September 26 – October 23, 2018
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers (CPO’s-previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] of the Law Enforcement Division of DGIF. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation.
Region I – Tidewater
CPOs Issue DUI in Portsmouth – On 9-22-18 at approximately 8:30pm, Virginia CPO’s Chris Smith and Mark Machen were on their way to the District 13 office at the end of their shift when they observed a gray Honda CR-V exiting the Interstate 264/W exit ramp onto Greenwood Drive in Portsmouth. The vehicle went through the stop sign at approximately 15mph, narrowly missing a white vehicle that swerved out of the way into the left lane and almost having to go over the median. Officers Smith and Machen followed the vehicle for a short distance over a set of railroad tracks and through a traffic light and observed it crossing the white line on the right shoulder, straddle the solid line on the left side, then crossing the right line again. They initiated a traffic stop just after the traffic light in the 4900 block of Greenwood Dr., and approached the vehicle from the passenger side. The driver handed Officer Machen an expired driver’s license and could not find his vehicle registration. The subject exited the vehicle and walked around to the passenger side to try and find his registration. He held on to the vehicle the entire time to help keep balance. He admitted to hitting a curb and blowing out his right front tire after leaving the ODU/VA Tech game in Norfolk, and someone else helped him change it. While showing the officers his tire in the trunk they could smell a heavy presence of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. Officer Machen conducted SFST’s, to which the subject performed poorly. He was also offered and given a PBT, (.20 BAC). He was placed under arrest and transported to Portsmouth Police HQ where he blew .18 BAC on the evidential breath test. A warrant was issued for First Offense DUI with an elevated BAC. He was turned over to the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office where he was photographed, booked, and later released on an unsecured bond.
Pamunkey River Contamination Investigation Complete – On 9/27/18, in the General District Court of King William County, Sr. CPO Bumgarner concluded an investigation relating to a commercial cat fisherman failing to check his gear and contaminating the Pamunkey River. This lengthy investigation began in March of 2017 and concluded in February of 2018. Upon presentation of the facts the subject was found guilty of 11 counts of contaminating or obstructing state waters. Additionally he was found guilty of 9 other counts, (3) failing to mark gear, (3) failing to check gear, and (3) failing to remove gear when it is no longer intended to be used. The subject was sentenced to pay $4500 in fines related to the unmarked gear with $1800 suspended for a total of $2700. Additionally he was sentenced to 30 days in jail on each count of obstructing or contaminating state waters with 28 days suspended on each count leaving 22 days of jail time to serve. All time and fines that were suspended are based on peace and good behavior for five years. The subject was also banned by the trial judge from the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers for the next five years. It should also be noted the subject has five prior convictions related to the abuse of DGIF permits and other game violations.
Trespassing Call Leads to More – On October 1st CPO Chris Smith received information from a landowner that someone was trespassing in a field adjacent to Cavalier WMA in Chesapeake. On the morning of the 2nd Officer Smith patrolled Cavalier WMA and noticed a person on the same path as the alleged trespasser and questioned him about the trespassing. The subject denied trespassing and stated that he killed a bear the previous day. After completing his calls for the service, Officer Smith stopped by the local bear check station to review check cards. There he found that the same subject from Cavalier WMA had just recently checked in an 85 pound bear. Officer Smith went to the subject’s house to find him in the process of cleaning the bear. The subject admitted to not having a bear tag when the bear was killed and decided to check it in after Officer Smith questioned him. The appropriate charges were filed by Officer Smith.
Creel Violations – In the early morning hours of October 6th CPO Wakefield was patrolling Suffolk for spotlighting activity. While traveling to a surveillance point, he stopped a driver suspected of DUI. Upon stopping the vehicle he learned that the operator was not alcohol impaired, but was tired from fishing on the Eastern Shore the previous night. Officer Wakefield continued to talk to the subject and learned that he had a cooler of fish in the bed of his truck. Upon inspecting the creel, Officer Wakefield found 12 illegal grey trout and 6 illegal speckled trout. The subject was issued summonses for the violations and the fish were donated to a nearby family.
Saturation Spotlight Patrol – On Saturday October 13, 2018, CPO’s R. Morris, J. Thomas, & D. Rabago worked a saturation spotlight patrol in Gloucester County. The officers worked an area of the county where numerous spotlighting complaints have come in. At approximately 0030 on Sunday, October 14, 2018 Officer Morris observed a vehicle actively spotlighting the agriculture fields on Elmington LN. He stopped the vehicle and identified the operator. Upon a consent search of the truck one cocked crossbow with 4 bolts and a Mag-lite flashlight were recovered as evidence. Appropriate charges were placed.
