November 7 – 27, 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
Suspect Found Hunting Over Bait – Throughout the month of October CPO Braziel worked a baited treestand in Chesapeake. On October 27th she patrolled the property in the evening, and noticed a male hunting in the treestand, with a blaze orange hat on. She approached the male from behind, identified herself as a CPO, and asked him to come down from the stand so she could check his hunting license. CPO Braziel identified the suspect as someone she knew. The suspect admitted to owning the stand and camera that were overlooking the bait but stated that he did not place the corn and molasses out as bait. The suspect admitted to seeing the bait and knowing it was there, and continuing to hunt anyway. He advised he had been out 3-4 times already this year. The suspect continued to state that the bait had been placed out prior to the season. CPO Braziel had photos of the suspect standing on the bait and patrolled the property several times at the beginning of hunting season before the bait was placed near the stand to contradict the statements of the suspect. He was charged with hunting over bait.
Three Hunters Without a License – On Nov. 4, 2018, CPO Wakefield received a call regarding possible illegal hunting in Suffolk. He responded to the location and decided to wait for the hunters to return to their vehicle. After the end of legal shooting hours, he contacted multiple subjects as they exited the woods. During the contact, he discovered none of the three hunters had the necessary hunting licenses. He then informed the subjects they would be receiving summonses. While writing out the summonses, one subject approached Officer Wakefield and stated he found his license on his phone. Officer Wakefield informed the subject that the date and time of the purchase was on the license, and he could see the purchase was made two minutes prior. Additionally, one subject had an active warrant and was turned over to Suffolk PD.
Chesapeake Farm Field Yields Spotlighter and Trespasser – On October 30, CPO Corley was conducting spotlight patrol in a rural area of Chesapeake. While there he observed a vehicle enter a farm and begin weaving through the field using his headlights to illuminate the field. The subject was stopped and admitted to spotlighting deer and not having permission to be on the property. Appropriate charges were filed and CPO Corley returned to his observation point. Later in the night, another vehicle approached the same area and began turning donuts in the fields. That subject was also stopped and found to be trespassing. He was charged with trespassing.
CPO Follows Blood Trail to Suspect House – On October 28th CPO Leftwich took a call from a complainant in Prince George County about two gentlemen skinning a deer near the creek that was the property line. He had fears that they had been hunting on his land. While walking the property CPO Leftwich discovered a blood trail leading up to the suspect house. CPO Leftwich followed the trail towards the suspects’ house and observed two large piles of corn with blood droplets strewn throughout the corn. CPO Leftwich contacted the hunter at the residence who stated that he had shot a buck the previous night. The suspect also admitted to shooting the deer within 10 feet of the where the corn was scattered. The suspect was charged with hunting over bait.
Trespasser Destroys Crops – On October 29, 2018 CPO Amanda Nevel received a trespass complaint in Richmond County which had taken place several days prior. The caller stated that two hunters had trespassed on his property to go hunting. He also said that the hunters had driven across a soybean field and destroyed the farmer’s crop. Nevel met with the landowner and farmer at the location and she observed the damage which had been done to the field. According to the farmer, the damage to the field and the crop loss was assessed at $1500-$2000. The property owner stated he knew who the hunters were as he had recognized the truck. Officer Nevel located the subjects and was able to obtain confessions from both for trespassing to hunt and driving across the field. After consulting with the CA office, the driver was charged with a felony for the damage that he caused to the farmers field. Both subjects were charged with trespassing to hunt.
Hunter Trespassing Gives Confession – On November 4, 2018 CPO Sgt. Spuchesi notified CPO Amanda Nevel of a complaint he had received about a hunter trespassing in King George County. Nevel called and spoke with the complainant. He explained that he was in his blind hunting and was watching a doe feeding in his field. He then heard a shot and the deer fell over dead. A subject then entered the field from a wooded area and walked over to the deer. The complainant then confronted the subject where a verbal altercation took place. On November 5, 2018 Officer Nevel met with the complainant and was able to identify a suspect. She interviewed the suspect and was able to obtain a confession that he had killed the deer in the field where he did not have permission to hunt. During her investigation, Nevel was also able to determine that the suspect had killed a small buck the day before which he failed to check. Both deer were seized and appropriate charges were placed.
Wildlife Checkpoint on Opening Day Nets Several Charges – On Nov. 17, District 15 CPOs conducted a Wildlife Checkpoint on the Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area in Charles City County. This area was chosen due to the large volume of hunters and complaints that historically are received on the opening day of firearms deer season on the WMA. A total of 46 vehicles were stopped and inspected at the checkpoint with 5 arrests being made. Charges included hunting without a big game license, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a suspended license, littering and illegally stopping on a roadway at night without lights.
Trespasser Caught – Oct 29,2018 CPO Machen was off duty and hunting in a treestand on private land. CPO Machen recently obtained permission to hunt the property and was the only person authorized by the landowner to be there. So, when Machen heard a stick break and looked back to see a subject holding a crossbow and trespassing in the woods behind him, Machen was somewhat surprised. When the subject got under the treestand, Machen identified himself as a CPO and told him to put the crossbow down. During the field interview, the subject stated he had heard a commotion and a deer grunting and decided to stalk what he thought was a buck. He was sadly mistaken. What the subject actually heard was the deer Machen had just shot crashing through the woods and the follow up grunt calling by Machen. After obtaining the subject’s information and running him in Go Outdoors, Machen found that not only was the subject trespassing, but he had no valid licenses as well. The appropriate charges have been placed.
UTV Utilized – CPO’s on the Eastern Shore requested the use of one of the Departments UTV’s during the special muzzleloader season. After receiving the UTV operator training earlier this year, D12 CPOs recognized how useful the UTV would be in the district.
CPO Bratton and Machen were able to cover the extensive powerlines as well as the Eastern Shore Railroad property in Accomack County with fewer patrol days. During these patrols, the officers located several remote hunting stands, and encountered several hunters with various license issues and blaze orange/pink violations. They also found one location that had several baited deer stands. CPO’s monitored this location for the remainder of the special muzzleloader season, however, no one hunted the area.
Nov. 17, 2018 CPO Machen and Bratton again returned to the baited location. This time they located a hunter occupying one of the baited stands. In addition to hunting over bait, the hunter was not displaying the required blaze orange/pink clothing.
Trespassing Hunter Identified by His Bag of Ice – On Nov. 17, 2018, Sergeant Paul Atkins and CPO Josh Thomas were patrolling Middlesex County. While checking a hunt club member they heard a shot nearby. After relocating the patrol vehicle, CPO Thomas went on foot near the shot location. Thomas located a blood trail and doe deer. This was a buck only day. K9 Officer Patrillo and K9 Bailey were contacted and responded to the scene. The K9 unit arrived and located additional evidence. Bailey then tracked the suspect several hundred yards to a secluded woods road. There was evidence at the road that a vehicle had turned around and left exactly where Bailey ended her track. Hunt club members were interviewed and upon returning to the deer it was found to have been field dressed, moved and a bag of ice placed inside the deer. CPO Thomas then went to a nearby convenience store and reviewed surveillance footage. Video showed the suspect leave the store with a bag of ice that was with the deer. Sergeant Atkins had set up surveillance on the path while Thomas checked local convenience store video and later observed a vehicle enter the woods nearby. Atkins and Thomas converged on the path and located 3 subjects. After interviews a full confession was obtained for taking an antlerless deer in closed season, hunting without state hunting license, no deer tags and several other violations. The deer was seized and donated to a local hunter. Charges are pending. As it turned out, the hunt club was not involved. This was a lone hunter trespassing who didn’t want to put a deer in his car and had to find friends to come back after dark to collect the deer.
