Game Warden Field Notes
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) compiled items from recent (TPWD) law enforcement reports.
In August, a concerned citizen contacted Montgomery County game wardens regarding a neighbor keeping an alligator in his backyard. The wardens responded to the home where reportedly they kept the alligator. The homeowner admitted to capturing an alligator four or five feet in length from Lake Conroe, transporting it home to show his kids, and then releasing it the next day. The wardens inspected the property and noticed a room full of aquariums. Knowledgeable in aquatic species, one of the wardens identified the animals as freshwater stingrays, an invasive species and illegal to possess. The homeowner also admitted removing a small alligator snapping turtle from Lake Livingston and keeping it in a tank through further conversation. It is unlawful to capture or possess one without a permit as a giant freshwater turtle in North America and a threatened species. After discussing the matter with the homeowner, he agreed to assist game wardens in relocating the animals to better-suited facilities. They donated the turtle to the Spring Creek Nature Center, which is permitted to possess native species and display them for educational purposes. The stingrays were transported to Moody Gardens to educate the public about different ecosystems and the harm that invasive species can cause to local wildlife.
Perception Pays Off
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, released a “Be on the Lookout” bulletin to assist in identifying an individual and vehicle last seen leaving a crime scene in the San Elizario area. An El Paso/Hudspeth County game warden remembered it from a recent encounter with men fishing which resulted in the individual’s arrest. The warden contacted the lead investigator and passed along the identifying information. Several days later, El Paso County Sherriff’s detectives notified the warden that without firm leads in the case, the information he shared with their office was vital in locating the subject and the vehicle. Due to his inter-agency collaboration, they carried out an arrest.
Hold the Pepper
In September, a Bexar County game warden received a call from Austin communications about dove hunters peppering local residences with shotgun pellets. Upon arrival to the field, the warden observed two gentlemen hunting. As he drove up to the individuals, one gentleman stood up and shot a bird that fell a few yards from him. The warden proceeded to complete a hunting check. He spoke with the individual and asked if he was aware of the type of bird he had just shot. The hunter did not know. The warden informed him that the bird was an American kestrel, a protected bird of prey, and the state did not allow it to be hunted or harvested. The warden checked the other hunters in the group and discussed the issues around peppering, ensuring their shotgun pellets did not cross property lines. He issued a citation for harvesting a protected species. The case and civil restitution are pending.
Off the Road Again
An Amarillo district game warden was patrolling in Potter County after dark when he received a notice about an injured individual who had been “run over” by an all-terrain vehicle. The warden responded immediately. He found one adult male hit by an ATV and suffering non-life-threatening injuries to his legs. The victim and other eyewitnesses at the scene identified another adult male as the driver of the ATV. Upon speaking with the driver of the ATV, the warden noticed that he had heavily slurred speech patterns, glassy/bloodshot eyes, and the odor of alcohol emitting from his breath. They transported the victim of the collision to an Amarillo hospital. The driver of the ATV admitted hitting the victim with the ATV, and the warden arrested him for driving while intoxicated and with deadly conduct. They booked the driver into the Potter County Jail without incident.
Caught on Camera
In September, a Tyler County game warden received information on individuals potentially participating in road hunting. The warden worked with a landowner setting up surveillance cameras in their field. Not long after that, he observed a slow-moving vehicle spotlighting and headed towards his location. The warden initiated a traffic stop, determining the subjects were hunting at night. Inside the truck, the warden located a loaded .22 long rifle. Additionally, the suspect was a minor operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Charges are pending.