Game Warden Apps for Everything
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been developing a host of mobile apps designed to help game wardens do their job more effectively from the field.
The apps allow game wardens to perform tasks such as verify someone’s hunting or fishing license status, verify hunt harvest data and enter daily reports during disasters quickly and easily — all from a mobile device.
“The officers can get more information more quickly at their fingertips,” says Mike Mitchell, assistant commander game warden for technology. “We want to allow our folks to work safer and smarter.”
Mitchell saw an opportunity to take the technological leap during the response to the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West. He figured there had to be a better way to handle the huge paper stacks of disaster activity reports being generated by law enforcement: There should be an app for that. The result is a TPWD-developed app that skips the paper forms and collects law enforcement disaster reports instantly into a database that’s secure and searchable. The app had its first big test during Hurricane Harvey, and Mitchell says it worked just as it should.
The efforts have made TPWD a leader in the state and nation in developing law enforcement apps.
“It’s remarkable that our little agency has taken the lead on this,” Mitchell says.
The license verify app, which allows a game warden to check a person’s hunting or fishing license status, won a Texas “best app” award in 2015. “It’s really smart and fast,” Mitchell says, “but always carry your license.”
The fisheries enforcement app allows game wardens to enter commercial fishing enforcement information, including seized items. The hunter/boater ed app facilitates verification of a person’s hunter ed or boater ed status. The law enforcement reference app provides violation codes, wildlife regulations and other basic law enforcement information. The harvest verify app checks hunt data and locations as entered by Texas turkey hunters.
The rapid event mapper app provides georeferenced photos and information during times of crisis, allowing state leaders to monitor and manage a crisis visually through photographs and real-time location information. The oyster map app allows game wardens to view georeferenced shellfish harvest maps for oyster enforcement.
Lonesome Dove Fest Celebrates Silver Anniversary
South Texas families will be gathering in Karnes City on Sept. 14-15 for a weekend of festivities to kick off the start of the South Zone dove season and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Lonesome Dove Fest, the largest dove hunting festival in Texas. The main attraction: mourning and white-winged doves by the thousands to test the skills of the wingshooters in attendance.
Each year in Texas, nearly a half-million hunters participate in dove season, recently extended to 90 days, the longest period allowed under federal law. Texas dove seasons also start early, with special “White-Winged Dove Days” happening the first two weekends of September across the South Zone.
The festival, founded by the Karnes City Rotary Club in 1992, also serves as a fundraiser to create scholarships for students from each of Karnes County’s four high schools.
Other activities include a parade through town, a live auction, a barbecue cookoff, sporting clays competition and live musical performances.
Working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Rotary Club is organizing other exhibits for the festival including a helicopter on display, all-terrain vehicles and an Operation Game Thief Wall of Shame.
More information on the festival can be found at the event’s website, www.lonesomedovefest.com.
Franklin Mountains Getting New Visitors Center
Franklin Mountains State Park, the nation’s largest urban wilderness park, broke ground on a new visitors center at the El Paso park’s Tom Mays Unit. The current visitors center resides outside main park grounds at McKelligon Canyon. The new center will include an administrative area, retail space, classrooms and cultural/historical park resources.