Update: This story has been altered to protect the privacy of a neighbor.
People often say, “Don’t read the comments.” But last week, in the Casa View Neighborhood Facebook group, reading the comments of a hawk-oriented post led to a sad but instructive tale of raptor justice.
Last Monday, a resident posted about a seeing a neighbor use a pellet gun to shoot a hawk out a tree in his backyard and take the carcass in his house.
East Dallas loves its hawks, and the comments exploded with angry denouncements and people asking her to call the authorities. Hunting birds of prey, which are not migratory, is illegal in Texas, as is firing a gun in your back yard within the city limits.
Bruce Lamphier, an avid hunter who has lived in the Casa View area his entire life, stepped up to find justice for the bird. “Very, very uncool,” he said.
He called all three game wardens for Dallas County, letting them know what he read and where it happened. Bruce loves to hunt, but knows the rules well, and this was not legal. Most areas do not have enough predators, he said, and taking down a hawk out in nature only makes things worse.
Martin Oviedo, one of the game wardens in Dallas called him back. Oviedo said he can’t comment on the case other than to say he did make contact with the shooter in question, retrieved the bird carcass and issued citations.
This sort of thing happens often, Oviedo said, especially with people who raise chickens, which are easy pickings for birds of prey. They see a bird of prey and feel threatened, so they shoot to kill.
Oviedo says that shooting a bird of prey is a Class C Misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of $25-$500. In addition, the shooter will owe civil restitution, which is a fee to pay the state of Texas for the loss of wildlife. Every animal that is killed or caught illegally requires civil restitution, whether it is because the person doesn’t have a hunting or fishing license, is using an illegal gun or is hunting a species that can’t be hunted. Each animal has its own fee.
Lamphier hopes that his small contribution to bring justice to a rogue hunter will preserve future bird life. “Maybe the next moron will think, ‘Oh wow, people are watching. I better not do that,’ ” he said.
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