A road-hunting rampage that went on for three months this summer in Leon County, Texas, has been ended, according to state game wardens.
Four adults and two juveniles face more than 175 state jail felony and Class A misdemeanor wildlife poaching violations that took place between June 4 and Aug. 29, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said.
Allegedly the group used a variety of firearms to shoot wildlife, livestock and property at night; however, no reports were made until a Sept. 1 call about a poached deer, which started the investigation.
"It amazes me that over a three-month period these young men likely fired hundreds of rounds of ammo, most of which were at night and in various locations, and no one reported gunshots or suspicious activity until September," said supervising game warden Capt. Mike Hanson. "Not a single call."
According to officials, the shootings took place on a public roadway and private property, without consent of the landowner. The suspects have been charged in the illegal killing of at least 68 whitetail deer, numerous other wildlife species and livestock and the destruction of public and private property.
Game wardens said they confiscated nine firearms ranging from .17 HMR to .270, including a .22 rimfire rifle fitted with a homemade suppressor.
Officials say that portion of the deer killed were left to rot in a field. Other wildlife, ranging from raccoons to alligators, were shot along a public road.
"This reprehensible and senseless killing spree has absolutely no resemblance to hunting, and I know sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere will be appalled to learn of this thoughtless waste of life," said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. "It is fitting to see these violators brought to justice, thanks to an observant landowner who provided the initial tip and the diligent work of our Texas Game Wardens working with the sheriff's office."
Officials said the group was also allegedly involved in more than a dozen burglaries; shooting windows, parked vehicles, road signs and mailboxes; and shooting several house cats. They are also being charged with shooting and killing five cows and hacking to death a sixth cow with a machete.
"The danger that the violators placed the public in, the sheer number of violations committed and the fact that they had little or no fear of being caught really stands out in my mind," said Hanson. "From a wildlife enforcement point of view, I hope this case raises public awareness and convinces people to work with and inform their local law enforcement to prevent situations like this from happening in the future."