AUSTIN – Texas game wardens patrolled more than 2,500 hours throughout the busy Labor Day holiday ensuring boaters and anglers enjoyed a relaxing wrapup to their summer.
“With last year’s sharp increase in water-related tourism and accidents, our agency took every precaution available to ensure the safety of all visitors on the water and in our parks,” said Cody Jones, assistant commander for Marine Enforcement for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “We had 354 Texas game wardens on patrol and they made contact with at least 3,770 vessels on the water confirming everyone aboard was equipped with life vests, children were supervised, and boats followed state law.”
For those who did not follow the law, 13 arrests were made, along with 782 citations and warnings – up a hundred from last year. Charges included several incidents of boating or driving while intoxicated.
The ramp-up in patrols partnered with boater education outreach programs led to the biggest success of the weekend: a 43% decrease in boating-related accidents and a 50% decrease in open water drownings since last year.
“For me, the numbers are an indicator that what we are doing is working,” said Jones. “Continuing to partner in communities across Texas, educating boaters while also supporting our wardens in the field with state-of-the-art equipment, new technology, and sophisticated training all pushes us to our goal of zero fatalities and zero boating accidents. Until then, we will remain vigilant.”