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Columns March 6, 2018  RSS feed

Game Warden Field Notes

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

A Costly Lesson Learned

Maverick County game wardens made contact with a ranch hand during a camp check and were informed there were five hunters still in the field. While waiting for the hunters to return to camp, the wardens discovered several plastic bags in a cooler containing 43 duck breasts and 10 dove breasts missing the required wing or head attached for bird identification purposes. The wardens made contact with the hunters and found them in possession of five dove and two ducks, along with a mix of lead and steel shot-shells in their hunting bags and shotguns. The wardens examined the dove and found their crops to be full of corn. The hunters were asked by the wardens where they had harvested the dove and were told they had shot the birds under a deer feeder. The wardens advised the hunters of the issues they had with the game they had harvested. The hunters told the wardens they had hunted their entire lives and had no idea they couldn’t hunt dove at a deer feeder, and also stated they didn’t know they had to keep a wing or a head on a duck for identification purposes. Citations were issued to all five hunters. Forty three ducks and 15 dove were seized. The civil restitution and cases are pending.

Dumpster Diving for Clues

A Lubbock area game warden received a tip from a message left on the Game Warden Facebook page concerning the dumping of geese in a Lubbock community dumpster. Upon investigation, the warden found four geese that had not been breasted out and had been dumped along with lots of other bags of trash. In the trash was a “to-go” bag from a local restaurant with a phone number on the receipt. It was a shot in the dark, but the warden called the phone number, which led to interviews with three different people before he was finally able to identify a possible suspect that lived on the street where the dumped birds were located. The warden tracked down the suspect and, after a brief interview, he admitted to dumping the birds. Ironically, the warden had checked the suspect with those same harvested geese while in the field three days prior. Charges for waste of game and civil restitution were filed and pending.

Water Weed Removal

A game warden and state park police officer were at the boat ramp in Falcon State Park after patrolling the lake for water safety violations when a young boy approached and stated he and his dad were fishing when they observed several suspicious-looking bundles floating in the water. He showed the officers a photo of one of the bundles and stated they had marked the location on their GPS in the boat. The two officers drove to the location by boat, where they recovered 17 large bundles of marijuana floating in the water. The marijuana weighed 705 pounds and valued at $564,208. It was later discovered that U.S. Border Patrol agents had an incident with marijuana smuggling the previous night in that same area, and it is believed that these bundles were related to that incident. While on patrol the following day, the two officers recovered two more bundles in the same area. That haul weighed over 82 pounds and valued at $66,080.

Addition Not His Best Subject

Game wardens with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Marine Theft Investigation Unit handle a wide range of issues related to boat theft and boat registration fraud. Recently, an individual attempting to register a bass boat and motor he claimed to have purchased for just $700 raised red flags. The customer claimed he purchased the boat for $300 and the motor for $400. A game warden contacted the seller, who informed the investigator he had sold the boat for $7,500. The warden then made contact with the boat’s new lien holder, who verified the new owner had borrowed $7,500 for the purchase. The warden then went to the buyer’s house and as he pulled up he observed a nice bass boat in the garage and the subject sitting in the driver’s seat. The warden greeted the man, admired the boat and asked out of curiosity how much he had paid for the vessel. Unaware as to the reason for the visit, the proud new boat owner told the warden he bought it for $7,500. He then changed his story to $700. The warden then asked him how much the Credit Union had given him for the boat and he replied $7,500. Faced with the prospect of being charged with falsifying a government document, the boat owner admitted he had presented false information on the registration and boat titling forms and agreed to pay the rest of his taxes and penalties.

Checked Your Fridge Lately?

On Jan. 29, a Titus County game warden received information from a local landowner of a trespasser pictured on his game camera. The warden went to the suspect’s home and spoke with his roommate, who stated the suspect had not killed any animals this year. Consent was given to search the refrigerator, where two bags of white-tailed deer meat and a deer hide were discovered. The suspect arrived home and produced the deer horns. This deer was shot on a different landowner’s property while trespassing. Citations were issued for criminal trespassing and for taking an illegal buck under the county’s 13-inch minimum antler spread. Civil restitution was also issued. Warning citations were issued for hunting without landowner’s consent and untagged deer.

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