At the Nov. 5 Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith recognized Game Warden Benny G. Richards Jr. as this year’s recipient of the Shikar-Safari International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award. The award is presented annually by the worldwide conservation organization to one wildlife law enforcement officer in each state.
Richards has served with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for 20 years and is currently stationed in Hunt County in northeast Texas. He consistently leads his district and region and this year alone has filed more than 130 cases, 30,000 miles patrolled and 200 boat hours logged.
Richards is known as “the Game Warden’s Game Warden,” according to TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Craig Hunter, because of his commitment to his fellow wardens and his community.
In addition to writing game warden stories for local newspapers and leading youth hunts, Richards also works with other game wardens and landowners to preserve the local community. Just this last year, Richards helped local landowners and game wardens clear Hunt County’s Brushy Creek area of rampant ATV trespassers.
Last October, Richards proved instrumental in resolving an Operation Game Thief case. Just after stepping of a commercial plane returning from his vacation, Richards received the OGT call. He went home, got dressed, and then went to work. By the time the sun came up, Richards had apprehended five suspects and recovered a dead deer that was shot illegally at night and left in a dry creek bed to waste.
Another of Richards’ accomplishments is on display throughout the state. It was his idea to use the phrase “The Eyes of Texas are upon YOU” in OGT billboards, which line highways all over Texas.
This marks the 36th year this award has been presented to a Texas game warden.