Laws, Penalties & Restitution

Unlawful Activities

It is unlawful to:

  • take, attempt to take or possess wildlife resources within a protected length limit, in greater numbers, by other means or at any time or place, other than as indicated within this guide or as may otherwise be provided by law.
  • drive a motor vehicle in the bed of a navigable freshwater stream, unless approved by a local river access plan established by a city, county or river authority. This law does not apply to the Canadian River and Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. There are other exemptions as well. The full text of this law may be found in Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 90.
  • fish on privately owned waters, fish in public water from private land or hunt on privately owned lands without the permission of the owner or the owner's agent.
  • fish on public water from private land without a fishing license.
  • enter property that is agricultural, fenced, posted with a sign(s), or marked (purple paint) without the express permission of the owner (Texas Penal Code §30.05). Posts or trees bearing a purple paint marking of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width and not less than three or more than five feet from the ground, constitute notice that the property is posted.

Personal Identification

While hunting, fishing or trapping, persons 17 years of age or older must carry on their person a driver's license or personal identification certificate issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Non-residents must carry similar documents issued by the agency in their state or country of residence that is authorized to issue driver's licenses or personal identification certificates.

Inspection Authority

A game warden who observes a person engaged in an activity governed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code or reasonably believes that a person is or has been engaged in such an activity may inspect:

  • any license, permit, tag or other document issued by the department and required by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code of a person hunting or catching wildlife resources;
  • any device that may be used to hunt or catch a wildlife resource;
  • any wildlife resource in the person's possession; and
  • the contents of any container or receptacle that is commonly used to store or conceal a wildlife resource.

The full text of this law may be found in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, §12.102 or call TPWD at (800) 792-1112 (press 9, then 4381)

Waste of Game

It is an offense (Class C misdemeanor) if a person while hunting kills or wounds a game bird or game animal and intentionally or knowingly fails to make a reasonable effort to retrieve the animal or bird and include it in the person's daily or seasonal bag limit. It is an offense if a person intentionally takes or possesses a game bird, game animal or fish and intentionally, knowingly or recklessly or with criminal negligence, fails to keep the edible portions of the bird, animal or fish in an edible condition. It is a Class A misdemeanor to fail to retrieve or to keep in an edible condition a whitetail or mule deer, pronghorn antelope or desert bighorn sheep hunted without landowner consent; from a vehicle, boat or aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles); on a public road; at night; or with the aid of a light.

Retrieval of Game

No person may pursue a wounded wildlife resource across a property line without the consent of landowner of the property where the wildlife resource has fled. Under the trespass provisions of the Penal Code, a person on a property without the permission of the landowner is subject to arrest.

Harassment of Hunters, Trappers or Anglers

Under the Sportsmen's Rights Act, harassment of hunters, trappers, or anglers is punishable by a fine of $200 to $2000 and/or 180 days in jail.

Sale of Inedible Wildlife Parts

The following inedible wildlife parts may be purchased or sold if lawfully taken or possessed:

  • Hair, hide, antlers, bones, horns, skull, hooves, or sinew from the following game animals: mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, desert bighorn sheep, gray or cat squirrels, fox squirrels or red squirrels, and javelina (aka collared peccary).
  • Feathers, bones, or feet of game birds (turkey, pheasant, quail, and chachalaca) other than migratory birds may be used, purchased, or sold for making fishing flies, pillows, mattresses, and other similar commercial uses.
  • Feathers from migratory birds may not be purchased or sold for hats or ornamental purposes nor may a person purchase or sell mounted migratory game bird specimens or their parts taken by hunting.


If you violate fish and wildlife laws, you may:

  • be fined for misdemeanors
    • Class C - $25-$500
    • Class B - $200-$2,000 and/or 6 months in jail
    • Class A - $500-$4,000 and/or 1 year in jail;
  • be fined for state jail felonies ($1,500-$10,000 and/or up to 2 years in jail);
  • face automatic suspension or revocation of licenses for up to five years; and
  • forfeit hunting gear, including firearms, used to commit a violation.

Civil Restitution

In addition to the criminal penalty for hunting and fishing violations, the department will seek the civil recovery value for the loss or damage to wildlife resources. The civil restitution cost is payable to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Failure to pay the civil recovery value will result in the department's refusal to issue a license, tag or permit. Hunting or fishing after failing or refusing to pay civil restitution is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $500 - $4,000 fine; punishment in jail (not to exceed one year); or both. For questions call (512) 389-4630.

License Reinstatement

A person who seeks reinstatement of license privileges following license revocation, denial or suspension must apply for license privilege reinstatement and pay a $100 fee.

NOTE: Texas is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) which allows member states to share information about wildlife violators and to deny licensure to persons who have failed to comply with conservation law in member states. For example, if a person has had their hunting, fishing or trapping privileges suspended in any member state, the suspension may be recognized by any other member state. For more information call (512) 389-4381.