November 6 – 26, 2019
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
Hunting Incident at First Light – On November 2, 2019, CPOs were notified by Surry Sheriff’s Office of a hunting incident at first light on opening day of the muzzleloader season. Officers Chitwood, Smith, Rollings, and Sgt. Woodruff, along with personnel from Surry Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia State Police, responded to the scene to find the victim deceased from a gunshot wound to the right leg. Investigators believe the victim climbed a 15 foot ladder stand and shot himself while still standing on the platform of the stand prior to sitting down. The victim then fell from the platform as a result of his injuries.
Hunting Over Stainless Steel Feeding Trough – On Sunday, November 3, 2019, CPO Dan Smith patrolled a baited area in Sussex in search of hunters. Shortly after sunrise he made contact with a hunter in a stand overlooking a stainless steel feeding trough containing mineral block. Officer Smith noticed the feeding trough while previously patrolling for dove violations on the same property.
Early Spotlight Patrol Successful – On Sunday, November 3, 2019, CPO Dobyns was conducting an early morning spotlight patrol in Essex County. During the patrol Officer Dobyns observed a vehicle traveling south along the state maintained road. The vehicle pulled into the entrance of a privately owned field and swept the field with its headlights. The vehicle then backed up and continued traveling south on the same road. Officer Dobyns returned to his vehicle and made a traffic stop on the pickup truck. Officer Dobyns explained to the hunter driving the truck that he had observed him shine the field with his headlights. The hunter driving the pickup truck told Officer Dobyns he was going to hunt property owned by the state forest. The hunter claimed he was looking for access points to the state forest property. However, the hunter had driven right by the entrance to the state forest that is marked with a sign. Sunday deer hunting on the state forest is unlawful and Officer Dobyns also verified the hunter did not have a valid state forest permit. Upon further questioning the hunter admitted to Officer Dobyns that he had shined the field with his headlights to look for deer. The appropriate charge was placed and the suspect’s muzzleloader was seized for evidence.
Rappahannock Refuge, Wheelin Sportsmen and CPO Host Successful Hunt – On November 4, 2019, CPO Nevel assisted with the Rappahannock Refuge as they hosted a hunt for Wheelin Sportsmen at the refuge tracts in Richmond County. Wheelin Sportsmen sponsored five disabled hunters with a family member to participate in a muzzleloader hunt. The friends of the Rappahannock Refuge Group hosted lunch for all the hunters and volunteers. The hunt was a success, with one doe being harvested.
Spotlight Patrol Leads to Charges – On Friday, November 8, 2019, Virginia CPOs Brian Bratton and Mark Machen were conducting a patrol for spotlighting violations in Accomack County, on the Eastern Shore. Shortly after 8 pm, the officers observed a truck driving slowly down the road approaching their location. They then observed the truck cast a light, from inside the cab, onto a deer that was standing in the field. At this point, the officers initiated a traffic stop. As the officers were speaking to the two subjects in the truck they noticed that there were 2 handheld spotlights sitting on the front seat, as well as a 7mm rifle sitting beside the passenger. There was also a 300 black-out rifle in the rear floorboard. As the officers removed the rifles from the truck, they noticed that the 7mm in the front seat was loaded. The officers also located the head of a 9-point point in the bed of the truck. Upon further questioning, the passenger admitted that he had killed the deer in question a few nights earlier. Both spotlights and rifles were seized and both subjects were charged with spotlighting while in possession of a weapon. The passenger is also facing additional charges for the killing of the 9-point buck.
House Shot by Hunter – On Nov. 14, 2019, Sr. CPO Bumgarner responded to a residential area in Lancaster County after receiving a report of house being shot by a hunter. Upon arriving on scene Bumgarner met with Lancaster County deputies who were already on scene and had located a .50 caliber round in the front door of the residence. Utilizing his knowledge of hunters in the area, Bumgarner developed a suspect who was known to hunt the property across the road from the residence that was shot which contained a long flat soybean field. Bumgarner then went to a residence known to be used as a parking location by the hunter. Upon speaking with the homeowner, Bumgarner learned the suspect and his brother had been hunting on this morning and had fired multiple shots near the time of incident but had left before the officer’s arrival.
Bumgarner then used his tactical man tracking skills to track the suspects to two hunting blinds along the edge of the bean field behind the residence. Upon locating the hunting blinds, Bumgarner observed fresh tracks and blood in the area. K9 Officer Cramer and his K9 Waylon were contacted for help locating evidence related to the incident. In just a few moments K9 Waylon located evidence consistent with a hunter shooting in the direction of the house that was hit across a state maintained road that ran along the opposite end of the flat soybean field.
Upon interviewing both suspects and utilizing his Advanced Hunting Incident Investigation Training, Bumgarner determined both brothers shot at deer on this morning in the direction of a state maintained road and other residences endangering life, limb and property. It was also determined one subject was notified mere weeks ago that he nor any other person had permission to hunt on the property where the deer were shot. Charges pending include, felony shoot at an occupied dwelling, reckless handling of a firearm while hunting, trespass to hunt, post lands of another without permission and instigate trespass by another. Sr Officer Bumgarner and K9 Officer Cramer were able to use their extensive knowledge and training to bring this case to a successful conclusion in short order.
Hunter is Harassed by an Angry Neighbor – On October 28, 2019 CPO Terry Jordan received a call reference the impeding of a lawful hunt in Charles City County. After speaking with the complainant, who was lawfully bow hunting from a treestand approximately 50 yards from a public roadway, CPO Jordan began an investigation into the matter. A subsequent interview of the suspect revealed that he became so upset that a hunter was hunting near his property and maybe shooting small buck deer that he drove up and down the road honking his truck horn to scare away any deer near the area of the hunter. At one point the suspect drove by the hunter’s location and pointed a shotgun out of the front truck window and fired 2 shots in the air. CPO Jordan placed charges for intentionally impeding a lawful hunt and shooting from within a roadway.
Fatal Boating Incident – On Nov. 17, 2019, CPOs Adams and Chambers responded to a call for a fatal boating accident on Chickahominy Lake near Walker’s Dam in New Kent County. A preliminary investigation was begun and it was determined that around noon, two men were fishing from a 20′ Alumacraft boat near the dam locks. One fisherman was standing on the bow of the boat and had set the trolling motor to the auto anchor mode and had the gas powered Suzuki 150 HP outboard lowered and running. The conditions were windy and the vessel began to drift from its position causing the auto anchor mode to attempt to correct the vessel’s location. The trolling motor began moving the vessel quickly towards the closed locks. The fisherman on the bow told his friend to put the outboard in reverse because they were going to hit the boat lock on the dam. When the outboard motor was placed in reverse, the fisherman at the bow fell from his standing position over the pedestal seat on the bow and into the interior deck of the boat. The fisherman landed on his head causing a severe laceration and breaking his neck. The second fisherman drove the boat to a local marina where they had launched. Paramedics arrived on scene to find the fisherman with no pulse. They performed CPR but they were unable to revive him. The fisherman was pronounced dead at the scene. No charges are being placed.
Hunting Incident – On Nov. 22, 2019, CPOs Adams and Chambers responded to a hunting incident with injuries in Charles City County. The victim had already been transported to a local hospital in Hopewell where he was awaiting treatment for a shotgun wound to his leg. The shooter stated he was in an overgrown field adjacent to the road when he shot at a buck that the dogs had jumped. The shooter stated he shot as the buck jumped into the thicket and heard someone yell “you got me!” The victim was struck by a single pellet in his upper left thigh. He removed his hunting clothing, drove himself on his riding lawn mower to his brother’s house where his brother’s wife drove him to the hospital. K9 Bailey and CPO Patrillo responded and were able to locate the shotshell and wad. The locations of the recovered evidence verified the shooter’s story. One person involved did not have the required licenses. The victim is believed to have been wearing blaze orange but covered it with a jacket when he got cold. Charges are pending for failing to display blaze orange clothing and failing to have a deer big game license. Adjoining district CPOs Chester and Patrillo were of great assistance during the investigation.
