A Temple-based helicopter operator who contracts to kill feral hogs from the air was arrested in Milam County on Saturday after some landowners complained to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Richard Potts, owner of Paradise Helicopter, was released from the Milam County Jail on Sunday on a $22,000 bond.
Potts is charged with three violations of the state Aerial Wildlife and Exotic Animal Management permit law and two counts of criminal trespass.
Milam County authorities received “multiple complaints from multiple landowners” of people trespassing on properties while hunting from a helicopter, said Lt. Billy Champlin of the TPWD office in Temple.
Violation of the aerial-hunting permit is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in prison. Criminal trespass is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.
Potts said he has permission from several landowners in Milam, Bell, Falls and Coryell counties to shoot feral hogs over about 50,000 acres of land.
“A group of farmers have come together and put money in the pot to pay for an hour or two (of helicopter time) every week,” Potts said.
“We work really, really hard” to comply with permit restrictions, he said. “Sometimes mistakes are made.”
People who pay to ride with Potts and kill or trap feral hogs from the helicopter are not hunters, he said, but are being trained for the Aerial Capture, Eradication and Tagging of Animals program under the U.S. Department of Interior.
The TPWD investigation into the Milam County complaints is continuing, Champlin said.