Tree Stand Incident – On Sunday October 7, District 15 CPOs responded to a report of a treestand incident in James City County with a serious injury. CPOs Adams, Joyce and Sergeant Hickman arrived to investigate the report and found that an elderly hunter was removing his ladder tree stand from the property and fell to the ground while climbing down the ladder after removing all of the safety straps between the stand and tree. The victim was helicoptered to a local hospital with serious pelvic injuries. The victim’s companion assisting him was given a safety lecture on scene about proper safe removal of ladder tree stands.
Stranded Boater on York River – On Sunday night October 7, District 15 CPOs responded to a call for assistance from a stranded boater in King William County on the York River. The boater was unfamiliar with the river and ran out of fuel upon trying to return to the boat ramp at Glass Island, stranding himself, his wife and their small child on the river. CPOs Adams, Nash and Sgt. Hickman responded from James City County and assisted the wife and child back to the ramp with the assistance of CPO Dobyns. The operator of the boat chose to stay with the boat until help arrived from friends in the morning.
Baiting in New Kent Co. – On October 16, CPO Krista Adams culminated a 3 week investigation into the baiting of deer by a hunter in New Kent County. The hunter had broadcast corn and acorns near his bow stand and had also deposited a mineral block nearby. Through the use of surveillance and several site visits, CPO Adams documented the maintenance and addition of bait at the site and was able to catch the suspect in the stand hunting over the bait. The subject was issued a summons for illegally hunting deer over a baited site.
CPO Brings Investigation Since April, to a Close – On Sunday October 14, CPO J. Hart was able to bring an investigation to a close that started back in April. This past spring turkey season while on patrol, Hart noticed muddy tracks on the hard surface road leaving a particular block of woods on several occasions. Hart thought he knew the owner and was pretty confident that he was not a hunter. Shortly afterwards he noticed posted signs placed around the property. Hart tracked down the landowner and asked him if he had leased his property. The owner said that he had not and he had no idea who had posted his land. By this time, spring turkey was over so Hart decided to wait until the fall and do some more investigating. In early September, Officer Hart initiated some foot patrols in the area and discovered 6 newly placed stands on the property all with fresh bait and a game camera on each. Officer Hart started conducting surveillance of the property and placed a camera of his own. In addition to the stands he also found where the suspects had left an ATV on the property for their own use while trespassing and hunting over bait. Hart was waiting in the woods opening morning of bow season, however no one showed. That following Thursday, Hart found evidence that the bait had been freshened up so he was confident they would be back. On Sunday afternoon the violators came to hunt. Officer Hart went in and found three suspects in separate stands. After brief interviews with each, they confessed to hunting over bait and trespassing. Charges are pending.
Region II – Southside
Decoy Operation Apprehends Violators – On September 29, 2018, District 24 CPOs Justin Rogers, Nick Sumner, Kevin Webb, and Sgt. Tim Dooley conducted a deer decoy operation in Cumberland County. The operation was focused on an area where there has been recurring complaints of illegal hunting activity. Shortly after dark, a vehicle approached and stopped in the highway using the headlights to illuminate the decoy. The vehicle was stopped and the driver identified as a 13-year old juvenile. The juvenile’s mother, and passenger in the vehicle, stated they were attending a youth hunt and she thought it would be a good opportunity to teach the juvenile to drive. The duo further admitted they had hunted all day and had not seen any deer so when they saw the decoy in the field they stopped to take pictures. The appropriate charges are pending.
The decoy operation continued and a short time later another vehicle stopped in the highway and used headlights and a light bar to illuminate the deer decoy. The vehicle was stopped and officers identified two adults and two juveniles who stated they had attended the same youth hunt as the first group. Just like the first group, they had not seen any deer and decided to shine the decoy on the way home. It was at this point that Sgt. Dooley realized the youth hunt they were referring to was the same one he had attended earlier that day where he gave a talk on firearm safety and hunting ethics.
Investigation Reveals Additional Hunting Over Bait Violations – On October 6, 2018, COPs Andrew Howald and Nicholas Belotte where checking a stand in Appomattox County which they had previously found to have been baited. They observed a suspect hunting over the bait in the stand with a crossbow. As they announced themselves and asked the hunter to come down from his stand, his cellphone began to ring. Based on his experience this indicated to Officer Howald that there probably was a second subject in the woods nearby. As Officer Howald removed a pistol from the suspect’s side and completed a pat down, he questioned the suspect about a second hunter in the woods. The suspect claimed that he was alone. Because the suspect was older, Officer Howald took a chance and said, “Where is your son hunting, and where is his stand?” The suspect pointed towards his sons stand in the distance. As they walked towards the stand, the suspect’s son exited the woods behind them carrying a bow. Officer Howald patted down the second suspect recovering a handgun, a pocket knife, and a second magazine for the pistol. After being advised of their rights, the father denied having knowledge of the bait and the son admitted to placing it out. When questioned about where he was hunting, the son said he was just walking towards his stand. Neither hunter had any type of hunting license. The bait was located on two different properties but the son claimed to have permission on the second property. Officer Belotte issued them summonses and told the suspects they would investigate the trespassing issue. After the suspects had left, both officers agreed that they did not believe the sons statements about where he was hunting. They back tracked the son from the area where they had first seen him. This led them to a third property where they located a ground blind, a camera and a multiple piles of corn, sweet feed, and pears. An examination of the camera revealed several videos of the son trespassing and baiting on multiple occasions. Additional charges are pending.
