Hi, I’m Richard Hayes, newest Independent Program Attorney with Texas LawShield®. As a former felony prosecutor, I worked closely with several game wardens and the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife. After speaking with them and other folks, I saw there were some common re-occurring misconceptions that you need to know about. [Transcript below video.]
Game Wardens Are Police
First, game wardens are police. That means that they’re licensed peace officers in the State of Texas, and, arguably, they are some of the most powerful police in the state. They can inspect, search, seize, and arrest just like a regular police officer. And while most of the time they’re enforcing the Texas Parks & Wildlife Code, they have the full authority to enforce all other Texas criminal laws, including the penal code.
So, remember, when you’re dealing with a Texas game warden, you’re dealing with the police.
Game Wardens Have Broad Search Powers
Next, Texas game wardens have broad search powers.
We’re all aware of our Fourth Amendment, Constitutionally-guaranteed right against unreasonable search and seizure. But what does the Fourth Amendment mean when [you are] confronted by a Texas game warden? When can they search you or your property?
If a Texas game warden reasonably believes that you or someone else is engaged in a regulated activity, they can inspect any device used to hunt or collect a wildlife resource. Also, they can search any container or receptacle that is capable of concealing a wildlife resource or those devices. This includes vehicles, boats, game bags, freezers, coolers, or even something as small as an Altoids box that could contain a lure.
Game Wardens’ Jurisdictions?
But what about a Texas game warden’s jurisdiction? Well, just as wildlife go between city and county lines, so does the jurisdiction of a Texas game warden. Texas game wardens’ jurisdiction is statewide.
Also, they can go on to not only public, but also private, property to enforce game and wildlife laws. Texas game wardens are also one of the primary law-enforcement officers for enforcing boating laws in Texas. That means that they can board your vessel to make sure that your water-safety equipment is in compliance.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re engaged in hunting or fishing. What it comes down to is the wildlife code is complicated, and it can feel arbitrary at times. What that means is well-intentioned hunters and anglers sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of the law, as the saying goes.
The eyes of Texas are upon you, and Texas game wardens will go to great lengths to catch hunters and anglers who are hunting and fishing unlawfully.
Hunter Shield Protects Hunters and Anglers
Did you know that more than 16,000 violations are recorded by Texas game wardens every year? Mistakes in the woods and on water happen, and while unintentional, you could still be breaking the law.
If you have questions about year-round bird hunting regulations, Texas LawShield is here to help. Members of Texas LawShield’s HunterShield program have access to attorneys to get the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members are granted discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. Seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add HunterShield to your existing Texas LawShield membership for only $2.95 per month.
Not a member of Texas LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a sportsman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law.
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The information provided in this presentation is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.
Excellent educational information on Texas GWs. I wonder how well the mandate and relationship works in regard to border enforcement on Tex/Mex parks where US BP (I believe) are prohibited to patrol, something to do with the ’66/69 Wilderness Act ???
Keep up the great work.
I want a lawyer
My son is interested in becoming a game warden after high school but someone told me that if you are a game warden you cannot fish or hunt. Is this true?
Does a game warden need a search warrant to enter a home.
Yes, and never let anyone tell you differently. The old redneck myth of a search warrant being negated to a home is completely false. Game Warden has no more policing powers in the midst of the law than a normal police officer. Because of fishing and game related activities being regulated search warrants are negated if in the event you’re found to be engaging in those activities, but only for everything excluding a home. You 100% must have a search warrant to enter a home to search for a particular item or article. There are exceptions and exemptions to search warrants in homes but that’s a whole nother conversation. Game Warden‘s are absolutely no different then regular police. How do I know this?, I’m a Texas Game Warden of 22 years. 🤷♂️
I know that a Game Warden has a job to do, but sometimes they are not fair and just! Few years ago, I was at Roll Over Pass fishing on bank like a lot of others! A group of illegals pulled up next to me and started fishing and catching and retaining undersized Red Fish! In fact they were filling up the cooler with them. I told them after they put the first one in their cooler that they need to put that Red Fish back because it was too small and illegal. A Game Warden Truck pulled up across the cut and two Game Wardens got out and started checking people’s catch and fishing license. Most fishinman were legal but a few were wrote up for some reason. Finally one of them Game Wardens got to me and check my catch and license. I was legal, he told me to have a good day and started walking off without checking the group next to me. I kinda holler at him while he was walking off and said. Hey you not going to check these people next to me out? Just knowing he was going tear them up. He just smile at me and finish walking off and both officers got back into their truck and left! I guess the law just contains to citizens and not to illegals since they broke the law entering our country illegally anyhow! They fail to uphold the law!!!
im sure he had some reason there is no way he just didnt check them
That is BS! I wish you would have pushed the issue and recorded it. But, I know it’s easy for me to say that now, but at the time I probably would’ve been shocked and speechless.