Evidence and K-9 Support Lead Officers to Shooting Across Road Violations – On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Officer Joe Rollings was contacted by DGIF dispatch of a subject that confronted a hunter who had just shot in close proximity to his house in Surry County. Officer Rollings and Officer Chris Gilmore both responded to the location, quickly developed a suspect, and found blood puddles from a deer in the middle of the state maintained road nearby numerous houses. Officer Rollings saw the need for finding the shotgun shell of the suspect and immediately contacted K-9 Officer Jim Patrillo and K-9 Bailey. After a lengthy search of the nearby field and roadside, Bailey and Officer Patrillo were able to find a single green spent shot shell in knee deep vegetation in very close proximity to the roadside. The shell was approximately 80 yards from the kill site of the deer. Further processing of the scene allowed the officers to determine the direction of travel of the deer upon impact of the shot based on blood spatter. The blood spatter on the opposite side of the roadway from the place of the shooter proved that the hunter had in fact shot across the roadway. Evidence at the scene was able to prove many flaws in the suspect’s account of the incident upon interview. Evidence showed that the hunter not only shot across the roadway but also shot in the direction of two homes. Further investigation is ongoing as appropriate charges will be filed.
Attention to Detail Nabs Out of State Poacher – On November 19, 2019, Officer Joe Rollings received a call from Dispatch regarding a Lowe’s worker who noticed a subject dragging a buck deer across a commercially owned property in Prince George County. The worker found it odd as the hunter was not wearing blaze orange and he knew nobody was allowed to hunt the area. Officer Rollings responded to the scene and was unsuccessful at immediately locating the suspect, but developed a possible vehicle associated with the incident. While waiting for a K9 to arrive, Officer Rollings observed increased activity around the area of a nearby hotel and the suspected truck. Rollings contacted a group of workers near the hotel and wanted to make sure they were not involved. While talking to the workers he noticed another male subject in a camo top nearby talking on the phone. Officer Rollings struck up conversation with the subject and immediately noticed blood on the subject’s hand and pants. Quick questioning of the subject’s whereabouts that morning gained a confession of the hunter. The male advised Rollings that he was the lead of a Verizon contracted crew and was on location from Florida and staying at the hotel. The hunter advised that he had been watching deer in the field each night and decided to take his crossbow out to the field where he knew he didn’t have permission to hunt. Further interview revealed how the subject had killed an 8 point trophy buck. The hunter had removed the head and tenderloins from the deer and left the carcass in the woods so that he could return in the dark to retrieve the remaining meat. The hunter made further statements that it was killing him to not be in Florida hunting and that Virginia had much larger bucks than Florida so he couldn’t resist hunting them. Appropriate charges were placed on the Florida man for license violations, trespassing, and killing deer unlawfully.
Buck Fever in Northumberland County– On November 19, 2019, Sergeant F. Spuchesi, Sr. Officer T. Bumgarner along with K9 Officer G. Cramer and his partner Waylon responded to the report of a hunter shooting from the roadway in Northumberland County that occurred on 11/18/19. Upon arriving on scene Bumgarner and Cramer began processing the scene and collected evidence. Utilizing his K9 Waylon, Officer Cramer located evidence consistent with a hunter shooting across the roadway. Sr. Officer Bumgarner was able to develop a suspect and located him hunting in Northumberland County on this day. Upon interviewing the subject it was determined the suspect shot at a large buck from the passenger side of a motor vehicle as it crossed the highway, shooting across a lane of oncoming traffic. The suspect stated it was the biggest buck he’s ever seen and had a clear case of BUCK FEVER. Appropriate charges are pending.
CPOs Escort High Valued Cargo Ship – On November 19, 2019, CPOs S. Druy and C. Smith, along with Norfolk PD, assisted the US Coast Guard with providing a security escort of a propane tanker ship. The ship left the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, traversed through the Chesapeake Bay, and into the Atlantic Ocean. Officers had to be very flexible, as the time kept getting pushed back, from 0800 to 1200hrs, then again to 1400, and the ship finally departed at 1500hrs. Officers made contact with several boaters during the escort, with no security threats were found. According to the US Coast Guard Risk Based Maritime Security Response Office estimations, officers collectively reduced the amount of risk through this operation to the port of Hampton Roads by $1,000,000. No smoke breaks were allowed on this mission for obvious reasons.
Spotlighting with a Muzzleloader in Isle of Wight County – In October 2019, CPO Sergeant B. Woodruff and Officer C. Gilmore were running a decoy operation on Woodland Drive in Isle of Wight County. A red Ford pick-up with Virginia license plates was heading westbound on Woodland Drive and drove past the decoy deer in the field. The truck went to the end of the road, made a U-turn and positioned his vehicle at a 45-degree angle in the middle of the road with headlights on the deer. He backed up and repositioned at a different angle, with his lights on the decoy for approximately 60 seconds. At that point, Sgt. Woodruff and CPO Gilmore conducted a traffic stop. The vehicle was occupied by two individuals. CPO Gilmore observed a muzzleloader rifle on the seat between the two occupants. The chamber was open and a zip lock bag with primer caps were also observed. The subject was asked when was the muzzleloader removed from the case. He stated “when we turned around to come back towards the deer to shoot it”. He said they were hunting on Shady Pines, which is a couple miles away from where this incident took place and in the wrong direction. The operator showed signs of impairment and was given sobriety tests. He blew a .04 in the PBT. Both occupants were charged with spotlighting with a firearm.
Lost Hunter Found on WMA – On Saturday, November 23, 2019, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Chambers and Joyce were advised of a lost hunter on the Chickahominy WMA in Charles City County. Apparently, the hunter had gotten turned around when trying to exit the woods shortly after dark. CPO Chambers arrived on scene and was able to locate the hunter’s vehicle and make contact with him via cell phone. The hunter had enough cell reception to send a Google maps location to the officer. Utilizing the Google maps location, in conjunction with the coordinates from Charles City dispatch’s phone ping, CPO’s Chambers and Joyce were able to determine an approximate location nearly 500 yards away from the path to his vehicle. CPO Chambers made his way on foot using his handheld GPS. Approximately 20 minutes after entering the woods, CPO Chambers located the hunter who had climbed a tree to try and see the blue lights from the nearby patrol vehicle. The hunter was cold, wet and not dressed appropriately for the rainy weather conditions, but otherwise unharmed. The hunter was escorted back to the road where he was taken to his vehicle. When the officers encountered the hunter, they noticed that he was hunting with a rifle, which is prohibited. Due to the circumstances, the hunter was only issued a written warning for deer hunting with a rifle in a non-rifle county.
Two Lines at the Same Time – On Nov. 22, 2019, CPO Braziel was working a plain clothes operation at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake. The park had been stocked with trout the day before, and with new advertisement about the trout stocking, Officer Braziel knew there would be a high turnout of people. Officer Braziel settled into her fishing position and watched closely at the other anglers. At approximately 11:07 AM, a man standing about 5 feet away from Officer Braziel began to use two lines at the same time. He had one line on the bottom and was casting out a lure. The man then began talking to a neighboring angler and advised him, “I have to be really careful about how I do this; I know I can only use one line”. The man then began telling the other man, that he can sneak using two lines with his set up that he has here and no one would ever know. Shortly after Officer Braziel left her position of fishing and had the Park Ranger bring her the gentleman that was in violation. As the gentleman entered the room where Officer Braziel was waiting, he immediately became remorseful and said that he was guilty as charged. The man said that he wanted to catch his first fish and had been out there a while without catching anything, so that’s why he decided to use two poles at the same time. Officer Braziel issued the proper summons accordingly.
