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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 reached a $2 million fundraising milestone, thanks to a recent fundraiser in Beaumont that brought in more than $100,000.

Through private donations, Gear Up for Game Wardens provides specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need to maintain safety and ensure the highest level of service for the people of Texas. While the state provides the basic necessities for game wardens to do their jobs, there is still a critical need for additional specialized equipment.

I've been amazed at the generosity and the compassion of our donors,” said Randy Risher, who is chair of the Gear Up for Game Wardens Leadership Council, and also serves as a trustee on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Board of Directors. “The recent Beaumont fundraiser coordinated by the Saltwater Anglers League of Texas and Courville’s Catering & Events exemplifies the spirit of giving to Texas Game Wardens who stand ready to serve the people of Texas every single day."

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  Gear Up Provides the Latest Drone Technology for Texas Game Wardens  

Through the generosity of donors, Gear Up for Game Wardens has provided specialty gear and equipment for game wardens across Texas, including ATVs, airboats, and funding to replace retiring K-9s. Helping Texas Game Wardens keep up with the latest drone technology is another way Gear Up for Game Wardens is helping to protect the people of Texas. The new Autel Evo 2, which is a thermal drone that is smaller than previous models, can detect heat signals for night missions, and has a longer battery life.

“This latest model is a foldable drone that will fit in a backpack if a game warden needs to hike in for a mission,” said Lt. Game Warden Matthew Bridgefarmer, who coordinates the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  “The thermal camera has eight times the magnification, and the battery allows for another 15 minutes of flying time, which can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful mission."

The new model is about half the cost of previous versions, which means dollars raised through Gear Up for Game Wardens can provide additional drones for more areas of Texas.

“The fact that this equipment is being provided through private donations is just phenomenal,” said Bridgefarmer. “It's extremely humbling to realize that there are folks that support our core mission of conservation law enforcement and protecting the people of the state of Texas so much that they're willing to open up their wallets. We all appreciate it and it helps stoke that internal fire that keeps us going."

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  Meet Texas Game Warden Raj Ataya  

Raj Ataya began his career as a Texas Game Warden a little later than most.

“In my late thirties, I decided I wanted to be a game warden,” said Ataya. “I applied to become a Texas Game Warden cadet and graduated from the Game Warden Training Center in 2017. My first duty station was in Orange County, which is very close to home. I've been here ever since."

Ataya loves just about everything about his job, especially his duties related to water safety.

“I really like being on the water, and I enjoy operating all the different types of vessels that we have. I also really enjoy being connected to the local community here. That’s a big priority for Texas Game Wardens."

Ataya is very appreciative of the support Texas Game Wardens receive from local citizens and businesses through TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program. A recent fundraiser raised more than $100,000 that was put to use immediately. Gear Up funds were used to purchase a Minn Kota Raptor, which allows Ataya to drop an anchor when he ties on to another boat for a law enforcement check.

I’ve used it more than 50 times in the last couple of months. It anchors both boats in place so we don’t have to worry about drifting while we are making a check. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment that helps us do our jobs safely."

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  Become a Friend of Texas Game Wardens Today!  

Sustaining the Gear Up for Game Wardens program ensures TPWF can manage the program and purchase the specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need. Becoming a Friend of Texas Game Wardens helps us continue our work to enhance the capabilities of the best-trained corps of conservation officers in the nation. Become a Friend today and see the exclusive items you will receive so you can show your support of our Texas Game Wardens. 

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  Save the Date: Auction Benefiting Gear Up Operations  

Save the date for an upcoming online auction that will help sustain the Gear Up for Game Wardens program! The auction will be held Sept. 21-23, and we’re gathering up some amazing auction items that are truly one-of-a-kind! From all the latest gear you might need for your next outdoor adventure, to carefully curated trips guided by Texas Game Wardens, you’re sure to find something you can’t live without. And you can feel good knowing that the auction proceeds support TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program.


  Watch our latest Gear Up for Game Wardens video!  

We’re just thrilled to pass the $2 million fundraising milestone for Gear Up for Game Wardens and are grateful for every single donation that helped get us there. We celebrated this accomplishment with a new video featuring Gear Up Program Manager Austin Taylor, Texas Game Warden Col. Chad Jones, and Gear Up’s Leadership Council Chair Randy Risher.




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