GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Squirrel hunting season has begun as well as bow-hunting season for deer, and with it comes the problem of opportunistic poaching.
A problem that Texas game wardens like Todd Long of Gregg County try to stop every year.
Keeping up with multiple hunting seasons and patrolling for violators.
"We see a lot of people out there with different skill sets, skill level, experience levels," he says.
And with hunting season comes the problem of dealing with those who poach wildlife.
“There are unscrupulous individuals that take the antlers, take the back-straps,” Long says.
Understandably money is at the root of poaching.
“Yes there’s profit in these parts of these animals, they’re selling them online,” Todd says.
Antlers, talons from birds of prey, skins, even bears are targets.
"There's definitely a market for these items. There's even a black market. Some of these same individuals are folks that have a criminal history," says Long.
But it's a tall order for game wardens, many times having only one warden for one or two counties.
"Game wardens typically are spread thin. A lot of us cover multiple counties and it can make for long days," Todd says.
Poaching and trafficking can deplete a needed resource.
“For someone to show up in the middle of the night with a spotlight and shoot your trophy buck, that’s frustrating. Poachers are stealing from all of us. We have got to protect that resource,” says Todd.
Long says he hopes many hunters will take advantage of the seasons to harvest 'legally'.
He says citizens should report suspected poachers to the game wardens office or local authorities.