Region II – Southside
Keen Observation Leads to Multiple Charges – On October 29, 2019, CPO Tyler Routon was on patrol in Franklin County when he observed an individual exit his vehicle dressed in camouflage and carrying archery equipment. The subject walked a short distance from his vehicle but abruptly turned around and went back. The subject spent a couple minutes at the vehicle and then entered a nearby wooded area. Officer Routon located the subject inside the wooded area hiding behind a tree. A compliance check revealed the subject did not have any hunting licenses and did not have permission to hunt on the property. During the interaction, Officer Routon noticed the subject’s behavior seemed off and so he walked to the tree where the subject was hiding and located a loaded muzzleloader with the hammer in the cocked position. The subject stated he decided to use his muzzleloader despite the fact it was still archery season so he could take longer shots. The appropriate charges were placed.
Caught In The Act Of Placing Bait – On November 2, 2019, CPO Tyler Routon conducted a bait patrol in Franklin County. Upon reaching the baited ladder stand, he heard in the distance an ATV approaching. He took cover and waited until he observed an individual arrive and pour out a bag of corn, which was on top of a previously placed mineral rock. The suspect admitted to pouring the corn out because he was going to hunt the stand in the evening. Appropriate charges were placed.
Decoy Resulted In Towed Vehicle – On November 3, 2019, CPOs Tyler Routon, Brett Clawson, and James Hale conducted a decoy operation in Franklin County. At approximately 12:15 am, a white truck drove off the road, and entered the field with its headlights oriented towards the decoy. The vehicle then backed up and continued down the road. CPO Routon conducted a traffic stop. He identified the driver and found that he was operating on a DUI related revoked license. The vehicle was towed to impound for the 30-day mandatory hold, and appropriate charges were placed.
Bait and More in Campbell County – On the first Sunday of the early muzzleloader season, CPO Cory Harbour followed up on a baited site he had located and been checking during archery season. There was a stand in close proximity to a homemade feeder consisting of a 5 gallon bucket, and piping, which was used to distribute corn. Officer Harbour checked the stand that afternoon and found a man hunting it with a shotgun instead of a muzzleloader. Officer Harbour located another hunter in a climbing stand only about 50 yards from the first hunter, also in close proximity to the bait. He found that neither subject had hunting licenses, however, both claimed that they were on family land and did not think they needed licenses. However, through further inquiry, Officer Harbour determined that they did not qualify for a license exemption. The second hunter was actually using a muzzleloader and said it was the first time he had been there. Neither subject had any blaze orange clothing on their person, which is required to travel and from their stands during the muzzleloader season. Officer Harbour made the appropriate charges.
Spotlight Call Leads to Suspended Driver – On October 28, 2019, CPO Kevin Webb received a call in reference to spotlighting in Nottoway County. Officer Webb responded to the scene and made contact with the complainant who reported hearing shots fired after dark. He decided to stage in the area in case the suspects returned and after a short while, he observed a pickup truck stop in the roadway for an extended period during which the headlights illuminated a nearby field. Officer Webb initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle and made contact with the operator who seemed extremely nervous. He determined the driver was not involved in any spotlighting activity but her driver’s license was suspended. The appropriate charges were placed. The operator was allowed to call a neighbor to assist her with removing the vehicle. When the neighbor arrived, Webb recognized her as the original complainant and the reason he was at the location to begin with.
Casual Contact Leads to Drug Arrest – On November 4, 2019, CPO Justin Rogers was on patrol in Buckingham County. Working proactively, Officer Rogers decided to make contact with a local hunt club, to establish rapport. As he approached a cabin located on the hunt club’s property, he observed one individual standing beside a pickup truck talking to another individual who was inside the truck. Officer Rogers made contact and initiated a conversation with the individuals during which he noticed the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. The subject inside the vehicle stepped out and Officer Rogers continued to smell the odor of marijuana emanating from his person. When questioned, the subject admitted to smoking marijuana and turned over a loaded marijuana pipe. The appropriate charge was placed.
Trespassing and Hunting from a Vehicle While Using Drugs –CPO Cory Harbour had received information relating to trespassing to hunt in Campbell County. He was conducting a foot patrol on the property during muzzleloader season when he found a Jeep parked in the location of the suspected trespassers. He began to observe the Jeep when it started up and made a lap around the field passing by his location. The Jeep then returned and Officer Harbour stepped out and stopped it. The driver stated that they had been on the property earlier in the week but had only seen a buck run off and had not shot, but he returned to look for sign. The passenger was sitting in the vehicle with a shotgun by his leg and claimed he uses a wheelchair so the other man drives him around. The shotgun was loaded with buckshot, his window was down, and he admitted that he would have shot a deer if they saw one. CPO Harbour had also detected the odor of marijuana upon his initial contact with them. He inquired about the presence of marijuana. The passenger pointed to a joint lying on the console between them and then presented a small orange bag containing several burnt joints in a pill bottle, a lighter, some rolling papers, and a grinder, stating that it was marijuana. Aside from trespassing, hunting from a vehicle, and using a shotgun during muzzleloader season, both men also admitted to having smoked the joint on the console that evening. Officer Harbour not only caught the trespassers, but also may have prevented a more serious incident due to the subjects hunting while under the influence of drugs. CPO Harbour explained the process for the handicapped passenger to obtain a permit to hunt from the vehicle and all appropriate charges were placed.
Fresh Deer Bait –CPO John Daniel received a call from a former CPO, who was hunting in Amherst County, when he walked up on a man hunting from a stand that had corn dusted with apple powder and a mineral block in front of it. The former CPO explained to the man that he could not hunt over the bait and then called CPO Daniel. The suspect was at a maintenance shed on the property collecting equipment to clean up the bait when Officer Daniel arrived. He claimed that he had removed the feeder back in August and had not had the means to clean up the rest of the bait. CPO Daniel, and the suspect, went back to the baited location and the mineral block was now gone. He continuously claimed there was no block, despite a perfect imprint at the location of a block, and the explanation that the witness was a former CPO. The suspect also claimed that the corn was from August and was molded and sprouting despite John showing him it was yellow and firm and the powder was still there attracting deer. Appropriate charges were placed and an explanation provided that all food, mineral, or other substance placed to attract deer must be completely removed by September 1st according to law.
Poachers Caught with Their Tailgate Down – On November 10, 2019, CPO Eric Dotterer was on patrol in Pittsylvania County, looking for spotlighting activity, when he observed a pickup truck cast a light into an adjacent field. The vehicle continued down the road and, once out of sight, a single gunshot rang out. Officer Dotterer followed the vehicle and made contact with two subjects, who were now outside the pickup truck with the tailgate down. Officer Dotterer looked inside the vehicle and in plain sight there were two rifles and a spotlight plugged into the vehicles power outlet. The deer the subjects poached was located nearby. When interviewed, the subjects admitting to using the spotlight to shoot the deer illegally. The appropriate charges were placed.
Persistence Pays Off – On November 16, 2019, CPO Kevin Webb responded to a call for service in Nottoway County, in which a subject had reportedly stopped in the roadway, and fired three shots from the vehicle into an adjacent field. The caller provided enough information so as to be used to identify a suspect. Officer Webb conducted a preliminary search of the field and the area adjacent to the roadway in the dark but did not find any evidence. Later that evening, he made contact with the suspect and conducted a field interview. The suspect initially denied any involvement but through persistent questioning, admitted his daughter, who was a passenger in the vehicle, shot at a deer in the field. Officer Webb returned to the location of the incident the following day and was able to locate a trophy sized buck lying in the field approximately 100 yards from the roadway. The appropriate charges are pending.