Two Shooting Incidents Opening week in Sussex County – On November 19th CPOs in District 14 responded to a hunting incident near the Town of Wakefield in Sussex County. Officer Rollings and Sgt. Woodruff responded to Turkey Pen Road and located a hunter suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. The investigation revealed that the hunters were standing in a line approximately 588’ apart. The shooter was firing at a deer that ran between the two hunters striking the victim in the lower leg with 00Buck. The victim was transported to the hospital for his injuries.
On November 23rd CPOs Gilmore, Jones, and Sgt. Woodruff were patrolling Greensville County for hunters. Sgt. Woodruff received a call for a gunshot victim near the Town in Jarratt in Sussex County. Officer Jones and Sgt. Woodruff responded to the location to find a juvenile victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the foot. The investigation revealed that the juvenile was attempting to pull the hammer back on a single shot shotgun when the hammer slipped out of his hand and sprung forward. At that time the gun discharged striking the victim in the foot with 15 00Buck pellets.
Out of Season Turkey – On November 17th CPO Rollings received a call from dispatch in regards to someone killing a turkey out of season in Surry. Officer Rollings responded to the scene and located 5 hunters nearby who all denied shooting a turkey. Upon further investigation Officer Rollings located turkey feathers and blood near a tree stand. Officer Rollings called the hunter who was becoming the primary suspect for the violation and asked to meet again. The hunter admitted to killing the turkey and hiding in the woods near his truck. The hunter also stated that he did not know turkeys were out of season and he did not want to get caught by a CPO in front of his friends. Officer Rollings located the turkey and charged the suspect for hunting during closed season.
Spotlighter in Chesapeake – On November 12th CPO Smith was patrolling Cavalier WMA for hunters leaving the property. After dark he observed a vehicle travelling down the path and illuminating the fields with a LED flashlight. Officer Smith followed the vehicle as it was continuing to illuminate the fields. Once Officer Smith initiated a traffic stop the suspect cut the flashlight off. The suspect was cooperative and admitted “I was trying to cheat a little bit.” Officer Smith seized a loaded muzzleloader which was located in the seat directly beside the suspect. Appropriate charges were filed for spotlighting.
Deer Hunting by Boat – On Thanksgiving morning CPOs Braziel and Smith were patrolling the Northwest River in Chesapeake for waterfowl hunters. While patrolling Officer Smith noticed 2 hunters in orange hats and a small boat beached along the shoreline. Upon further inspection Officer Braziel noticed the hunters were field dressing a deer. When the officers made contact with the hunters they stated they use the boat to release and pick up dogs long the river’s edge. Officer Braziel noticed there were no gunshots visible on the deer and questioned the suspects. The suspects then admitted to drowning the deer in the river. The suspects pulled alongside the deer while it was swimming across the river. One grabbed the deer by the antlers and the second held the tail while they drowned the deer in the river. The suspects were charged appropriately. The deer was seized and donated to hunters for the hungry. The boat was also returned to the rightful owner, who was not a participant of the illegal activity. The Office of the Commonwealth Attorney and courts will decide if the boat is forfeited for the violation.
Illegal Eel Pots – On November 18th CPO Smith responded to the Back Bay area in Virginia Beach for a call about illegal eel pots in Lake Tecumseh. When Officer Smith arrived he located numerous eel pots in an area that is clearly not permitted within DGIF eel pot regulations. The owner was also on scene attempting to remove the pots before Officer Smith arrived. Officer Smith was able to release eels and seize 34 pots as evidence of the crime. The case is still under investigation but charges are expected within the coming days. Eels are a highly regulated species with a lucrative market. The release of the trapped eels and the seizure of 34 pots will result in $1000s of dollars in losses for the illegal activity.
Region II – Southside
Foot Patrol Leads to Detection of Illegal Hunting Activity – On November 3, 2018, CPOs Matthew Sandy, Keith Wilson and Shane Wilson were on foot patrol in Halifax County. During this patrol they were able to locate several baited sites that had cellular cameras set up on them. After documenting the locations of the bait sites, and not locating anyone hunting on them, they decided to return later in the day, since it was the opening day of muzzleloader season. When the officers returned to the property that evening, they made contact with four individuals hunting the property. All of the hunters were hunting over piles of corn and did not have the proper blaze orange/pink in their possession. Two of the hunters were found hunting with high-powered rifles and three did not have the applicable licenses. Appropriate charges were filed.
Innovative Approach Leads to Apprehension – On November 1, 2018, CPOs Matthew Sandy and Shane Wilson opted to use an innovative approach to checking a property for hunting activity. Since the location of the property made it very difficult to gain access by foot, they utilized a boat to gain initial access, and then struck off on foot. During their search, they located a potential baited site, but it did not have any fresh bait at that time. While they continued walking the property, they located a hunting blind. While they were observing the blind, a vehicle entered the property and then promptly exited. After the vehicle left, both officers walked back to the treestand to find a fresh pile of doughnuts and a hunter hunting from it. The officers made contact with the suspect and had the suspect call his friend to come back and pick him up. While investigating the driver and the suspect, the driver of the truck admitted to placing the doughnuts for his friend. The hunter was a non-resident of Virginia, and admitted to hunting for bear while hunting over bait. Appropriate charges were filed.
Baiting and Spotlighting on Opening Day – On November 3, 2018, the opening day of deer muzzleloader season, CPO John Daniel had a busy shift working in Amherst County. He apprehended one hunter hunting over bait in the morning, a second hunter hunting over bait in the afternoon, and two spotlighters that night. The first subject was a landowner who had built a food trough 20-30 yards behind his blind and filled it with corn and other attractants. He also had poured out a bag of minerals in another location close to his blind. The second subject was a hunter who had poured corn under a hang-on treestand. He said he put the corn out because he was trying to get his child into hunting and his son helped him throw the corn out of the corn bucket. The two spotlighters were on their way home from an unsuccessful day of hunting when they saw a buck run across the road. They slowed their vehicle down and used a handheld flashlight to shine the buck and the field he was running into. Appropriate charges were placed for the violations.
