Category Archives: Wildlife crimes

What Happens if You’re Caught Hunting Endangered, Threatened and Other Protected Animals?

In Texas, state laws and the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) protect a long list of plants and animals. It’s unlawful for people to hunt these threatened or endangered nongame species or to buy or sell goods made from them.

Unfortunately, it can be easy to mistake one animal for another, and split-second decisions made out in the woods can have big consequences. Situations vary, however. For example, if you kill a federally-recognized endangered species, your first offense may mean a $3,500 fine. Even wounding or injuring certain endangered, threatened or protected animals will result in a $2,000 fine for an alleged wildlife crime.

Killing Black Bears Brings Penalties of Up to $10,000

Over the last 20 years, black bear conservation efforts in nearby states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas, have been extremely successful in restoring black bear populations within their historic range. The result has been increased sightings in Texas, as well.

While their numbers are up, black bears are still listed as a state-threatened species by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. They’re protected and cannot be hunted or killed. Hunters who kill black bears in Texas face penalties of up to $10,000, in addition to other consequences. These may include civil restitution fines, loss of all hunting privileges and even jail time.

This can be extremely distressing because, from a distance, black bears and wild hogs can look very similar. Hog hunters should be on high alert.

“Canned Hunts” of Dangerous Wild Animals

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, no person may kill or attempt to injure dangerous wild animals that are held in captivity in Texas (or that are released from captivity for the purpose of being killed). These “canned” hunts of exotic animals are illegal in our state.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department list includes animals such as:

  • Elephants
  • Lions
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Tigers
  • Leopards
  • Cheetahs
  • Hyenas
  • Wolves
  • Bears

This list is long but not all-inclusive, and the term “canned hunt” isn’t yet defined by federal law. Hunters in Texas can legally shoot other rare or endangered species. These legal species include many types of exotic deer and antelope.

Protected Birds Can Be Hunted Only With a Federal Depredation Permit

In Texas, all indigenous birds, from raptors to songbirds, are protected by state and federal laws. They may not be hunted, taken from nests or possessed for any reason.;

However, if you have evidence clearly showing that protected wildlife is seriously damaging your commercial farming efforts or presents a threat to public safety, you may be able to obtain a federal depredation permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In Legal Trouble for Hunting? Call a Lawyer.

Charges for hunting endangered, threatened or other protected animals are serious, but you don’t have to face them alone. With offices in Fort Worth, the experienced attorneys of Lee & Wood, LP, will help you through this challenging time. Call 817-678-6771 or send us a message online to request a free consultation.

3 Crimes to Avoid When Hunting in Texas

Thousands of people go hunting each year in Texas. There are many different types of wildlife and game and a vast amount of land to cover, which makes this state an ideal location for hunting.

But hunting isn’t a free-for-all activity. There are many rules and regulations that people must adhere to in order to hunt legally. Here are a few of the wildlife crimes people need to avoid when hunting.

Hunting Without an ID

Hunting is a sport that many families enjoy together. The trips are a great way to encourage generational bonding, so hunting has been a longstanding tradition for many people in Texas. No matter what age you are, hunting can be a great experience. Just don’t forget to bring your ID.

Anyone over 17 must have a driver’s license or state identification certificate on them when they’re hunting. This law extends to non-Texans as well.

Waste of Game

Few hunters would do this, but it’s worth mentioning that killing an animal and simply leaving it behind is illegal. You must make a legitimate effort to retrieve your kill and include it in your bag limit; otherwise, you could face a Class C misdemeanor.

In addition, hunting white-tailed or mule deer, pronghorn, or desert bighorn sheep without retrieving them can be a Class A misdemeanor if you hunted without landowner permission or you hunted at night, from a public road, or from another prohibited location.


Hunters cannot go onto a landowner’s property for any reason without consent. Whether it’s to hunt, pursue an animal you shot that got away or you’re trying to retrieve your dog that wandered onto the land, you need permission from the landowner first.

Hunting Endangered or Threatened Species

If you kill a federally-recognized endangered species, you’ll face a $3,500 fine for a first offense. Even wounding or injuring one of these animals will result in a $2,000 fine. Some of the endangered or threatened species that inhabit or travel through Texas include:

  • Jaguar
  • Ocelot
  • Gray wolf
  • Red wolf
  • Louisiana black bear
  • Golden-cheeked warbler
  • Black-capped vireo
  • Attwater’s prairie chicken
  • Whooping crane
  • Eastern brown pelican
  • Bald eagle
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Northern aplomado falcon
  • Mexican spotted owl

Punishments for Breaking Wildlife Laws

When hunters violate wildlife laws, they can face thousands of dollars in fines depending on the severity of the crime. But that’s not all. Those found guilty of wildlife crimes could also face years in prison and have to forfeit their gear and firearms.