Citizen Information Leads to Arrests – On November 19, 2019, CPO Justin Rogers received information regarding illegal night hunting in Cumberland County. Based on the information, he responded to the suspect’s residence to conduct an interview. Immediately upon pulling into the driveway, Officer Rogers noticed fresh deer parts, and a liner from the back of an SUV, covered in blood. The suspect was questioned about this. He attempted to explain them away by stating they were harvested legally in the field adjacent to his house. At Officer Rogers’ request, the suspect took him into the field but there was no evidence that a deer had been harvested there. Upon further questioning, the suspect admitted he and another individual killed two deer the night before while spotlighting. The suspect informed Officer Rogers that the other subject was in possession of two illegally harvested deer and gave precise locations where evidence could be found. Officer Rogers responded to the second suspect’s residence and conducted an interview. The second suspect also admitted to the illegal spotlighting activity and additional evidence was acquired. The appropriate charges are pending.
Multiple Violations Detected in Martinsville – On November 21, 2019, CPO Bruce Young received information regarding multiple hunting violations in the City of Martinsville. CPO Young responded to the scene and made contact with the suspect who was in possession of an 8-point antlered deer. Officer Young conducted an interview with the suspect and learned he was hunting with another individual when he shot the deer with a crossbow. The deer crossed over onto property upon which they did not have permission to hunt or retrieve game. The subjects went onto the property anyway and retrieved the deer. A records check revealed neither subject had a valid state hunting license or big game license. It was also discovered the suspect’s girlfriend attempted to conceal his violations by checking the deer in as a license exempt hunter in Franklin County once law enforcement became involved. The appropriate charges were placed on all three violators.
Multi-Jurisdictional Operation Leads to Arrests – On November 21, 2019, CPOs Dale Owens, Bruce Young, Eric Dotterer, Tyler Routon, and Sgt. Tim Dooley participated in a Special Operation in Patrick County in an attempt to thwart illegal night hunting activity. The Operation was coordinated by CPO Ben Boyette and Sgt. Adam Keene in conjunction with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. During the operation, officers from North Carolina utilized an aircraft along the Virginia-North Carolina border and acted as the eyes in the sky. A short while after launching the aircraft, spotlighting activity was detected in the Ararat community of Patrick County. CPO Owens was able to utilize his knowledge of the county to guide CPO Young and Sgt. Dooley to the area. However, the aircraft lost sight of the violators before the officers arrived. The officers were patrolling the area searching for the offenders when they observed light emanating from a nearby shed. The officers made contact with the individuals inside the shed and conducted interviews. The subjects initially denied the accusations until the officers noticed a vehicle parked on the property with two firearms and a spotlight in the front passenger compartment. Further examination revealed the engine was still warm from recent use. When confronted with the overwhelming evidence, the suspects admitted to driving through a nearby field and using a spotlight attached to the vehicle to “look for coyotes.” Neither subject was licensed to hunt, the driver, who admitted to operating on the highway, was revoked out of North Carolina, and the vehicle he was driving was not properly titled or registered. The appropriate charges were placed on both individuals involved.
Region III – Southwest
Two Bear Hunting Dogs, Killed – On Oct 2, 2019, CPO Sgt. Adam Keene received a request for assistance from Wythe County Animal Control in reference to two bear hunting dogs being killed on a property in the Gunton Park section of Wythe County. The dog owner had recovered the GPS tracking collars on the side of the road and they had been cut and destroyed. The next day, Officer Rorabaugh, K9 Officer Billings along with K9 Josie, and Sgt. Keene were able to locate the dead dogs and a spent shotgun shell and wading near a large pile of corn. A necropsy of the dogs was conducted and shotgun pellets consistent with the shotgun shell found by the officers were recovered from the dogs. The officers obtained a search warrant in preparation for interviewing the suspects. The following day, Officer Rorabaugh, Officer Akers, Officer Harris and Sgt. Keene assisted in interviewing the property owner, who admitted to pursuing and killing the dogs. The shotgun used to kill the dogs was seized along with matching ammunition. A friend of the property owner was interviewed and also admitted to helping remove, destroy, and dump the collars. The officers have obtained multiple felony and misdemeanor charges on the two individuals responsible for killing the dogs and destroying evidence.
Illegal Hunting Over Bait – On Oct. 26, 2019, CPOs Anders and Chillcott were investigating a complaint of illegal hunting over bait in the eastern end of Wythe County. The officers located an individual in a tree stand hunting over a mineral block. Upon questioning, the hunter advised that there were three other hunters on the property with him. Officers Anders and Chillcott located the additional hunters at their tree stands and discovered each were baited with corn. The hunters were cooperative and admitted that they had put the corn and mineral block out earlier so that they could deer hunt the area. Each hunter also admitted to previously hunting the area multiple times this year. Appropriate charges were placed on each hunter.
CPO Assists USFS in Decoy Operation – On October 24, 2019, CPO Tyler Sheets assisted USFS LEOs with a deer decoy operation on US Forest Service property in Smyth County where Officer Sheets and USFS personnel had been receiving complaints of road hunting. The Officers surveillance of the area, utilizing the USFS Decoy had not been set up very long, when a pickup truck was observed traveling slowly in their direction. The operator of the vehicle stopped in front of Officer Sheets’ position and exited the cab of the truck to retrieve a crossbow. The subject proceeded to load the crossbow and fire a single shot in the direction of the decoy, while standing in the roadway. The Officers identified themselves and made contact with the individual. After a brief interview with the subject, the appropriate charges were placed.
Hunting with a Shotgun During Closed Season – On October 28, 2019, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Dylan Harding, Matt Meade, Derrick Rickels and K-9 Officer Mark VanDyke responded to hunting during closed season situation in Wise County. The suspect had shot a deer with a shotgun from the railroad tracks in front of an off duty deputy, that called in the complaint. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the suspect shot directly towards a road and several houses; he also violated an active protective order by having a firearm in his possession. CPO Harding arrested the subject and took him before a magistrate to place appropriate charges while K-9 Avery and CPO’s VanDyke, Rickels, and Meade attempted to locate more evidence via a K9 search. The officers also interviewed multiple eye witnesses and recovered several pieces of evidence, including the firearm used. Multiple charges were placed.
DUI Suspect Arrested – On November 2, 2019, at around 0100 hours, Virginia CPO Sgt. James Hale was traveling through Dickenson County when he came across a motor vehicle parked, but running beside the road with the engine running. As Sgt. Hale got closer, he noticed a person hanging out the driver’s side of the car. When Sgt. Hale came in behind the vehicle the subject sat up, opened the car door turned off the car and came staggering towards Sgt. Hale as he approached the car. The male subject had the strong odor commonly associated with consuming alcohol about his person, was very off balance, and very belligerent. The subject advised that he had 6 shots of Jack Daniels earlier that night. Sgt. Hale offered Field Sobriety Tests and started with HGN. The suspect displayed all 6 clues of HGN. After the HGN test, due to safety concerns and the subject’s very drunken unsteady state Sgt. Hale arrested him for DUI and took him for testing on the Intoxilyzer. The suspect tested 0.24 BAC.
