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Game Warden Stories: Fishing & Cannabis, Too Many Doves, Smuggled Turtles

These field reports from across the country range from the serious to the ridiculous.

Game Warden Stories: Fishing & Cannabis, Too Many Doves, Smuggled Turtles

Game Warden Stories (Shutterstock image)

Wildlife officers, whether they're called conservation officers, rangers or game wardens, face a myriad of incidents when in the field.

114 Illegal Doves

One weekend, two Texas game wardens teamed up to patrol La Salle County and made several cases for over the limit of mourning doves, hunting mourning doves over bait and no hunting license. In total, 114 mourning doves were confiscated and donated to families in the community. One of the cases involved four hunters checked at a camp with 68 cleaned mourning doves. The hunters claimed to have hunted near two tanks on a mowed roadway on the ranch.

The wardens checked the area on the way out of the ranch and found very little evidence of hunting in the area. The wardens decided to drive around the ranch and discovered tracks leading to a field with a deer feeder converted to a milo feeder next to a water trough. The field had evidence someone had been hunting there. The wardens went back and confronted the hunters. One of the hunters wanted to see the evidence for himself, so he led them back to the field and then confessed to hunting the mourning doves over the baited area. Cases and civil restitution are pending.

Read more Texas Game Warden Field Notes

Hot Pursuit Interrupts Hunt

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Conservation Police Major Scott Naff shared an eye-opening hunting experience on the agency’s website.

Naff was bowhunting on Oct. 28 in Cumberland County, when his hunting party heard a commotion around 4 p.m. — they heard a vehicle crash and police sirens.

"About 30 minutes later, I saw a small doe come running toward my stand," Naff wrote. "With the rut commencing, I was watching for a buck to follow.

"Shortly thereafter, two more adult does ran within a few yards of my stand, stopped, and were intently watching their back trail. They trotted off as I kept watching the area they came from. In just a couple of minutes I saw movement and some flashes of brown and white moving through the understory toward my stand. As it got closer, I saw much to my surprise that it was a man wearing a white shirt and brown pants. He walked right under me (I was 28′ high in my climbing stand). I immediately noticed that his pants were ripped and torn, he was dirty, and he was winded as he bent over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath."

Naff realized the man was running from the crash, so he remained quiet, then once the man walk a distance away, he called 911. Later, he helped officers and a K9 track the suspect down. The man was one of four people in a stolen car that crashed while being pursued by law enforcement. All four ran from the scene in different directions, but all were captured by 9:30 p.m.

Read the whole story here

Fishing and Cannabis

Two Illinois officers approached a vehicle parked in the grass in Kickapoo State Park, when the owner came out of the woods carrying a fishing pole. An officer asked for a fishing license, but the suspect did not have one. The officers also noticed the odor of burnt marijuana. The suspect admitted he had weed — officers found 10 grams of cannabis and smoking paraphernalia — and was issued citations for possession of marijuana, illegal parking and fishing without a license.

Read more from Illinois law enforcement


Mystery Donation of Ivory

A game warden’s job isn’t always about game and fish. In New York, conservation officers investigated a report of illegal ivory after a Manhattan thrift store reported receiving ivory carvings from an anonymous donor. Of the 500 pieces donated, most had been imported from India and Hong Kong. The sale of ivory is prohibited by law, except with a permit in very limited circumstances and the donation of ivory is severely restricted except under permit. DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, along with Federal Agents, have hosted Ivory Crush events in Times Square and Central Park over the years to bring awareness and deter the illegal commercialization of ivory. New York City is one of the main hubs for the sale of ivory in North America. For more information on the illegal sale of ivory and frequently asked questions visit DEC's website.

Read more NY DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Game Wardens Key in Turtle Smuggling Case

Two Oklahoma Game Wardens, Carlos Gomez and Karlin Bailey, were key players in the months-long investigation that led to the sentencing of a New Jersey man for illegally smuggling more than 1,000 box turtles in Oklahoma. The investigation involved the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

William T. Gangemi, 27 of Freehold, N.J., who pleaded guilty, was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department and a $100,000 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and also put him on two years of probation.

The investigation began on a tip after a hotel housekeeper found a large number of turtles in Gangemi’s room. Prosecutors say Gangemi facilitated the purchase and transport of unlawfully collected three-toed and plains (ornate) box turtles from Oklahoma to New Jersey in order to sell them for profit. The collection of both types of box turtles for commercial purposes is against the law in Oklahoma.

Read more about the case

Oregon Poachings Reported

Oregon officers are investigating reports of recent elk and mule deer poachings. In one of the cases, the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife are looking for poachers who killed a bull, cow and spike elk west of Bend around Oct. 28. The animals were discovered separately, but all three were in the same area and appear to have been killed around the same time. Two were left to waste; the third, a large bull, had its head and shoulders removed as a trophy. It is illegal to leave carcasses to waste even if it is legal to kill the animal.

"They were all killed at the same time-or close to it- on opening day of the season,” OSP F&W Sergeant Lowell Lea said in a news release. "Even if someone makes a mistake and kills the wrong animal, at least if they report it they aren’t committing the additional crime of leave to waste."

All three elk were most likely shot on opening day of the East Central Cascade elk season which ran Oct. 28 through Nov. 1. OSP Troopers ask if anyone in the area heard shots at night or noticed anything unusual on opening day of the season to call the TIP Line and report it (TIP number at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP).

On Nov. 16, a mule deer buck was reported poached, also near Bend. A caller reported seeing the buck in the back of an older Ford pickup truck with a black Dakine mountain bike tailgate cover. The truck was reported in the area around 3:30 p.m. Most deer hunting seasons ended in October in this area.

Anyone with information on the vehicle, or who noticed someone with a large mule deer near Bull Springs Rd on Monday, can contact Oregon State Police by calling the TIP number at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP. Or you can send an email to: between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Leave information for Senior Trooper Creed Cummings.

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