Game warden from Ellis County to be featured on Animal Planet TV show tonight

Texas Game Warden Jeff Powell is one several game wardens who will be featured on the new Animal Planet television show “Lone Star Law.”

The show will air its first episode on the Animal Planet channel at 9 p.m. Thursday. Powell has been a game warden for the past 13 years and is based in Ellis County.

“Lone Star Law” tells the stories of the men and women who look out for more than a quarter-million squares miles of deserts, lakes, piney woods, bayous, plains and coast across the state, according to a press release from the Discovery Channel. Texas Game Wardens encounter many dangerous situations that impact residents and animals. Some of these situations include investigating large-scale poaching cases, saving people from flash floods, disrupting illegal smuggling operations along the Gulf of Mexico and rescuing injured wildlife.

“A lot of these warden shows have been really popular for the last few years and they have been wanting to do it with us for quite a few years. The department has been a little hesitant. It is not a reality show. They don’t tell us how to act. It is not scripted or anything. It is like an episode of ‘Cops.’ They go on patrol with us,” Powell said. “They started filming back about a year ago in May. We have 13 episodes coming up. It is not about me. It is about game wardens across the state. We have got 500 game wardens in the state and there are quite a few that they are working with. They have had two or three camera crews running throughout our water safety season, our fishing season and our hunting season. It kind of (shows) what game wardens do and shows how diverse our job is in protecting our natural resources.”

Powell said he would be featured in the first episode, which will show an investigation he conducted on the illegal hunting of alligator by a Red Oak resident. The alligator, killed on the Trinity River, was approximately 10 feet long and weighed more than 100 pounds.

Powell said a lot of times people poaching wildlife because they’re looking for a trophy and because they’re looking for a thrill. The investigation into this case was just standard police work, he said.

“We patrol and make sure that people are not doing anything illegal. There are open seasons for them (alligators). This was not an open season for them. He was on a piece of property that he did not have permission to be on. He denied it and in the end he tried to claim self-defense,” Powell said. “A lot of times, when we don’t catch them red-handed, we get word that they poached it and we investigate it. With enough evidence, we can seize it.”

Powell said the alligator was probably killed six months prior to the start of the investigation. The person involved with the poaching offense was charged with four class C misdemeanors, which included hunting an alligator in closed season, hunting an alligator at night, failure to document alligator, illegal means and method and $900 in civil restitution to the state. Those charges have been resolved with the suspect spending 13 days in jail, Powell said.

The suspect is still facing a class A misdemeanor of hunting without a landowner’s consent. That charge is still pending, he said.

Powell said the experience of having a camera crew with him documenting his job is something he won’t forget.

“It was a different animal. We are used to going on patrol and doing it (our job). When you have got a camera crew and a microphone, and they are following you, it can be different and something that you have got to get used to. Being professionals, they just shadowed us and held back. They can’t stop and ask somebody to move over for a better angle. It is not that. It is real life,” Powell said. “They asked some of the ones that were interested in doing it. I was kind of hesitant about it because I am kind of laid back, and not wanting to draw attention to myself. They kind of got wind of the search warrant on this case that I was doing and they said, ‘Do you mind if we film it with ya?’ I said no, and from there it kind of snowballed and turned into other cases and they worked with me on and off.”

Powell said he would be featured in a total of five episodes for the first season. One of his other cases expected to be shown involves the Waxahachie and Sardis areas of Ellis County.

“We are state police officers and we enforce all state laws. We mostly work on hunting and fishing laws. We patrol lakes. We make sure that everyone has their hunting and fishing licenses. The main thing is we are there to protect our natural resources. Of course, hunting is a billion-dollar business. Texas is one of the biggest hunting states,” Powell said. “We have got 500 game wardens in the state and we are pretty an elite group. [The series] shows the public and the nation what game wardens do. It shows what we do on a day-to-day basis.”

Follow Andrew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at andrew.branca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451.