Helping You Fight Criminal Charges of Wildlife Crimes in Texas

Are you facing possible jail time or hunting license revocation due to wildlife crime charges? The experienced attorneys of Lee & Wood, LP will fight on your behalf and help you through this hard time. Call 817-678-6771 or send us a message online to request a free consultation.

What Happens if a Hunter Doesn’t Retrieve Their Game?

Hunting has been a longstanding tradition in the state of Texas. Many people each year hunt to stock the fridge and freezer with delicious game meat. To plenty of hunters, it’s also a sport that goes back generations in their family and is often considered a right of passage.

There’s so much land and multitudes of different animals in Texas, which makes it an ideal place for hunters to respectfully participate in this classic pastime. Unfortunately, there are times when hunters are wasteful and disrespectful of the sport and nature.

Believe it or not, there are those out there who kill animals only to leave them where they drop to rot away. There are also people who take one piece of their kill only to leave behind perfectly edible portions of the meat.

These types of acts are against the law and are referred to as “Waste of Game” crimes.

Ways Hunters Can Commit Waste of Game Crimes

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it’s illegal for a hunter to kill a game animal, bird or fish and:

  • Leave it behind without making an adequate effort to recover it and count it as part of their bag limit (daily and seasonal). Anyone who knowingly leaves a carcass behind is committing a Class C misdemeanor crime.
  • Leave behind edible portions of the carcass. One example of this could be killing a deer, taking the antlers and leaving behind the rest of the body.

It’s also against poaching laws to leave behind edible portions of whitetail or mule deer, pronghorn antelope or desert bighorn sheep without landowner permission. This type of crime would be considered a Class A misdemeanor. 

In addition, if a hunter wounds an animal and the animal wanders onto a landowner’s property, the hunter isn’t allowed to pursue the animal without the landowner’s permission. Failing to follow this law would be considered trespassing and the hunter could be arrested.

Penalties for Wasted Game

Punishments for wildlife laws vary, but if a person commits a Class C misdemeanor, the penalty would be a fine of $25-$500. For a Class A misdemeanor they’ll be subject to a $500-$4,000 fine and/or 1 year in jail.

These are only a few examples, but if you happen to be accused of committing waste of game or other wildlife crimes, you could be facing much worse penalties. Your best choice is to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn your options.

Facing Charges of Wildlife Crimes? Contact Lee & Wood, LP Today

If you’ve been accused of wildlife crimes in Texas, the trusted experts at Lee & Wood, LP are here to help you. Our attorneys can help you fight for your rights and potentially reduce your consequences. To schedule your initial consultation, call us at 817-678-6771 or send us a message.

Is it Legal to Hunt and Kill Nuisance Animals in Texas?

For hunting enthusiasts, Texas is a great place to be, with several “no closed season” options for hunters. But does it include hunting and killing nuisance animals?

When owning land in Texas, it’s natural that you’ll come across nuisance animals. These are pesky critters and creatures that can wreak havoc on your land or are simply an irritation. So what can you legally do about the problem? Is killing or removing a nuisance animal a wildlife crime? Let’s find out what Texas law says in this helpful guide.

What Are “Nuisance Animals”?

Simply put, nuisance animals depredate or pose a threat to human health or safety. They may create a hazard for motorists or put housepets at risk. They may also trespass on property, make messes by tipping over garbage cans or destroy a lawn or garden.

There are many types of nuisance animals, including:

  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcat
  • Otter
  • Skunks
  • Badgers
  • Beavers
  • Mink
  • Muskrat

Texas Law on Fur-Bearing Nuisance Animals

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, landowners or their agents may take nuisance fur-bearing animals in any number by any means and at any time on that person’s land. There’s no need for a hunting or trapping license.

If you’d prefer to capture and relocate the animal instead of killing it, you can do so. To capture and relocate, you need to get authorization from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the owner of the property where the release will occur. 

You’ll also need to submit a monthly report on the number and kind of nuisance animals that you captured. Include the number, the location of the release site, and your name and address.

It’s important to know that no one except licensed trappers can take these animals or their pelts during their lawful open season and possession periods. It’s a crime (a Class C misdemeanor) to transport or sell live foxes, coyotes, or raccoons in Texas. It’s also a crime to take fur-bearing animals on land owned by someone else without that person’s consent. 

Why Is Knowing Texas Wildlife Law Important?

As a landowner, getting rid of nuisance animals is important. It will help keep your land pristine and help you avoid certain risks that these animals present. Knowing Texas wildlife law will help you do it safely and in the best interest of everyone. It will also protect you from potential legal issues.

