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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

December 25, 2019 – January 28, 2020

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

Spotlighter Shoots at Deer in Front of CPO in York County – On the night of December 24, 2019, Virginia CPO Josh Joyce was on a spotlight patrol in the lower end of York County when he observed a vehicle approaching his location on a closed road. The vehicle then stopped and a very dim light was seen shining out of the driver side of the vehicle and two small caliber rifle shots were fired from the vehicle. The vehicle then sped off and disappeared from sight before Officer Joyce could begin pursuit. Officer Joyce remained in his location and hoped the vehicle would return. Approximately 15 minutes later, a vehicle returned to the same area and stopped in the roadway. CPO Joyce observed both the driver and the passenger exit the vehicle with flashlights and run into the field. CPO Joyce exited his surveillance location and pulled in behind the subjects’ vehicle. The driver and the passenger were getting back into the vehicle as he conducted a traffic stop. The driver admitted to shooting twice out of the driver side window at a deer. When Officer Joyce asked if the deer they shot at was a big buck, the driver laughed, and stated “no it was a small 6-pointer”. Two loaded .22 caliber rifles, along with approximately 50 rounds of .22 caliber ammo were found in the vehicle.  Appropriate charges were placed on the driver for illegally spotlighting deer.

Intoxicated Hunter Caught Running Across a Field with Loaded Firearm – On December 26, 2019, Virginia Senior CPO Tyler Bumgarner, and Officer Jason Harris, who arrived only an hour earlier from southwest Virginia to assist Northern Neck CPO’s during the busy end of the general firearms deer season, were on patrol in Westmoreland County in an area historically known for wildlife violations.  Upon nearing the end of a dead end road the officers observed a car pulled off on the wrong side of the road with the driver door open into a cut soy bean field.  The officers then observed a subject running with a shotgun back to the car who was not displaying blaze orange.  When asked what he was doing the hunter stated he had just shot at a big buck that was standing in the back of the field.  A strong odor commonly associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages was detected during conversation with the hunter and his eyes were glassy.  When asked how much he had to drink, the hunter stated he had drunk nearly an entire large bottle of brandy on Christmas night.  When questioned whether the hunter had permission to hunt on the property, the hunter was unsure who the property owner was.  While speaking with the hunter Senior Officer Bumgarner noticed that the safety on the firearm the hunter was holding was in the fire position and a round was loaded in the chamber. Subsequently, the hunter was charged with hunting under the influence, trespassing to hunt and failing to display blaze orange.

Suspect Caught Shooting Decoy Deer from a Vehicle in Lancaster County – On December 28, 2019, Virginia Senior CPO Tyler Bumgarner, and Officer Jason Harris, conducted a deer decoy operation in Lancaster County where officers had received reports of hunters trespassing and shooting from the roadway.  At approximately 7:00 am a vehicle approached the area of the decoy deer and slowed down.  The subject in the vehicle was observed photographing and videoing the decoy with his phone.  A few moments later he was heard talking on his phone to someone about the deer he was watching.  He then told the person on the phone that he was going to shoot the deer.  Seconds later, Senior Officer Bumgarner observed a gun barrel come out of the driver side window and the subject fired one shot at the decoy.  The subject then took off and was quickly intercepted by Officer Harris.  Upon further investigation, it was determined the hunter’s shotgun, which was used to shoot the decoy, had the serial number defaced. The hunter was also in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun that was concealed without a permit. In addition to shooting the decoy deer from the vehicle with a firearm with defaced serial number and possessing a concealed weapon without a permit, the suspect also did not have a driver’s license. As a result of this encounter numerous charges were placed.

Felon Shoots from Roadway – On December 14, 2019, CPO Howlett received a call of a subject shooting from the roadway in New Kent County. A witness stated that he heard a gunshot near the driveway of his house and saw a suspect dragging a deer alongside of the road. When the suspect saw the homeowner, he dropped the deer and took off running and got into a waiting vehicle, which left the scene. The homeowner was able to get pictures and video of the vehicle as it left the scene. CPO Howlett was able to get a vehicle tag from the picture and the homeowner was able to provide a good description of the male suspect dragging the deer as well as the female driver of the vehicle. Ultimately, confessions were obtained from both the mother and daughter that the daughter’s boyfriend shot the deer from the back seat of the vehicle with a 20ga shotgun. Through their investigation, the officers learned that the shooter was a convicted felon and had hidden the shotgun. Officer Howlett conducted an interview with the male suspect later that evening where he confessed to shooting the deer and the firearm was recovered. The suspect was arrested at Henrico East Jail without incident where he was charged with two felony counts for firearm and ammunition violations by a convicted felon and four hunting misdemeanor violations.

