In a vicious poaching case that longtime Texas game wardens are calling the worst in their careers, four adults and two juveniles were charged with multiple counts tied to a killing spree of wildlife over a three month period.
Among the 175 state felony counts and class A misdemeanors, the group is accused of shooting up to 68 whitetailed deer from roadways and private property at night, often leaving most of the carcass to rot, according to a press release by the Texas Parks and Wildlife.
The suspects were also tied to the slaughtering of livestock, including hacking one cow to death with a machete. In addition they shot birds, wild hogs and basically everything that moved.
The animal assassinations had shocked the community of Leon County, Texas over a three month period beginning in June, but although the poaching incidents took place largely at night in rural areas, nobody reported suspicious activity until September. It was a separate burglary case that led authorities to the suspects.
“This investigation represents one of, if not the most egregious poaching cases I am aware of in my 41 years in law enforcement,” Col. Craig Hunter, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Director said in a press release. “I am extremely proud of the strong relationship between our game wardens, the Leon County Sherriff’s Office, and local landowners. Simply put, open communication is the cornerstone of solid police work and without great inter-agency cooperation this investigation would not have been a success.”
In addition to the poaching of wildlife, officials blame the group with multiple burglaries in the area during that time. The group apparently cruised the countryside at night breaking into private property and picking off wild animals.
While they often took the hind quarters and the backstrap, often the rest of the animal or the entire animal in some cases was left to rot, officials said. Guns and a rifle with a suppressor were recovered as part of the investigation.
“This reprehensible and senseless killing spree has absolutely no resemblance to hunting, and I know sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere will be appalled to learn of this thoughtless waste of life,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director in the release. “It is fitting to see these violators brought to justice, thanks to an observant landowner who provided the initial tip and the diligent work of our Texas Game Wardens working with the sheriff’s office.”
All photos courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department