This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.
Up and down the Texas Gulf Coast, the state’s game wardens are on the water, looking for people fishing or hunting illegally. But as we’ve reported, they sometimes come across things like illegal chemical dumpsites and more says Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Tom Harvey.
“Game wardens encounter all kinds of things on their patrols, including a lot of illegal fishing, and this is a new threat we’re gearing up to be able to address,“ Harvey says.
That new threat is terrorism. One fear is that terrorists could try to smuggle radioactive material into the country by boat. The Port of Houston has for years had radiation detectors to scan cargo.
So now, besides guns and handcuffs, game wardens will have one more tool.
“We’ve acquired about a hundred devices that allow game wardens to detect radiological or nuclear emissions. These are little devices that can be worn on someone’s belt,” Harvey says.
They’re about the size of a cellphone and can help a warden determine if something suspicious is radioactive. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be connected to terrorism: radioactive materials used in the energy and medical industries can be illegally dumped.
Game wardens began training with the radiation detectors in January and completed a mock exercise to find radioactive packages along the coast.