Deer Poaching in Van Zandt County - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/03/03 - Tyler

Deer Poaching in Van Zandt County

Game wardens in Van Zandt County say over the last two weeks, they've had over a half-dozen cases of poachers killing white-tail deer and just leaving the carcasses behind.

 "The people we're after in this instance are not sportsmen they're not hunters , they're poachers," says Texas Game Warden Steve Stapleton. Near communities like Canton and Ben Wheeler, wardens say hunters have been spotlighting deer at night, shooting them on privately owned property, and leaving the animals behind to rot.

"They're taking advantage of these animals at night when they're most vulnerable, running roads  late at night early in the morning with a spotlight and a rifle, and basically just shooting deer and leaving them," says Stapleton. Game wardens say in some cases the poachers just stopped on the road and used handguns to kill whitetail deer.

Decomposing whitetails have been found near rural roads and wardens say it's a horrible, and irresponsible waste of a natural resource. Investigators say the incidents don't appear to be connected, but all were on or near remote roadways and whoever shot the animals didn't stick around to field dress them.

"The people that we're chasing at this point are nothing but theives and thugs, and we intend to catch them," Stapleton said. It's a sad end to something that has become such a prize game animal in Texas over the generations, and game wardens hope someone can help them stop the killings before it becomes a more frequent sight. To report illegal hunting or illegal kills of this kind you're asked to call the Texas Game Warden's office at 1-800-792-GAME.

 Bob Hallmark, reporting.

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