Trespass Call Leads to Multiple Violations – On January 4, 2020 CPOs Chester and Chittum responded to a call for service in reference to subjects trespassing to hunt.  Upon arrival Chester and Chittum located the subjects who were carrying out a doe deer.  During the contact, Chester and Chittum were able to detect the odor of marijuana coming from the hunters.  After a search Officer Chester located marijuana in the backpacks of both subjects.  A concealed handgun was also located in the backpack of one of the subjects who did not possess a permit.  The appropriate charges were made.

Deer Decoy Operation – On January 23, 2020, CPOs in District 15 conducted a deer decoy operation in New Kent County to combat numerous road hunting and spotlighting complaints. Officers set up in a location which had previously had a deer shot from the road and other spotlighting activity during the deer season.  During the 4 hour operation, a pickup truck was stopped for casting a light into the field.  The driver was issued a summons for illegally spotlighting deer while in possession of a firearm.

CPO’s Catch Waterfowl Hunters Trespassing and Hunting Over Bait – In January 2020, CPO Brian Bratton received information that a subject had purchased 100 lbs. of corn and milo and that he was using it to bait ducks in Accomack Co.  Officer Bratton was familiar with this subject and knew the creeks that he likes to hunt.  Within a few days, Officer Bratton had located the bait and he noticed that the hunter had built a blind on the creek shore.  This piece of property is owned by the Nature Conservancy, which does not allow hunting.  While conducting surveillance on the blind, Officers Bratton and Pennino observed three people hunting from this blind.  At 7:30am when the officers made contact with the hunters, the officers discovered that the hunters had already shot a dozen birds.  After a brief field interview, it was determined that all three of the hunters were aware that the blind was baited and that all three of them, as well as two other people, were responsible for putting the bait out and building the blind.   Charges related to the placing and hunting over bait, as well as trespassing is pending in Norfolk Federal court.

Eastern Shore Hunters Caught Shooting Migratory Birds Under Power – On January 1, 2020, CPO Brian Bratton was sitting in the marsh observing hunters hunting along an island shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay in Accomack Co.  Around 8:30 am, the hunters began to pick up their decoys.  However, instead of heading back to the boat ramp, they began idling their boat along the edge of the island and shooting ducks from the boat.  The two hunters then moved along the shoreline and began throwing out decoys to hunt.    Officer Bratton contacted SGT Garvis who was close by with a boat.  The two officers launched the boat and made contact with the two hunters.  After a short field interview, the subjects admitted to shooting four surf scooters, but it was also determined that the hunters were new to duck hunting and that they had a misunderstanding of the law regarding shooting birds under power.    In light of this, Officer Bratton decided not to charge the hunters in federal court, as is tradition on the eastern shore for waterfowl violations, and instead the two hunters were charged in Accomack County court.

Eastern Shore CPO’s Pull Three Hunters from the Chesapeake Bay – On Sunday, January 19, 2020, CPO Tony Pennino, along with SGT Steve Garvis responded to the Cedar View boat ramp in reference to a capsized vessel with three subjects in the water. It was dark with an air temperature of 35 degrees and a water temperature of 43 degrees. According to the closest weather buoy, the wind was sustained at 31mph with 37mph gusts and the seas were 4-5 feet. In addition, due to the heavy sea water spray the mounted GPS on the vessel started to malfunction.  SGT Garvis and Officer Pennino, along with VMRC MPO Wessels, began to search the area of Nandua Creek by the Cedar View boat ramp.   The information they had received was that the subjects in the water were last reported to be by the ramp; however, there was no further information as to exact whereabouts. After searching for some time they observed a light in the distance, west of their location.  MPO Wessels, who was very familiar with the creek and the channel, then led them towards the light and signaled that he had found subjects in the water.  As they approached the capsized vessel they could hear the subjects calling for help.  When the officer arrived on scene, there was duck blind material, shotguns, decoys, and various boating related items floating in the water.  The vessel, a 14 foot Polar Kraft Jon boat, was overturned and floating in the rough seas.  All three were holding onto the overturned vessel and obviously in distress.

