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Game Warden Stories: $74K Restitution, Rescued Fawn, Assault With Lure

Here's a look at recent cases conservation officers faced in the field all across the nation.

Game Warden Stories: $74K Restitution, Rescued Fawn, Assault With Lure

New York conservation officer reunited this fawn with its mother, (New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation photo)

Fawn Rescue in New York

New York conservation officers Russell Fetterman and Dustin Osborne responded to a call about a fawn that had become trapped in an 8-foot drainage canal near Oneonta. The fawn was unable to return to its mother, but the officers, along with a retired Oneonta police officer, were able to free the animal. They wrangled the fawn with a tarp, carried it out of the canal, and returned it to its mother.

Read more NY Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Convicted Poacher Pays $74K in Restitution

In New Mexico, a North Dakota man was ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution to the state for poaching a trophy mule deer buck. The sentence was the culmination of a poaching case that dated back to December 2015, when conservation officers investigated a large headless mule deer buck found near Lindrith, N.M.

Cody W. Davis of Arnegard, N.D., was ordered to pay $20,000 for killing the mule deer out of season and without a license, which resulted in the waste of game. The restitution included $54,000 in reimbursement to the state for the extensive investigation. The fines were in addition to Davis’ criminal conviction, which included a $3,000 donation to Operation Game Thief (OGT).

During the investigation, officers were able to find the severed head stashed away, and conducted a nearly round-the-clock surveillance of the area. When Davis loaded the mule deer head into his truck four months later, officers were there watching. Davis was followed to a bridge over the Rio Grande River, where he dumped the trophy head in an attempt to avoid getting caught. Officers eventually found the head, which scored a trophy-worthy 232 7/8 inches.

The New Mexico officers worked with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to serve a search warrant for Davis’ North Dakota residence. Davis, who is originally from New Mexico, had an extensive list of game-law violations in the state. Investigators logged nearly 2,000 hours and 25,000 miles during the investigation.

Read more about this case

What Texas Game Wardens Face

  • Hook, Line, and Sinker: While patrolling Lake Lewisville, two Denton County game wardens responded to a call of an assault to find that a bank fisherman had flung his lure towards a boat, hooking a female occupant in her right hand. As the woman pulled the hook loose, she lost her phone. Charges are pending.
  • Wait Until Your Mother Hears About This: A McLennan County game warden contacted a subject that had been identified through a Facebook post sent to him by a Colorado game warden. The post was made in December of 2019 but then quickly deleted. In the post the subject admitting to shooting ducks over the limit and wounding several more. The same individual had been cited earlier in 2020 for duck hunting a week early. The subject was eventually found after game wardens contacted his mother. When the game warden showed the subject the Facebook post, he confessed to shooting four red heads and two mallards over the limit the day the post was made. He then confessed to there being a second individual with him that day that shot two mallards and three wigeons over his limit. Contact was made with the second subject, who a full confession. Both claimed they read the Outdoor Annual incorrectly. Citations were issued and restitution was assigned.
  • You Must be This Tall to Drive: Denton County game wardens patrolling Lake Lewisville noticed a boat with an adult male driving and a child as his passenger. Minutes later, they noticed the same boat entering a local marina, but with the child operating the boat. Upon conducting a water safety inspection and discussing a malfunctioning navigational light with the adult, one of the wardens noticed the smell of alcohol and numerous cues that he was impaired. Since the adult had just been observed operating the boat only a few minutes earlier, he was arrested for boating while intoxicated.

From the Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Warden Field Notes

Utah Pronghorn Poacher Sought

Utah investigators are seeking who is responsible for the poaching of a buck pronghorn in Utah County. Officers received a report on June 3 of several witnesses to an adult male shooting a buck several times, killing it and leaving it at the scene on Lake Mountain.

Witnesses say the man was wearing blue jeans and a white jersey shirt with a number on it. "The man left the scene in a newer, white, four-door truck, with either a gray or silver stripe. Witnesses said the vehicle may have been a Ford. The vehicle was last seen driving toward Stillwater Canyon near Saratoga Springs,” the Utah Division of Wildlife Service said in an new release.

You can also report any illegal wildlife activity on the DWR website.

Read more about this case


Gun Shots, then Drug Bust

In Virginia, an officer responded to a call about shots being fired at a parking lot in Merrimac Farms WMA on May 26, 2020. The officer stopped a vehicle with two occupants leaving the parking lot. Both suspects denied knowing anything about shots being fired or having a firearm in their possession. They eventually relented and admitted to shooting at a tree with a 9 mm handgun. The officer — Conservation Police Sergeant Rich Goszka — took possession of the gun and noticed evidence of drugs being used. Prince William County Police arrived and continued the drug investigation. The suspects were arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm, numerous drug offenses and felony possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Read more from the Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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