Ongoing Investigation to Hunting Incident – On November 9, 2019, CPO Tyler Sheets was dispatched to a report of a hunting incident occurring in the Rich Valley area of Smyth County. The initial investigation indicates that the victim was attempting to take a coyote with a rifle and after discharging, bent over to retrieve a spent shell casing. The victim was wearing a handgun in his waistband/pocket area. While bending over to retrieve the shell casing, the handgun discharged. The victim sustained a single gunshot wound to his upper left thigh and was transported to the Smyth County Community Hospital by his father. He was treated in the ER for what was determined to be a life threatening injury, and immediately flown to Johnson City Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery. As of Sunday, Officer Sheets with the assistance of Senior K-9 Officer Billings and “Josey”, had obtained and visited the location of the incident site, and CPO Derek Rickels had attempted an interview with the victim at Johnson Memorial Hospital. Officer Sheets was able to confirm that the victim in the incident came through surgery well, and is expected to recover fully from the injuries sustained in the incident. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Charges Placed on Trespassers – On Nov 2, 2019, CPOs Anders, Rorabaugh, Akers and Billings and K9 Josie responded to a report of individuals trespassing to hunt. Officers Rorabaugh and Akers entered the property from the western end, while Officers Anders and Billings went to the eastern boundary. Upon arrival Officer Anders located the suspect vehicle parked at the property line under a powerline. K-9 Officer Billings cast Josie on the track and within 5 minutes had located the suspects hunting under the powerline. Officer Billings escorted the individuals, back to their vehicle where appropriate charges were placed against them.
Chronic Wasting Disease Checkpoint – On Nov 2, 2019, CPOs from District 32, a wildlife biologist, along with deputies and Officers from Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Alleghany County North Carolina Sheriff’s Office, and North Carolina Highway Patrol conducted a checkpoint on Route 21 at the Virginia and North Carolina State Line. Conservation Police Officers from Virginia and North Carolina contacted multiple hunters traveling through the checkpoint and educated them on chronic wasting disease (CWD) and the transportation of deer carcasses across state lines.
Large Buck Shot from Vehicle – On Nov 2, 2019, CPOs Akers and Sgt. Keene received information about an individual shooting at a nice buck from the road in Wythe County. The officers responded and met with the complainant who advised that they had observed the suspect vehicle traveling the road all morning. The last time the vehicle passed they heard it stop, a shot fired, and the vehicle take off down the road. A short time later the complainant observed the same suspect with additional subjects walking the property. Officer Billings and K9 Josie responded and assisted with locating blood evidence and conducting a track of the wounded deer. The officers then conducted an interview of the suspect and his son, who went to help locate the deer. The suspect initially denied the allegation, but soon admitted that he had shot at a large buck from his vehicle and the road. Multiple charges are pending.
Bait Investigation Concluded – On Nov 2, 2019, CPOs Akers and Sgt. Keene concluded a bait investigation in Wythe County. The officers found the stands empty with the bait removed at first light and preceded to the residence on the property to interview the landowner. The landowner admitted to placing the bait and hunting over it during this hunting season. Two of the landowner’s sons were also present at the resident and both admitted to hunting over bait during this season and during firearms season last year. Multiple charges are pending.
Hunting Near Bait – While conducting a foot patrol on private property in Carroll County, CPO Boyette located a salt block in the edge of a field. He also located the owner of the property hunting near the salt block but the owner denied placing the bait and identified another individual that had placed the bait. Officer Boyette also located a camera over the bait and corn that was scattered on the ground. Within a few days, the officer was able to make contact with the subject who had placed the bait for a follow-up interview. This subject admitted to placing the bait and killing a small buck out of the stand. Further investigation revealed this buck had not been checked. Appropriate charges are pending for both subjects.
Trespassing to Hunt– On November 16, 2019, Senior CPO George Shupe received a complaint in reference to hunters trespassing to hunt on property in Tazewell County. Officer Shupe arrived on scene and spoke with the complainant, who had initially confronted the hunter trespassing on her property. The complainant advised Officer Shupe that the subject had shot a buck on her property. Officer Shupe made contact with the suspect at the scene, and initiated an interview with him, learning that the subject had shot twice on the property in question. At that time it was also learned that two members of the subject’s family were still hunting on the property. After a foot patrol of the property, Officer Shupe located the other two subjects in the woods, as well as the antlered deer that had been taken. The appropriate charges in the incident were placed on all three subjects found, to include hunting without required licenses, failing to wear blaze orange / pink clothing while hunting during the deer firearms season, as well as trespassing to hunt.
Deer Taken by Use of Lights – CPO’s Daniel Ross and Joel Early received information about a deer that was taken by the use of lights and located at a residence in Russell County. Officer Early responded to the residence and after making contact with a subject and another family member, found a trophy sized antlered deer at the residence. Initiating an interview with the subject identified as checking in the deer, Officer Early found that the subject had taken the deer with an unauthorized weapon. Acting on prior information, in which Officer Early became aware of through Officer Ross, the suspect was also believed to have conspired with a convicted local poacher to take the deer. During the interview, the suspect refused to give any further information about the incident, but was found to have posted the picture on social media from his cell phone. On Friday, November 15th; Officer Early obtained a search warrant for the mobile device and the unauthorized firearm used in the incident, completing service at the suspects’ residence with the assistance of Officers Ross, and K9 Officer Mark Vandyke. The “Trophy Class” antlered deer was seized, as well as a mobile device and firearm used in the incident. The mobile device is being turned over for review by a qualified Virginia State Police Investigator, due to the nature of sensitive evidence discovered on the device at the time of seizure. Charges are pending in the Incident.
Foot Patrol Fisherman Check Becomes Much More – On November 11, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks was on patrol when he observed a subject fishing the Clinch River in the Raven section of Tazewell County. Officer Brooks conducted a foot patrol in order to check the subject for creel and fishing license compliance. Officer Brooks approached the fisherman and observed another subject lying on the ground next to the river. Officer Brooks spoke to the subject, asking if he needed any assistance. When the subject acknowledged Officer Brooks’ presence, he immediately became nervous, visibly shaking. As Officer Brooks walked toward the subject, his actions indicated that he was hiding something behind his back. Officer Brooks commanded the subject to show his hands, for officer safety purposes. The subject responded by stating that he did not have anything on his person, except a needle (syringe). As Officer Brooks began a “Pat Down” of the subject for officer safety purpose, he felt what he thought was a firearm in the small of the subject’s back near the belt line. At that time, the subject tried to flee the area. Officer Brooks made physical contact with the subject, stopping him. The subject began to resist arrest and struck Officer Brooks in the process, momentarily breaking one of his arms and hand free, during which he threw a handgun into the river. At that point, the subject was effectively restrained and handcuffed by Officer Brooks, who was injured in the incident. Tazewell County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement personnel arrived on the scene, shortly thereafter, and a search for the firearm was attempted without success. The subject was subsequently taken before a magistrate, and charges including possession of a firearm by convicted felon, obstruction of justice by resisting arrest, assault on a conservation police officer and possession of a syringe, were placed on the subject. The fisherman, who Officer Brooks had initially observed, was not related to the incident, and provided a written statement as a witness to the incident.
Logging Site Hunting Shenanigans – On November 14, 2019, CPO Matthew Arnold received a tip that multiple deer had been killed by workers of a logging company, near the Virginia-Tennessee state line, in the Denton Valley area of Washington County near the town of Damascus, by workers of a logging company. Officer Arnold arrived at the location and discovered two antlerless deer that had been killed. After interviewing three subjects, he received confessions from two of them stating they had killed the deer with a .270 rifle during the muzzle loading deer season. After speaking to the subjects about other illegal activities in the area, Officer Arnold discovered other deer were also taken out of season by fellow workers. Officer Arnold was able to locate another logger implicated in the illegal activity later that day and discovered an 8 point buck deer had been taken as well with a .270 caliber rifle. During his investigation, Officer Arnold discovered the worker who had killed the 8-point antlered deer was in the United States illegally, and was also out of incarceration on bond at that time and was not allowed to possess a firearm. After speaking to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Officer Arnold obtained a warrant of arrest for the subject for taking deer during closed season. Upon transport of the suspect to the Regional Jail Authority in Abingdon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials took over the investigation for illegal possession of a firearm and unlawful residency. Numerous wildlife – related charges were placed in the incident on several subjects by Officer Arnold, for multiple violations found at the logging site.
