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TX: Illegal deer hunts a problem inside San Antonio's city limits - more than 100 illegal hunting calls a year.

October 22, 2010

Illegal deer hunts a problem inside San Antonio's city limits

SAN ANTONIO --From a window overlooking his backyard off Prue Road, there's a view to some woods. The property is just miles from the police substation. And it's where a man has been busted by game wardens for using a spotlight at night and a rifle to hunt deer illegally.

Cpt. Danny Villalobos said the poaching puts neighbors at risk.

"It is dangerous. It's a total disregard for public safety. You're looking at long rifles being shot," Cpt. Villalobos added.

A dozen game wardens travel Bexar County, chasing down poachers. Business is always brisk; as they answer more than 100 illegal hunting calls a year.

Parks and Wildlife officials say poaching is a crime of opportunity.

In 2008, wardens say two men were caught hunting in the medical center area.and were caught on tape. They were hunting from their truck along Floyd Curl Drive. Game wardens found the evidence when they dropped the tailgate: a trophy buck.

Villalobos said, "The majority of the violations in the SA area during the hunting season we encounter that are deer related occur inside the Loop 1604."

Authorities say many poachers get caught through calls on the "Operation Game Thief Hotline." It's a toll-free number homeowners use to call authorities about suspicious trucks and trespassers.

Those homeowners get upset when their animal friends fail to show up.

"They video them. They even name them sometimes. But, when it ends up missing, they'll call us."

Calls from local lakes are common, too, as fishermen turn in others who go over the limit with the fish they catch and keep.

If you catch a violator in your area, you are encouraged to call the hotline at 800-792-GAME (4263). You can earn up to $1,000 for your tip to law enforcement.

Fundraisers for Operation Game Thief help support the rewards paid to citizens who report illegal game violations and the families of game wardens who have died in the line of duty.

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