CPOs Rely on Outdoor Experience to Apprehend Violator – On October 22, 2018, Virginia CPOs Kevin Webb and Nick Sumner received information in reference to a single gunshot that was heard before daybreak in Nottoway County. Based on the information provided, the CPO’s were able to ascertain an approximate location from which the shot originated. The CPO’s traveled to the suspected location where they encountered an individual processing a deer. When questioned, the subject stated he harvested the deer with his bow and presented a bloody arrow to support his claims. CPO Webb, who is an avid hunter, examined the carcass and noted the large exit wound consistent with a gunshot. When confronted with Webb’s observations, the suspect admitted to harvesting the deer with his .308 rifle. The suspect agreed to take the officers to the location he shot the deer where they were able to recover a spent .308 rifle casing. The appropriate charges have been placed.
Closed Season Hunting Violations – On October 30, 2018, CPO Brandon Harris and CPO Keith Wilson received a trespass to hunt call from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office. Upon arrival, CPO Harris and CPO Wilson identified two suspects hunting with firearms, made contact with both individuals and began their investigation. During questioning, one suspect was identified as a juvenile male and the other a 19 year old male. The juvenile admitted to deer hunting with a shotgun during closed season and the 19 year old admitted to hunting deer with a rifle during closed season and also not having the proper licenses. CPO Wilson issued both suspects summons based on the violations committed.
Decoy Operation Nets Three Violators – On November 3, 2018, District 24 CPOs Justin Rogers, Nick Sumner, Kevin Webb, Gavin Fariss, and Sergeant Tim Dooley conducted a deer decoy operation in Cumberland County. The operation was coordinated by CPO Rogers in response to illegal spotlighting activity in the area. Shortly after dark, the officers observed a pickup truck approach the decoy. The operator turned his vehicle sideways and stopped in the roadway using the headlights to illuminate the decoy. CPOs Rogers and Sumner initiated a stop of the vehicle and were assisted by CPO Fariss. The suspect vehicle was occupied by three individuals all of whom were in possession of loaded muzzleloader rifles. The driver also had a pistol and a .22 magnum rifle in the vehicle. All three suspects stated they had been muzzleloader hunting and were on their way home. The driver admitted to having harvested a deer earlier in the day. Two of the suspects were not properly licensed to hunt and the driver had not checked his deer despite having already transported it home. The appropriate charges were placed on all three suspects.
Spotlighting and Illegal Deer Kill Results in Violator Capture – On November 3, 2018, at approximately 9:00 PM, CPO Toby Livermore received a phone call from a Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy that a landowner had heard a gunshot on his property. The landowner drove down the road to find the accused in their truck on the roadway. The suspect saw the landowner and took off down the road to try and elude the landowner. The suspect then crossed over the intersection of Highway 58 and Belfield road, almost sideswiping a deputy. Upon Officer Livermore’s arrival, he found a .12 gauge shotgun in the truck, as well as a deer, that was freshly killed in the bed of the truck. After an intensive interview with the suspect, who spoke very little English, Officer Livermore received a confession to killing the deer by shining the field with the headlights of the truck. Officer Livermore was able to locate a shotgun shell in the roadway, as well as a shot path made by the OO buck shot. The shotgun, and the illegally killed deer, were seized and the deer was donated to a needy family in the community. The truck was occupied by three passengers and a total of 16 charges where placed on all of the individuals.
Investigation Uncovers Violations – On November 16, 2018, Senior CPO Brandon Harris was provided information, by CPO Andrew Howald, regarding several subjects unlawfully hunting. Senior CPO Harris and CPO Keith Wilson initiated a foot patrol based on the information. The officers located a hunting camp with several vehicles and UTVs located throughout the property. After several hours of observation, CPOs Harris and Wilson made contact with five hunters. One subject was found to have been hunting without a muzzleloader license and a second individual was hunting without any of the required hunting licenses. While speaking with another hunter, CPO Harris detected the odor of marijuana coming from a camper and recovered a container of marijuana and smoking device. Appropriate charges were placed.
Failure to Check-In Bobcat Leads to Other Violations – Activity naturally picked up with the opening of the deer general firearms season. CPO Tyler Blanks received information that an individual had harvested a bobcat and had failed to call in and check the animal. On November 12, 2018, CPO Jim Dooley and CPO Blanks went to the individual’s residence in Chase City and interviewed him. During the course of the interview, they discovered that he had in fact killed a bobcat on November 7th and didn’t have a confirmation number. They asked to see it but were told that it was at a taxidermist in Lunenburg County getting mounted. The individual was issued a summons for failure to check a bobcat. On November 14th, at approximately 2:30pm, Sgt. Jessica Whirley, CPO Blanks and CPO Dooley went to the taxidermist’s business to conduct an inspection. The taxidermist was cooperative but extremely unorganized. As a result, they discovered that a black bear, 5 buck deer, and three bobcats didn’t have proper documentation. Through the course of a follow-up investigation, these items have been found to have been properly checked even though the confirmation numbers had not been recorded by the taxidermist. This case is still under investigation and charges are pending.
Complainant Aids in Apprehension of Violators – On November 17, 2018, the opening day of deer firearms season, Sgt. Jessica Whirley, CPO Tyler Blanks and CPO Jim Dooley responded to a call for service in Halifax County. The complainant advised that a vehicle with three occupants had stopped and had shot a buck as it was crossing the road. The buck ran onto the complainant’s property and collapsed. The complainant made contact with the shooters and told them they didn’t have permission to be on his property and to leave the deer alone. The shooters took the deer and loaded it in the back of a truck on a dog box and left the scene. The complainant got physical descriptions of the shooters and photos of the truck tag. Upon arrival at the scene, the officers confirmed the information they received from the complainant. Additionally, they recovered four empty 12 gauge 00 buck shot shells, blood and located a shot path. The complainant gave a detailed statement and was able to identify the two shooters. The truck owner and the shooters were located and interviewed. They obtained confessions, and recovered two 12 gauge shotguns and a spike buck. The illegally killed deer was given to the landowner. The shooters were issued summons for shooting from a roadway and trespass to hunt without permission.
Spotlighting Investigation Solves Larceny Cases for Multiple Counties – On Friday November 16, 2018, CPO Stephen Ritchie came out on his day off to work a spotlighting investigation in Nelson County. He received information that morning, from an incident the previous night. A landowner witnessed someone spotlight and shoot at a deer from the road in northern Nelson County; he then chased them in his vehicle into Albermarle County until he felt it was no longer safe to follow them. However, he was able to get the license plate number but no description of the people in the truck. Officer Ritchie took what information he had and traveled to multiple locations in multiple counties conducting interviews until he located the vehicle and a possible suspect, who adamantly denied spotlighting, but explained that he routinely left the keys for his truck available for several people to use whenever they wanted. Ritchie found a .22 magnum rifle in the truck. Additionally, Officer Ritchie noticed that the residence and vehicle were in great disarray and the gun along with several other items, such as power tools, did not seem to belong in the environment. He interviewed more possible suspects but was unable to gain anything to connect anyone to that truck the night of the incident; however, Officer Ritchie was diligent and followed up his next work day with the sheriff’s office as he knew there had been several larcenies in that area of Nelson County. He had obtained enough information from the gun to determine that it was stolen out of Augusta County and also learned that the house is known for drug activity. Ritchie then obtained a search warrant and went back to the residence with two deputies where he executed the search warrant for the gun and made observation of the other items in the house. He relayed that information to Nelson investigators who matched several items to the larcenies and went back to recover them the following day. The main suspect still denied spotlighting and said he bought the gun from someone but while there with the search warrant, the deputies found meth on him and arrested another wanted subject at the house. Officer Ritchie’s diligent police work and observation recovered several stolen items for victims and likely ended the string of larcenies in multiple counties.