Multiple Charges on Hunters in Washington County – On November 16, 2019, CPO Matthew Arnold was conducting a foot patrol of an illegal bait site in Washington County. While monitoring the area, he heard multiple gunshots, and noticed several hunters in a large field in the area of his patrol. Upon making contact and subsequent interviews with three suspects found hunting, Officer Arnold discovered two deer had been taken, with one of the subjects illegally retrieving an 8 point buck that he had shot, which had ran over onto posted property. Multiple charges were placed in the incident, including hunting over bait, illegally taking deer, trespass, and fail to wear blaze orange / pink during the deer firearms season.
Extremely Thankful Father – On November 16, 2019, CPO Matthew Arnold was off duty at his home when a vehicle drove past his residence, and stopped. After approaching the vehicle, CPO Arnold discovered the driver was a father who was looking for his seven year old son, who was missing. The driver was very distraught and claimed his son had driven off on a go-cart on state maintained roads. Officer Arnold immediately checked back into service, notifying Washington County Sheriff’s Office of the incident, and began assisting in the search for the missing child. After searching the nearby highways, Officer Arnold discovered the child parked in a driveway of a residence. It was learned that a passing motorist had stopped the child after seeing him driving on the highway. After notifying authorities, Officer Arnold transported the child back to his home. Officer Arnold was able to contact the child’s father, who arrived minutes later. The father, being relieved to have his son safe, was extremely thankful. Officer Arnold later assisted the father with loading the go-cart back into his vehicle and out of the driveway where it was left.
Road Hunter – On November 09, 2019, CPOs Mark Shaw and Lee Wensel observed a pickup truck blocking traffic, parked in the roadway along a powerline right of way. There was a lady and a young child inside the vehicle. A male subject was seen about 40 yards from the vehicle in the powerline right of way carrying a muzzleloader. He was not wearing blaze colored clothing. The male stated a deer ran across the road in front of him. He had stopped and shot at the deer. The property was posted and he did not know who the property owner was. The road hunter was charged for the violations.
Anonymous Complaint Leads to Charges – An anonymous complaint was received on November 10, 2019, by CPOs Gene Wirt, Mark Shaw, and Lee Wensel. The complaint advised a group of hunters had illegally killed a nine point buck with a high-powered rifle. The hunters were still on the property where the deer was killed. Still being muzzleloading season, the officers responded and found the trio in possession of the deer and high powered rifles. One of the suspects admitted to the illegal kill and was charged. His confession indicated they had seen the deer from the road and drove into the field for the kill.
Elk Heads Recovered – CPOs Gene Wirt and Lee Wensel investigated information received from a Tennessee Wildlife Officer. The Tennessee officer sent a social media picture of people posing with two elk heads at the rear of a truck bearing a Virginia license tag. With that information, Wirt and Wensel located the truck in Craig County. Further investigation revealed the elk had been harvested in Colorado and the elk heads had been transported back into Virginia intact. The officers recovered the heads and both hunters were charged for importing cervids into Virginia from a CWD location.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Illegal Activities Being Investigated Along with US Forest Service – On Thursday September 26, 2019, CPO Gardner assisted U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers in conducting two search warrants in Bath County. USFS LEOs and Officer Gardner found several structures built with illegally harvested lumber from the National Forest, marijuana plants, ginseng, and approximately 10 cords of illegally cut firewood from the National Forest, and 3 undocumented European-style deer skull mounts. Officer Gardner then assisted the USFS with executing the second search warrant where an additional undocumented harvested deer, deer feeders, an operating moonshine still, more structures built with illegally harvested lumber, an operating saw mill along the border of the National Forest, several miles of bulldozed “logging roads” built on National Forest, and thousands of board feet of illegally harvested lumber from the National Forest were found. The investigation is ongoing, and charges are currently pending.
CPOs Take Time to Educate Juveniles Rather than Charge Them with Hunting Violations – While on patrol on Nov. 5, 2019, Special Agent Paul Inge and CPO Jacob Chaffin were traveling in Albemarle County on a road frequented by a local hunt club. Up ahead, CPO Chaffin observed two individuals walking in the road, one of whom was carrying a rifle. As the officers approached, the two individuals stepped off the road onto private property, and attempted to hide the gun. The officers exited their vehicle and took possession of the rifle, a Marlin 30-06, for their safety. The two individuals were found to be juveniles, 14 and 15 years of age, who were on their way to go deer hunting with the rifle despite it being muzzleloader season and not having permission to hunt on any of the nearby properties. The officers also found that neither of the young men had any of the required hunting licenses, had never taken a Hunter Education course, and were not wearing blaze orange as required by law. It quickly became apparent to the officers that the young men were not familiar with hunting or the associated game laws. The officers escorted the teenagers back to their residence where they met with their parents. Despite the numerous game law violations (16 in total), the officers released the juveniles to their parents with only warnings. The officers then took time to sit down with the family and educate them about hunting and game laws in order to hopefully avoid any future problems.
Hunters Trespass While Tracking Black Bear – On November 3, 2019, Senior CPO Mark Sanitra responded to a complaint of hunters trespassing while tracking a black bear in Prince William County. Upon arriving on scene Sanitra observed several hunters at their vehicles. Sanitra made contact and after conducting interviews determined who shot the bear. He discovered this hunter did not possess a bear tag. Further investigation revealed that the subjects were also hunting over bait and another hunter had no licenses at all. Sanitra assisted in tracking the bear but it could not be located. The appropriate charges were placed.
Patience Paid Off After Two Year Investigation – On November 3, 2019, after a two year investigation of a baited deer hunting site, Officer Eric Plaster apprehended the suspect. Upon arriving at the location in the early morning hours Plaster observed a new ground blind. He looked in the blind and observed a muzzleloader and backpack, but no suspect. After a short search he observed the suspect dragging a buck back to a home. The suspect admitted to baiting and he did not have a muzzleloader license. He was charged with both of these violations.
Heavy Equipment Hunting at Work, is a No No – On November 7, 2019, Sergeant Rich Goszka and Senior CPO Mark Sanitra responded to the town of Dumfries in Prince William County regarding illegal deer hunting activity. The investigation revealed that a worker at a local recycling plant, shot and killed a buck from his heavy equipment loader. He then loaded the deer into the bucket and took it to a remote location on the property and field dressed it. He took the deer and rifle home on his lunch break. The officers interviewed numerous witnesses and collected evidence. The suspect eventually confessed to the crime and the deer and .22 cal rifle that the suspect hid were seized. Charges will be obtained for numerous violations of law.
Confession Obtained for Shooting Deer – On the evening of November 8, 2019, Sergeant Rich Goszka received a complaint from a homeowner that the prior day she heard a gunshot close to her home. The next day she located a dead deer in her yard with a bullet hole. On November 9th, Sgt. Goszka and K9 Officer Glen Cramer arrived to investigate. K9 Waylon was deployed and the officers conducted a knock and talk at a neighboring home. At first the homeowner denied shooting a deer, but then confessed and took the officers to the location. At the scene a spent 20ga slug shotgun shell was discovered along with a can of natural deer lure. The subject confessed to shooting the deer with the shotgun slug. Charges are pending.