SGT Garvis and Officer Pennino maneuvered the patrol vessel to the subjects and began to pull them from the water.  Officer Pennino threw the bow line to one of the subjects who was able to grab a hold of it.  SGT Garvis and Officer Pennino then pulled him into the boat over the gunwale.  The second subject they encountered was obviously suffering from symptoms of hypothermia and was confused/ disoriented.  As the officers pulled him alongside the vessel and attempted to pull him on-board, the weight of the water in his waders, his inability to assist due to his condition, and the heavy wind and seas made it very difficult to get him into the vessel.  SGT Garvis held onto him as Officer Pennino then grabbed onto the third subject who was the most coherent of the group.  Officer Pennino was able to get the third subject into the vessel and then he, SGT Garvis and the third subject were able to pull the second subject into the vessel.  Once all three subjects were in the vessel the officers immediately started back to the Cedar View Boat Ramp. It was determined that these subjects had been in the water for approximately an hour and all three were suffering from hypothermia. Once back to shore all three men were transported by rescue to the hospital for treatment.

During the response, Accomack County dispatched their SAFE boat, which is designed to operate in these conditions. Once the vessel entered the bay they decided the conditions were too dangerous and called off their search. SGT Garvis and Officer Pennino were not dressed or equipped for this type of a rescue, nor were they in a vessel for these conditions. Regardless, they demonstrated extreme courage by placing their own lives on the line to save three hunters that would have certainly perished if not for these officers’ courage and quick response.

CPO Recovers Stolen UTV – On January 21, 2020, CPO Chris Smith was patrolling a wooded area in Chesapeake where people normally fish in a hidden lake. While on patrol he caught a glimpse of something red in the woods, so he investigated further. Turns out, it was a 2018 Polaris RZR Turbo, valued at $38,000 that was just reported stolen from a dealership 2 days prior. A Chesapeake Police patrol officer and detective responded. They had it towed to their impound lot for fingerprinting.

Region II – Southside

Wanted Subject Discovered on WMA – On December 14, 2019 CPO Nick Sumner was patrolling the Amelia Wildlife Management Area when he encountered several subjects utilizing the shooting range.  Officer Sumner conducted compliance checks and found one individual did not have a valid access permit.  While verifying the subject’s identity, he discovered that he had outstanding warrants from Chesterfield County.  The subject was issued a summons for failing to purchase an access permit.  He was then arrested and transported to the Amelia/Chesterfield line where custody was transferred over to Chesterfield County.