Closed Season, Trespassing Poachers – On Sunday November 4, 2018, CPO Stephen Ritchie was suffering with a cold and about to go home early when he received a call about trespassers. A hunter had encountered two boys dragging a spike buck out of the property he hunts and when they saw him they ran away. Ritchie began investigating and found the deer had actually been killed from the hunter’s treestand but had no other lead as to who the suspects were. He then began to canvas the neighborhood since the boys had “ran” away. Ritchie had incorporated the help of CPO Richard Howald and his K9 Sky to assist with the investigation and, after speaking with several residents in the area, they determined that the boys had most likely come from a house which was in close proximity to the hunter’s property. He spoke with a lady at the house who did not know where her grandson was, but explained he did live there and hunted. The officers returned to that residence later and the grandmother sadly told them that she had found a spiked buck hanging in her shed after they left. The officers examined the deer and eventually located the two juveniles; then after working through some lies, the boys admitted to trespassing on the property and hunting with a .22 rifle and a 30.06 rifle on the second day of the early muzzleloader season. Charges are pending.
Unique Buck Poached from the Road – On November 12, 2018, CPO John Daniel initiated an investigation into a deer lying in a field with its head cut off in Nelson County, that appeared to have been shot from the road. A landowner found the deer but had no other information other than maybe someone he thought could have killed it. The next day the landowner called back as he saw that the person he suspected had posted pictures of a buck he had killed which the landowner identified by its unique forked rack and knew it regularly was seen in that field by him and other people in the community; and he also had pictures of it on his game camera. Officer Daniel, along with CPO Stephen Ritchie, responded and located the suspect who claimed to have killed the buck from a stand elsewhere. The officers spoke with him and his mother, who had posted the pictures, until finally their stories fell apart. The suspect had actually shot the deer from a vehicle, from the road, and with a shotgun slug a week before firearms season opened. The officers investigative and interview skills, along with the uniqueness of the popular buck, lead to the apprehension of the poacher who now has several charges pending.
Felon with Drugs and Gun – On November 21, 2018, CPO Cory Harbour received a call about someone shooting a rifle on a property in Campbell County where an individual was hunting and didn’t think anyone else had permission. Officer Harbour was familiar with the property and quickly responded to the location where he expected to find someone based off of the information. Upon arrival he located a man target shooting with an AR style .22 rifle and immediately detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the man. Cory then located a smoking device he had used to smoke marijuana that morning and the rest of the marijuana in a bag. The individual claimed to be related to the landowner, who Cory was familiar with, and called to verify that claim. He did have permission to be there; however, Officer Harbour also checked the man’s criminal history. He learned that he was a convicted felon. He then arrested the individual and took him before the magistrate where he obtained the appropriate charges for the firearm and drugs.
Region III – Southwest
Reckless Driver Charged – On October 23, 2018 Sergeant Adam Keene was traveling through Tazewell County and was almost hit head on by a passing vehicle. While trying to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, the vehicle almost struck another two drivers head on, causing them to drive completely off the roadway. The driver acted impaired and consented to a search of his vehicle which resulted in locating multiple syringes, a bag of methamphetamine and a pipe. Sergeant Keene obtained a search warrant for the driver’s blood after he refused to provide a sample and charged him with multiple charges including driving while under the influence, reckless driving, refusal, and drug paraphernalia.
Wytheville Community College Career Day – On October 24, 2018, CPO Jim Anders, K9 CPO Wes Billings and K9 Josie manned an exhibit booth at the Wytheville Community College Career Day that was held for all of Wythe and Bland County High School seniors. Approximately 500 students attended the event. Many of the students stopped by the DGIF table and expressed interest in the position of Conservation Police Officer. The officers took the time to mentor the students and provide information about the job requirements and about the Police Science program offered at Wytheville Community College.
CPO and Wildlife Rehabilitator Give Presentation to Elementary Children – On Friday, October 26, 2018, Senior CPO George Shupe and DGIF certified Wildlife Rehabilitator Darin Handy (All of God’s Creatures Sanctuary), conducted a presentation for approximately (175) children at Abb’s Valley Elementary School in Tazewell County. The students were able to get “hands on” with several species of native snakes and turtles. The students learned about proper identification, habitat, and their role in the environment. The students and teachers thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.
CPO Speaks to Youth Group – On Saturday, October 27, 2018, Senior CPO George Shupe spoke with the youth group at Harmon Memorial Baptist Church in Grundy, Virginia. Officer Shupe spoke about the services that Conservation Police Officers provide for constituents and citizens within the Commonwealth, the equipment they use, and problems they face / encounter every day while working. There were lots of questions asked by the group, to which Senior Officer Shupe provided the answers. All in attendance enjoyed the fellowship and the information provided.
Shots Heard Near the Road Lead to Several Charges – On October 27, 2018 Senior Conservation Police K9 Officer Wes Billings responded to 100 Covered Bridge Road in Giles County in reference to a shoot from the roadway and trespass complaint. The complainant advised she heard a gunshot near the roadway on Zell Mill Road and shortly after observed a Blue and Gray F150 pickup enter her field and load a deer in the back of the truck and leave. Officer Billings met with the complainant on the property and collected evidence which would allow him to identify the suspected violator. The vehicle was identified as 1994 Ford Truck with vanity plates. The suspect was interviewed and cooperative about the incident and provided a written statement concerning the events on the morning of 10/27/18. Upon completion of the interview the individual admitted to killing a total of three deer from 0400am to 0645am from the roadway with a .22 magnum rifle by aid of headlights from his vehicle. Two of the three deer were checked in as bow kills and were taken to a butcher to be donated to Riverview Church for the Big Game Dinner. In total the suspect was charged with nine offenses which included shooting from the roadway, killing deer illegally, and trespassing.
Photo on Taxidermy Page Leads to Investigation and Charges – On September 30, 2018, a picture of a four year old girl with a deer and heavy barreled rifle was posted on a local taxidermy page. On October 28, 2018 Sergeant Hale and CPO Harding were able to locate and conduct an interview of the girl’s father. He readily admitted that he carried out the entire act of the hunt aside from letting her pull the trigger. Furthermore, the male subject admitted to placing bait out to draw in the deer as well as a second deer that he took on the opening day of archery season. He did not have any of the required licenses. Appropriate charges were placed.
2018 Kids Safety Day – On Sunday October 28, 2018, Sgt. John Koloda and CPO David Peake participated in the 2018 Kids Safety Day held at the New River Valley Medical Center in Radford. The majority of the 350 children involved came dressed in their Halloween costume and received various prizes including candy, coloring books, gun locks and bicycle helmets. Both officers wore their blaze pink hats during the event with lots of good comments and requests for a hat instead of candy!