Illegal Bear Bait Bow Kill – On October 8, 2018, CPO Cory Harbour received information from Bedford County CPO Leslie Wright, on a possible bear kill in an area he had been monitoring in Campbell County. Officer Harbour arrived to the area quickly and actually met a hunter leaving the property with a bear. The hunter asked where the nearest check station was and Cory directed him to one after examining his license and the bear. Officer Harbour then conducted a search of the area where the bear was harvested and found a stand baited with dog food along with syrup bottles in the area. He continued to check the area finding evidence of where the bear and hunter had been near that stand. The hunter returned to the property claiming to look for his knife sheath while Officer Harbour was still checking the area and the hunter said the bear was killed at another stand, not the baited one. Cory then conducted a search of that area to verify the hunter’s description of the kill and there was no evidence to match the hunter’s description but instead evidence the second stand had not been hunted recently. Officer Harbour then confronted the hunter with all of the evidence he had found and explained that he did not really believe his description of the hunt. The hunter then admitted that he had put the dog food out to bait the bear in and killed the bear from the baited stand. Officer Harbour later placed appropriate charges.
Wanted Subject Found on Wildlife Management Area – On October 16, 2018, Senior CPO Gavin Fariss was on patrol at Briery Creek WMA in Prince Edward County when he noticed a vehicle parked in an unusual location. Fariss made contact and conducted a compliance check. When asked for identification, the male subject became noticeably nervous. Fariss ran both subjects through dispatch and learned the male had an outstanding warrant. The male was placed in custody and transported to the Prince Edward County magistrate’s office. Both subjects were issued summonses for failure to obtain proper access permits.
Hurricane Michael Rescue Efforts – On October 11, 2018, CPO Matthew Sandy was asked to assist the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office with vehicles and people being swept away by flood waters from Hurricane Michael. Officer Sandy traveled to Charlotte County with a patrol boat in tow. High winds, along with downed trees and power-lines, made it difficult to navigate to the calls for service. Officer Sandy assisted with an attempt to locate a report of a person stranded on the roadway because of high water. He and the local fire department could not locate anyone in that area. Officer Sandy then assisted with a swift water rescue where a truck had been swept away by the current and had left three males holding on to a tree. On the same day, Officer Sandy received a request to bring a Patrol Boat to Mt. Harmony Road to assist the State Police dive team in the recovery effort of a missing motorist that had been swept away by the heavy water flow left behind by Hurricane Michael. Officer Sandy requested Conservation Police Officer Gavin Fariss respond to the scene and to bring a smaller boat. Both officers assisted the divers and they also assisted with land searching. They did locate some items that belonged to the victim.
Region III – Southwest
Marijuana Plants Seized – On September 13, 2018 Virginia CPO Dylan Harding was given a tip by an anonymous citizen that there were numerous marijuana plants growing on an island in the Russell County section of the Clinch River. CPO Harding confirmed the presence of the plants via a foot patrol and with the aid of binoculars, as getting over to the island was improbable without a boat. CPO Harding contacted Sergeant James Hale, and Sgt. Hale coordinated a joint effort that included CPOs Dylan Harding, Daniel Ross, Joel Early, Corey Gardner and the Russell County Sheriff’s Office. With the aid of DGIF provided kayaks, Officers Gardner, Harding and Deputy Craig McGlothlin, were able to get to the location, remove the plants, transport the removed plants down river to a pre-planned extraction point. There were 18, 6 foot tall marijuana plants seized. According to RCSO, they had a street value of $3,000 a plant. The plants and investigation were given to the RCSO.
CPO Detects Possible Pollutant – On September 14, 2018 Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant James Hale noticed a milky substance flowing from a creek into McClure River in Dickenson County near Contura Mine #41. The McClure River is home to the Big Sandy Crawfish, which is a threatened or endangered species. Sgt. Hale contacted the Department of Mines, Mineral and Energy. Sgt. Hale and a DMME employee went to the creek and mine for further investigation. During the course of the initial investigation, it was determined that the mine was to shut down the water pumps that were putting the milky water into the McClure River until it could be determined if the water has a pollutant in it.
