Saturday, July 23, 2011

Monster Trinity River Gator Allegedly Killed Illegally

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has filed charges against four men they say illegally hunted and killed a giant alligator on the Trinity River in Leon County.

Dallas lawyer Levi McCathern and three guides, Steve Barclay, Sam Lovell, and Ryan Burton, collectively known as the “Gar Guys,” face charges of taking wildlife on private property without the landowner’s permission. The monster gator killed by McCathern has been confiscated along with a gator killed just a day before.

The charges are Class A misdemeanors which could mean a fine of up to $4,000 and one year in jail for those involved. According to sources, TPWD will also be seeking civil restitution for the two slain alligators. That claim could exceed $5,000.

This story saddens me. I have no problem with the hunting of alligators as long as it is done according to the rules set forth by the TPWD. If this was, indeed, an illegal hunt then these guys should face the music. It would also back up the comment below made by a reader who had viewed the original post:

"Wonder why both gators were killed by different hunters but same guides and both were questioned kills. I fish the area the killed it and the " Gar Guys " are not liked at all and more so after this killing.They work that "grey" area of the law --maybe TPWD will close the loop hole since TPWD lost both claims against them."

I will say the rules of just when and how it is legal to take alligators in this state are a bit confusing. I outlined these rules in the previous post on this story. Personally, I think some of these guidelines need to be simplified to avoid potential confusion. Don’t get me wrong, guides are professionals and it is their job to know and understand the legalities regarding the hunting of whatever species they are targeting. If these guides did not know or, worse yet, ignored, the laws regarding the hunting of alligators in Texas then they deserve whatever they get.

I would caution against automatically assuming the worst of these folks; however, let them have their day in court. Remember the Duke lacrosse team scandal? A stripper claimed to have been sexually assaulted by multiple members of the team at a party. These guys were crucified in the media and all but convicted in the press. It turned out that the accuser was mentally unstable and made the whole thing up. The whole debacle ended up costing the District Attorney his job. While the circumstances of the two cases are vastly different, let's not make the mistake of assuming guilt too soon. Maybe I’m being na├»ve but let’s let the legal system run its course and find out all the facts before we lock these guys up and throw away the key.

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