K9 Assists in Tracking Suspects – On October 28, 2018 CPO Boyette was walking on a property in Grayson County in response to information that there were hunters trespassing. When he encountered a parked UTV on the property, Officer Boyette requested assistance from Senior K9 Officer Billings and K9 Josie. Upon arrival, Officer Billings and Josie ran a track from the UTV and found a subject hunting on the property. The subject was not licensed and was found to be in possession of marijuana. He stated that he was hunting with another subject on the property and that they were supposed to meet back at the UTV at dark. Officers were unable to locate the second subject and he did not return to the UTV at dark. Officer Akers responded to the area and went to the second subject’s residence nearby. The subject was at his residence and denied being on the posted property with the other hunter, even though there was evidence to the contrary. Charges are pending on both individuals.
Hunting Over Bait and Littering Charges – On November 1, 2018 CPO Boyette checked a previously baited site in Carroll County and found a hunter at the site. The hunter admitted to placing corn at the location and also showed the officer where he had thrown the empty bag from the corn. He stated that he threw the bag down in the woods because he did not want to carry it back out with him. Officer Boyette observed some other items of trash which the individual admitted were from last year. The man did not have any of his required licenses stating that he had not gone to Walmart to buy them yet. The appropriate hunting and litter charges were placed.
Illegal Deer Kill – On November 2, 2018, CPO Eric Rorabaugh received information about a subject illegally killing a deer with a muzzleloader during archery season in Wythe County. The officer identified and interviewed a witness and determined the best course of action was to locate the deer that had not been recovered. Senior K9 Officer Billings responded with K9 Josie and assisted with finding the kill site and the carcass. The officers interviewed a subject that was involved with recovering the carcass and he identified his friend as the shooter. Later that evening, the officers, along with Sgt. Keene located the subject, conducted an interview, and received a written confession. The appropriate charges are pending.
Nefarious Activity Observed on Heartwood Forestland – On November 10, 2018 Virginia CPO Dylan Harding observed a vehicle drive onto posted property of Heartwood Forestland LLC in Wise County and park. Nefarious activity was observed, including trash being thrown out of the vehicle. Upon making contact with the vehicle, CPO Harding detected the odor of burnt marijuana. All five occupants, four juveniles and one adult, were questioned about their presence on the property. The driver of the vehicle, a juvenile, admitted to acquiring enough marijuana to make one joint that he and the adult passenger smoked. The driver also admitted to throwing the trash out of the vehicle. Appropriate charges were placed and the parents of the juveniles were called to the scene to pick them up.
CPO Concludes Multiple Investigations – On Saturday, November 10, 2018, CPO Cody Hash was able to conclude multiple ongoing illegal baiting investigations in Smyth County. During the day, Officer Hash entered locations on private property; with one site being very remote and only accessible on foot. At mid-day, Officer Hash located a subject in a stand overlooking a barrel containing a food source, as well as field corn scattered on the ground. After a brief interview with the subject, Officer Hash issued multiple summonses related to hunting over bait and licensing violations. During the same day, Officer Hash also located an operator of an ATV on private property, which was also an object of a multi-week illegal bait investigation. During the subsequent interview with the subject, it was found that the man had been placing bait on the property for several weeks and hunting in close proximity to it that day. The appropriate charge was placed in the incident.
Follow-up on Investigation Leads to Charges – On Sunday, November 11, 2018, Senior CPOs George Shupe, James Brooks, and CPO Craig Chillcott followed up on an investigation in reference to baiting and hunting with rifles during the ongoing muzzleloading season in Tazewell County. During the patrol of the property, the officers observed a motor vehicle parked in a power line. Upon their approach to the vehicle, the officers noticed the occupant attempting to conceal a rifle in the back seat area of the vehicle. During the ensuing interview, the driver quickly stated that he was hunting turkeys and never wavered in his affirmation of that fact, even when asked to clarify his quarry, multiple times. Senior Officer Shupe ultimately advised the subject that turkey season had gone out a couple days prior to his hunt. During the investigation, the Officers were also able to determine that the subject was overlooking a baited site, located approximately (100) yards away. The appropriate charges were placed in the incident.
Public Meeting Regarding Virginia’s Elk – On Tuesday, November 13th, 2018, Conservation Police Sergeant Dan Hall and CPO Matthew Arnold attended a public meeting held by Department Wildlife Services Personnel regarding the proposed Elk Management Plan related to Virginia’s Elk Restoration Project. A small group of people attended the event, held at Honaker High School in Russell County. Elk project leader Dr. David Kalb fielded multiple questions about the new elk plan and discussed multiple key points in the plan. Sergeant Hall and Officer Arnold were able to provide a law enforcement presence at the public meeting and respond to enforcement questions regarding Virginia’s Elk.
Missing Hunters Body Found, Investigation Continues – On Friday, November 16, 2018 Virginia CPOs Tyler Sheets, Cody Hash, Joel Early and Senior Officer Wes Billings and K-9 “Josey” responded to a request by the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office in reference to a missing person in the Poor Valley Section of Washington County. The missing subject had left his residence around 0530 hours on November 14th to go hunting and had not been seen since. The Conservation Officers and Conservation Police Sergeant Dan Hall, K-9 unit, as well as Washington County Sheriff’s Office personnel and K-9 unit, Brumley Gap and Clinch Mountain Fire Departments, Valley Rescue and local residents coordinated a search of the area, focusing on the missing 60-year old man’s preferred hunting location. The search team traversed rugged terrain and deteriorating weather conditions to access a very remote section of privately owned property just west of the Clinch Mountain WMA boundary, in which the missing person was known to hunt. That afternoon, members of the collectively organized search and rescue team located the missing man’s body near an elevated treestand, which he was known to hunt from. The male victim was positively identified as the individual reported missing and his body was recovered from the site. The victim was transported off the mountain by Med-Flight Helicopter. The investigation of the incident is still under investigation with Conservation Police Officer Tyler Sheets serving as the primary investigator for all agencies involved. The official cause of the Washington County man’s death in the incident is pending, awaiting the Roanoke Medical Examiner’s Office.
Hunting Over Bait with No Blaze Orange – On November 15, 2018 Virginia CPO Rickels located a truck parked on a piece of property that he had found baited earlier in the season. Officer Rickels made contact with a 21 year-old that was standing at his ATV with his muzzleloader in hand and no blaze orange on. Officer Rickels made contact with the individual who admitted to putting the bait out and stated that he had forgotten his blaze orange in the truck. Officer Rickels asked if there was anyone else on the property with him. He said there were two juveniles hunting separate from him. They came down the hill at last light with no blaze orange on. Officer Rickels was also able to determine that they were hunting another baited stand up the hill from their current location.