Citizen Information Leads to Several Major Charges – On Sunday, September 16, 2018, CPO Joel Early received information from a concerned citizen in the Saltville area of Smyth County. The caller provided information concerning an incident involving multiple deer taken by spotlight over the weekend in Smyth County. Officer Early was able to develop and identify (3) suspects in the incident and also locate their whereabouts. During the investigation, Officer Early successfully interviewed and obtained written statements from two of the suspects. The suspects were found to have driven randomly around the Rich Valley section of Smyth County, taking a total of (5) deer at night with the aid of lights. The suspects were found to have only taken a small portion of meat from the animals illegally taken; dumping the rest of the carcasses at a site located on private property in Washington County, identified by Officer Early. Appropriate charges placed included taking deer with the aid of lights, taking deer during closed season, illegal dumping, and unlawful transportation and possession of illegal deer or parts.
Charges Placed for Ginseng Obtained on National Forest – On September 18th, 2018 Virginia CPO Derrick Rickels received information from a US Forest Service Ranger about a suspicious vehicle on a section of National Forest in Scott County. Both subjects had left before the Forest Service Ranger could arrive. The suspect vehicle passed Officer Rickels just outside the National Forest. Officer Rickels was able to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle. Both subjects produced a grocery bag of ginseng that they had concealed under the seat. After a lengthy interview, both subjects admitted that the Ginseng was from the National Forest. 1.3 pounds of Ginseng was seized. Appropriate charges were placed.
CPO Conducts Class at Tazewell Tech Center – On Friday, September 21, 2018, Senior CPO George Shupe conducted a class at the Tazewell Technical Center. The class consisted of high school freshman through seniors involved in the criminal justice program at the center. Officer Shupe provided the class with a PowerPoint presentation that included a wide range of topics, including the Department’s mission, roles of Conservation Police Officers, equipment and techniques utilized, as well as rules of search and seizure and discussion of individual code sections and regulations for certain game, fish, and boat laws. The class was received well and many students stayed after the class to talk and ask follow up questions.
CPOs and US Forest Service Work Jointly on Compliance Checkpoints – On Friday, September 21st and Saturday, September 22nd, 2018, District 33 CPOs Cody Hash and Tyler Sheets assisted U.S. Forest Service LEO David Ford with U.S. Forest Service Compliance Checkpoints within Jefferson National Forest in Smyth and Washington Counties. During the Checkpoint in Smyth County, motor vehicles coming through the checkpoint were found to have occupants engaged in various activities, including gathering firewood and bear chase. Summonses were issued for possession of methamphetamine and driving on a revoked license.
CPO Speaks to Career Exploration Class – Recently Conservation Police Officer Eric Rorabaugh went to Scott Memorial Middle School in Wythe County to speak to a group of 8th graders participating in a career exploration class. The teacher invited Officer Rorabaugh to come to the class and present an overview of what a career as a Conservation Police Officer is like. Officer Rorabaugh shared with the students about the role of a CPO, the various tasks that a CPO performs, and the equipment that a CPO uses to accomplish these tasks. At the conclusion of the class, several of the young men and women expressed interest in becoming a CPO and were provided with a brochure provided more information on a career as a CPO.
CPOs Participate in 2nd Annual Sporting Dog Day’s – On Saturday, September 22nd, 2018, CPOs Nikita Burke, George Shupe, Wes Billing and K9 Josie participated in the 2nd Annual Sporting Dog Days at Cabela’s. The Officers made over (100) contacts with constituents and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the day. Many young children were in attendance and were excited to meet Josie and watch the K9 demonstrations that were presented. The Department’s booth was a popular stop and the officers entertained many questions from the public and shared a vast range of information on the 2018 hunting season and Department programs and Wildlife Management Areas.
9th Annual Jakes Event – On September 22, 2018 Virginia CPO Gardner, Officer Wes Billings, and K9 Josie attended the 9th annual Jakes event in Lee County at the Lee County Hunt Club. This event was hosted by the Lee County Stutters, which is part of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The Jakes event is an outdoor education event for kids that includes courses in archery, rifle shooting, balloon and skeet shooting, ethics, muzzleloading, fishing/casting, and law enforcement K9 demos. The 9th annual Jakes event was an overwhelming success with over 100 children and adults attending. After all the events and demos there was a kids-only raffle in which every child received an item such as a duck call, camo gloves, ear protection, etc. Thank you to all of the volunteers and sponsors for helping with this great event!
Career Exposition for Youth – On September 25-26, 2018, CPOs Nikita Burke and Cody Hash attended a Career Exposition for Youth, sponsored by the United Way of Southwest Virginia at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The officers were assisted by personnel from the Wildlife Resources Division and working cooperatively, had a display booth with materials and equipment from each division. There were approximately (4,600) – 7th graders who attended over the two day event. The DGIF booth was very popular and many students had questions concerning hunting, fishing and careers with both divisions.
