Lampasas man indicted for shooting eagles

first_imgA Lampasas County grand jury has returned an indictment against a Bend man on two counts of killing bald eagles, a protected non-game animal. Jackie Brister, 82, also faces additional charges alleging he captured and killed numerous other non-game birds, including black vultures and turkey vultures.Texas game wardens launched an initial investigation after responding to a call regarding a wounded bald eagle discovered near Bend on Jan. 11; the bird did not survive. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wardens determined the eagle had been shot by a rifle. Further investigation uncovered evidence of additional taking of protected non-game animals.With help from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, cases were made and filed with the Lampasas County District Attorney’s Office.In addition to citations for the taking of a state threatened species and non-game birds, Class C misdemeanors punishable by fines of $25-$500 for each case, Brister also faces a Class A misdemeanor violation for hunting without landowner consent. That charge carries a possible fine of $500-$4,000 and/or up to a one year state jail term. Brister could also face civil restitution for the eagles in an amount to be determined exceeding $10,000 each.•The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries division is launching a scale loaner program to give local tournament organizers the ability to use the catch, weigh and immediate release formats made popular by state and national-level tournaments like the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest (TBTF) and Major League Fishing.“We are trying to promote new tournament formats that are very conservation minded that remove impacts of delayed mortality,” said Dave Terre, TPWD Chief of Inland Fisheries Management and Research.“They take the extra fish handling, weigh-in and livewell containment process completely out of the tournament.”Typical bass tournaments involve holding up to five bass in livewells, removing them from their catch locations, and taking them through a weigh-in process onstage – a format that studies have shown results in 15-60 percent fish mortality depending on the water temperature.center_img With the catch, weigh and immediate release formats, each angler has a trained judge onboard who uses the scale to weigh the fish and return it to the water immediately after being caught, which significantly lowers fish mortality to a negligible amount – similar to catch and release fishing.Pro Am Bass Trails utilized TPWD’s new scale loaner program for the first time during their inaugural fielding event Aug. 19 at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Of the 80-fish caught, organizers observed no immediate fish mortality on the boat or shortly after release.Tournament director and competitive angler Linwood Cottner said he decided to organize a tournament of his own after growing concerned with the effects traditional bass tournaments could have on the sustainability of local bass populations. But the biggest barrier to implementing the catch, weigh and immediate release format was the initial cost of the scales, which exceeded $6,000 for a set of 60.“When I saw that number I thought ‘There’s no way I can do this,” Cottner said.“So, when I heard about the scale loaner program I jumped on it — it’s alleviated that upfront cost to help me build up the funds that we need to eventually purchase them.”The 60 loaner scales were originally donated to TPWD for use during the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC), a tournament that pioneered the catch, weigh and immediate release format. After a 10-year run, the TTBC was replaced by the TBTF, which uses a different set of scales provided by tournament organizer B.A.S.S.By using the loaner scales no longer needed for the TTBC, Cottner said Pro Am Bass Trails is one of the first local level organizations in Texas to successfully incorporate a catch, weigh and immediate release format into their tournament.“This cracked the shell of fear as far as putting on a tournament of this format,” Cottner said.“A lot of people are looking at this and saying, ‘This is something that can work in Texas.’ We are laying the foundation and setting the standard as far as how it can be done.”Pro Am Bass Trails uses the same catch, weigh and immediate release format as Major League Fishing, which allows anglers to see how they rank among their competitors as soon as the judges enter the fish weight into a mobile application.Linwood said the portable, certified scales are a vital component to quickly getting the fish back into the water where it came from to reduce the chance of delayed mortality.“Unless bass fishing takes a decline, this catch and release type of tournament format is going to help sustain the health of Texas waterways,” Cottner said.“And the loaner program is going to be a key factor in that.”For more information about the scale loaner program, contact Dave Terre at [email protected]last_img

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