Hello I am a texas game warden as well as a TCOLE instructor and thought I may clear up a few things. First off to answer the gentleman’s question; no a game warden cannot enter a home without a warrant or without the effective consent of the owner unless exigent circumstances exist or the game warden is in fresh pursuit of a suspect that’s committed a criminal act. The same goes for every peace officer in the state of texas. The reason behind this is simple. Searching someones house without consent or a warrant is a clear violation of your 4th ammendment right afforded by the constitution (see Supremacy Clause US Constitution Art. VI, Clause 2).
Secondly the “broad search powers” talked about in the article isnt a special authority that only we game wardens have. Its specific to tpw code and certain case law. Although it is our primary responsibility to enforce the code, any peace officer can enforce the tpw code. Section 11.0191 tpw code clearly states that ANY peace officer may enforce ALL provisions of the code. A peace officer is a peace officer in the state of texas…period. Code of Criminal Procedure 2.13 titled Duties and Powers mandates that every peace officer shall preserve the peace and execute lawful process (along with a few other things). It doesnt say “its every peace officers duty to preserve the peace plus game wardens have additional super powers.” We have no more authority than any other peace officer. There is no code in the texas criminal and traffic law book that is restricted to being enforced solely by one agency. There are certain specialized peace officers commissioned for very specific things such as officers commissioned by the state board of dental examiners, railroad peace officers and special rangers (they specifically assist local law enforcement with investigations regarding theft of livestock related property). But those officers are specifically outlined in the CCP along with whatever restrictions they may have. Good article otherwise.
I seen several times at the lake the game warden pulled over people for no reason.. I seen that the game warden pulled over a kid on a jet ski saying it was past the time when the sun was still out. As far as I know it’s from sunrise to sunset. And game warden said he goes off of Google.. I looked it up it does not say nothing about Google is to determine when sunrises or when the sunsets in texas laws . And at the same time the kid was literally 20 yards away from the boat ramp where his dad was waiting on him. I understand game wardens serve trying to protect and make sure everything’s safe but literally just was on uncall for. Almost to a point it was like bullying other boaters .. I have several stories and videos I’ve seen them treating people very unfairly especially the young ones..
your just salty bro
Are the Ft. Hood Game Wardens allowed to pursue individuals off of the instillation for traffic violations (speeding). Does the Posse Comitatus Act limit the Ft. Hood Game Wardens?
Do Texas game warden have to live in Texas
The Posse Comitatus Act regulates the US military being used to conduct operations inside the United States. A Ft Hood game warden is federal law enforcement officer and not a member of the armed forces thus they are not subject to the Posse Comitatus Act. They can leave the reserve to enforce laws broken on it.
9 years ago game wardens pulled up at my home and ask consent to search. I gave it to them. They took my crossbow and 4 mounted deer heads. They said they believed they where took illegally. I was never placed under arrest and they said they would get back with me. So can they just take what they want and never returnea
Hi I have one question can a game warden run my background while I was fishing on Texas waters after a initial inspection was done on me everything was good but at the end he took my Texas drivers license and ran a check on it?
I live on a canal lot with fishing dock in Texas and the home next is a VRBO. On so many occasions the renters at this house throw their lines and hooks onto my property.
Regardless of many request for them to stay off my property and signs posted to keep your hook off my dock, my dog swallowed a hook abandoned by a renter. We drove an hour and a half to the emergency vet hospital to save our dog. This happens all the time. Can the game warden help in any way? The owners of the property don’t care.
I use to be a police officer and when a class c Misdemeanor committed it had to be in the presence of the officer does that apply to game wardens?
It only says game wardens on their shirts not police officers that is very misleading game wardens are only responsible for game and wildlife in my opinion you all in Texas and other states must have the virus called SFB it is not curable its permanent you all need to have a brain fart and blow your head out of your ass and it still won’t help you . You will still have the virus called SFB sorry for your disorder