May 26 – June 8, 2021
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers’ (CPOs, or 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 of the Law Enforcement Division of DWR. 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 III – Southwest
Drowning at Rural Retreat Lake – On May 25, 2021, District 32 CPOs Harris and Rorabaugh received a call of a non-boating related drowning at Rural Retreat Lake. A teenage male had reportedly attempted to swim across the lake when he went missing. The officers arrived on scene with their patrol boat and assisted Wythe County Sheriff’s Office with the recovery. Christian Aid Ministries search and rescue also assisted with their boat and sonar to initially mark and locate the body. The recovery was made at 2300 hours.
Missing 84 -Year – Old Male Found Safe – On May 27, 2021, CPO Rutledge was requested by Giles County Sheriff’s Office to assist with a missing 84-year-old male with dementia. The male subject walked out of his residence into the woods nearby. Upon arriving on scene, the deputies were in the woods attempting to locate. Virginia State Police K9s and Department of Corrections K9s were contacted by GCSO. After running multiple tracks with K9 units CPO Rutledge and other personnel located an area the missing male had been previously. The subject was located later that night at approximately 10:30 p.m. with minor injuries. The subject was located by Blacksburg Rescue Search and Rescue teams.
Unwanted Visitor – On June 4, 2021, Sgt. John Koloda and CPO’s Rutledge and Wirt responded to the Dublin Volvo manufacturing plant for an unwanted visitor that had decided to enter and take a tour of the facility. A juvenile male bear must have heard the lunch whistle as he entered the building, and began walking through the hallways. He quickly made his way to a loading dock area where he scaled a steel vertical I-beam and found a comfortable spot to observe operations from the rafters. DWR Regional Wildlife Manager, Shannon Bowling, assisted Biologist Betsy Stinson, by formulating a plan to tranquilize the bear and carefully removed it from the building.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Throughout the Memorial Day weekend, officers from District 41 conducted several boat and foot patrols concentrating on areas of the district that consistently see elevated use during holiday weekends. These patrols yielded several fishing and boating law violations. The officers issued summonses and provided education on how to safely and legally fish and boat in the Commonwealth.
Lake Anna OUI – On the night of June 5, 2021, CPO Josh Guizar, CPO Tim Bostic, and Sgt. Steve Ferguson were patrolling Lake Anna. At approximately 11:00 pm, the officers encountered a boat displaying illegal lights which were drowning out the boat’s navigation lights. Upon stopping the boat, the officers immediately suspected that the operator may be under the influence of alcohol. Field sobriety tests, and admissions from the operator that he’d had too much to drink, confirmed the officers’ suspicions. CPO Guizar placed the operator under arrest for operating a boat under the influence. The officers then found out that no one else on the boat was familiar with Lake Anna, especially in the dark, and no one knew how to drive a boat. Arrangements were made to have the boat towed to the operator’s house, but the towboat had a delayed response time. By the time CPO Guizar arrived at Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office with the operator, almost 3 1/2 hours had passed since their first contact. A breath test was administered which showed a reading of 0.12, one and a half times the legal limit. Charges were placed for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol.
Low Flying Helicopter over Shenandoah River – On May 31, 2021 COP Ostlund was informed of an incident in which a helicopter was observed flying at very low levels and in close proximity of people and boats recreating on the waters of the Shenandoah River, in Page County, VA. On June 1, 2021 CPO Ostlund and CPO Chittum, in conjunction with the Luray Police Dept. obtained all relevant information about the incident, which included still images and a video clip of the helicopter; which was provided by a citizen. Due to the nature of the incident involving an aircraft, the information was forwarded to the FAA-FSDO District Office for investigation.