Hunter, Guides Charged in Gator Killing

A Dallas man and three fishing and hunting guides from Crockett have been charged with taking wildlife on private property without the landowner’s permission, according to state regulators.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launched an investigation the day after NBC 5 aired a report on how a hunter killed a giant alligator in the Trinity River.

Named in arrest warrants filed Tuesday were 42-year-old Dallas attorney Levi McCathern, the hunter who allegedly killed the alligator, and the three guides, Steve Barclay, 47; Sam Lovell, 56; and Ryan Burton, 21.

Barclay and Lovell operate a guide business called the Gar Guys.

McCathern's attorney, George Milner, called the case "completely stupid."

"Certainly a lawyer from Dallas who's hired two professional guides couldn't know whose lands he's on, whether they had permission," he said. "He would have to assume that the guides had obtained permission for them to be exactly where they were, but absent him crossing over some large fence that said, 'No trespassing,' which did no occur here."

In June, McCathern told NBC 5 he had special permission from a private property owner to go on the hunt after the behemoth reptile gobbled up many of the rancher's cattle.

Game wardens began the investigation when a man who owns land on the Trinity River in Leon County reported that a large alligator had been killed on his property without his consent on June 11. He also said a second, smaller gator was taken on his property the day before.

As part of their investigation, game wardens seized a 13-foot-1-inch alligator and an 8-foot-8-inch alligator.

Milner said his client is innocent and suggested he performed a public service by taking out a 900-pound predator.

"This alligator could swallow a grown man whole in one bite," he said.

"I'm sorry, that may be a majestic creature to some people's minds, but that's a man-eater," Milner said.

Barclay and Burton turned themselves in Wednesday to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

Milner said McCathern is on a family vacation in California this week and will turn himself in next week.

Taking wildlife on private property without the land owner’s consent is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, confinement in jail up to one year or both.

In addition, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will seek restitution for the two alligators, an amount likely to exceed $5,000.

NBC DFW's Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

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