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CPO Spotlight: Meet Officer Mark VanDyke

CPO Mark VanDyke enjoying a day out fishing.

By Molly Kirk

Photos by courtesy of Mark VanDyke

Each month in the Conservation Police Notes from the Field email, we at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are going to highlight one of our Conservation Police Officers and find out what the job means to them. 

Name: Officer Mark VanDyke

Region and County of Assignment: Region III/No county of assignment/K-9 unit/Work Districts 33 & 34 areas

CPO Mark VanDyke and Avery, his K9 partner that is retiring soon.

CPO Mark VanDyke and Avery, his K9 partner that is retiring soon. Photo by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

What do you love about your job as a Conservation Police Officer (CPO) for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR)?

I love working outdoors and interacting and talking with other outdoor enthusiasts. I grew up in Russell County and can remember when I was a teenager how we went to Bath County to deer hunt due to a low deer population in Southwest Virginia. I have enjoyed and appreciate the efforts of DWR to restore the deer populations in Southwest Virginia.

Officer Mark VanDyke and K9 Avery on the job.

Officer Mark VanDyke and K9 Avery on the job.

What inspired you to become a CPO?

My love for the outdoor and wildlife. I grew up hunting and have always desired a career in law enforcement. Being a Virginia CPO allows me to combine my love for the outdoors and law enforcement into one perfect career.

An image of a man in icy water helping dock a boat An image of a man in icy water holding a bunch of dead ducks

What line of work did you do before joining the Department of Wildlife Resources?

I was a Johnson City, Tennessee, Police Officer and before that I was active duty military (Air Force). I graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelors degree in Criminology with a minor in Sociology.

What’s been your most memorable moment while working as a CPO?

There are too many to list, but I really enjoy hearing and interacting with kids that have caught their biggest fish or harvested their first deer. I also enjoy my current role as a K9 handler and watching my dog grow and develop and assisting other CPOs in the field. (Read about CPO VanDyke’s new K9 partner, Coal!)

What wildlife and/or outdoor activities do you participate in on your own time?

I love to hunt, deer and  waterfowl mostly, river fishing, kayaking, and camping. I love to trout fish and chase big red-eye and smallmouth on the Clinch River. Getting older (and wiser?!) has made me give up tent camping and purchase an RV.  My family and I enjoy taking the camper to the beach where I get to enjoy surf fishing.

If you’re interested in a career in law enforcement with DWR, click here: or email

  • May 27, 2021