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Gear Up for Game Wardens Update April 2024

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program has raised more than $1.4 million since the program launched in 2017. Thanks to you, Texas Game Wardens are better equipped to meet the needs of Texans, especially in times of natural disasters like the recent hurricane that tore through South Texas.

To date, more than one thousand donations have been made from all corners of the state. As a result, specialty equipment and gear has been purchased and deployed across all eight game warden regions in Texas. Specialty gear provided by the program that is now being used by Texas Game Wardens includes search and rescue (SAR) drones, SAR inflatable boats, side scan sonar units, water rescue dry suits, night vision and thermal imaging units, ATVs, UTVs and specialized K-9 units.

  Texas Game Wardens Ready for Hurricane Hanna  

When Hurricane Hanna made landfall on Padre Island on July 25, Texas Game Wardens were at the ready. They deployed swift water boats, shallow water boats and unmanned aircraft systems to support Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend communities affected by Hurricane Hanna. Unmanned aircraft systems provided images documenting hurricane damage to the Damage Assessment Task Force of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, enabling state officials to make quick decisions on where to target their efforts. Texas Game Wardens also assisted stricken Texans trapped by floodwaters, rescuing 12 people, and evacuating 36 others, along with 10 pets. Thanks to generous support from Texans through the Gear Up for Game Wardens program, our game wardens are better equipped to help Texans in their greatest hour of need.


  Meet Texas Game Warden Kevin Winters  

Kevin Winters has dreamed of becoming a Texas Game Warden since he first met a game warden when he was a schoolkid.

"I was interested in law enforcement and knew about police officers and sheriff’s deputies, but I didn’t really know about game wardens," he said. "He was so friendly, and I was very impressed with his uniform, especially his cowboy hat. I knew at that moment that’s what I wanted to do when I got older."

Kevin did his homework and learned he would need to pursue a bachelor’s degree to even think about becoming a Texas Game Warden. After a years-long journey that led to a college degree and law enforcement experience, Kevin finally realized his dream of becoming a Texas Game Warden. And then another opportunity presented itself: a chance to apply to be a member of the Texas Game Warden K-9 Unit.

"I applied and was thrilled to be selected," he said. "My K-9 partner and I will be supporting Texas Game Wardens all over the state."

Read more about Kevin’s journey to become a Texas Game Warden.

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  Help us Replace Retiring K-9s  

Ruger is one of the original K-9 Texas Game Wardens who worked hard every day doing the job he loves. Ruger and his human partner Captain Christy Vales went on hundreds of missions together, from catching poachers to rescuing lost children, locating firearms used during poaching cases and homicides, and responding to natural disasters. 

Ruger retired from his physically demanding career in June, and retirement is now looming for the rest of the original K-9 team that started back in 2013. Replacing each dog is an investment that can cost up to $6,000 per K-9, and another $4,000 for the specialty gear each dog needs.

TPWF is launching an effort to raise the dollars needed so that the dogs can be retired and replaced on a schedule that will allow for continuity within the K-9 Unit.

Our fundraising goal is $70,000 to replace 7 K-9s over the next three years.

So far, close to $34,000 has been raised and another $10,000 has been pledged. Please help us raise the necessary funds to keep our Texas Game Warden K-9 Unit strong.



  WWNBT Podcast with Randy Risher and Vence Petrenella  

Gear Up for Game Wardens is the brainchild of two Texans who love the outdoors and appreciate what Texas Game Wardens do every day. Randy Risher and Vence Petrenella came to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) with an idea of how people could support the game wardens in their own backyard. The rest, as they say, is history. Listen in on our latest podcast to hear the back story of Gear Up for Game Wardens.


  Amazing Rescue by a Texas Game Warden  

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! The Houston Chronicle recently published the amazing story of Texas Game Warden Ben Bailey rescuing a little girl who was drifting in the dangerous open waters of Lavaca Bay on an inner tube.

Read More

  Fundraising Events Benefit Operation Game Thief  

Operation Game Thief has been supporting Texas Game Wardens for decades by providing rewards for tips leading to the arrest and prosecution of poachers. A series of Clay Stoppers Shootout fundraising events are scheduled around the state this fall.

Find out more and register.

Learn More



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