Driver Charged with DUI – On Nov. 13, 2019, CPO Jacob Chaffin was enroute to follow up on an investigation in the Free Union area of Albemarle Co. He came upon a white Ford pick-up truck driving down the center of the road, straddling the double yellow lines. As Officer Chaffin followed, the vehicle crossed over the double yellow lines two more times before dropping both passenger side wheels off the paved road onto the grassy shoulder. The vehicle traveled approximately a quarter of a mile with the passenger side tires off the road before almost striking a bridge rail. Officer Chaffin activated his emergency equipment to stop the vehicle. Before stopping, the truck again crossed the center lines and traveled about a hundred yards in the opposite lane, facing on-coming traffic. Once stopped, Officer Chaffin contacted the driver and immediately noticed a smell commonly associated with an alcoholic beverage coming from the driver, who had glassy, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Officer Chaffin asked the driver if he had any previous DUI charges, and he stated that he had one previously, but had not drank any alcohol in 6 months because he was attending AA meetings. The driver attempted to perform field sobriety tests, but exhibited numerous clues of impairment. The preliminary breath test revealed the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to be .178. Officer Chaffin placed the driver under arrest and transported him to the Albemarle Co. Regional Jail where he blew a .15 on the evidential breath test. The driver was charged with DUI, second offense within five years with an elevated BAC.
Districts Team Up for CWD Checkpoint – On Nov.16, 2019, the opening day of general firearms deer season, CPOs Bostic, Eller, Guizar, Newton, Palmisano, and Sumpter along with Sergeants Boulanger and Bullard conducted a wildlife checkpoint on Elys Ford Road in Spotsylvania County from 1600 hours until 1900 hours. The intent of the checkpoint was to ensure that deer carcasses were not leaving DMA2 and entering Spotsylvania County. Persons entering the checkpoint who were hunting that day were checked for license and compliance with CWD regulations and other game laws. General violations of law were enforced on everyone entering the checkpoint if they were in plain view, severe, and incidental to the wildlife checkpoint. Ninety-five vehicles entered the checkpoint, 35 hunters were inspected, and a number of violations were detected including violating the new CWD carcass regulation for DMA2, driving on a suspended license, driving on an expired license by a hunter who claimed he was not hunting even though he was wearing hunting clothing and in possession of a hunting rifle, possession of marijuana, and reckless driving by two individuals who attempted to drive around the checkpoint by driving in the wrong lane. Only positive comments were received by the public. Statements such as “Thank y’all for what you are doing”, “This is awesome you guys are doing this”, and “Glad you all are doing this” were received by all the officers participating in the check point by numerous people.
CPO Saves Infant from Choking – On November 5, 2019, CPO Sgt. Boulanger was traveling on Interstate 64 in Augusta County when he observed a vehicle that had pulled over to the side of the highway and struck the guardrail. As Sgt. Boulanger was slowing down and surveying the scene, an adult female exited the vehicle while holding an infant and began hysterically flagging Sgt. Boulanger down. Sgt. Boulanger exited his vehicle and the female immediately approached him and stated her baby was choking. Sgt. Boulanger observed that the approximately 11 month old child had an extremely red face, which was covered in mucus and saliva. The child was conscious and appeared to be in distress, so Sgt. Boulanger took the child from the female and delivered two back blows, just in case the baby still had an airway obstruction. Sgt. Boulanger reassessed the child and determined that she was no longer choking. Sgt. Boulanger had local fire and EMS respond in order to ensure that the child was recovering appropriately. Within a few minutes, the baby was doing well and back to doing baby things.
Spotlighting – On Oct. 6, 2019, Senior CPO Chance Dobbs responded to a complaint of spotlighting in Augusta County. The caller witnessed a truck with blood on the tailgate using a handheld light to illuminate the fields. This area of Augusta County has had several complaints of spotlighting this year. Senior Officer Dobbs was able to locate the suspect truck and its owner using the information provided by the witness. The truck owner told the officer they had been driving home when a buck ran across the road in front of their vehicle. They used a hand held light to illuminate the deer. When asked about the blood on the truck tailgate, the suspect said he had killed a deer earlier in the day. The officer determined that several violations took place including spotlighting, failure to check deer, and hunting without licenses. The offenses were addressed appropriately.
Blood Trail Leads to Felon – On November 14, 2019, CPO Pritt located an area where a suspected felon had been possibly hunting, with a rifle, prior to general firearms deer season. On the morning of November 15, 2019, one day prior to the general firearms opener, Officers Pritt and Gardner began patrolling the area in an attempt to locate the suspect. As the officers were walking towards the location, they heard a gunshot and observed several deer running away from the area. The officers then located a blood trail and began following it. Both officers took up surveillance positions on a hilltop as movement could be heard below them. After a brief time, Officer Pritt observed an individual matching the description of the suspect walking through the woods. The suspect appeared to be carrying a rifle, not a muzzleloader which was an illegal weapon to be using to hunt deer on this day. When the suspect was approximately 30ft away, both officers stood up and identified themselves. The suspect, appearing surprised, was told to put his weapon down, and he did so. Once the proper checks were conducted, the suspect was confirmed to be a six time convicted felon. The suspect was placed under arrest for being in possession of a modern firearm and hunting closed season. The suspect was taken before a magistrate in Alleghany County and held without bond.
Intoxicated Hunter Arrested – On Nov. 19, 2019, CPOs Chris Heberling and Special Agent Paul Inge responded to a call regarding a possible intoxicated hunter in Albemarle County. A person wearing camouflage clothing had been seen drinking and then going into the woods with a firearm. CPO Heberling located the suspect’s vehicle and entered the wood line to catch the subject coming out of the woods. SA Inge entered the property from the opposite side in hopes of flushing the suspect towards CPO Heberling. The tactic worked. After a short wait, CPO Heberling spotted the suspect, wearing full camo and carrying a firearm, heading back toward his vehicle. As the officers closed in, the suspect attempted to hide, but was apprehended by CPO Heberling. The suspect was placed under arrest for hunting under the influence and transported to the Charlottesville/Albemarle Regional Jail. He was also charged with trespassing to hunt on posted property, and hunting without blaze orange/pink. The suspect agreed to a breath test which revealed a blood alcohol content of .20. The suspect was held at the jail until sober.
K9 Demo at Coeburn Middle School – On Oct 30, 2019 K-9 CPO Mark VanDyke and his K-9 partner Avery, conducted a K-9 demo for approximately 100 6th graders at Coeburn Middle School in Wise County. The students had to write an essay on pet care for their English class and for their hard work the teacher had asked Officer VanDyke and K-9 Avery to come and visit the 6th graders. Officer VanDyke was asked to speak to the students on K-9 care, and the role and responsibilities of DGIF’s K-9 units. Officer VanDyke also conducted a live demo on wildlife detection. Students and teachers were surprised at the abilities and daily duties of the K-9’s. After the presentation, students and staff were able to meet and interact with Avery. Before the students left, they sang Happy Birthday to Avery. October 30th was Avery’s 2nd birthday, Happy Birthday Avery.
K9 Officers and Partners Assist with Vehicle Being Shot – On Nov 15, 2019, K-9 CPO Mark VanDyke was contacted by Sergeant Hale to assist Wise County Sheriff’s Office and USFS (U.S. Forest Service) in an incident where a vehicle had been shot while traveling on Dungannon Rd in Wise Co. K-9 Senior CPO Wes Billings also responded to assist. While on scene, officers were notified by a resident, whom observed two hunters being dropped off in the Jefferson National Forest that morning. The hunters were dropped off in the area where the vehicle had been shot. Officer VanDyke along with his K9 partner Avery and Senior Officer Billings began a search of the area. K-9 Avery hit on a track and followed the track to an empty soda bottle on a foot trail in close proximity to the road. Avery also located the tree where the two hunters had cleared away the leaves while hunting. The hunting location was also in close proximity to the road where the vehicle was shot. The K-9 officers notified the USFS Law Enforcement personal who were the lead investigators of the incident. The investigation is still on going and no injuries were obtained in the incident.
