Birders Help Nail Pelican Poacher

Here's the story from the Tyler Paper:

Audubon Society members bird watching around Lake Palestine Saturday afternoon were shocked when the white pelican they were observing was shot from the sky.

The birdwatchers were parked on County Road 1134 viewing water foul fly back and forth from a private lake to Lake Palestine when they heard a gunshot.

"A pelican they were watching folded and fell to the ground," said Chris Green, game warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "They're beautiful to see swimming together. They have a large bucket-type mouth and it's neat to see them fishing. That's why they are protected."

The birdwatchers called Operation Game Thief, a toll-free number where the public can report hunting, fishing and other environmental violations.

Green said he was dispatched to the area and located the shooter and his friends along with the bird that was hidden in a makeshift dumpsite on the property.

When interviewed, the 17-year-old Robert E. Lee student told Green he shot the bird because it was eating too many fish out of his private lake.

"I seized his shotgun and wrote him a ticket for killing a protected bird," Green said.

In he state of Texas there are three classifications for protection. The first is endangered, which includes species such as the whooping crane and brown pelican. The second is threatened, and includes the bald eagle, and the third class is protected which includes owls, hawks, pelicans and songbirds.

"They are numerous, but we still protect them from random shooting, and violators face a pretty steep fine," he said. "(The teen) will be looking at around a $500 fine."

In addition to the fine for killing a protected bird, he was ticketed for not having a hunting license or hunter education.

Green said even though the bird was shot on private property it is still against the law to harm or kill protected wildlife. He added that if it wasn't for the Audubon ladies looking through their binoculars, he probably would not have known about the shooting.

"The women were very disappointed. They came to East Texas to see the beauty of our wildlife and all we can show them are killers," Green said.

Serisously? People still name their kids "Robert E. Lee"?