By DWR Conservation Police
In the 11th and 12th week of the 12th basic Conservation Police Officer Academy, recruits received training in skills unique to Conservation Police Officers working in the outdoors with wildlife.
Recruits spent a week and half at the driver training course learning how to operate a variety of patrol vehicles. Recruits drive through several different courses, including the basic operating, backing, control braking, rapid lane change, and emergency operating course, among other courses. Recruits are taught trailer operating and backing through various courses, which is essential for the variety of boats they will be trailering across the state once they hit the field. Specific to the CPO career in the woods, recruits learn the skills for off-road driving. Recruits also learned basic ATV and UTV operating skills, which are key for patrolling remote state and national forests in the mountains across the state.
The recruits also spent two days learning Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Identification both in the classroom and in the field. The training academy teamed up with DWR’s Aquatics Division to get the recruits some field experience for real-world fish identification. Recruits joined the DWR Aquatics Division on the James River for some fish shocking, sampling, and identification of the anadromous fish that migrate the river. Currently, this is spawning season for shad and striped bass on the James River. Recruits got to observe firsthand the data collection and how biologists monitor the health of the fish population across the state.
This understanding of how creel limits are set and the correct identification of fish species is crucial to the recruits’ career once they hit the field. Conservation Police Officers enforce the creel limits for freshwater and saltwater fish species across the Commonwealth ensuring a healthy population for future generations to come. Follow these recruits as their journey continues to graduation.