K9 Leads CPOs to Multiple Charges – On November 16th, CPO Richard Howald and K9 Sky worked with Officer Michael Morris in Bedford County. During their patrol, the officers located fresh vehicle tracks and proceeded up a trail to locate the vehicle. Once the vehicle was located, K9 Sky began to track the hunter. Sky quickly picked up the track and located a treestand with corn spread around the ground. Sky continued the track and located a hunter a short distance away. The hunter admitted to sitting in the stand earlier in the morning and placing the bait out the week prior. Later in the day, the officers located a vehicle and the hunter was suspected of trespassing. Once again, Sky quickly picked up the track and quickly located the hunter. The hunter did not have any blaze orange displayed and was trespassing. Throughout the day, K9 Sky ran multiple successful tracks!
Senior Conservation K9 Police Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie Assist with Muzzleloader Season – While assisting Districts 31 and 32 over the first week of early muzzleloading deer season, the following is a list of violations detected that K9 Josie and Officer Billings were able to assist in:
- 5 tracks- 15 violations detected (License Violations, Trespass, Tagging and Checking Violations, Baiting)
- 5 wildlife detection uses- 2 violations detected (Shoot from Roadway, Trespass)
- Wildlife Checkpoint- Grayson County Sheriff, VDGIF, NC Wildlife Resources
- Special Operation Spotlight Patrol with VDGIF and NC utilizing aircraft from NC
K9 Meets with Sportsman Club – On November 13, 2019 Senior K9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and K9 Justice, were invited to the Commonwealth Sportsmans Club, held in Richmond Va. The banquet room was packed with 150 sportsman, who shared the interest of hunting and conservation of wildlife. Officer Billhimer and K9 Justice was able to interact with the hunters answering questions and educating the sportsman about the K9 program and the DGIF mission. One hunter approached Officer Billhimer and said “I heard a rumor that K9 Justice is so smart that he will tell you the limit of trout.” Officer Billhimer looked down at Justice and said “Justice, what is the limit of trout.” The sportsman recorded a video from his phone as K9 Justice barked 6 times with excitement!
K9 Locates Trespassers and Bait – On November 16, 2019 Senior K9 Officer Billhimer and K9 Justice responded to a possible trespass to hunt call in Rockingham County. Officer Billhimer deployed K9 Justice at the driver’s door of a vehicle with no license plate. The truck only displayed “farm use” tags. K9 Justice tracked from the vehicle directly to a hunter trespassing to hunt on private property and hunting over bait consisting of scattered shelled corn. The hunter also failed to have blaze orange clothing on. The hunter said he was by himself. However K9 Justice kept pulling in the tracking harness after finding the hunter. K9 Justice continued to track again directly to another hunter hiding behind a large fallen tree. This hiding hunter was also in violation and failed to have blaze orange clothing on and was hunting near a bait pile.
K9 and Handler Have Long Opening Day – On opening day of general firearms season, CPO Patrillo received a report of suspected trespassing hunters in Hanover County shortly after daylight. Officer Patrillo and K9 Bailey responded to the scene and located two vehicles parked in a suspicious location. Officer Patrillo deployed K9 Bailey and she immediately picked up the hunter’s track. Bailey was able to track the hunters across a road and over a guardrail. Bailey then tracked the hunters to a gas line and located the hunters several hundred yards from their vehicles. The hunters in question were in fact not trespassing and Bailey was able to settle an ongoing property line dispute. While discussing game laws with the hunters, Officer Patrillo received a call from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office requesting Bailey’s assistance with an attempted homicide investigation. Officer Patrillo and K9 Bailey responded to the scene and Bailey was able to verify the location where the shots were fired during the incident. While on his way home for the evening, Officer Patrillo received a call from Officer Rollings in Sussex County requesting Bailey’s assistance with a shooting from the road incident. Officer Patrillo and Bailey arrived on scene and at 8:30pm Bailey was able to locate the spent shotgun shell and determine the location of the shooter. After countless hours worked and over four hundred miles traveled, Bailey was able to nestle into a warm couch for a much deserved nap.
Convicted Felon Caught on Camera Looking for Firearm He Hid – On November 14, 2019, while patrolling Nelson, Senior K9 Officer Richard Howald observed a white truck parked in a wooded area well after legal hunting hours. Officer Howald walked up a wooded road in front of the truck to watch for a light or listen for anyone coming out. He then saw a light turn on at the top of the hill further up the road; the light then went off for a few seconds and then turned back on. Officer Howald asked the male subject what he was doing and he stated scouting for deer to archery hunt. When asked, the subject stated he did not have a gun with him and he had not left a gun in the woods. When asked why he had turned his light out he stated he liked to walk with his night vision, which he had in his hand. When asked why he was so nervous and in such a hurry to leave, the subject stated he did not expect to see anyone in the woods. The subject was then allowed to leave, which he did so in a hurry, almost backing into a street sign. Officer Howald left at the same time driving in front of the subject until he saw the subject turn on another road. Officer Howald then went back to the location and deployed K9 Sky; she worked for a few minutes along the wooded road and then located a .22 magnum rifle buried under the leaves. Officer Andrew Howald then arrived on scene and both officers set up to watch the area, when no one returned over the next couple of hours, the officers set up a camera watching the place the gun was recovered from. The officers also left a business card hanging on tree branch where the gun had been located, asking for the individual to give them a call. Just before 0200hrs the next day, the same subject can be seen on the camera using his night vision to look in the leaves for the gun. When the suspect saw the business card he turned on a light to read it, and he immediately left the camera’s view. He then returned to the area and walked around appearing to be looking for a camera. Both officers were able to identify the suspect and confirmed that he is a 10 time convicted felon and habitual offender. Charges are pending on consultation with the Commonwealth Attorney.
K9 Bailey Assists with Hunting Accident Investigation in Suffolk – On Nov. 23, 2019, Sgt. Brewer Contacted Officer Patrillo, to request K9 Bailey’s assistance with a hunting accident in Suffolk. When Officer Patrillo arrived on scene Officer’s Wakefield and Wiedel had already located the suspected shooter’s spent shell casing. Officer Patrillo deployed K9 Bailey and she quickly located a fresh wad and shot cup. The evidence located by Bailey in line with the suspected shooter’s location and the location of the victim. The incident is still under investigation.
K9 Josie and Senior K9 Officer Billings Assist with Opening Week – The K9 team ran 3 tracks in Region 3 and detected one violation. They also participated in a special operation spotlighting patrol with Regions 2 and 3 and the North Carolina Aircraft. Two vehicles were located spotlighting during this operation with multiple charges being placed.
Tactical Tracking Team and K9 Team Assist in Search – On November 17, 2019 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers Heine and Corrado responded to assist the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office when more units were requested by deputies on scene trying to arrest a suspect for drug related offenses. While attempting to make the arrest, a struggle ensued and the crowd became hostile towards law enforcement. One suspect then fled from the building, running out of a back door as CPO’s entered the building in the front with other responding units from Woodstock PD.
K9 Officer Billhimer deployed Justice, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Region 4 Tactical Tracking team followed sign up to a church in Woodstock, and decided to turn back and try a different location. With new information, the tracking team again deployed and came across dangerous terrain and decided to end the track. Even thou this was not a successful ending, it shows how multiple agencies work together to ensure public safety.