CPOs Meet With Lion Scouts – On Thursday, November 15th, 2018, CPOs Joel Early and Nikita Burke met with the Abingdon chapter of the Lion Scouts. Officers Early and Burke talked with the kindergartners about the different species of wildlife and fish in Southwest Virginia and the Department’s mission with conservation and outdoor recreational opportunities provided by these natural resources. The scouts enjoyed the chance to relate to the many different wildlife articles provided for them to touch and ask questions about, as well as the safety related coloring and activity books, stickers, and whistles provided by the officers.
Lost Hiker Found Safe – On Saturday, November 17, 2018, CPOs Joel Early and Nikita Burke responded to a request for assistance from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office regarding a lost hiker on the Department’s Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area. The missing hiker, who is hearing impaired; required that the Search and Rescue team had to physically locate him, which they quickly did utilizing cell phone technology to guide them to his location. The officers were assisted by and coordinated with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Med-Flight and local Fire/Rescue groups to insure the hiker was found safe.
Trespass to Hunt – On Saturday, November 17, 2018, CPO Joe Early responded to a complaint of a hunter trespass in the Bristol City area of Washington County. Officer Early was able to utilize information gained through the complaint to identify and locate a suspect in the incident. Upon locating and interviewing the suspect in the incident, Officer Early obtained a confession from the man, who stated he went onto the property to “Kill a Deer”. The man was charged with trespass to hunt in the incident.
Sheriff’s Office, CPOs and K9s Search for Missing Hunter – On Nov. 17 2018, CPOs responded to the Stoney Creek area of Giles County for a hunter that had been missing for over 24 hours. The hunter was seen entering the vast national forest area at 5 am on Friday Nov. 16, 2018 by some of his hunting companions who realized later that evening that he had not returned. The group initiated a search and was able to locate an initial hunting location by locating a candy wrapper. Giles County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area and enlisted the help of a bloodhound K-9 in order to help finalize the search, but that was unsuccessful. K-9 Josie and Sr. CPO Billings responded and worked the track further into the mountain. As the group was following Josie in the mountain, the hunter showed up at the command center staging area. The missing hunter had eventually made his way out to a road and a passing hunter picked him up. The hunter was dehydrated, but did not sustain any injuries. He was thankful for everyone that spent the time and effort searching for him and apologized for them missing their “opening day deer hunts!” Assisting CPOs included Sgt. Koloda, Sr. CPO Billings and Phillips, CPO’s Peake and Rorabaugh.
K9 Josie’s Chewing Helps Solve Case – On Sunday, October 28, 2019, Senior CPOs George Shupe and Wes Billings along with K9 Josie followed up on a complaint from a subject who had his trail cameras stolen. After meeting at the scene of the alleged incident, the subject took the officers to where he had originally placed his trail cameras. The subject stated that he had killed an (8) point buck at the site, just a few days prior. The subject pointed at a tree where one of the cameras had been set. After a brief period of time, the officers heard the unmistakable sound of K-9 Josie chewing on something. Senior Officer Billings investigated and found that something to be kernels of corn. At that point, a brief interview and investigatory process ensued between the officers and the subject and it was determined that the subject had killed the (8) point buck he mentioned earlier while walking to the site, over the bait. Appropriate charges have been placed in the incident.
Hunter Facing Multiple Charges – On Saturday November 3, opening day of muzzleloader season, Sgt. Koloda and CPO Rutledge followed up on information that was relayed by CPO Boyette about a possible illegal deer kill in Floyd County. A Floyd County hunter claimed he had arrived at his leased farm in order to deer hunt that morning when a subject pulled up next to him stating he had killed a big buck the night before with his crossbow and was unable to recover it. The leasee stated he was planning to hunt, but would look for the deer later in the morning. The leasee was successful in finding the dead deer on his farm but noticed it did not appear to have been shot by a crossbow. There were multiple pellet holes in the deer’s chest cavity, 1 on the antler, and 1 inside the ear. Koloda and Rutledge were able to find the hunter claiming the kill and began to question him about it. The hunter immediately became nervous and admitted the deer was a nice one, but not the one he had shot. After further questioning, the hunter admitted he was not supposed to have a firearm and was a convicted felon. CPO’s were able to gain a full confession and locate the hidden shotgun. The hunter had an active warrant for possessing ammunition after being convicted of a felony. The suspect faces multiple game charges.
In Progress Spotlight Complaint – On Nov 3, 2018, CPOs Akers and Boyette responded to an in-progress spotlight complaint near the city of Galax in Carroll County. Officers arrived on scene and located the suspect vehicle stuck in the mud occupied by a single male subject. The subject was dressed in camouflage, was in possession of deer hunting equipment, and a loaded muzzleloader; but stated that he was not hunting. Although the officers did not observe the subject spotlighting, there was a spotlight sitting in the passenger seat beside his muzzleloader. The subject said that he had put a cap on his muzzleloader when he left his house, but was going to go to Walmart to buy his licenses before he actually went hunting. The subject consented to a search of his vehicle, and Officer Akers located several items of controlled substances in the vehicle. The subject was issued a summons for a license violation and additional charges are pending upon lab analysis of the suspected controlled substances.
Several Summons Issued at Deer Camp – On Nov 4, 2018, CPOs Akers and Boyette responded to a complaint that members of a hunting camp had just shot a deer from the road. Officers went to the camp and located the vehicle described by the complainant parked with fresh blood in the back. There were four buck heads in front of the camp and several coolers with deer meat. Officers spoke with the members of the camp and determined that three of the four bucks had not been checked. One of the subjects admitted that he had killed two of the bucks that day, one in the morning and another that evening. Two of the subjects admitted to killing one of the bucks from the road a short time earlier on property that they did not have permission to hunt. In addition they admitted that they had placed bait on their stands earlier that day as well. Officers documented evidence of the violations and issued the appropriate summons.
Patrol of Baited Area Leads to Charges – On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, Senior CPO George Shupe was initiating a patrol of a baited area in Tazewell County when he observed a minivan with a lawnmower on a trailer parked at a gate next to the property he was checking going to check. Senior Officer Shupe investigated the vehicle and quickly determined that the subject was hunting. A short time later, Senior Officer Shupe observed a subject walking through the woods in the direction of the parked vehicle and trailer. The subject was carrying a rifle and was not displaying any blaze orange /blaze pink clothing of any kind. Upon contacting the subject, Senior Officer Shupe found that the subject was carrying a modern rifle, as well as (2) concealed handguns underneath his coat. Senior Officer Shupe’s ensuing interview with the subject and investigation, determined that the subject was hunting over a baited site. Appropriate charges have been placed in the incident.
Hunters Provide Information on Neglected Animals – On Thursday, November 8, 2018 Senior CPO George Shupe was contacted by several hunters and provided information related to a subject living “Off the Grid” in an area of Tazewell County and alleged to be neglecting his livestock. Senior Officer Shupe contacted the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer and then on Friday, November 9, 2018, the Animal Control Officer, along with several other deputies and a veterinarian, went to the reported location. The officials found and seized (4) horses, (4) goats, and (2) dogs that were severely malnourished and neglected. Tazewell County Animal Control is in charge of the ongoing investigation and charges are expected to be placed in the incident.
