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#1
Old 11-15-2004, 10:21 PM
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Do game wardens have more rights than any other law enforcement agents?

I grew up in rural Louisiana, "The Sportsman's Paradise", within a mile of the Texas border with a river seperating the two states. My friends always said that you would be better off shooting a person than you would an illegal deer or be caught with a boatload of illegal fish.

Anecdotal evidence tells me that this might almost be true. What I was always told was that game wardens are allowed to stalk and watch people for illegal game activity even on their own property. I know for a fact that this happened to three people I know and they were prosecuted for it. I was also told that they are more free to cross state lines than other law enforcement personnel. I am more skeptical of that claim but then again, one of the areas in question was a river that was split down the middle for the Louisiana-Texas state line.

Do game wardens have powers that other law enforcement does not?
#2
Old 11-15-2004, 10:55 PM
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I am not a lawyer and I'm no game warden. For that matter, I've had fish laugh at my attempts, but here's my take.

Game wardens have greater rights to search for violations than most law enforcement folks; their jobs require it. Hunting and fishing are mostly done on private property, and they have to be able to get to the game in order to protect it. Most hunting and fishing violations are misdemeanors, and If a game warden played by the same rules as other law enforcement officials then they would need a search warrant or suspicion that a felony was taking place before entering someone's land, searching a house or car, or what have you. Were that the case, I'd bet that virtually every deer lease would post no trespassing signs and hunting would become a year round activity.

Beyond that, I'm sure that you would be far worse off if you shot a person than if you killed a deer. I've never heard of anyone going to death row for killing Bambi.

For the Sabine River, I'm sure that Texas and Louisiana have some sort of an agreement worked out where the game wardens are allowed to patrol both sides of the river (btw, I think that Texas has special fishing rules for Toledo Bend? Are these rules the same for both Texas and Louisiana?)

You might want to compare the Sabine with the Rio Grande, where the two sides do not share enforcement duties. Mexican game regulations are tougher than the Texas ones, and the wardens tend to be more capricious. Friends of mine who fish lake Amistad have said that they stay well to the U.S. side of the buoys in the middle of Lake Amistad to avoid being taken in by the Mexican game wardens.
#3
Old 11-15-2004, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes
I am not a lawyer and I'm no game warden. For that matter, I've had fish laugh at my attempts, but here's my take.

Game wardens have greater rights to search for violations than most law enforcement folks; their jobs require it. Hunting and fishing are mostly done on private property, and they have to be able to get to the game in order to protect it. Most hunting and fishing violations are misdemeanors, and If a game warden played by the same rules as other law enforcement officials then they would need a search warrant or suspicion that a felony was taking place before entering someone's land, searching a house or car, or what have you. Were that the case, I'd bet that virtually every deer lease would post no trespassing signs and hunting would become a year round activity.

Beyond that, I'm sure that you would be far worse off if you shot a person than if you killed a deer. I've never heard of anyone going to death row for killing Bambi.

For the Sabine River, I'm sure that Texas and Louisiana have some sort of an agreement worked out where the game wardens are allowed to patrol both sides of the river (btw, I think that Texas has special fishing rules for Toledo Bend? Are these rules the same for both Texas and Louisiana?)

You might want to compare the Sabine with the Rio Grande, where the two sides do not share enforcement duties. Mexican game regulations are tougher than the Texas ones, and the wardens tend to be more capricious. Friends of mine who fish lake Amistad have said that they stay well to the U.S. side of the buoys in the middle of Lake Amistad to avoid being taken in by the Mexican game wardens.

Thank you very much for the reply. I am from the town whose motto "Where Toledo Bend Begins" but the river is still is only 50 yards across and the middle is the Louisiana-Texas Border. I don't think they ever distinguish exactly where the infraction took place and I don't think it would be possible.

I was also told that Game Wardens have more rights because hunters that they try to catch are almost by definition going to be armed and they are most likely going to be alone. This gives them broad authority.
#4
Old 11-16-2004, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes
Hunting and fishing are mostly done on private property, and they have to be able to get to the game in order to protect it. Most hunting and fishing violations are misdemeanors, and If a game warden played by the same rules as other law enforcement officials then they would need a search warrant or suspicion that a felony was taking place before entering someone's land, searching a house or car, or what have you. Were that the case, I'd bet that virtually every deer lease would post no trespassing signs and hunting would become a year round activity.
No, Constitutional guarantees are not erased because law enforcement is wearing a game warden badge.

But there may be some misunderstanding here of what the rules are.

Generally, you cannot vicariously raise another person's Constitutional rights.

That is, if you're caught by the game warden jacklighting deer, and you happen to be on private property, that's no problem for the warden, unless it's YOUR private property. If you were on Mrs. Jones' land, you cannot raise her rights in your defense.

Even if you were on your land, it may not be a problem. As long as the warden was legally entitled to be where he was - if your land is not posted "No Trespassing," or if you have an easement, for example - then you have no defense.

If you have a hunting or fishing license, you generally consent to an administrative search designed to ensure you are acting within the bounds of the license.
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