Game wardens from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department worked in concert with federal investigators to track down the individuals who illegally killed a bottlenose dolphin in Cow Bayou. Dolphins are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so it is a federal offense to kill one.
This crime took place on July 26, 2014. It first came to light when a fisherman notified Texas game wardens about a dead dolphin in the bayou, and investigators started hunting down the culprits. Given the seriousness of this crime, the game wardens worked closely with federal investigators from the following agencies:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement
- US Coast Guard Investigative Service
The investigators were able to identify the perpetrators: two brothers from Bridge City. They discovered that the two men shot at the animals with a compound bow and succeeded in hitting one of the animals. While it was initially able to swim away, the creature was mortally wounded and died soon afterwards.
Cade Moseley fired the fatal shot with a compound bow while his brother Cory Moseley missed. Both men pleaded guilty to this crime on February 17, 2015. They face up to a year in federal prison and a fine of $20,000.
Wildlife agents and personnel from SeaWorld San Antonio succeeded in rescuing the other dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins can live to be more than 50 years old, so the loss of one in its prime is tragic. These animals are vulnerable to a range of threats including injury and death from the fishing industry, exposure to toxins, and disease outbreaks.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act regulations allow the personnel of any other federal agency to enforce the act, so investigators are able to cast a wide net when such wildlife crimes have taken place.