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Help Texas Game Wardens Through Gear Up for Game Wardens

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Written by Lydia Saldaña

Texas Game Wardens have watched over the lands, waters, wildlife, and people of Texas for more than 100 years. In the Texas Hill Country, a warden’s duty can range from keeping an eye on hunters out in the field for dove or deer season or enforcing the Texas Water Safety Act on the dozens of Central Texas lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams that meander through the region.

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

When natural disaster strikes, wardens are on the front lines of harrowing search and rescue missions. During Hurricane Harvey, more than 200 game wardens were engaged each day in the early days of the deadly storm, rescuing more than 10,000 people. In May 2015, when torrential downpours turned the Blanco River into raging floodwaters that swamped area roads and ripped houses from foundations, Hays County authorities fielded hundreds of distress calls. Texas Game Wardens were there, with the training and specialized equipment that helped get the job done.

From a thermal imaging unit to side scan sonar, high-tech specialized gear is more critical than ever to a game warden’s job in the field. Night vision gear, digital radios, and body cameras are just a few of the items needed by game wardens across the state. That’s why a group of dedicated citizens is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), the official nonprofit funding partner of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), on a new program called Gear Up for Game Wardens.

Gear Up for Game Wardens is raising private funds to ensure that Texas’ 550 game wardens have access to specialized equipment beyond their standard issue gear. While the state provides the basic necessities for wardens to do their jobs, there is still a critical need for additional equipment. With private support, Gear Up for Game Wardens will provide specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need to maintain safety and ensure the highest level of service for the people of Texas. A citizen-led Leadership Committee is supporting these efforts.

“Texas Game Wardens played an important role as first responders in rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey, and specialty gear no doubt saved lives,” said Dan Flournoy, chair of the Gear Up for Game Wardens Leadership Committee. “Along with their duty during natural disasters, Texas Game Wardens also protect the natural resource associated with hunting, fishing, hiking and birdwatching and provide a safe environment for people participating in those activities. By supporting Gear Up for Game Wardens, future generations will be able to continue Texas’ proud outdoor Texas heritage.”

The Gear Up for Game Wardens website features the specialty equipment needs of eight law enforcement regions across Texas and the statewide Special Operations Unit. Two of those regions cover the Texas Hill Country. Region 5 covers 35,000 acres, including San Antonio and the majority of the Hill Country west of San Antonio and Austin. There are more deer leases in this region than any part of Texas.

Region 7 covers Austin and the popular recreational waters of the Colorado and Brazos rivers, as well as the Highland Lakes. Potential donors can target their dollars to game wardens in their own backyard, or to those who watch over the waters where they fish and play, or the lands where they have a deer lease.

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

From helping to outfit a new K-9 unit to providing gear for the underwater search and recovery team and upgrading field communications by providing digital radios, citizens who care about the work of Texas Game Wardens can get directly involved in helping them. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go to the Gear Up for Game Wardens effort.

“We’re excited at the prospect of advancing the capabilities of Texas Game Wardens across the state,” said Kelly R. Thompson, chair of TPWF’s board of trustees. “We hope every outdoor-loving Texan will support this effort by visiting the Gear Up for Game Wardens website to make a donation.”

About Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation 

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Since 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has raised more than $170 million in private philanthropy to ensure that all Texans, today and in the future, can enjoy the wild things and wild places of Texas. You can help by becoming a member. JOIN NOW.