Alligator Killed At National Wildlife Refuge, Teenager Arrested

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge / Facebook

An 18-year-old teenager has been arrested on charges of illegally hunting and killing an alligator at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Jesus Rios, a resident of Los Fresnos, was taken into custody after authorities received a call from Texas Parks and Wildlife about the incident.

According to reports, a Game Warden was on patrol near South Padre Island on Sunday when they were alerted by Texas Parks and Wildlife about a man who had allegedly killed an alligator off the Highway 106 bridge in Bayview. The caller also claimed that the suspect was skinning the alligator at his residence.

Upon receiving the dispatch, authorities immediately launched an investigation and found Rios at a home on FM 803 in Los Fresnos. He was subsequently arrested on charges of hunting alligator without landowner consent, as per Cameron County records.

The incident has raised concerns about illegal hunting and the conservation of wildlife in the area. The investigation is still ongoing, and authorities are expected to provide more information about the case in the coming days.

“At the scene, a cooler with an alligator head, two alligator gar, fishing gear and a .22 caliber single shot rifle were found,” the affidavit stated.

According to a document obtained by authorities, Rios confessed to hooking and shooting the alligator with a rifle at the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge.

He was then taken into custody and transported to the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center, where his bond was set at $1,000.

Chris Dowdy, a game warden captain with Texas Parks & Wildlife, has warned that illegal hunting of alligators can lead to severe charges and fines.

“Depending on the charges they can face up to a Class A misdemeanor which is up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The Class C violations can be anywhere from $25 to $500 plus the restitution depending on how big the alligator is. It could be quite expensive. So, it’s very costly,” Dowdy said.

Dowdy added that alligators can be legally hunted with a proper license, permission to be on a property, and only during hunting season, which runs from April 1 through June 30.

In the fight against illegal hunting, authorities have also highlighted the issue of intentionally feeding free-ranging alligators, stating that this activity is also against the law.

Dowdy, a spokesperson for the local wildlife department, emphasized that the cooperation of the community is essential in curbing illegal activities.

“There’s only 14 of us in the Valley, and the more people that are helping us keep an eye out the better off we’re going to be, the more people we’ll be able to prevent this from happening,” Dowdy said.

Members of the community are being urged to report any illegal activities by contacting Operation Game Thief Wildlife Crime Stoppers at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). This move comes as part of an effort to crack down on unlawful practices and ensure that the local wildlife is protected.

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