Trespassers Caught on Camera – On November 20, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson received a report of individuals trespassing to hunt in Franklin County.  The complainant had gotten game trail camera pictures of two individuals trespassing and dumping apples onto the ground.  Officer Clawson spoke to the adjacent landowners and canvassed the area, but was unable to identify the two individuals.  On December 10, 2019, Officer Clawson received additional information and was able to identify one of the suspects.  Officer Clawson interviewed the known suspect and soon was able to identify the second one.  Both admitted to trespassing on the complainant’s property.  Both individuals stated they did not know the boundary lines of the property they hunted since it was not posted or fenced.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Casual Contact Leads to Multiple Charges – On November 28, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson and Sgt. Tim Dooley were interviewing multiple individuals about a recently poached deer in Franklin County.  They pulled into a driveway and observed an individual quickly come out of a makeshift shed.   While speaking to the individual, he stated he was in the process of skinning a button buck he had shot earlier in the morning on a friend’s property.  The individual did not have hunting licenses and had failed to check the deer.  The individual went on to say he had killed two other deer on his landlords property, without having written permission to hunt the property, and did not check those deer.  Officer Clawson observed a large burn pile located next to the shed with two deer carcasses and a bear carcass lying on it.  The individual stated he had found a bear cub lying dead on the side of the road on November 20, 2019, and brought it home to get meat off it.  Possession of the bear carcass was not authorized in accordance with law.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Tip Helps Catch Poacher – On December 18, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson received a report of an individual trespassing to hunt in Pittsylvania County.  The complainant observed him shoot at a deer on his father in-laws property and then leave.  Officer Clawson arrived and located a spent Winchester .243 caliber shell casing.  At first, the suspect denied any wrongdoing but soon changed his story.  The suspect stated he was embarrassed, was ashamed of what happened, and agreed to walk Officer Clawson through what happened.  He stated while driving on the road he saw an eight point buck standing in a field.  He showed Officer Clawson where he parked his vehicle and where he stood in the field when he shot at the deer.  He indicated he was standing in the same location where Officer Clawson had located the spent shell casing.  The suspect said he missed the deer and showed Officer Clawson the .243 caliber rifle he used.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Road Hunter Apprehended – On December 21, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson received a report of a subject shooting from the road in Pittsylvania County.  Officer Clawson contacted the complainant who described the suspect vehicle as a red SUV and who advised the suspect stopped at two different locations along the roadway firing a total 4 shots onto different properties.  Officer Clawson canvassed the area and came up with a potential suspect.  He soon located the suspect’s vehicle.  Officer Clawson observed a .270 caliber rifle, along with several spent casings, and a 12-gauge shotgun inside it.  Officer Clawson contacted the suspect who, by this time, was heavily intoxicated.  Through persistent interviewing, the suspect admitted to shooting from his vehicle onto property where he did not have permission to hunt.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Decoy Operation a Success – On December 21, 2019, CPOs Bruce Young and Dale Owens conducted a deer decoy operation in Henry County.  The officers observed a vehicle playing loud music pass by their location two times.  Approximately 30-minutes later, the same vehicle returned used its headlights to illuminate the decoy.  The driver then exited the vehicle, and using a flashlight that was attached to his firearm, fired approximately six shots in rapid succession at the decoy.  The officers stopped the vehicle and seized a Sig Sauer handgun, equipped with a light, which the driver had placed in the floorboard.  The driver stated he had seen the decoy when he drove by earlier and went to his residence to retrieve his pistol.  The driver stated he wanted to show his girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat, how to use the pistol.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Failure to Stop Leads to Arrests – On Friday, December 27, 2019, CPO Matt Sandy was on patrol in Mecklenburg County when he observed a vehicle pull out in front of oncoming traffic almost causing a collision.  Officer Sandy activated his emergency lights and siren but the driver refused to stop.  A pursuit ensued and ended at the driver’s parents’ lake home.  Officer Sandy made initial contact with the driver, detained him. then addressed the passenger.  Officers Blanks, Belotte and Morris arrived on scene to assist with the passenger and parents of the driver.  The driver had outstanding charges (3 capiases and 1 warrant).  He was charged with felony elude, driving suspended, possession of a concealed handgun and other related offenses.  The passenger had outstanding charges (3 capiases), and was charged with providing false information to the police, since he would not give his correct identification to the officers, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Repeat Offender – On the final day of the Campbell County firearms deer season, CPO Cory Harbour was patrolling and located a hunter he had charged on opening day, who had been very argumentative.  He had a deer on his truck and when Officer Harbour stopped to check him, he discovered a smoking device.  The subject again became argumentative.  Officer Harbour asked him to remove his hands from his pockets and as he did, the man threw another smoking device down.  Officer Harbour observed the device being thrown and detained the man until a Campbell County deputy arrived to assist with the search.  A second smoking device was recovered.  Given the suspect’s history with law enforcement, these items will most likely test positive for methamphetamine.  Charges are pending lab analysis.

Quick Response and Action Saves Life – Late afternoon on January 4, 2020, the final day of hunting season, CPO Cory Harbour and Sgt. Sonny Nipper were patrolling problem areas in Campbell County.  Officer Harbour heard local police radio traffic about a truck running over mailboxes, a utility box, and driving through yards near his location.  Since he was in close proximity, he immediately responded.  Upon arriving, he found a truck that had crashed into the concrete barrier on the side of a bridge over a creek.  The driver was out of the vehicle looking at the damage and swaying as though he was highly intoxicated.  Officer Harbour approached, spoke to him and got him to walk over to his patrol vehicle; but as he attempted to update county dispatch via radio, the man walked over the to the other side of the bridge, leaned over gripping the low barrier as if he was going to jump over.  Officer Harbour sprinted to the man!  He grabbed the back of his belt with one hand and his shoulder with the other, all while continuing to calmly talk to him.  The man, who was very emotionally distressed and intoxicated, was mumbling about his life being over.  He was a large man, with a significant size difference between he and Officer Harbour, and he was clutching tightly to the railing not allowing Officer Harbour to get him away from the edge.  Officer Harbour felt the man tense up and retract as though he was about to jump over the barrier to the shallow creek, approximately 30 feet below, onto sheets of rock.  Officer Harbour quickly put one foot up on the barrier for leverage, gripped his belt and shoulder tightly, and snatched him away from the barrier.  He then handcuffed him for his own safety.  A Campbell County Deputy, a VSP Trooper, and Sgt. Nipper arrived shortly thereafter to assist.  VSP worked the accident and arrested the man for DUI since he was over twice the legal limit.

