Valley Farmers Claim Dove Hunters Trespassing Levees, Private Property

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SAN JUAN – Local farmers are claiming dove hunters are trespassing onto private property to reach levees.

Rio Grande Valley farmer Fred Schuster said his property is adjacent to the levees. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the problem isn't new. The levees are generally surrounded by brush and water, ideal places to find doves.

"They go out into the fields to pick up birds, walks across crops and stuff," said Schuster. "I've spent years asking people not to trespass."

The International Boundary and Water Commission owns and manages the levees.

IBWC agents took CHANNEL 5 NEWS to a location in North Progresso where we found dozens of shotgun shells and clipped bird wings.

Guadalupe Luna lives in a colonia just south of the Progreso levee. He's blind and spends most of his days in front of his home enjoying the Valley weather.

"It sounds like they hit the roof," said Luna. "It's never hit me, and I don't really know if it would hurt."

In the following statement, IBWC public affairs officer Lori Kuczmanski said there are stiff penalties for violators:

"It is trespassing if a person doesn't have permission from the landowner and/or IBWC. The penalty for hunting without landowners' consent is a Class A misdemeanor and a fine of $10,000 and/or jail time, OR hunting in a closed season-No jail time, fine of $25-500, but the judge usually imposes the max fine of $500."

Schuster is warning hunters to respect his property and said it could save them from a potential accident.

"Sometimes I've seen cars and pickups roll over off the levees," said Schuster.

Only IBWC personnel, law enforcement and adjacent property owners have access to the levees.

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