who suddenly dropped his equipment and fled into the nearby brush. Rather than pursue the man into the brush in total darkness, the warden called the Greenville Police Department and requested K-9 assistance. A K-9 officer arrived shortly accompanied by his dog, Rex, who shortly after picking up a scent trail convinced the fugitive to come out of hiding. An investigation revealed the man was heavily intoxicated, and was in possession of syringes and other drug paraphernalia. He had also been fishing without a license and driving on a suspended license. An arrest was made and the cases are pending.
Bagging Buzzards
Game wardens were working South Zone dove hunters near El Campo when they received a call from a local hunter claiming that he had seen several subjects in an adjacent field who had shot and killed vultures. The wardens made contact with three individuals who initially denied shooting anything but dove. After a brief interview, and several lies later, the suspects finally confessed to shooting and killing two vultures and revealed the birds' location. Citations for killing protected non-game birds were issued and restitution is pending.
Apologies Accepted; Tickets Issued
Webb County game wardens checking dove hunters in the northern part of the county during opening weekend in the South Zone received information about a large group possibly hunting on a particular ranch. Upon entering the ranch, contact was made with the landowner's son, who stated that he did not have any knowledge of any hunters being on the property. As they continued into the ranch they immediately noticed that there were multiple Mojo's in the field next to the landowner's residence. The wardens approached the field and subsequently noticed three hunters riding around on an UTV. While contacting the hunters, the wardens noticed large amounts of bait scattered throughout the field, as well as a half empty bag of "Wild Bird Food" within 50 yards of them. During the contact, the hunters admitted to placing the bait the previous day and apologized for their wrongdoing. The wardens subsequently seized approximately 140 mourning and white-winged dove and cited six hunters for various hunting and baiting violations. Civil restitution is pending. All edible resources were donated.
Beached
Game wardens were patrolling South Padre Island near beach Access 6 in the early hours of Sept. 23 when they noticed an individual operating a vehicle recklessly. Upon trying to conduct a traffic stop, the vehicle led them on a pursuit on the beach southbound towards Access 5. The vehicle swerved in and out of vehicular and foot traffic on the beach while reaching speeds of more than 70 miles per hour. The vehicle finally came to a halt when it hit a sand berm at the Access 5 exit. Two individuals, both minors, were taken into custody and transported to the juvenile detention center. Three state jail felonies and a Class B misdemeanor were filed. The cases are pending.
Long Way from Home
While on patrol in Brewster County, a game warden stopped three men walking along Highway 118 approximately three miles south of Alpine. Two of the men were from Honduras and the third was from El Salvador. Border Patrol was informed and took the three men into custody.
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[ Note: This item is more than a month old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 29, 2017
Toyota ShareLunker Program to Begin New Year-Round Season Jan. 1
TPWD implementing year-round participation system, expanding weight categories
ATHENS - After more than 31 years of collecting and spawning 13 pound or larger "lunker" largemouth bass, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program is announcing big changes and an expanded mission in an effort to better engage the public in the promotion and enhancement of lunker bass fishing in Texas public waters.
The ShareLunker participation season will now run each year from Jan.1 through Dec. 31; a change from previous seasons. But similar to last year, only those entries collected between Jan. 1 - March 31 will be accepted as broodstock for spawning.
"This provides the greatest opportunity to obtain eligible fish for spawning while minimizing the risk of additional handling and possible mortality," said Kyle Brookshear, ShareLunker program coordinator.
Outside of the spawning window, the new year-round participation season will allow for anglers catching bass 8 pounds or larger to submit information about their catch through a web application in four categories: 8 pounds or larger, 10 pounds or larger, 13 pounds or larger and 13 pounds or larger with a spawning donation.
The goal is to increase the number of participants in the Toyota ShareLunker program and expand large fish catch rate data for fisheries biologists, Brookshear said. As a bonus, the new size categories open up more ways for anglers to receive prizes and incentives for participating.
"This citizen scientist initiative will allow fisheries biologists to better monitor the impact of ShareLunker stockings across Texas and provide more incentives and opportunities for Texans to help us make our bass fishing bigger and better than ever," Brookshear said.
Other spawning program changes include converting the entire hatchery broodstock to pure-Florida ShareLunker offspring. Genetically pure offspring will be maintained on the hatchery, grown to adulthood, then distributed to production hatcheries and used as broodstock. Eventually, all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass broodstock will be descendants of ShareLunkers, Brookshear said.
Additionally, attempts will be made to spawn all donated eligible ShareLunkers -- regardless of the degree of genetic introgression. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year.
"People come to Texas from all over the country for our lunker bass fishing, and it's still very rare to catch a 13 pounder," said Mandy Scott, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center director. "So that's why ShareLunker is special. We learned a long time ago that these fish were important and we wanted to try to capitalize on the big fish that we have in Texas already and make fishing even bigger and better."
Brookshear said the program will announce the full list of changes and the new prizes closer to the beginning of the season, but anglers can also look forward to a complete rebranding of the program to include a new logo, graphics, and eventually more ShareLunker Weigh Stations to aid in the weigh-in process. Additionally, education and outreach specialists at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center are developing ShareLunker science curriculum for Texas classrooms.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year's season, see www.tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker/ . The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program. Or follow the program on social media at www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/ .
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
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