CPO Makes Charges in Reference to Drug Related Items – On Monday, September 24, 2018, Senior CPO James Brooks was on patrol, when he observed two subjects, a male and female; under a bridge near the Little River in Tazewell County. Senior Officer Brooks made a short surveillance of the subjects and developed probable cause to believe they were actively involved in the consumption of illegal drugs. Upon approach, the male subject observed Officer Brooks and threw an item into the river. Upon contacting both subjects, Senior Officer Brooks found more drug paraphernalia where the two were located. Upon interview the male subject advised he became nervous and scared and threw the drugs and a syringe into the river. Senior Officer Brooks made charges in reference to the drug related items found at the scene and statement taken from the male subject.
Summonses Issued for Illegal Ginseng – On Saturday, September 29, 2018, Senior CPO James Brooks located two subjects on the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the vicinity of Little Tumbling Creek, who were in possession of ginseng. After gaining permission to search the suspect’s vehicle, Senior Officer Brooks located two bags of ginseng inside the passenger compartment. An interview by Senior Officer Brooks ensued with both subjects, who admitted to ownership of the ginseng. Brooks conducted an inspection of the ginseng and was able to determine they were in possession of both underage ginseng and ginseng berries that were taken from the woods. During the interviews, both subjects stated to Senior Officer Brooks that they used the Wildlife Management Area access to get onto private property and take the ginseng. The two subjects found the ginseng while working for a timber company on the same property. The appropriate summonses were issued in the incident.
Deer Shot from the Roadway – On Saturday, September 29, 2018, CPO Tyler Sheets received a call through DGIF Dispatch related to a deer that had been shot and killed from a roadway in Washington County. Officer Sheets immediately contacted the complainant in the incident, who provided detailed information that allowed Officer Sheets to locate the suspects very quickly. After identifying two suspects involved in the incident and ensuing interviews, Officer Sheets was able to obtain written confessions from both. Appropriate charges have been placed in the incident.
Bear Incident with Hunter – On October 1, 2018, CPO Mark Shaw was notified by the Craig County Sheriff’s Office about a possible hunter being bitten by a bear. CPO Shaw made contact with the hunting party and confirmed a hunter had been bitten by a bear and was transported to Lewis Gale Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The victim suffered a bite above and below his shoulder along with puncture wounds to the back of the upper arm. Additionally, he had claw scratches to his ear and to the side and back of his head. CPO Shaw responded to the scene and located the group of hunters and the bear. Officer Shaw notified District Biologist, Betsy Stinson and the Virginia Department of Health. CPO Shaw conducted multiple interviews and determined the hunting party had been chasing the bear with dogs for most of the day to include baying the bear multiple times but they were unable to get a shot at the bear. During one attempt, the bear attempted to charge at a hunter but turned and ran away. During the last bay, the victim approached the bear preparing to shoot it. The bear charged him and the victim fired three shotgun slug rounds at the bear hitting it in the chest and shoulder. The bear knocked the victim to the ground and was on top of him. The victim then pulled his pistol from his holster and shot the bear in the head multiple times. Officer Shaw inspected and assisted with checking the bear and determined no violations occurred during this hunt and incident. The health department has taken possession of the bear head for testing. The victim has been released from the hospital and recovering. Other members of the hunting party were found hunting again the next day!
CPOs Man DGIF Exhibit at the State Fair – On Thursday, October 4th 2018, CPO Nikita Burke assisted Sgt. Mike Hill at the DGIF exhibit for the State Fair of Virginia. Officers made contact with approximately 1,200 constituents throughout the day. Many young children were in attendance and were given the opportunity to hold several species of snakes and view multiple other species of wildlife. The DGIF exhibit offered a way to answer many questions concerning deer season and wildlife management areas found throughout Virginia. “Elk in Virginia” was a popular topic in which Officer Burke was able to provide first-hand knowledge, due to the Elk release site and restoration efforts being carried out, occurring within her District of assignment in Region 3.
Illegally Dug Ginseng Returned to Property Owner – On Thursday, October 4, 2018, CPO Joel Early responded to a call in Russell County of a subject trespassing to dig ginseng. With the assistance of the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Early was able to locate the subject with ginseng in his possession. The subject made a statement that he did enter private property on which he did not have permission, and harvested the ginseng that was found in his possession. CPO Early recovered the ginseng, and after analysis, weighing and photographing had taken place, returned the ginseng to the property owner. The suspect in the incident was charged appropriately.
