Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN March.26.2018 ⎯ The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
In remote areas of Texas, game wardens are oftentimes the closest first responder in emergency situations. Such was the case on March 10 when a Palo Pinto County game warden overheard radio traffic of a crisis involving a 21-month-old child that was not breathing. Recognizing he was the closest unit in the county to the call, the warden responded to meet the vehicle carrying the child. As soon as he made contact, he determined the child was breathing but was extremely lethargic. During an initial assessment, the warden learned the child had fallen off of a barstool and struck the back of his head. The child’s eyes were not reacting to light the way they should, and he was intermittently vomiting. The warden relayed the information to the incoming ambulance and, fearing the toddler may have suffered a serious head injury, requested an air ambulance be dispatched. He assisted the child’s father in trying to keep the child’s airway clear and to keep him conscious. Paramedics arrived on scene and began treating the child while the warden and a state trooper set up a helicopter landing zone. The toddler was transported to Cook Children’s Hospital Trauma Unit in Fort Worth for treatment of an internal head injury.
Running “Afowl” of the Law
A state trooper conducting a traffic stop in Archer County recently suspected something was “afowl” with a subject transporting live game birds, and reached out to a state game warden. The subject had given the trooper a confused explanation as to where he was coming from and where he was going. After arriving at the scene, the warden began interviewing the subject and learned he had obtained the game birds from a game bird breeder in Jack County. The warden then contacted a Jack County game warden, who let him know that the game bird breeder in question had not held a valid license since 2015. Multiple game bird breeding citations were issued to the breeder and the transporter for various violations, along with the trooper’s citation. The cases are pending.
Something Fishy on the Menu
Earlier this month, game wardens wrapped up an investigation into a Bastrop restaurant illegally selling white bass caught in public waters in Lee County. The subjects first denied selling the fish, but when confronted with their “fresh fish for sale” postings on Facebook, along with photos of the fish, they quickly changed their story and confessed. Seventy-seven white bass were seized and citations were issued.
Let’s Make a Boat Deal
A boat dealer in the Waco area alerted game wardens that a car dealer in Robinson was selling boats without a marine dealer license. A warden located the car dealership late on a Saturday night and recorded three boats, motors and trailers on the lot. After checking the history of the vessels through different databases and resources, the warden returned to the dealership during business hours. He noticed a pontoon boat he had observed previously was missing and asked about it. The owner proudly stated he had sold it, adding that the vessel was there on consignment. The car dealer asked if there was a problem, to which the warden replied that there was no problem, but he needed to see their marine dealer license. The owner said he did not need a license since it was there on consignment. The warden then asked to see the audit trail of the boat and found out the owner traded it to the car dealer for a tractor and the car dealer then sold it for $17,000. After making it clear the dealer was in violation of failure to have a marine dealer license, the warden assisted him in the application process. A follow-up with revealed the application was approved and the case was resolved with compliance.
Putting Out the Cat
Game wardens in northeast Texas were recently patrolling at night while four separate predator hunting tournaments were taking place simultaneously in surrounding counties. Using a twist on the “Bucky the deer decoy” setup wardens have relied on for years to catch road hunters, they put out a bobcat decoy. It didn’t take long before a tournament participant came along and shot the decoy with a rifle from a public roadway. Multiple cases are pending.
Crossing the Line
While patrolling the Rio Grande upriver from Laredo on March 23, game wardens observed multiple limblines and jug lines set from the U.S. bank. Further investigations revealed fresh bait on the hooks and a 20-pound blue catfish caught on one of the jug lines. None of the limblines or jug lines had a valid gear tag affixed. Patrol efforts continued upriver where wardens discovered about 200-feet of illegal gill net tied to the U.S. bank, and stretched to an underwater tree limb in the middle of the river. The gill net yielded multiple fish. The gill net, limb lines and jug lines set out were not accompanied by any fisherman at the time of detection nor did any contacts along the river that day connect any fisherman to the illegal devices. All illegal fishing devices were seized, removed from the river, and the fish were donated to a family in need in Laredo.