CAMERON COUNTY, Texas – An 18-year-old was arrested earlier this week after allegedly hunting and killing an alligator at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, according to a report from Valley Central.
Jesus Rios was arrested on March 12 for hunting without landowner consent and hunting without a license after a witness reported seeing Rios dragging an alligator out of the marshland toward his vehicle, according to The Monitor.
The witness called the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Thief Hotline and “within two hours, Texas Game Wardens Cody Levy and Dillon Eizember used that critical information to find the suspect’s residence,” a spokesperson told The Monitor.
The spokesperson said Rios was located at a nearby residence and admitted to baiting and killing the alligator at the refuge.
According to Valley Central, Rios was skinning the alligator at the residence.
“At the scene, a cooler with an alligator head, two alligator gar, fishing gear and a .22 caliber single shot rifle were found,” according to a probable cause affidavit from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Rios said he hooked the alligator at the refuge and killed it with a rifle.
His bond was set at $1,000. Cameron County jail records do not show Rios as a current inmate.
In Texas, it’s legal to hunt alligators only during the open season — April 1 - June 30. Hunters must have a license, and a special permit is required to hunt in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1946 and is the largest protected area of natural habitat in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
If you see any illegal hunting activity call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263).