CPO Developed Course for Students at Heritage Day – On October 5, 2018 Senior CPO Daniel Ross attended Heritage Day at Rye Cove Intermediate School in Scott County. Officer Ross developed a course in relation to hunting, fishing and trapping heritage in Southwest Virginia along with hunting and boating safety. Officer Ross held 4 classes that were an hour long each to over 100 students throughout the day and was well received by students and teachers alike.
CPOs Assist in Recovering Kidnapped Child in Scott County – On October 6, 2018, CPO Derrick Rickels was notified by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) of a non-custodial kidnapping of an 11 year old child in the Ft. Blackmore / Rye Cove section of Scott County. They requested assistance in the area and asked to be on the lookout for a 2005 blue Chevrolet Cobalt. Two adults were last seen leaving a local school with the juvenile. Officer Rickels and Scott County Sheriff K-9 Deputy were traveling East on Highway 72 when they observed the vehicle pass them traveling West. Both officers turned on the vehicle and initiated lights and sirens. The vehicle came to a stop when another deputy forced the vehicle to come to a stop. All officers involved gave verbal commands to the occupants of the vehicle. The driver was passively resisting by not complying with the commands to get her hands out of the window. A SCSO Deputy tried to remove the driver from the vehicle when she began reaching behind the seat. Once the driver and passenger were secured, Officer Rickels led the juvenile from the suspect vehicle and secured him in his patrol vehicle. The driver was charged with abduction, eluding, child endangerment, possession of schedule IV, and violating a court order.
Hunters Charged in Hunting Over Baited Areas – On October 6, 2018 Senior CPOs Phillips and Billings patrolled the Cole Mountain Road section of Pulaski County. Officer Phillips had received information earlier in the week about an individual hauling bags of corn into the area. Sr. CPO’s Phillips and Wensel spent an entire day the week prior searching the area for the bait and successfully located the corn. The officers returned to the property on the archery opener and located an individual actively hunting over the baited area and charged him for the offense. The officers went to an adjoining property and found two individuals hunting in baited areas and charged them as well.
Baited Tree Stands Located, Hunters Charged – Sgt. Koloda and CPO Shaw investigated private property in Craig County after Shaw became curious of a local hunter and his son that were annually tagging out on game and always killing trophy animals. Both officers checked several properties the hunter was known to hunt and were able to locate baited tree stands. On October 6, 2018, the pair observed the hunters arrive on the property and then addressed the violations. During the investigation, the officers were able to discover another baited property the hunters were planning to use as well.
Buchanan CPO Busy with Multiple Violations – On Saturday, October 6, 2018, CPO Matthew Arnold conducted multiple bait patrols on opening day of the archery season in Buchanan County. During the patrols, Officer Arnold located three bait sites with subjects hunting within the vicinity. After making contact with the individuals hunting at the bait sites, Officer Arnold found many of them did not have the appropriate licenses, or have their hunting license in possession. The appropriate charges were placed in all of the incidents encountered.
CPO Developed Course for Heritage Day – On October 5, 2018 Senior CPO Daniel Ross attended Heritage Day at Rye Cove Intermediate School in Scott County. Officer Ross developed a course in relation to hunting, fishing and trapping heritage in Southwest Virginia along with hunting and boating safety. Officer Ross held 4 classes that were an hour long to over 100 students throughout the day and was well received by students and teachers alike.
First Inaugural Governor’s Fishing Challenge – On October 8, 2018, the first inaugural Governor’s Fishing Challenge was held at Claytor Lake in Pulaski County. The event was designed for state employees and their families to get out and enjoy recreational time together on one of Virginia’s beautiful lakes. Three separate fishing contests were held including a bass boat division, a kayak division, and a shoreline division. Approximately 200 anglers participated, with the likelihood of the event growing in the future, as more families learn about the event. Director Bob Duncan gave the signal for each boat to leave the staging area and begin their quest for the biggest fish. The Fishing Challenge demonstrated a professional interagency relationship as both Bureau and Law Division staff made the event a success! The Law Division was represented by Major Naff, Lt. Culbertson, Sgt. Koloda, CPO’s Phillips, Wensel, Wirt, Peake, Shaw, Brewer, Rutledge, Sheets, Chilcott, as well as K9 Officers Billings and Vandyke.
CPOs Assist with Many Requests During Area Flooding – During the week of Oct 8, 2018, District 32 CPOs responded to numerous requests for assistance from local law enforcement during the heavy rains and flooding in the area. Officers Benjamin Boyette, Jason Harris, Matthew Akers, and Sgt. Adam Keene responded during the incidents. The incidents included a missing kayaker who was kayaking in the flood waters, individuals trapped in a flooded residence, and a report of a vehicle being swept into flood waters with two individuals inside. All individuals were safely rescued. The officer’s professionalism and duty to serve were evident to local responders and their community.
