Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Field Notes June 2016

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

Arrest Now, Ticket Later

A Travis County game warden was checking bank fishermen on Lake Austin when one fisherman attempted to leave prior to being checked. Despite his insistence that he had a fishing license, none could be located through dispatch. When notified that a license could not be found, he requested that a citation be issued so that he could leave. Despite limited information, TPWD dispatch located an outstanding arrest warrant and the subject was transported to Travis County Central Booking. During booking, the subject’s request for a citation was honored and entered into his property.

Caught in the Act

Cameron County game wardens decided to head out to a spot just after sunset where a person had been setting a gill net in the Arroyo Colorado in recent weeks. The wardens had just missed catching the gill netter previously, but this time wardens showed up just as the subject was bringing his gill net and other gear out of the water. One warden was waiting near the subject’s pickup when the subject and 11 members of his family approached and loaded their gear into the bed. The warden made contact with the subjects and found a gill net and an untagged oversize red drum in the bed of the pickup. The subject was then taken into custody and placed under arrest for possession of an illegal fishing device in coastal waters. Cases and restitution pending. The 12 subjects were also warned on criminal trespass.

Trying to Reach the Other Side?

An Aransas County game warden responded to a call from the Aransas County Sheriff’s Department about a man who swam out into Copano Bay and became exhausted and disoriented. A caller had reported hearing cries for help just after sunset. The warden launched a patrol boat and found the subject laying down on a spoil island too tired to move and brought him back to shore for EMS personnel to examine. The subject was very appreciative and advised he did not think he would survive.

Uh, You Can’t Do That Here

Game wardens received a complaint about six men setting out a gill net on Sunset Lake in Portland, which seemed odd that a gill net would be used during the middle of the day in a heavily populated area. The wardens followed up anyway and upon arrival did indeed find a group of men working a gill net!  Four of the men were in the water actively fishing with the net and two were on land watching. There was also another brand new gill net on the shoreline. The wardens instructed the men in the water to bring in the net. They had caught several different kinds of fish, still alive and released back into the water by the wardens. It turns out brazen netters were from Malaysia and claimed they had no idea it was illegal in Texas. The nets were seized and several citations issued.

Chicken Coop is Probable Cause

A Houston County game warden received a call from a local vet clinic about a hawk type bird that had been brought in with an injury. The bird had been shot with a pellet gun. The warden identified the bird as a Mississippi kite. The bird had been found in a backyard in Crockett. The warden talked to the family that had found the bird and noticed a chicken coop in their neighbor’s backyard. Without any more info than just the bird being found, the warden did a “knock and talk” with the neighbor and got a confession to shooting the kite. While the Mississippi kite is not an endangered species, it is federally-protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Cases pending.

Don’t Play the Slots

A Shelby County game warden was checking fisherman on Lake Pinkston. While inspecting a fisherman’s boat the warden observed a live well with nine bass in it, most were obviously in the slot. On Lake Pinkston, only bass 14 inches and less or 21 inches or greater in length may be retained. Only one largemouth bass 21 inches or greater may be retained each day. After measuring the fisherman’s catch, there was a total of seven illegal slot bass. The subject received multiple citations and was educated on the lake’s slot limit.

Following the Paper Trail

A Cherokee County game warden stopped a flat bottom boat on Lake Palestine that was running well after dark with no navigation lights. During the stop, the warden discovered other violations, such as no fishing license and possession of headed and tailed fish on board the vessel. One subject had a hunting license, but no fishing license. When asked about the deer the subject had killed last season, as a buck was documented on his harvest log, the subject responded that he had shot a doe. After some more questioning, the warden received information that led him to believe the subject’s stepfather had possibly shot a deer and used the subject’s tag. Wardens set up an interview with the subject and his stepfather two days later. It was determined that the subject’s stepfather, who did not possess a valid hunting license for the 2015 season, shot a spike buck behind the house and tagged it with his stepson’s tag. It was also determined that the stepson had shot a doe, behind their house, and never tagged it. Numerous citations and warnings were filed. Cases pending.

Gator Poacher Caught

Henderson County game wardens investigating a possible poaching case involving a huge alligator that was taken on Kickapoo Creek were able to locate the shooter and determine that the alligator was in fact taken without landowner consent, was taken by illegal means/methods, and that no permit had been sought after the kill. The alligator measured 12 feet, 6 inches and is one of the largest ever known to have been killed in Henderson County. Cases and civil restitution pending.

Pass with Caution

A Bowie County game warden was patrolling near New Boston when he observed a vehicle coming to a stop in the middle of the road in front of him. The driver of the vehicle motioned for the warden to drive around his vehicle. Believing that the subject may have been having vehicle problems, the warden turned on his red and blue lights and pulled up behind the vehicle and that’s when he noticed an expired vehicle registration. A records check revealed that the subject had six active warrants for his arrest. The subject was taken into custody and during an inventory of the suspect’s vehicle, the warden discovered a meth pipe and a small clear plastic bag containing a white/crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine. The suspect was arrested on the warrants and for being in possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Cases pending.

Cavalry to the Rescue

A Freestone County game warden patrolling around Fairfield Lake near the boat ramp observed a capsized vessel on the other side of the lake. Two individuals were in the water trying to swim back to their boat. The warden commandeered a boat from the state park and got help from an off-duty state park police officer and an off-duty Shelby County game warden. The officers were able to make contact with the individuals and pulled them into their boat. The officers recovered the vessel and were able to return it and the individuals to safety. Thankfully, both men were wearing PFDs and neither suffered any injuries.

Big Turtle Not Hot to Trot

A Harrison County game warden got a call about a large alligator snapping turtle that had been in the same spot on the river for a couple of days. The warden found the big turtle and was able to get close enough to free him from the trotline on which he was caught.

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