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Game Warden Stories: Deer Poaching Spree Busted, Instagram Evidence

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

Game Warden Stories: Deer Poaching Spree Busted, Instagram Evidence

California investigators are looking for the culprit who illegally killed four Roosevelt cow elk. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife photo)

Conservation officers face a myriad of incidents while on patrol — from the serious to the absurd.

Here are some of those stories.

Deer Poaching Charges

Virginia conservation officers recently filed final charges in a poaching case that involved more than a dozen illegally killed whitetails in 2018.

According to the Virginia Department of Game & Fisheries, the case began last year as officers received complaints of deer being spotlighted and killed in the Dogspur area in Carroll County. On Nov. 4, officers received a complaint that a deer had been shot from the road, but they weren’t able to find any suspects. A similar complaint came about two weeks later, and this time, officers were able to get a vehicle description and the name of a possible suspect.

Officers were on their way to speak to the suspect on Nov. 16, when they came across a vehicle parked suspiciously. “They approached the vehicle and found that the suspect they were going to see was the driver,” the agency said in a news release. “He agreed to speak with officers and soon admitted to being involved with the spotlighting and killing of several deer on the night in question.”

The suspect told officers he and others had poached multiple deer during the summer and fall of 2018. Other suspects admitted to killing five deer Nov. 16 evening, four by spotlight, and also shooting a deer on Nov. 4.

The suspects admitted to killing to 10 to 15 deer illegally.

Violations involved spotlighting, shooting from vehicles on the roadway, trespassing, hunting without licenses, illegal dumping of carcasses, and the killing of deer with a rifle during the muzzleloader season.

An Illegal Net-Work

Dallas County, Texas, game wardens were on patrol when they received a phone call about several individuals netting at Rowlett Creek and keeping game fish. The wardens arrived at the location and observed six individuals scaling and catching fish illegally with a cast net. The subjects were confronted and admitted to catching all the fish with the net. The violators had 48 fish in their possession, and of those 10 were undersized catfish and 8 undersized white bass. As wardens were citing these violators, two more individuals were observed walking out of the woods carrying a bucket containing a net. After questioning, they admitted to catching fish using the net and led the wardens to the location where fish were hidden in another bucket in the brush. The bucket contained 55 fish including 34 undersized white bass and 1 undersized crappie. All subjects were cited and released. (From Texas Game Wardens Field Notes)

Cleanup on Aisle 4

On April 15, a Hardin County, Texas, game warden received a call from the manager of the Office Depot store in Beaumont who said there was a small hawk flying around inside the store and they couldn’t get it out. The warden enlisted the help of a licensed falconer experienced in handling and trapping birds of prey. After arriving on scene with a hawk trap and some live bait they soon discovered that although the bird resembled a hawk, it was in fact a large nightjar or “nighthawk,” which feeds on insects, rendering the trap idea useless. Undeterred, the warden and his falconer friend resorted to using a ladder and a dip net. After what resembled a scene from America’s Funniest Home Videos, they were able to finally corral the bird in a back hallway and catch it in the dip net. It was released outside where it flew off unharmed. (From Texas Game Wardens Field Notes)

Reward Offered in Roosevelt Elk Poaching Case

California Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters, is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the poacher responsible for killing four Roosevelt cow elk in Humboldt County last December.

The case stems from a Dec. 9 poaching report in the Maple Creek area, southeast of Blue Lake, where four dead Roosevelt cow elk were found. One was pregnant.n Evidence showed they were shot with a firearm.


“This poacher shot these animals and left them for dead,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division District Capt. AJ Bolton said in a news release. “The vast majority of hunters are ethical and law-abiding citizens, but this is poaching, plain and simple.”

CDFW asks that anyone who has any information regarding this poaching crime to contact the statewide tip hotline, CalTIP, at 1 (888) 334-2258. Tips can also be sent via text to CALTIP, followed by a space and the message to tip411 (847411). CalTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. CalTIP operates closely but independently from CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division and is funded exclusively from private donations.

Suspected poacher's Instagram post provides evidence of bass hook. (New York Environmental Conservation Police image)


In New York, state conservation officers investigated from the town of Middleburgh, where there was a May 5 report of someone using live bluegills to catch bass during the closed season. An Instagram post was forwarded to officers allegedly proving the offense.

The suspect claimed he caught the bluegill and "the bass just grabbed on,” but admitted to the violation after he was shown the Instagram post, which showed a bass hook embedded in the bass (see above). The man was ticketed.

Read more New York Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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