With the help of Facebook posts, Texas game wardens tracked down and arrested two men who killed an 11-foot alligator. The two Killeen men were fishing for catfish on the Lampasas River when an alligator got hooked on one of their fishing lines, and they killed it.
Bradley Gillis and James Haff called a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hotline to inform them that they had killed the massive gator, but did so anonymously. Game wardens were then able to find the carcass, but they did not know who the men were.
The game wardens followed up on the case using information from Facebook postings by the men. One of the posts went viral, attracting information across the state, and led to further tips from the public.
Although alligators can be hunted in Texas, the person must meet three criteria to legally kill an alligator:
- Have a license
- Have the permission of adjacent landowners
- Purchase a tag once he or she has harvested the alligator
Since Gillis and Haff did not fulfill any of these criteria, the game wardens arrested them on misdemeanor charges for “taking wildlife resources without landowner consent.” The men were booked into the Bell County Jail with bonds set at $7,500 for each man.
Although alligators can be a threat to humans and animals, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department claim that the creatures had been observed for years in the area of the river around Stillhouse Hollow Lake without any reports of dangerous interactions with people or livestock.
Public commentary on the case on Facebook varied from those who thought the men had no choice but to kill the gator to those who considered them egregious violators of Texas wildlife law.