Subjects Charged with Illegal Ginseng – On Tuesday, October 9, CPOs Tyler Sheets and Cody Hash were on a covert bait patrol near Glade Spring in Washington County when they observed two subjects walking down the road carrying backpacks and wearing camouflage. The officers pulled off the road and began speaking with the subjects and quickly determined that they had been harvesting ginseng earlier in the day on private property with permission. Consent to search was obtained by the officers, which yielded approximately 1 pound of green ginseng. The officers analyzed multiple small ginseng roots, finding that the Rhizome, which indicates the age of the ginseng plant itself, had been broken off. Officer Hash was able to located one root with the Rhizome intact and was able to determine positively that it was under the age of (5) years old, the legal age in order to be harvested. The subject consequently admitted that he knew ginseng had to be at least (5) years old before harvest. The appropriate charge was placed.
Bear Taken without a License – On Friday October 12th, CPO Tyler Sheets received information, taken at the Region 3 Office by Sgt. John Koloda, related to a black bear that had been killed the evening of October 11, in Washington County and not checked. Utilizing the information provided, Officer Sheets was able to identify the suspect and found his residence while searching records in the Go Outdoors database. Officer Sheets was quick to pick up on the fact that the suspect had purchased his bear license on the afternoon of October 12, 2018. Officer Sheets contacted the suspect at his residence and in the subsequent interview, obtained a written confession to the taking of the bear without a license. The suspect stated that he bought his license the day after killing the bear, and was waiting until enough time passed so that the date on the license and the date of check in were not close enough to be suspicious. The subject was charged appropriately.
Hunter Education Course – On Saturday, October 13th, Senior CPO James Brooks assisted volunteer Hunter Education instructors with a public Hunter Education Course at the Thompson Valley Community Center in Tazewell County. Senior Officer Brooks provided information on firearms safety and answered questions on hunting law changes for the hunting season. Twenty students were in attendance, all receiving their certifications after passing the course.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Suspect Arrested on Felony Drug Charge – On September 11, 2018, CPO Ostlund, Senior CPOs Dobbs and Herndon, along with Sgt. Ham were working a special assignment in the National Forest of Rockingham County when they stopped to check the welfare of an individual parked along the muddy road in a mustang. When CPO Ostlund approached the vehicle he found the single male occupant to be completely unclothed and sweating profusely. The individual appeared to be startled by the officers’ presence. After having the individual step out of the vehicle and retrieve his clothes from the truck. The officers conducted a consensual search of the vehicle. Methamphetamine was found in the area of the occupant. The suspect admitted using meth several hours previously. CPO Ostlund arrested the suspect on a felony drug charge.
Entangled Deer, Freed – On September 18, Senior CPO Neil Kester received a call in Augusta County in reference to an antlered deer with a net type fencing wrapped around his antlers, head, and neck. CPO Kester, Senior CPO BJ McGuire and Biologist David Kocka responded. When they arrived the deer was located in a brushy area. The deer was herded into a clear area where Biologist Kocka tranquilized the deer. The deer ended up in a low woods area across the road before it relaxed. The deer was found to have electric rope fencing around its antlers. The fencing was removed, unfortunately one side of the deer’s antler was broken below the skin and had to be cut off. The deer was healthy enough to be released once it was freed.
National Wild Turkey Federation’s 2nd Annual Women in the Outdoors – On Saturday, September 22, Senior CPOs BJ McGuire and Neil Kester attended the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) 2nd Annual Women In the Outdoors (WITO) event in Highland County. Senior CPO McGuire arranged to take a trailer of equipment and the Officers set up and ran the skeet shooting shotgun range for 14 ladies. A few women didn’t come due to the scheduled forecast and other reasons, but the ones that came enjoyed a day of Archery, Skeet Shooting, Fly Fishing, Basic Handgun Familiarization, Outdoor Cooking, and lunch provided by Highland County Girl Scouts. Awards were given for the most improved and best shot on the “turkey shootout” competition at the shotgun range.
Feeding Deer Illegally – On September 30th, 2018, Senior CPO Dobbs responded to an area at the Rockingham County and the City of Harrisonburg line for a suspect trespassing to hunt closed season. The caller advised they believed the suspect had a rifle when he entered the woods dressed in camo clothing. Senior CPO Herndon and Sgt. Ham responded to assist with locating the suspect. The suspect was located coming out of the area without a firearm. Senior K9 Officer Billhimer and K9 Justice responded to assist in locating evidence. While waiting on the K9 the suspect admitted that we would find the area baited with minerals. Upon arrival of the K9 Officer, a search of the area was performed. K9 Justice and Senior CPO Billhimer located 8 trail cameras and 4 baited areas on the property. The suspect stated that he had walked to all his cameras to change the memory cards. The suspect’s story was cooperated by K9 Justice’s track. No firearms were found during the course of the search. Senior CPO Dobbs issued a summons for feeding deer illegally.
