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When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Or, How Killing Big Gator Got Dallas Attorney In Trouble

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It was mighty big news last month when Dallas attorney Levi McCathern shot and killed that 880-pound, 14-foot-long alligator along the Trinity River down in Leon County -- big enough that it made CNN, matter of fact. Said the proud lawyer for the Dallas Cowboys, "We got a lot of the meat and the hide, and all is at the taxidermy shop. We'll probably mount it." Oh, but it'll cost him -- could be anywhere from $4,000 to a year in jail, among the punishments for taking wildlife on private property.

That's according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which just sent word that yesterday, arrest warrants were issued for McCathern and his three guides from Crockett after investigators discovered they shot the gator -- which, says TPWD, is really 13-foot-1-inch -- on private property back on June 11. The release also says that the property owner "said a second, smaller 'gator was taken on his property the day before." I asked Mike Cox, spokesman for the department, when this interesting news short turned into an investigation. Said he: "It turned into an investigation when the landowner contacted game wardens and said he believed someone had been hunting alligators on his property without his permission."

The release says McCathern was expected to turn himself in to the Leon County Sheriff's Department today; Leon County officials won't say if he did, Cox doesn't know if he did, and no one's picking up the phone at McCathern's law office on Rawlins. But CNN noted back in late June that "McCathern and his guide, Steve Barclay, spent two days stalking the animal down the river. He killed it with one shot." I asked Cox, is it possible that McCathern just ended up on private property by accident?

"Obviously, that's up to the legal system," he said. "But our officers found there was enough evidence to file charges."

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