Charges Pending on Illegal Deer Kill – On Nov 9, 2018, CPO Rorabaugh investigated a complaint about a subject killing a deer with a rifle from the road in Wythe County. The officer responded and interviewed multiple witnesses involved and learned the identity of the shooter. K9 Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie responded and assisted with locating the kill site and additional blood evidence that will prove crucial for the investigation. Officer Rorabaugh interviewed the subject and received a partial admission to trespassing to shoot and recover the deer. The subject claimed to have shot the deer with a crossbow on foot but the evidence located by the officers indicates this is not correct. The appropriate charges are pending.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Boat Incident in Neabasco Creek – On October 10th, 2018, at 2130 hours, D47 officers received a complaint of a hit and run boat incident in Neabasco Creek in Prince William County. A large power vessel entered the creek and attempted to maneuver in a marina and while doing so struck two other vessels causing damage, the owner of one of the damaged vessels confronted the operator and he fled without identifying himself. An investigation was initiated and the suspect vessel and its operator were identified. Charges are pending for operating without navigation lights and leaving the scene of a boating accident.
Poaching Tip – On October 28th, 2018, D47 officers received a poaching tip through the Wildlife Crime line. The tip provided information regarding a subject that killed a 13 pt buck over a baited area in Prince William County. D47 officers investigated and determined that the suspect was baiting deer next to his home and shot the buck while it was feeding in the bait pile from a window while he was inside his home. The antlers were seized and charges are pending.
Warren County Man Successfully Convicted in Bear Feeding Case – DGIF Law Enforcement and Wildlife Division Staff concluded 10 years of responses to unusual bear calls from a small area of Warren County by acquiring the successful conviction in Warren County court on 11/7 of a man in violation of the bear feeding law. The man told DGIF staff that he had been spending over $10,000 annually on food for the bears in order to keep them safe from poachers and help the “sick and injured” ones. Three CPOs and the Black Bear Project Leader attended the case prosecuted by the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney (ACA) for Warren County. For a decade, the Warren County resident had been purposely feeding and thereby conditioning bears to human food sources on his property. The resulting food-conditioned bears caused thousands of dollars of property damage to the surrounding homes resulting in numerous visits by CPOs and the district biologist as well as bear trapping and removal efforts. Enforcement was eventually hampered as the homeowner built a privacy fence around his property to keep officers from witnessing the illegal acts. Surrounding neighbors had been reporting vehicle and home damage, bears looking in windows, bears that could not be run off and injuries to pets. Additionally, bears with visible symptoms of sarcoptic mange (contagious condition caused by mites) were detected on the property very close to an additional 2018 mange outbreak in the area. The man was convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor and ordered to pay $500, the highest fine possible for this offense.
On Patrol in Orange County – On the evening of November 13th, just prior to sunset and 4 days prior to the opening of the general firearms deer season, Sgt. Boulanger was on patrol in Orange County when he observed a pickup parked on the edge of a power line on a piece of property known for hunting activity. Boulanger could see that there was an individual inside the pickup and proceeded on foot to investigate. During his approach, Boulanger observed the occupant moving things around inside the cab of the regular cab pickup. Boulanger spoke to the occupant and confirmed that he was hunting deer. Boulanger observed a muzzleloading rifle in plain view in the cab of the pickup, as well as what appeared to be a rifle underneath some camouflage clothing on the passenger side. The individual stated the rifle was unloaded and that he must have left the magazine and ammunition for it at his residence. Boulanger observed a bulge in the individual’s sweatshirt pocket that was the approximate size of a rifle magazine, and asked the individual what he had in his pocket. The individual then produced a loaded rifle magazine from the pocket of his sweatshirt. Sgt. Boulanger made the appropriate charge.
Hunting Over Bait – On November 10th, 2018, CPO Quarles was dispatched to a call regarding possible illegal hunting activity. The incident location was an area that CPO Newton, CPO Hatmaker, and CPO Quarles were familiar with, as it was an active bait site that they had been surveilling for several weeks. Officer Quarles arrived on scene and observed a hunter in a treestand hunting over bait. The hunter had a .30-06 rifle and while Officer Quarles was interviewing him, he admitted to placing the bait out to hunt for deer. The hunter also had a bag containing more bait behind his treestand and indicated that he thought about putting more out, but he did not think the deer liked it. The hunter’s relative was also hunting for deer from a nearby stand. The relative was hunting with a 12-gauge shotgun and had no licenses, and no blaze orange. The appropriate charges were placed.
CPOs Assist in Pursuit and Provide Medical Assistance to Suspect After Crash – On November 10th, 2018, CPO Ostlund and Sgt. Ham were traveling from Augusta County to Rockingham County as a pursuit initiated by a Town of Bridgewater police officer was traveling into Augusta County. The officers attempted to get into position to assist with apprehending the suspect that was wanted for felony eluding of a police officer and several outstanding felony warrants from the City of Harrisonburg Police Department. Prior to the pursuit reaching Officer Ostlund and Sgt. Ham the pursued vehicle crashed, ejecting the suspect. Officer Ostlund and Sgt. Ham expedited to the scene and provided emergency medical care to the suspect. The officers requested Air Medical Services to the scene and with the assistance of Augusta County EMS, Weyers Cave Fire Department, Augusta County Sherriff’s Office, Bridgewater Police Department, and PHI Aircare 5 the suspect was airlifted to the University of Virginia Medical Center in critical condition.
Charges Pending on Hunter Using Rifle – On November 10, 2018 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Sergeant Ham and Senior Conservation Police Officer Dobbs responded to a complaint of a hunter using a rifle during the early muzzleloader season in Augusta County. Upon arrival the suspect admitted to killing a 5 point buck with a 30-06 rifle. A second 5 point buck was located behind the residence. The suspect had not checked in either deer. Charges are pending.
Trespass to Hunt Issues Near a Neighborhood – On Saturday November 17, 2018, CPO Hatmaker previously coordinated with CPO Billhimer and K-9 Justice reference trespass to hunt issues near a neighborhood, in the western portion of Louisa County. Information was obtained regarding various subjects and vehicles spotted hunting near property that does not allow hunting. The officers and Justice arrived early Saturday morning and observed a truck parked on the side of the road near the area in question. Justice was deployed and he immediately began to track into the woods. Justice tracked two hunters who attempted to hide behind a tree. Officer Billhimer announced to the hunters in which they began to walk towards the officers with loaded shotguns and rifles. While speaking to the hunters, Justice alerted on one of the backpacks that one of the hunters placed on the ground, and marijuana was subsequently located. A third hunter and his dog, walked up to the officers thinking he was doing a man drive towards his hunting buddies. Once he was close enough to the officers, he realized it wasn’t his hunting friends that he walked up on. Through investigation, the hunter did not have the required hunting licenses. Further questioning was conducted and the appropriate charges were placed.
