The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
During a late June storm, a Val Verde County game warden responded to a call for assistance from a state parks police officer regarding kayakers who were stranded on the Devil’s River following an overnight flash flood. The four paddlers had all their kayaks and equipment washed away in the darkness but were able to make it to the bank to save themselves. Two of the kayakers ended up on the wrong side of the river and found themselves cut off and without any food and water. The other pair ended up on the Devils River State Natural Area North Unit and after 6-8 hours of walking were extremely lucky to find the park police officer. The warden and park police officer were able to locate the two cold, wet, thirsty and hungry but not injured kayakers and cross them back to the park side where they successfully reunited with the rest of their group, in all about an 18 hour ordeal. After two weeks and using her extensive knowledge of the river and landowners, the warden was able to successfully locate and return three of the lost kayaks and equipment back to their owners.
A case in Titus County against an individual on a variety of game and fish law violations came to a conclusion when a judge found him guilty of not having a required furbearer propagation permit for a live beaver, waste of game fish (a 22-plus-inch largemouth bass) and no hunting license for taking four feral hogs. The subject also had four cases pending from the Texas Animal Health Commission on the illegal possession of feral hogs. The subject was found guilty on all charges and escorted to jail on another outstanding warrant.
A Red River County game warden got a complaint about trespassing from a local landowner. With the help of a trail camera, he was able to make contact with the owner of the trespassing SUV who admitted that he had been fishing without permission. Charges of fishing without landowner consent were filed.
A Cooke County game warden who also happened to have EMT training, recently assisted Department of Public Safety troopers with a one vehicle rollover accident that occurred near her residence. The warden was first on scene and found an SUV upside down in a pasture. She was able to locate the occupants and provide medical support and stabilization until the ambulance arrived. Thankfully no major injuries were sustained, except to the vehicle.
On July22, Van Zandt County game wardens were called to a search and rescue operation involving a two-year-old toddler who had gone missing in a rural area of the county. A short time after responding, the game wardens located the body of the child in a nearby creek. An investigation into the child’s death is underway.
Several game warden K-9 officers, as well as Bowie County deputies and constables, recently teamed up to patrol areas of the county known for criminal activity. These patrol efforts have resulted in several felony arrests for possession of methamphetamine and multiple citations have been issued for possession of drug paraphernalia. During this time, wardens had also observed a motorcycle coming from a known drug distribution area and decided to make contact. While talking with the wardens, this subject admitted to being in possession of illegal drugs. When the wardens attempted to search the individual’s clothing for weapons and drugs, the subject fled on foot through a neighborhood. The wardens pursued the individual for several blocks and were able to take the suspect into custody. Multiple cases were filed for possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and evading arrest/detention with prior convictions.
A Tarrant County game warden received a call that someone was selling tilapia along the side of the road. The warden arrived and witnessed a sale of fish take place. The seller was not licensed and had several other violations. It was determined that the fish were being commercially harvested at Squaw Creek Reservoir. Tilapia are a warm-water tropical species not native to Texas and are actually on the state’s prohibited species list. While there is no minimum size or bag limit for tilapia in Texas, they may not be sold commercially without a fish dealer’s license. Appropriate citations were issued.
A Harrison County game warden assisted the sheriff’s office with an investigation of a possible burglary., Since the game warden was very familiar with the area, he noticed that a nearby deer camp gate was open. Upon entering the camp, the game warden noticed a lot of vandalism had occurred. After making contact with a neighboring landowner, the warden learned that an individual had stopped by the night before asking to borrow some gasoline. Armed with a general description of the individual, the warden began searching the area and found a man that fit the description of the suspect. The warden detained him and he was positively identified by the witness. The suspect admitted to stealing a 50 hp John Deere tractor and told the warden where he had hidden the tractor. After searching the area, the warden found the stolen equipment and returned it to its rightful owner.
A Cherokee County game warden responded to a tip that an individual was keeping deer fawns captive inside a building on a property outside Jacksonville. Contact was made with the resident and he admitted to being in possession of two deer fawns. A consensual search revealed he was also in possession of drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, marijuana and other controlled substances. The subject was arrested and multiple cases are pending.
Game wardens received an Operation Game Thief complaint referencing a possible alligator poaching case in northern Smith County. The caller stated that several subjects had killed an alligator from a public road and sent pictures to several people claiming to have killed and eaten it. The wardens were able to identify the suspects, make contact and get confessions from two adults and a juvenile. The suspects admitted to seeing the alligator while they were fishing from a county road, shooting the alligator with a 0.22 pistol and crossbow, then finally killing it with a bat. Numerous citations were issued, including taking alligator out of season, illegal means and methods and no hunter education.
Texas game wardens were investigating the reported use of illegal hoop nets on the Rio Grande when a commercial boat with three individuals approached. As the Wardens attempted to make a contact with the vessel, it began to flee and a chase ensued. During the pursuit, the game warden vessel was rammed several times by the subjects, which resulted in the subject’s vessel becoming lodged underneath the game warden boat. At this point, the suspects then jumped into the swift-flowing Rio Grande and, while two were able to swim to the Mexican shore, it became apparent that the third suspect was having difficulty and could not swim. A throw rope was deployed by game wardens but the subject was not able to grab the rope. The subject continued to go underwater and come up for air, but was becoming extremely exhausted. The throw rope was deployed once again and the subject made a last grab as he was going under and grabbed the rope. He was pulled to the warden vessel and was transported to shore. The wardens were then able to recover the suspects’ vessel. The subject was charged with multiple misdemeanors and a felony.
Game wardens were patrolling Buffalo Springs Lake for water safety compliance when they stopped two men, each on a separate personal watercraft, for exceeding headway speed within 50 feet of each other. Upon observing signs of possible intoxication, the wardens brought the pair to shore. One of the individuals refused to perform field sobriety tests and was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated and the other operator was released. Later, the wardens were approached by the same jet-ski they had inspected earlier, only this time driven by another individual. Unfortunately for them, the wardens recognized the operator as a possibly intoxicated passenger on a pleasure boat they had inspected earlier. After the Wardens observed further signs of intoxication with that subject, and a sobriety test was refused, the individual was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated.. Both men were transported to University Medical Center in Lubbock, where a blood search warrant was executed. Both subjects were booked under an enhanced penalty (Class “A” Misdemeanor) charge of boating while intoxicated-second, as each had prior convictions of an intoxication offense. Both men were also served with multiple outstanding arrest warrants. Cases pending.
Williamson County game wardens were recently on patrol close to Lake Georgetown during the early morning hours when they came upon a pickup parked in the middle of a one lane bridge over the San Gabriel River. All four doors were wide-open and there was a man standing near the tailgate. After approaching the vehicle and asking the individual why he had parked in the middle of the bridge, the man replied that it wasn’t his truck and the owner was downstream bowfishing. While talking to the man, the wardens observed in plain view a bong and pipe used for smoking marijuana. While looking for the owner’s identification in the vehicle, one of the wardens located a bag of marijuana and another pipe. After over a half-hour on the scene and believing the driver was hiding nearby, the warden used his PA to warn the driver he had five minutes to come out or an arrest warrant would be issued for his arrest. The owner and three other individuals quickly appeared. The owner admitted to owning the bong, a pipe and the bag of marijuana. Another individual owned up to the other pipe. The vehicle was impounded and the owner was arrested for possession of marijuana. The other guy was cited and released for possession of drug paraphernalia. When asked why he parked in the middle of the bridge blocking traffic he said the other guys in his truck said it was OK to do so. Cases pending.