Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeremy Starks has been in south Texas recently scouting at Lake Falcon for the Elite Series event there in March. However, before he even launched his boat Saturday, he came upon a disturbing scene near a launch ramp involving several horses that appeared to be weak and starving.
He noted a number of horses were already dead while others looked despondent. He walked around the area and saw two game wardens parked nearby, but he was unable to communicate with them before they drove away. He later contacted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and officials he spoke with referred him to the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office, which dispatched a deputy who had to euthanize some of the animals.
Eventually, the landowner was contacted and some hay was brought to the horses, but Starks was unsure how the matter was being dealt with going forward.
Mike Cox, a spokesperson for the TPWD, told BassFan today he was aware of the scene Starks encountered and that the matter is now being handled by Zapata County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our primary function is to enforce laws that involve game and fish,” he said. “Cruelty to animals and that sort of thing is a crime that’s most likely to be worked by a sheriff’s office.”
Below is Starks’ account of what he witnessed and the video he took. He has posted it to his Facebook page as well.
I shot this video while fishing at Falcon Lake yesterday. I was driving to an out-of-the-way ramp and the road turned through a fenced area containing numerous horses. I was appalled to see the condition of these poor animals. They were emaciated beyond belief and had no food available.
It gets much worse. I couldn't believe what I was seeing – there were dead horses lying all around the launch ramp area. Then I spotted the horse in the video. He was so weakened from starvation that he no longer had the strength to get up. Unfortunately, as I surveyed the area I noticed that there were more that could no longer stand. They were looking at me as if to ask for help.
Horses were lying in the sun, unable to help themselves, and dying before my eyes. The story now takes a more sickening turn. As I arrived at the ramp, there were two Game Wardens parked literally feet from dead and dying horses, yet they had done absolutely nothing to help. I tried to catch them as they were leaving but was unable to.
Unsure of whom to call, I started with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. I contacted the supervisor of the two officers and was told that it wasn't their job. The captain said the horses were dying from starvation most likely because of the drought. I explained that there were cattle in the fenced area immediately adjacent to the horses that were fat and healthy and had plenty of food. He was unconcerned.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I then took it further up the chain and spoke with commander Teague. He was understanding and he seemed much more concerned about the situation. He advised me to call the Sheriff. I then called the Zapata Co. Sheriff’s Department and a deputy came to humanely put down some of the animals that were beyond saving. The owner was contacted and he brought some hay for the short term. The fate of these poor horses is yet to be determined.
I am still in shock that two officers from the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission ignored these suffering animals. These are the same officers that would gladly write any one of us a fine for not having a light on your boat or a small fish over your limit. If you believe that these horses deserved the respect of these officers, then please share this with everyone you know. Contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission at (800) 792-1112 and demand an explanation.