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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

February 7-13, 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

Complainant Revealed as Violator – On December 26, 2017 Virginia Conservation Police Officer Joe Rollings received a message through DGIF dispatch regarding a Gloucester County hunter who advised that a CPO had taken his trail camera and he would like it returned. The hunter also gave a location behind a scrapyard of where his game camera was deployed. Officer Rollings contacted the hunter and advised him that he did not have any knowledge of this particular camera, but he would look into the matter. During this conversation, the hunter also stated that someone had placed bait in front of the camera in question. Upon investigating the matter, Officer Rollings made contact with the scrapyard owner. The owner explained to Officer Rollings that an investigator from Gloucester S.O. had been allowed to go into the rear yard looking for a vehicle part. The investigator saw the pile of corn and trail camera, recognized the violation and notified the owner. The scrapyard owner contacted the hunter, created a rouse, and told him that a CPO had taken his camera in order to keep him out of the area. The scrapyard owner showed Officer Rollings the location, which still had corn on the ground approximately 25 yards from a tree-stand. After conducting a thorough investigation, Officer Rollings was able to identify that the owner of the camera, who alleged that someone else had placed the bait, was in fact the person who placed the bait. It was also uncovered that the individual harvested an 11 point buck, which he did not check. Furthermore, to compound the matter, the suspect did not have any of the required hunting licenses. This was an excellent investigation that resulted in numerous charges.

Truth Should be First Choice – On January 6, 2018 Virginia Conservation Police Officer Cameron Dobyns met with an Essex County landowner who was complaining about a deer that had been killed on his property. Officer Dobyns was able to observe tracks in the snow where someone had killed two deer and drug them off the complainant’s property. Officer Dobyns collected evidence, and knowing which hunt club generally hunted that area, he casually inquired as to whom in the club had killed a deer that day. He later developed a suspect when he found in the DGIF game check database one of the club members had checked in a deer. When Officer Dobyns later interviewed the suspect, the man offered to take him to the location the deer was killed, claiming it was in King & Queen County. After following the man for some time, the man pulled into a driveway, got out and approached the officer. The suspect admitted he had not been truthful and confessed to where he actually killed the deer. He also confessed that he knew whose property it was and that he did not have permission. The appropriate charges were placed.

“Bright Eyes” Lead to Violator – On November 18, 2017 Virginia Conservation Police Officer Josh Thomas began investigating a trespass to hunt call in Gloucester County. Initially no evidence of trespassing could be found, but he continued nonetheless. In the following weeks he continued his patrols of the area and located a ladder stand and a game camera.  He later located a bright eyes trail (reflective thumb tacks) which led towards some nearby homes adjacent to the property. None of the permitted hunters, or landowner, knew who the camera, or ladder stand belonged too. Upon locating the trail and ladder stand, Officer Thomas deployed his own surveillance equipment. On January 06, 2018 Officer Thomas reviewed his data and observed on multiple days a suspect wearing camouflage, without blaze orange/pink, and carrying a firearm. In developing his suspect, Officer Thomas used DGIF’s databases to determine who in the area had purchased hunting licenses and harvested deer. One home in particular, where the bright eyes trail led to, was a match. On January 16, 2018 Officer Thomas went to the suspect’s home to discuss this matter further.  When the man answered the door, Officer Thomas recognized the suspect from the earlier photos taken of the trespasser. During the interview, the suspect first stated that he had killed 3 deer on a friend’s property. When confronted with the evidence that had been collected, the suspect admitted to killing the 3 deer on the property that he did not have permission to hunt. The appropriate charges were placed.

Region III – Southwest

Wild Game on the Menu – On Friday February 2, 2018, Officer Andy Rutledge and Officer David Peake attended the annual Sportsman Banquet at Riverview Baptist Church in Giles County. The banquet offered a variety of food including bear, deer, and turkey from outdoorsman throughout the county. There were approximately 500 in attendance and Officers Rutledge and Peake handed out Hunting and Fishing regulation books along with interacting with the Community and answering questions.

Repeat Offender – On February 3, 2018 Officer Boyette concluded an investigation that had begun with a Carroll County trespassing call that he and Officer Anders had responded to in December 2017. On that day officers located a subject who was trespassing on private property and stated he was looking for a deer that he had shot roughly a week before. The subject told officers that he had shot a buck with a bow and ended up losing the blood trail. He was unsure if the deer had ever died but was hoping to find it to retrieve the antlers. Officer Anders had already charged the individual earlier in the season for hunting violations. Officers determined that the subject had already checked in his season limit of bucks prior to the day he admittedly shot the buck he was looking for. He also admitted that he did not have permission to hunt on the property where he had shot the buck. The subject was charged with the appropriate charges.

Timing is Everything – In January 2018, Conservation Police Sergeant Adam Keene provided Conservation Police Officer Cody Hash with information from Wythe County in reference to a possible illegal bear kill in Smyth County. On February 5, 2018, Officer Hash located and interviewed the suspect as provided in the information. The suspect admitted to harvesting a black bear during archery season without a license and subsequently buying a license in the minutes following. The subject admitted he harvested the bear because it presented an opportunity and he had never had that chance before. Appropriate charges have been placed.

Multi-State Offender Caught before Breakfast – On February 7, 2018 Officer Jason Harris was off duty and had stopped at a local convenience store to grab a biscuit and drink for breakfast. Officer Harris noticed a vehicle sitting at the front of the store. As Officer Harris started to leave the store he noticed the truck still sitting there running and couldn’t see anyone in it. A closer look revealed there were two subjects in the truck, both of which were passed out. Officer Harris talked with the store clerk who advised that the male subject had fueled up the truck then told them he had forgot his wallet and would come back by and pay for the fuel. He then advised them that he would have someone bring money to pay for the fuel. Officer Harris contacted the Grayson Sheriff’s Office due to the suspicious behavior and once a deputy arrived on scene made contact with the occupants of the truck. After running the vehicle registration the truck was confirmed to be stolen out of Iowa and the operator of the truck was wanted out of Iowa for Larceny of Motor Vehicle, Fraud, and an additional Larceny charge. The subject was also wanted out of North Carolina for Felony Conspiracy and Larceny from an incident that had occurred on February 6, 2018. When questioned, the subject provided false information to Officer Harris and the Grayson Sheriff’s Deputy. Charges were placed in Grayson County for Grand Larceny, Obstruction of Justice, and Possession of Marijuana.

  • February 23, 2018