Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN, Septemberr 16, 2016 – The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Caught in a Flash
A Bowie County game warden stopped a vehicle for flashing its bright lights on and off at passing vehicles. The driver appeared to be impaired and claimed people were chasing him. When stopped and questioned, he lied about his identity to the warden and passed an object to the passenger. When back up arrived, the warden spoke to the passenger, who stated the driver had handed her a plastic bag containing drugs. The female removed the bag containing marijuana. Bowie County sheriff’s dispatch advised the warden of the driver’s true identity and that he had a felony warrant for aggravated kidnapping. The warden then placed the suspect in handcuffs. The suspect had numerous flags for escape and violent behavior toward officers and as an additional precaution, the decision was made to transport the suspect in a Bowie County sheriff’s vehicle with leg irons and chains to control him. While moving the suspect from the warden’s vehicle to the county car, the suspect broke and ran with his hands cuffed behind his back. After an all-night search the suspect was located hiding in some woods off the interstate still cuffed behind his back. The driver and his passenger were both arrested on a long list of charges.
Alive and Well
While on boat patrol on Lake Ray Roberts, a game warden made contact with a fisherman on his way to the docks. A water safety check was conducted and the angler had all the necessary safety equipment. When asked if he’d caught any fish the fisherman stated he had not caught anything and opened his ice-chest to show just food and drinks. Since the warden could hear the water circulation pump for the live well, she then asked him to open the live well. At this point the fisherman admitted that he had lied and proceeded to bring out the undersized sand bass from the live-well. The fish were in good shape and released; citations issued.
In the Spotlight
A Bowie County game warden observed a truck equipped with a LED light bar mounted just above the windshield traveling along a county road near Hooks, Texas. The truck was observed turning across the roadway and shining its lights into the fields along the road. The warden started following the vehicle and a few hundred yards down the road, the vehicle turned and shined its lights into the fields again. The warden made contact with the vehicle and its occupants, who admitted to being in the area looking for something to shoot. Citations were issued for hunting from a public roadway and cases are pending.
Winding Deer Trail
A Sabine County game warden received a call about a landowner witnessing a spot-lighter shooting from the highway. After responding to the area of the incident, the warden located a pool of blood on the highway and after setting up surveillance observed a truck spotlighting the area where the blood was located. The warden and a Sabine County sheriff’s deputy pulled the vehicle over and the two young men in the vehicle both admitted to spotlighting and hunting rabbits off the road. When asked, the driver stated he did not shoot any deer from the road. The warden seized the driver’s rifle for evidence to compare the ballistics and issued several citations to the individuals. Efforts to locate the poached deer, even with the aid of a warden K-9 unit, were unsuccessful and the wardens concluded the deer must have been poached from the treeline, dragged to the highway and loaded into a vehicle. The warden asked around the community for any information about a poached deer and soon received a tip about the deer head being in a freezer. Following up on the tip, wardens confronted the resident about the deer head and were told it was there, but was gone. The homeowner told the wardens that he had the actual suspect come and take the deer head away because he didn’t want to get in trouble. The homeowner gave the wardens the name of the suspect that allegedly shot the deer. During questioning by the wardens, the poacher came clean and told the truth about shooting the deer. The suspect was issued citations for hunting deer at night, hunting with artificial light and hunting deer from a vehicle. The suspect is also facing civil restitution.
Snake in the Grass
A Fort Bend County game warden received a tip that an 8-10 foot king cobra had escaped from a local Controlled Exotic Snake Species Permit holder. Since the permit holder resides near several schools, wardens and local law enforcement immediately responded to the scene, notified the schools of the situation and began searching for the missing snake. The permit holder also contacted other individuals who had experience dealing with venomous exotic snakes and a search party began combing the tall grass in the vicinity. In addition, a neighbor who owned the pasture brought out a tractor and began shredding the knee-high grasses and weeds, creating a perimeter that was easier to search around the facility property. After several hours, the cobra was located and captured by the permit holder and his “herp” friends. Additional safety measures are being installed by the permit holder to ensure escapes do not occur in the future.
A Matagorda County game warden received a request for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard involving a boat that had run aground in West Matagorda Bay. According to statements made by two of the occupants of the vessel, they, along with a third individual, had been riding near the Port O’Connor Jetties the evening before and had run aground on Bird Island. The couple told officers that they had decided to just build a fire and spend the night on the island. The next morning the third individual was missing and they could not locate him on the island, which is about the size of a football field and covered in brush. Coast Guard boats and a helicopter began searching the waters around the island while the warden conducted a foot search of the island. The Coast Guard helo spotted the individual clinging to a well head in the bay approximately two miles from the island. Once rescued, the individual made the statement that he did not know how he got into the water. Investigation continues.
Illegal Net and Cargo
While patrolling commercial shrimp boats in West Matagorda Bay recently, game wardens boarded a shrimp boat to perform a net inspection and observed an illegally-sized bycatch reduction device installed in the shrimp net. They also discovered marijuana and paraphernalia in the wheel house of the shrimp boat. Charges pending.
Pot under the Potty
Game wardens were asked to assist with executing a search warrant at a residence in the central portion of Starr County. During the search, an underground bunker was located that contained 725 bundles of marijuana weighing over 5,100 pounds. The bunker was accessed through a hole in the floor from inside the bathroom.
An Inconspicuous Angler
A Travis County game warden responded to an Operation Game Thief call in progress at the Longhorn Dam in Austin. The deep holes on the river side offer temptation to people using nets to catch fish illegally. Due to recent rain, the water at this location was up and fishermen were observed along the southern rail. Prior to making contact the warden documented 15 different individuals. Included in the group was one male subject using a rod and reel near the upper side of the rail wearing very distinct clothing (black/orange cap, lavender like plaid shirt, blue jeans and work boots). As the warden approached the group, many dropped their gear and stopped fishing. After checking compliance for most and trying to locate others, the warden observed the subject with the distinctive garb sitting under a tree. When asked for his fishing license he advised he wasn’t fishing. When asked for his identification he first stated he didn’t have any then advised it was in his truck and proceeded to climb into the driver’s seat and began reaching into his right work boot (for his wallet). For safety precaution, the subject was quickly removed and secured in handcuffs. With assistance the warden was able to determine this subject, who was adamant he was not fishing, was actually in violation for possession of white bass. Upon receiving the citation, the subject stated that he was not going to sign anything. However, he changed his mind after it was explained that he would be transported to central booking and that his truck would be towed. Multiple cases and civil restitution pending.