Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Field Notes

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Game Warden

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

Stuck in the Mud

Val Verde County game wardens patrolling the Rio Grande River encountered a Spanish goat stuck in deep mud along the bank. It had apparently been there for several days and was facing almost certain death had the wardens not taken action. As goats are prone to do, this one began to eat immediately after the wardens freed it. One goat saved.

Repeat, Repeat Offenders

A Bowie County game warden observed a truck that he’d received several complaints on and, recognizing the driver from prior contacts, knew that he did not have a valid driver’s license and made a traffic stop. The driver admitted to driving while license suspended, but also appeared extremely nervous. When asked if there was anything illegal in vehicle, the driver replied “It’s not my truck” and told the warden he’d have to ask the owner, his dad, who was sitting in the passenger seat with a large pitbull in his lap. The passenger consented to a search of the vehicle and the warden discovered a meth pipe in the ashtray and a pistol hidden in the seat. Both suspects were convicted felons multiple times over and although neither claimed the pistol nor the meth pipe, both were arrested and transported to Bowie County Jail. Once at the jail, staff conducted another search and found meth, marijuana and another meth pipe in the dad’s underwear. Both suspects were booked for multiple violations. Information gained during the stop resulted in another agency conducting a traffic stop and making two more drug related arrests.

Snapping Turtle Photos Snap Back

Information on a subject who had captured an alligator snapping turtle and posted pictures of the protected reptile on Facebook sparked an investigation that resulted in the recovery of several items of drug paraphernalia and items that had been used to catch the turtle. Game wardens also discovered evidence that one of the subjects at the residence had been fishing illegally. The wardens determined that the turtle had already been released near Lake Wright Patman. Several citations and warnings for the violations that had been committed were issued. Cases pending.

Unable to Net Culprits, This Time

While hiking up stream between Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake, a Tarrant County game warden stopped at an old fishing camp known as Vance’s Camp, which hasn’t been used for years. While inspecting the area the warden noticed a lot of nets laying around with no one in the area. As he investigated further, he found the first of three illegal hoop nets. The first net was near the bank brushed up in high weeds. As the warden continued to search the area, he came across an old rope buried in high weeds leading into the creek. When the warden pulled the rope up, he found two more hoop nets. He gathered the illegal equipment and waited for quite some time for signs of anyone who may have been monitoring the nets, but no one ever came. The investigation is ongoing.

Using Their Noodle

A pair of East Texas game wardens working a catfish noodling tournament weigh in observed a team. with three large catfish; one with multiple scars. After interviewing the three team members, wardens obtained confessions the fish were caught using illegal means and went to Lake Tawakoni to seize evidence, where they located one large snag pole and two turning sticks. Subjects were filed on for catching fish with illegal means and methods.

Rocks and Rolled

A Tyler County game warden was patrolling near Steinhagen Lake when he observed two men operating an ATV on a public roadway. The warden pulled the subjects over and asked them where they were headed. The driver said they were getting rock for a driveway. While interviewing the subjects, the warden observed two black camera cases linked together on the back of the ATV near the passenger. Due to the ATV passenger’s nervous reactions, the warden requested to look in the cases and discovered two syringes and what appeared to be a marijuana joint. After placing the subjects in handcuffs for officer safety the warden called a Martin Dies State park police officer for assistance. A field test was done on a sample of the syringe contents and a positive result was received for methamphetamine. The passenger was arrested and booked in the Tyler County Jail for possession of a controlled substance. An additional charge of possession of marijuana was also filed. The ATV operator was cited for operating an ATV on a public roadway.

A Big Mouth Bass

A Freestone County Game Warden observed a group of men at Fairfield Lake scaling tilapia at a fish cleaning table. As the warden was talking to the men, he observed a largemouth bass on a stringer with several tilapia and asked if they caught all of the fish in a cast net, to which one replied “yes” and stated he had caught all of the fish. When informed that bass could not legally be taken with a net, he stated he did not know and it was his first time. The warden looked around and found three more freshly caught bass shoved under a concrete ledge on the cleaning table. The warden questioned the man about those and he admitted the bass were his. After checking the man for priors through the department, it was discovered that he had been filed on multiple times for similar violations. Case pending.

Working on their Night Moves

Chambers County game wardens recently completed a year-long investigation of an Operation Game Thief case resulting in the arrest of six subjects. In February 2015, a caller claimed to have heard an oyster boat operating after dark near his waterside home. The wardens responded to the area by boat and as they idled toward the dock, they surveyed the area with night vision. Two vehicles and a few individuals were seen fleeing the scene. At the dock, they found an oyster boat full of unsacked oysters. The wardens maintained surveillance of the scene well into the morning. At about 9:15 a.m. a vehicle returned to the scene and two men began sacking up the oysters. The wardens made contact with the suspects and began their investigation. Sixteen sacks of oysters were returned to the reef and the three subjects were released. Over the next few months phone records were subpoenaed helping to corroborate the details of the case and arrest warrants were obtained for night dredging. Cases pending.

Rapid Response

Lubbock area game wardens patrolled the Buffalo Springs Lake area in conjunction with the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. The annual event brought thousands of concert goers, campers, boaters, and OHV riders to the lake and surrounding area. That afternoon game wardens responded to a reported accident on the Buffalo OHV trails area where a Jeep had rolled down a steep embankment into a ravine and a passenger had sustained serious injuries. One of the wardens, a certified EMT, treated the victim and coordinated getting her out of the deep ravine and up to an awaiting ambulance. Another warden led the investigation into the driver’s possible intoxication, having noticed the strong smell of alcohol on his breath and a large pile of alcoholic beverage containers that had fallen from the Jeep as it rolled. Medical staff later noted that the woman’s life had been saved due to the quick response, treatment, extrication, and transport. The driver was arrested and booked into the Lubbock County Jail on a charge of Intoxication Assault, pending the results of a blood draw and the passenger’s medical outcome.

Mud Holds Hog Poachers at Bay

A game warden responded to an early morning call from the Cochran County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a hunt without landowner consent complaint. Upon arrival at the scene, the warden discovered four subjects from Clovis, New Mexico stuck in the mud on the ranch. The subjects had been hunting feral hogs on the ranch with the aid of several hog dogs and had failed to obtain consent from the landowner. The warden arrested all four subjects for hunting without the landowner’s consent, no valid Texas hunting license and no proof of hunter education. Cases pending.

Party Boat Overboard

A Travis County game warden was notified that a large party boat was docked at Mansfield Dam Park on Lake Travis and taking aboard passengers. A Travis County park police officer had made contact with the vessel operators earlier in the day and at that time they could not produce any required documentation of being compliant as a registered party boat. The warden arrived prior to the vessel’s departure and interviewed several carloads of passengers, who disclosed that they had paid to board the vessel for a party, rather than being “friends” as boasted by the vessel operator earlier. The vessel operator was cited multiple times and arrested on outstanding warrants. The rowdy crowd that had amassed for boarding were told to disband and leave the park due to the vessel not being compliant, for minors in possession and consumption of alcohol.

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