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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-06-15                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Davilyn Walston. Public Information Officercell: (409) 553-9881, Direct: (409) 981-7902, http://www.justice.gov/usao/txe ]
June 15, 2011
Three Indicted in Alligator Gar Smuggling Operation
This news release was issued June 15, 2011, by the office of United States Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas.
BEAUMONT, Texas - Three men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for smuggling alligator gar in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Loren Willis, 62, of Eminence, IN, Gerard Longo, 46, of Greenacres, Florida, and Michael Rambarran, 55, of Miami, were charged today with Lacey Act violations, specifically conspiracy to submit a false label for fish transported in interstate commerce, conspiracy to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation; and conspiracy to transport and sell fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation.
According to the indictment, on July 26, 2010, the defendants are alleged to have conspired to develop a scheme to transport fish, specifically alligator gar, harvested from the Trinity River in East Texas for the purpose of selling them in Japan.
If convicted, they each face up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
This case is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department of Special Operations Unit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reynaldo P. Morin.
A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
June 15, 2011
Keeping Bass Alive in Hot Weather
Tournament anglers encouraged to consider oxygen injection in livewells
ATHENS--The hotter the weather, the more difficult it is to keep bass in livewells healthy, especially during tournaments, when heavy limits of fish may be held for several hours until weigh-in.
"Dissolved oxygen is the single most important factor for keeping bass alive," said Randy Myers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologist from San Antonio. "It is very difficult to supply enough oxygen to keep tournament limits of 30 pounds or more alive. Such limits are common at Falcon, Amistad and other Texas reservoirs."
Modern bass boats typically have two ways of maintaining oxygen levels in livewells. One is to continuously exchange water in the livewell with lake water. The other is to mix air with water so that oxygen in the air can be dissolved into the water. For specific instructions concerning livewell management procedures see http://assets.espn.go.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/pdf/b_con_KeepingBassAlive.pdf.
Unfortunately for the fish, neither method can maintain sufficient oxygen in the water when the weight of fish in the livewell exceeds one pound of fish for every gallon of water and water temperatures are high. "There is only a small buffer between the oxygen level maintained by recirculation systems and the oxygen level detrimental to fish survival when a livewell contains a small to moderate limit of fish," Myers said. "Fish displace water in the livewell, reducing the amount of water available to hold oxygen, and in the case of a heavy limit, there may not be enough water in the livewell to hold sufficient oxygen to keep the fish alive."
Tournaments exact a penalty for dead fish brought to weigh-in, so anglers do what they can to keep their catch alive, but their options are limited. "It is not advisable to continuously exchange water during summer months, because reservoir surface water temperatures often become excessive later in the day and can contribute to mortality," Myers said. "Alternatively, anglers can add ice to the livewell to slow fish's metabolism, run recirculation pumps continuously to provide oxygen by mixing and exchange water in livewells only two or three times a day."
Recent research by TPWD showed that during summer months most mortality of tournament-caught fish occurs one to three days after they are released back into the reservoir. This is called delayed mortality. "Delayed mortality ranged from 18.2 percent to 43.1 percent of the fish in tournaments held when the water temperature exceeded 79 degrees Fahrenheit," Myers said. "Adding mortality of fish weighed in dead can result in total mortality of 50 percent. Use of appropriate livewell management and fish-care procedures will increase the likelihood of long-term survival of fish caught in tournaments and then released."
TPWD hatcheries routinely use oxygen injection in hauling tanks to maintain the health of fish even when transporting more than one pound of fish to one gallon of water. "However, boat manufacturers do not offer oxygen injection systems, and very few tournament anglers have installed oxygen equipment on their boats," Myers noted.
In addition to being a fisheries biologist, Myers is a tournament angler, and he has installed an oxygen injection system in his personal boat. "The total cost of components is less than that of many high-end fishing rods," he said.
TPWD's Inland Fisheries team in San Antonio tested various oxygen cylinders, regulators, hoses, connectors and diffusers and developed a simple, effective and safe system that anglers can install in their bass boats. Equipment was evaluated on three different bass boat makes, each having a slightly different recirculation system. Testing revealed that livewell oxygen concentration after one hour was about twice as high for the oxygen injection system compared to standard recirculation.
"Proper installation and operation of an oxygen injection system will ensure oxygen levels remain above the preferred level of 7 mg/l even when livewells contain heavy limits," Myers said.
Myers and his team produced a PowerPoint presentation detailing the components needed, installation procedures, sources of components and approximate costs. It can be viewed at http://www.slideshare.net/raminlandfish/livewell-oxygen-injection-8773301.
Demonstration oxygen injection units can also be seen at Falcon Lake Tackle in Zapata and Angler's Lodge in Del Rio. Anyone with questions can contact Myers at (210) 688-9460.
For Additional Information
A more detailed version of the information in this press release may be found at http://www.slideshare.net/raminlandfish/livewell-oxygen-injection-8773301.
