Tag Archives: What Happens if You’re Caught Hunting Endangered

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.