OGT’s Portable Wall of Shame Exhibit travels around the state to provide visual examples of problems faced by Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Wardens. The Warden is Leann Winkenworder.
By Danny Shaw, OGT Executive Director
Operation Game Thief is Texas’ Wildlife Crime-Stoppers Program which began in 1981, offering rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime.
The program began as a result of laws passed by the 67th Legislature to help curtail poaching and is a function of the Law Enforcement division of The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
OGT is highly successful, having been responsible for the payment of over $195,000 in rewards thus far. The program is privately funded, meaning it is dependent on financial support from the public through the purchase of OGT merchandise and memberships, donations, sponsorships, and gifts.
The program is designed to pay rewards for confidential information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals and organizations for the violation of natural resource laws. OGT has enjoyed tremendous public participation in reporting potential violations. In the past six years there have been 8,130 calls for an average of 1,626 each year or almost five per day.
“CCA and its passionate members have been among our strongest partners.” —Danny Shaw
Other important facets of our program are outreach and education, financial support to families of game wardens lost in the line of duty, and purchase of equipment not funded by the Law Enforcement operating budget.
Our symbiotic relationship with Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens has developed a direct link for the public to engage in action to protect our diverse resources.
The ongoing and increasing profit of individuals and criminal organizations is causing great harm to our resources. The illegal taking and trafficking of shark fins, red snapper and oysters are just a few examples.
A recent important case was solved in Galveston County. Oysters were being harvested from an area considered closed. These shellfish were deemed unfit for human consumption, and had the violators not been caught, the oysters very likely would have found their way into a market for sale.
OGT is committed to leading and partnering to protect our unmatched natural and cultural resources. CCA and its passionate members have been among our strongest partners. Saltwater fishing sustains and improves our quality of life in ways that are unattainable in most other places in the world.
We will continue to operate and focus on our core values of confidentiality, service and integrity. We pledge to use CCA’s support of our program in an effective and transparent manner.
We believe conservation is a team sport. Please help us to protect our valuable resources by going to ogttx.org to make a gift or donation. We encourage you to attend one of our fundraising events which are posted on our website. As a member of our team, you can also report a violation on our confidential tip line at 800-792-GAME. Operation Game Thief is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
CCA has provided strong support in the form of equipment and financial aid since OGT began. In fact, CCA has funded over $750,000 of equipment to coastal game wardens. These funds have been used to purchase boats, 4-wheelers, night vision, video recorders, body cameras, range finders, sonar units, navigation equipment, life jackets, generators and airboat repairs to name a few.
“Our CCA Board takes great pride in being able to help provide state-of-the-art equipment to our coastal game wardens. This equipment helps level the playing field against the perpetrators to protect our coastal resources,” said Robby Byers, Executive Director of CCA Texas. “Operation Game Thief (OGT) provides a great service to all Texans. They are the tip of the spear in helping to enforce our laws and educate the general public on how to be good stewards of Texas. We are very proud to be one of their partners.”
Assistance to Game Warden families from Operation Game Thief
A Game Warden is officially a peace officer, tasked with duty whether on city streets or in a marsh, bay or forest environment. As part of their job description, Wardens often deal with armed individuals and work in difficult conditions. A major purpose of Operation Game Thief is to provide immediate aid to families of Wardens who are lost in the line of duty. OGT aid continues with follow up programs.
Ronnie Luster, CCA Liaison “Since the inception of the Texas Game Wardens in 1919, there have been 19 fatalities. Four were killed by poachers, including Warden Justin Hurst in 2007. Others were on duty in auto accidents, drownings or in one case, a heart attack. This included my good friend Warden Jim Birmingham in Port O’Connor.”
The people behind the program Harry Tennison: Tennison was the founder of OGT and served as its first Chairman. Early on, he paid rewards for poaching tips out of his own pocket.
Gib Lewis: Gib has been on the OGT Board for over 30 years.
Joe McBride “Joe McBride is the heart and soul of OGT. When a need arises, Joe is the first person to step forward, and he is there till the need is filled.” – Danny Shaw
The current Chairman of the OGT board is Jimmy Hasslocher, San Antonio. Vice Chairman is Jeff Birmingham, Houston. Joe McBride is Chairman Emeritus, Austin.
Texas Conservation Hall of Fame Inductee
The Operation Game Thief program was inducted into the Texas Conservation Hall of Fame in April, 2017. The program was recognized for supporting Texas Game Wardens for more than 35 years.
Operation Game Thief encourages public participation.
Sporting Clays events, 2022
Sporting Clays events hosted by OGT and CCA provide hundreds of Texas shotgunners an opportunity to compete, improve their shooting eyes and contribute funds to OGT projects. Austin, San Antonio and Houston are among the cities with annual events.
San Antonio Area Clay Stoppers Shootout
September 9, 7:30 AM – 2:00 PM
National Shooting Complex, 5931 Roft Rd, San Antonio, Texas. 100 clay target course, lunch, live auction and raffle.
Houston Area Clay Stoppers Shootout
September 23, 10:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Texas Premier – Promatic Training Center, 7311 TX-36, Sealy, Texas. 100 clay target course, lunch, live auction and raffle.
Further Information on the events can be found at the OGT website: ogttx.org
Austin, Houston and San Antonio will again host Sporting Clays events in 2023.