Game Wardens Bust Poachers

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Five people were apprehended last week for hunting deer and a bobcat from a public roadway.

From Dec. 6 about 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. Dec. 7, the five men, ages 24, 19, and three 16-year-olds, all residents of Van Zandt County, shot deer at night from a public roadway multiple times. At one point, they drove 20 miles to the nearest store to buy more shells. Only the deer that fell immediately were retrieved. Van Zandt County Game Wardens Tim Walker and Steve Stapleton responded when they received information about the illegal hunting.

A 17-hour investigation resulted in the apprehension of the five for various charges yielding illegal game; three whole deer, two quartered deer and one bobcat. Game Wardens Kurt Kelley, Daniel Mueller and Capt. Larry Hand assisted in processing evidence and obtaining statements. Multiple firearms and spotlights were seized and other evidence collected.

"Don't consider these individuals as hunters. They are poachers...stealing wildlife from the people of Texas," said Capt. Larry Hand, of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Tyler Law Enforcement Office.

None of the five hold a valid hunting license or hunter education certification.

The 24-year-old, knowing wardens were headed to his home to investigate, fled with two of the deer carcasses and quartered deer and hid the entire car in a cedar thicket several miles away.

The violations range from Class A and C misdemeanors to possible State Jail Felonies and Third Degree Felonies. Both adults face possible forfeiture of rifles to the state and loss of hunting privileges for as long as five years.

The investigation continues, as leads about other violations develop.

To report information regarding these or any other wildlife crimes, contact Operation Game Thief, (Texas' wildlife Crimestoppers program) toll free at 800-792-GAME. Dispatchers will notify game wardens. Callers are eligible for a reward of as much as $1,000.