Search and Rescue Event – On September 30th, 2018, Senior CPO Kester was requested to respond with a UTV to assist the Augusta County Sherriff’s Office in locating two lost hikers in the North River area of the National Forest in Augusta County. Senior CPO Kester, Senior CPO Herndon and Sgt. Ham responded to the area. During the course of the search, Senior CPO Herndon responded to another incident where a cyclist had wrecked on the roadway and provided aid and communications to responding emergency medical personnel. A group of mountain bikers came across the lost hikers and subsequently made contact with Sgt. Ham. Sgt. Ham and Senior CPO Kester helped locate the individuals and return them to their vehicle approximately 16 trail miles from where they originally put in. Units from Augusta County Sherriff’s Office and Mount Solon Fire and Rescue also assisted in the Search and Rescue event.
CPOs in Stealth Mode, Make Arrest – On October 5th, one day before the 2018 archery deer season was set to open, CPO Chris Heberling and CPO Adam Roberts were asked by CPO Paul Inge to check a known bait site that he had been monitoring for weeks in Albemarle County. CPO Heberling and CPO Roberts arrived at an adjoining landowner’s property, and stealthily made their way to the location of the bait site. The officers were about 40 yards from the bait site location when CPO Heberling observed the suspected subject sitting in the treestand with a crossbow in his possession. The subject was questioned concerning hunting during closed season, hunting over bait, and trespassing to hunt. The subject informed the officers that he was not trespassing, but was given verbal permission to hunt on the property. CPO Paul Inge was notified and asked to assist in confirming the trespassing issue. CPO Inge showed the subject that based on the Albemarle County GIS website and the GPS location of the subject’s treestand, he was indeed on the adjoining property. All three officers assisted the subject in removing his treestands from the adjoining property and onto the property he was permitted to hunt. Appropriate charges were issued.
Cruising the Back Roads – On October 9, CPO Corey Gardner and Sgt. Ken Williams were patrolling property managed by the DGIF in the Goshen area of Rockbridge County. Late in the afternoon, they encountered a suspicious vehicle parked on a road used primarily by hunters. The vehicle was occupied by a white male in his 60s and a white female in her 40s. Both officers approached the vehicle and made contact with the occupants. When asked what they were doing, both stated, “just sitting here.” An open alcoholic container was observed in the center console and when asked about it, the driver said he had been drinking it while driving. A subsequent search of the vehicle produced marijuana, two prescription bottles containing several different types of pills, two baggies containing what appeared to be methamphetamine, several syringes and other drug paraphernalia. Appropriate felony charges for drug possession and possession with intent to distribute will be forthcoming. This was CPO Gardner’s second day in his new district.
Patience is a Virtue – Early in the month of October, K9 Officer Richard Howald, of Region 2, received information about a possible bear bait location in Rockbridge County, Region 4. The site was to be used for hunting bear with the aid of dogs and therefore it would be very well hidden. On October 10th, Howald and Sgt Williams patrolled several pieces of property and were successful in locating a site where trail mix was hidden in a hole in the ground, covered up with rocks and logs. This site was within sight of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both officers believed the site was going to be used during the youth bear weekend coming up. On Saturday the 13th, Officers Howald, Philip Pritt, Caleb Manspile, and Corey Gardner, along with Sgt Williams, conducted surveillance on the site. Two officers were within thirty yards of the site itself, two officers were stationed above the Parkway and another officer was a few miles away to act as a backup and a chase vehicle. All officers were in place by 3 AM. At 6 AM, a single man entered the area and inspected the bait site. He then left. No action was taken by the officers; they waited, and waited, and waited. At 2 PM, eleven hours after the beginning of the operation, two men with several dogs and no youth or apprentice hunters, came to the bait site and released the hounds. The officers made their presence known and interviews began. Charges for hunting during closed season, hunting over bait, and feeding of bear were made. These officers endured the cold, the wind and the rain for hours in order to catch the offenders. One of the suspects even gave the officers a compliment when he said “I figured you’d catch me one day, you’ve been catching everybody else.”
Lengthy Investigation Concluded – On October 15th, CPO Ostlund concluded a lengthy investigation pertaining to multiple suspects trespassing to hunt on private property, three counts of petit larceny of trail camera memory cards, hunting deer over bait, and unlawful feeding of deer. CPO Ostlund assisted the property manager in the specifics of properly POSTING the property. During the course of the ensuing investigation, CPO Ostlund relied heavily upon his issued surveillance cameras to positively identify the offenders. Through use of man tracking, surveillance camera photographs and suspect interviews, CPO Ostlund was able to recover all three stolen trail camera memory cards, address the ongoing trespass issues, and resolve the unlawful baiting/feeding of deer.