Tournament-caught fish also often suffer from overinflated air bladders, a condition called barotrauma. This condition can be relieved by a procedure commonly called fizzing. For information about barotrauma and fizzing see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/?req=20110202d.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: U.S. Attorney's Office: Davilyn Walston, 409-553-9881 (cell), 509-981-7902 (office), http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/txe; Texas Parks & Wildlife: Steve Lightfoot, 512-565-3680 (cell), 512-565-3680 (office), steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ]
June 15, 2011
Cherokee County Deer Breeder Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Deer
Prominent breeder Agreed to Pay $1.5 million for Smuggling Deer into East Texas
TYLER - After a lengthy four year investigation a 77-year-old Cherokee County, Texas licensed deer breeder has pleaded guilty to illegally transporting wildlife in the Eastern District of Texas and then lying about it to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Billy Powell pleaded guilty on June 14, 2011, to the felony offense of smuggling at least 37 whitetail deer, over a 3 year time span, from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio into Texas in violation of state and federal laws. Powell also admitted that he made a false statement and submitted a false document to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent who was looking into the matter. Powell has agreed to pay a $1 million fine, to be deposited into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Lacy Act Reward Fund, as well as $500,000.00 in restitution to Texas Parks and Wildlife, on his sentencing date. Powell's agreement with the government calls for Powell to serve 3 years probation with six months of home confinement which will be monitored with an electric anklet. During the term of probation, Powell will be prohibited from participating in any manner in commercial deer breeding. Additionally, Powell must forfeit any illegally imported deer, any progeny of those deer, and any biological material derived from said deer, which would include any semen, antlers, mounts, and cloned deer. Powell has already forfeited over 1,300 straws of frozen semen valued at approximately $961,500.00 to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
According to information presented in court, on at least four separate occasions, spanning from October 2006 through June 2008, Powell knowingly imported at least 37 live whitetail deer, many of whom came from captive deer farms in Ligonier, Indiana, into the state of Texas and to his "5-P Farms", high fenced deer breeding facility in Cherokee County Texas. These deer included bucks known as "Fat Boy" aka "Barry", "Silver Storm" aka "Hit Man", "Y 009", "Eagle Storm" aka "BJ", "Thunderstruck", "High Five", and "Primer" aka "Spikes". At all times Powell knew that Texas law prohibited any person from possessing a deer acquired from an out-of-state source. In spite of this, Powell agreed to participate in the above-described transactions in which whitetail deer would be secretly transported from Illinois, Indiana, and/or Pennsylvania, to Texas in order to evade Texas laws and regulations.
Powell acknowledged that the fair market value of all of the illegally imported, whitetail deer exceeded approximately $800,000.00, that the value of the illegally accumulated white-tailed deer semen exceeded approximately $961,000.00, and that the value of the progeny exceeded approximately $290,000.00.
Powell further admitted that he lied to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent during a voluntary statement at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tyler, Texas. Powell told the agent that he had illegally imported approximately 35 white-tailed deer into the state of Texas when in fact he knew that he had illegally imported no less than 41 white-tailed deer, including 6 white-tail deer fawns. During the same statement, Powell also submitted lists identifying 35 white-tailed deer as the total number of white-tailed deer that he had illegally imported into the state of Texas when he knew that he had actually illegally imported no less than 41 white-tailed, including 6 white-tail deer fawns.
Findings of the investigation also prompted the Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct an epidemiological investigation in consultation with veterinarians and wildlife disease experts from Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Department of State Health Services, and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and accredited veterinarians actively involved in the deer breeding industry. This process was carried out in three separate phases. Ultimately all 334 deer contained in Powell's deer breeding facility were euthanized to facilitate testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis (TB). This process was necessary in order to provide an acceptable level of assurance that neither disease was prevalent in Powell's deer breeding facility nor in any deer breeding facility that had received deer from Powell's facility since October 2004.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has had an intensive CWD surveillance program since 2002, and this disease has yet to be detected in Texas. Likewise, bovine tuberculosis has not been detected in any Texas deer population. However, illegal entry of white-tailed deer from other states poses a serious risk of introducing these diseases and others into Texas. Introduction of these diseases into Texas could have a detrimental impact on the longtime cultural tradition of deer hunting, which generates an estimated $1.2 billion in retail sales and has a total economic output of more than $2 billion in Texas each year. Disease monitoring is also necessary to protect legal deer breeding activity from risk of disease exposure. Furthermore, bovine tuberculosis could have a significant impact on the Texas livestock industry. Prevention is the most effective tool to combat diseases because once established in wild populations, these diseases are extremely difficult, if not impossible to eradicate.
Since no live-animal test for CWD exists, TPWD consulted with trained experts to ensure the most humane euthanasia method and treatment of the animals was used. Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are presently awaiting the test results for the tissue samples submitted to the Texas Veterinarian Medical Diagnostic Laboratory located in College Station, TX
This case was investigated by the Special Operations Unit of the Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.
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