CPOs and K9 Justice at Work – On Sunday, November 18, 2018, CPO Hatmaker received information that a convicted felon was hunting with a firearm in Spotsylvania County near Lake Anna along a specific road. Through investigation Officer Hatmaker found that the person in question was no longer a convicted felon. Officers Hatmaker, Billhimer, and K-9 Justice decided to patrol that specific area anyways to locate a convicted felon who maybe hunting with a firearm. The officers and Justice observed a pickup truck that was backed into an area where hunting may be occurring. Hunting paraphernalia was observed in the truck, and Justice was deployed. Officers made their way towards the woods with Justice charging the way. Officers observed a subject wearing blaze orange, leafy wear, and a climbing stand while ducking behind a tree. Officer Billhimer announced to the subject and the hunter walked towards the officers. While Officer Hatmaker questioned the hunter, Justice continued to work hard. Justice alerted and began to dig up a loaded firearm where the hunter was originally located. Through investigation, Officers found that the hunter was a convicted felon and attempted to hide the gun when he saw the officers. A search of the hunter also yielded natural deer urine. The appropriate charges were placed.
CPOs Dialogue on Honesty Leads to Confession – On Nov. 17, 2018 CPOs J. Sumpter and J. Hall conducted a follow up investigation on a previous call for service. A subject was found hunting in the area of the original call. He stated he had a hunting license but he was having trouble pulling it up on his phone. He originally claimed he was hunting on his family’s land. Officer Hall and Dispatch easily determined the subject was attempting to renew his expired license as they were talking with him. After a brief dialogue on honesty, the subject admitted that his license was expired, he was hunting over bait that he had placed there, and that he was far from the lines of his family’s property. He removed the illegal stand and was charged appropriately.
Investigation and Evidence Suggest Willful Violation of Game Laws – In October of 2018, CPO Newton obtained information regarding a piece of property that reportedly contained several baited areas with numerous treestands. Officer Newton was able to confirm the presence of these active bait sites, which were monitored by trail cameras. Additionally, the landowner was previously arrested for spotlighting about 4 years ago, and was convicted in Spotsylvania General District Court on November 3rd. Officers Newton, Hall, Quarles, Sgt. Boulanger, and K9 Officer Billhimer, executed an operational plan to check the baited sites for illegal hunting activity. Officers located two hunters, one of which killed a deer while officers Hall and Newton were entering the property, in two separate baited stands. The deer that was killed was found lying within 10 yards of one of the feeders. Both hunters were charged with hunting over bait. Additionally, one was charged with killing deer illegally, while the other was also charged with failing to meet blaze orange requirements. There is also a license violation that Officer Newton will be discussing with the CA’s office (obtained hunting license with no hunter education). Officers seized 3 trail cameras and will be attempting to obtain search warrants for their contents. Each of the cameras were positioned on feeders.
Thanksgiving Day Celebration Starts Early – On the morning of November 22nd, 2018, Officer Quarles was traveling down I-95 South in the City of Fredericksburg when she observed a vehicle traveling erratically. The vehicle exited the interstate and Quarles initiated a traffic stop. While interacting with the driver, who did not have a driver’s license, Quarles observed that the subject had blood shot, glassy eyes and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. Officer Quarles conducted FST’s on the subject and subsequently placed him under arrest for DUI. The appropriate charges were placed.
CPOs and the Boat Fraud and Theft Unit Recover Stolen Boat and Uncover More Violations – On November 12, 2018, CPO Ostlund, Sgt. Ham and officers from the Boat Fraud and Theft Unit: SA Croft, CPO Harris, CPO Bumgarner with assistance from the Augusta County SWAT Team served a search warrant at a residence in Augusta County to recover a stolen boat from North Carolina. Sgt. Ham and SA Croft had successfully apprehended the perpetrator of the theft in 2016. The officers were able to recover one of the boats at the time but were unable to recover the second boat. The boat theft and fraud unit uncovered information that brought forth evidence that the boat along with the trailer could be located at a residence in Augusta County. The suspect possessing the boat was also a suspect in several hunting violations that CPO Ostlund began investigating in September. During the course of the search warrant, the stolen vessel from NC was recovered, along with the motor and trailer. An illegally possessed deer was found hanging in one of the outbuildings. Charges are pending.
Who Says Stopping at Hardees for a Cup of Coffee Doesn’t Pay Off? – CPO Herndon received information about subjects trespassing and killing deer outside the Town of Timberville. On the following morning CPO Billhimer was contacted about a subject in this same area illegally hunting with a rifle during the muzzleloader season. CPO Billhimer and K9 Justice responded to the area and began a track, while CPO Herndon and CPO Ostlund responded from the National Forest to his location. After a very long track and some doubt by CPO Billhimer that they were on the right track, two subjects were located. K9 Justice had no doubt and did an incredible job tracking these individuals. CPOs Herndon and Ostlund met CPO Billhimer at the residence of one of the suspects. During an interview with the two suspects and a female that lived at this location, a confession was taken in reference to the illegal killing of six antlered deer. The carcasses were located in a hole on the land near the residence. After some hesitancy the subject did bring five sets of antlers to CPO Ostlund. Five days later information was received by CPO Billhimer that other deer had been killed and that the suspect was in possession of numerous other antlers. CPO Ostlund made contact with the female and the prime suspect by phone and further interviewed both. He made arrangements for an additional in-person meeting. CPO Ostlund also encouraged both parties to have all of the antlers there and be prepared to be honest about the killing of the other deer. CPOs Herndon and Ostlund arrived at the residence to conduct the interview and to gather of evidence. The suspect gave a written statement admitting to the illegal killing of eleven other antlered deer. Twelve sets of antlers were seized as evidence. All twelve of the deer were killed on posted property with the use of a handheld light or vehicle headlights and were shot with a .22 caliber Hornet rifle. Seventeen antlered deer were killed by this subject between September 15, 2018 and November 12th, 2018.
Suspect Charged with Twelve of Twenty Four Violations – On Nov. 1, 2018, Senior CPO Kester received information that a subject had shot several deer already this season and had not checked any of them. On Nov. 22, 2018, Kester observed the suspect at a residence in Augusta County, with a small buck hanging in a tree. Kester interviewed the suspect and it was found that the suspect had killed 9 does and 2 bucks this season and had only checked in 2 of the does. These deer were taken legally in Augusta, Rockingham, and Highland Counties though the suspect didn’t validate his license or check them in. Kester detected 24 violations and charged the suspect with 12 of them. The charges include: Fail to Validate Big Game License, Fail to Check in Deer, and Continue to Hunt after Obtaining the Daily Limit.
Suspect Facing Numerous Charges for Illegal Deer Kill – On November 21, 2018, D47 CPOs received a report of a subject that shot a buck from a vehicle and from the public road in Loudoun County. The officers conducted an investigation and identified the suspect. The investigation revealed that the suspect was traveling down a public road when he spotted the buck. He shot the buck from the driver seat through the passenger side open window with a large caliber rifle. The suspect dragged the buck to the road only to discover it would not fit into his car. The suspect returned later with a truck only to find out he could not lift it into the truck bed. He then cut off the head and abandoned the deer’s body. The suspect did surrender himself and he faces numerous charges.