Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN August 21, 2015 – The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Two Bowie County game wardens received information about a few late-night anglers attempting to snag fish at the Lake Wright Patman Spillway between midnight and 2 a.m. on several consecutive nights. It is unlawful to take or attempt to take fish with one or more hooks attached to a line or artificial lure used in a manner to foul-hook a fish (snagging or jerking). A fish is foul-hooked when caught by a hook in an area other than the fish’s mouth. While on patrol, the wardens found the individuals again attempting to snag fish. On three consecutive nights, the wardens issued several citations for snagging fish and fishing without valid fishing licenses.
A Denton County and a Cooke County game warden were traveling home on the highway when they witnessed a hit-and-run accident several cars in front of them. As the first officers on the scene, the wardens provided medical assistance and shut down the inside lane of the highway during rush hour traffic, maintaining the scene until local units responded. There were no serious injuries, and a witness got the suspect’s vehicle license plate number.
I See You
While checking for fishing violations behind Moss Lake Dam, a Cooke County game warden saw one individual get out of the lake and throw a cast net into the raceway of the water outlet. Two more individuals got out of the water to see what the first individual had caught. The warden watched as the three individuals put sand bass and shad in a bucket. When the warden approached them, the individuals were quick to say they had caught the sand bass with a rod and reel. The warden explained she had been watching them the whole time, so the individuals apologized. The warden issued them citations.
Looking for Turtles but Found a Fawn
A Cass County game warden received information about an individual who might have been in possession of threatened alligator snapping turtles. The game warden and two other wardens went to the suspect’s house, where they found two large alligator snapping turtles the suspect admitted he had recently caught on a trotline. The wardens also found a fawn the suspect was keeping in his house. After seizing the animals, the wardens issued the suspect citations for possession of a threatened species and possession of a white-tailed deer in closed season and without a permit. Cases and civil restitution are pending.
A Shelby County game warden received a call about someone keeping a fawn in his backyard. When the warden arrived at the suspect’s house, the suspect’s wife said the fawn belonged to a doe the suspect had shot earlier in the spring. He was tired of deer getting into the garden, so he shot the offending doe, not realizing it had a fawn, which the suspect and his wife decided to raise while leaving the doe to waste. While interviewing him, the warden discovered the suspect did not have a valid hunting license. The suspect said he thought he didn’t need a license to hunt on a high-fence ranch. While surveying the suspect’s residence, the warden saw a heavy racked European buck mount buried under some tools, a large bull elk European mount and a crossbow. The wardens seized the two European mounts and took the fawn to a Texas Parks and Wildlife rehabilitation facility.
Taking Advantage of a Tragedy
Game wardens responded to a Starr County Sheriff’s Office request for assistance for security and evacuations of a neighborhood near a paper recycling facility that caught fire. The wardens assisted with road blocks and evacuating homes threatened by the fire. While securing the area, some wardens found two individuals trying to break into another person’s home. The wardens discovered one of the individuals had a bench warrant for his arrest, so they took him into custody, advising the other individual to evacuate the area.
While two game wardens patrolled the south side of Lake Fort Phantom one night, they saw a car with no lights on. After watching the car for a while, the wardens saw the flicker of a lighter in the front passenger seat. The wardens contacted the individuals in the car and, after gaining consent to search the car, found several items of drug paraphernalia, including a plastic bag with a crystal substance the wardens believed to be methamphetamine. The wardens arrested both individuals for possession of a controlled substance.
Jet Skiing while Intoxicated
While a warden was issuing a citation to a personal watercraft operator on Buffalo Springs Lake, another individual and young girl on a jet ski passed the warden’s boat well within the 50-foot safe passing distance. The warden stopped the individual and, after initial observations, had both the individual and the girl get on his boat. Once on shore, the individual failed the standardized field sobriety tests, so the warden arrested him for boating while intoxicated. The individual, who turned out to be a convicted felon and admitted gang member, gave consensual breath samples of 0.150 and 0.137, 90 minutes after the warden initially stopped him.
The Party Stops for the “Party Guy”
As two game wardens patrolled Possum Kingdom Lake, they saw a pontoon boat having difficulty staying on plane. The wardens stopped the boat for a water safety inspection and noticed the operator seemed intoxicated, so they administered afloat tests, as well as standardized field sobriety tests once they got back to shore. The boat operator, who said he was the “party guy” of the group, provided breath samples of 0.105 and 0.105. While another warden secured the boat to the dock, he noticed a strong odor of marijuana near one of the passenger’s bags. After a probable cause search, the warden found a plastic container full of narcotics, including 13.8 grams of marijuana, 12 grams of mushrooms and 9.6 grams of cocaine. The warden also seized $880 in cash from the operator, arresting him for boating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and delivery of a controlled substance—a first degree felony.
“Chill Out, Man!”
A game warden saw three people in a canoe paddle to the fast current side of Buffalo Springs Lake, which is restricted to power boats. The warden shouted at the individuals to return to the no-wake side of the lake, but they yelled back, “Chill out, man!” Seconds later, they were hit by a wave that flipped their canoe. Another warden joined the first in rescuing the three individuals, who were not wearing life jackets. The wardens, assisted by Good Samaritan boaters, pulled all three people from the water, one of whom was already about six inches under. No one suffered any injuries, though the wardens issued the three individuals citations for not wearing life jackets.
He Never Learns, Does He?
A Nueces County game warden responded to an Operation Game Thief call about the sale of gar. The warden located the suspect based on the description the caller provided and arrested him for the illegal sale of five spotted gar. In the last 18 months, the suspect had also been apprehended by two other wardens in several trespassing and hunting without landowners’ consent cases.
Two Val Verde County game wardens responded to a call for help from the Devils River State Natural Area park superintendent, who said one of his employees was bitten by a large rattlesnake. The employee was alone in the park, about two hours from town. The wardens found the employee on the park’s main road and took him to the hospital, where doctors determined the rattlesnake had delivered a “mostly dry” bite. The doctors released the employee the same day, expecting a full recovery.