If you kill and hunt nuisance animals incorrectly, you could run afoul of Texas hunting, fishing or wildlife laws. The consequences of a violation can be costly, including fines, loss of hunting licenses and even jail time.

Get Legal Assistance for Wildlife Crimes

Texas has an abundance of nuisance animals, and it can be difficult to know all the intricacies of wildlife law. The Fort Worth lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. have extensive experience defending people against wildlife crimes, including those involving nuisance animals. If you have been accused of a wildlife crime or want to learn more, call us today at 817-678-6771  or send us a message for a confidential consultation.

Common Wildlife Crimes in Texas

In Texas, wildlife and the land that our animals call home are highly protected. Many laws and regulations exist for hunting, fishing and other activities. Unfortunately, wildlife crimes are still quite common in our state. Here, we dive into the basics of these crimes, including common violations and consequences.

Common Wildlife Crimes in Texas

Many wildlife crimes are committed throughout our state each year. In some cases, these crimes are committed willingly. In other cases, these crimes are committed by individuals who simply don’t know Texas law.

Some examples of common wildlife crimes include:

  • Hunting or fishing without a license or permit
  • Lying about your information to obtain a license or permit
  • Hunting endangered species
  • Purposeful destruction of wildlife
  • Trespassing on private property to hunt or fish
  • Illegal use of a motor vehicle while hunting or fishing
  • Hunting or possession of out-of-season wildlife
  • Failure to tag game properly
  • Weapons violations

What Are the Consequences of a Wildlife Crime?

Wildlife crimes are taken seriously in Texas. There are various consequences you may be subject to if you are found guilty of a violation. For example, you may be subject to a fine or may need to pay restitution to the state.

Depending on the severity of the wildlife violation, this could cost you thousands of dollars. You may also have your fishing or hunting licenses permanently revoked.

In other severe cases, jail time isn’t off the table. For example, a felony charge may result in a fine of up to $10,000 and two years in jail.

The best way to prevent a violation is to increase your knowledge of Texas law. For example, you can check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife resources for information on the specific regulations involving wildlife.

Accused of a Wildlife Crime? Consider an Attorney.

If you’ve been accused of a wildlife crime by a game warden, conservation officer, or someone from the Department of Natural Resources, you’ll need the help of a skilled attorney. An attorney can help protect your rights in court and, in some cases, may be able to minimize the consequences.

Reach Out to Lee & Wood, LP Today

Have you been accused of a wildlife crime in Texas? We can help you. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have years of experience working with clients just like you. To discuss your case with a qualified attorney, give us a call at 817-678-6771 or send us a message.

Is Fishing Without a License a Crime in Texas?

Is fishing without a license a crime in Texas? It’s a common question. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department publishes the many fishing rules and penalties that apply to residents and nonresidents fishing in Texas, and many sections of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Code pertain to fishing.

Under the Code, it is unlawful to fish on public water from private land without a fishing license. Fishing licenses are required of anyone who fishes in public waters in Texas, with some exceptions.

Penalties for Fishing Without a License in Texas

While fishing licenses are generally required, the penalties for fishing violations are sometimes minor. In most cases, people caught fishing without a license are fined less than $500. In those cases, it usually makes more sense to pay the fine than to hire a lawyer to fight the charges. However, it is important to pay the fine or resolve the issue. Failure to pay a fine can be considered a misdemeanor.

But, not all fishing violations are minor. The penalties can be steep when people fish for commercial purposes without a license, or when they fish rare and protected species of fish. Class B misdemeanors can lead to up to six months in jail, Class A misdemeanors can lead to up to a year in jail, and felonies can lead to up to two years in jail. Fines can also mount into the thousands of dollars.

Exceptions to the Fishing License Requirement

In some cases, you may not need a license to go fishing in Texas:

  • People under the age of 17 do not need a fishing license. The law encourages kids and teens to learn to fish at no cost.
  • Visitors to Texas State Parks can fish without a license. However, they must be within the boundary of the state park, and not all Texas parks are state parks.
  • People with intellectual disabilities may fish without a license. Fishing must be part of medically approved therapy, and the person must be accompanied by staff and carry authorization. People with intellectual disabilities can also fish under the supervision of licensed anglers who are family members or who have permission from their families to take them fishing. To do this, a doctor’s note is required.
  • People fishing on private land do not need a license. No license is required when fishing from a stock tank or other private body of water. However, if you are transporting the fish, you should carry documentation about where they came from. It is also unlawful to fish from private land into public waters without a license.

Get Legal Help After a Fishing Violation

If you have been accused of a fishing violation, call 817-678-6771 or send us a message for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP.  We have extensive experience defending people against wildlife crimes, including fishing violations.