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June 9, 2008
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Train Gets Pulled To Siding: On May 25, while working Lake Amistad, Val Verde County game wardens observed a boat operator waving at everybody and making a noise like a train. The game wardens stopped the boat to conduct an equipment check and determined that the operator had been drinking. The San Angelo resident failed a standard field sobriety test and a breath test, which showed a blood alcohol content of 0.112.
Never too Late for a First Fish: A Camp County game warden held a fishing event for a Mt. Pleasant assisted living group. The game warden assisted one 93-year-old resident and a 78-year-old woman in catching their first fish. There were a total of about 15 elderly anglers who caught fish all day long.
It was Cheap for a Reason: Rockwall and Dallas County game wardens were working Lake Ray Hubbard May 18 when one of the wardens stopped a personal water craft. Immediately the wardens noticed that the registration displayed on the vessel was wrong, with a state designated "CF." One of the game wardens ran the Hull Identification Number through Austin Communications, and the vessel came back as stolen out of Plano. The vessel was taken back to the boat ramp where it was seized by the wardens. The operator said that he had purchased it the previous Saturday at a flea market for "a really good price."
Designated Drivers Work: Over Memorial Day weekend, Erath and Hill County game wardens patrolled the Brazos River and Lake Whitney for water safety violations. Many citations were issued, but many boaters were in compliance by having designated boat operator where alcohol was present on board.
Memorial Day Critters: One TPWD game warden started his Memorial Day early with a call-out concerning a bear up a tree in a neighborhood in south Alpine. While waiting for a wildlife biologist to arrive with a trap and tranquilizer gun, the bear escaped into the night. The next night, while looking around for the bear, the game warden spotted an erratic driver that turned into a DWI arrest.
Crappie Bust: Williamson and Travis County game wardens completed an undercover operation in which one of the game wardens posed as a buyer of fish from a local resident outside of Georgetown who was selling crappie he caught from Lake Granger. The transaction was completed and caught on tape and several cases were filed for the sale of protected finfish as well as no retail fish dealer’s license.
Multi-agency Task Force Tackles Sabine: On May 17 game wardens from the Beaumont District office teamed up with Louisiana game wardens for Operation TexLa on the Sabine River and Sabine Lake out to the jetties. The operation put a warden from each state in patrol vessels to check for fish and water safety violations. The U.S. Coast Guard, Beaumont Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office also participated this year. Game wardens issued about 35 citations and 25 warnings on Sabine waters over Memorial Day weekend.
Shrimper Scofflaws Stopped: A Galveston County game warden inspected a commercial gulf shrimp boat and discovered 150 pounds of red drum fillets. Additional game wardens were called to assist, and when the inspection was complete the fillets, an assortment of headed and tailed fish, undersized flounder and lightning whelks were confiscated. Cases pending.
Gator Call: On May 14, an Aransas County game warden and motor vehicle technician were called to assist in relocating an 8-foot alligator. The alligator was in the front yard of a residence just outside of Fulton, and was safely relocated to a more suitable environment.
Means and Methods: During the second week of May, East Texas game wardens from Houston and Angelina County issued citations for taking catfish illegally on the Neches River and Lake Sam Rayburn respectively. On May 10, game wardens apprehended two local residents for shocking fish on the river. The zapper — mounted inside a small Nokia speaker box, — eight flathead catfish and one blue catfish were confiscated. On May 14, game wardens apprehended two subjects on Lake Sam Rayburn for grabbling catfish at a local boat ramp.
That’s one per person, day-in, day-out: On May 10, Wichita and Clay County game wardens issued a citation to the operator of a boat on Lake Arrowhead for having no life jackets for the two people on board. The next day, the boat was again checked by one of the game wardens. This time there were three people on the boat. The two from the day before proudly displayed their life jackets. The third person did not have one. Cases pending.
Some strong beers: On May 10, a Bandera County game warden arrested an individual on Lake Medina for BWI. The subject submitted a breath sample at the lake of .235. Almost two hours later at the jail, the subject’s breath sample was still more than twice the legal level. The subject told the game warden he "had a couple of beers."
Happy ending: On May 8, a Walker County game warden met an eagle rehabilitator south of Madisonville and helped release an eagle. The eagle was captured by the game warden several months before after being injured, most likely in a collision with a vehicle. Fully rehabilitated, the eagle was ready to return to the wild.
You never know what the day might bring in El Paso County: Two El Paso County game wardens had an event-filled patrol day May 3. The tour of duty started with a call concerning some subjects acting-up at the Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park. Park staff contacted the game wardens concerning some individuals who had tampered with a small containment wall on of the trails. The game wardens made contact and issued citations for park violations. After checking anglers at Ascarate Lake, the wardens happened onto an intoxicated driver on the Border Highway adjacent to the Rio Grande River. While patrolling the desert areas east of El Paso, the wardens checked several rabbit hunters and arrested one individual for outstanding El Paso Police Department traffic warrants. Citations also were issued for no valid hunting license and no hunter safety.
Fallen Game Wardens Honored: In May, the TPWD Game Warden color guard traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Peace Officer Memorial to honor Game Wardens Justin Hurst and Ty Patterson, whose names were added to the National Peace Officers Memorial Wall. Both game wardens died in the line of duty in March, 2007.
Baiting hooks: At the beginning of May, a Harris County game warden assisted the Boy Scouts with a Kidfish event for children with disabilities at Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy. The game warden baited hooks and answered questions for more than 500 kids in attendance.
Stumble-upon Results in Conviction a Year Later: In October 2006 a Lampasas County game warden located an illegal dumpsite while responding to a poaching call. Later that month, game wardens in a TPWD helicopter took photographs showing the magnitude of the dumpsite during a GPS mapping tour of deer camps. The game warden contacted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and an investigation was launched. A search warrant was executed in April 2007, and soil samples along with other evidence were gathered at the property. A grand jury indicted the suspect on a third degree felony relating to the handling of used oil and a state jail felony charge of illegal dumping. A jury deliberated last month just 10 minutes before returning convictions.
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