Unsafe Hunter Damages Property – On January 3, 2020, CPO Tyler Routon received a call in reference to reckless handling of a firearm.  The complainant advised he was on his front porch when he heard gunshots followed by the sound of buckshot impacting his property.  Officer Routon interviewed the suspect who stated he saw a buck running and fired two shots at it with his 12-gauge shotgun.  Officer Routon located two spent shotgun shells.  He followed the shot path and located a pickup truck with the rear window shattered.  The truck was in direct line of sight with the reporting party’s residence.  Officer Routon also discovered a second pellet, which impacted a swimming pool approximately 3 feet above the ground.  Inside the tree line, Officer Routon located a deceased buck, which the suspect identified as the same deer he shot at.  Evidence was obtained and the appropriate charges were placed.

Christmas Day Violators Charged – In January 2020, CPO Tyler Routon wrapped up an investigation, which began on Christmas day in Franklin County, when four subjects were observed spotlighting and shooting from a vehicle.  Officer Routon conducted an investigation which resulted in the seizure of two firearms, one of which was a sawed off rifle.  The appropriate charges were placed against four subjects stemming from the initial complaint and an additional occurrence discovered during the investigation.

Wanted Subject Arrested – On January 25, 2020, CPO Bruce Young was conducting a waterfowl patrol on the Smith River in Henry County when he observed an individual behaving suspiciously.  Officer Young contacted the individual and determined he had an outstanding felony warrant out of Martinsville.  The subject was arrested and turned over to Martinsville PD without incident.

Region III – Southwest

Cops and Kids Christmas Shopping – On December 7, 2019, CPOs Lee Wensel, Gene Wirt, Troy Phillips, Andy Rutledge, Mark Shaw, and Sergeant John Koloda participated in the eighth annual New River Valley Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21 Cops and Kids Christmas shopping event.  CPO Wensel is the President of The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21, and he organized the event.  Over twenty five police officers from the New River Valley area took twenty three area children to the Radford Wal-Mart and helped them fill shopping carts with Christmas cheer. After the shopping spree, the kids and their families were treated to a pizza party at the lodge building with Santa.  The lodge enlisted the help of Toys for Tots – Marine Corps League, the local social services agencies, Wal-Mart, and Community Transit bus service to hold the event. The lodge conducted a fund raiser this fall to fund the event.

Large Deer Parts Dump Site – Senior CPOs Gene Wirt and Lee Wensel investigated a large dump of deer parts off a pipeline construction site in Montgomery County.  Officers dug through the pile collecting evidence and interviewing suspects until the correct parties were identified.  .  After charges were placed, the officers had the 600-700 lbs. of deer meat and bones cleaned up from the site.

CPO in Scott County Parade – On December 7, 2019, Virginia CPO Derrick Rickels by request of the Scott County Dispatchers participated in the annual Scott County Christmas Parade.  A great time was had by all in attendance.

CPOs Conduct Hunter Ed Class – On December 8, 2019, Virginia CPO Derrick Rickels assisted retired VA CPO Jason Honaker with a Hunter Education Class at Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County.  There were 30 students in attendance and all of them passed the course.

Shop with a Cop – On December 14, 2019 the 4th annual Shop with a Cop event was held in Buchanan County.  There were 122 children involved in this year’s program.  The children rode in police vehicles with blue lights activated from Poplar Gap Park to Wal-Mart in Grundy. The “parade” of vehicles was led by Santa himself in the Buchanan County armored vehicle.  Numerous donations were received over the course of the last year in preparation for the event. Each child was assigned to a police officer and given a $150 spending limit. Agencies that assisted with the successful event were: VA Conservation Police, VA State Police, Buchanan and Dickenson Sheriff’s Offices, Southwest Regional Jail Authority, VA State Parks, and the Grundy Police Department. Grundy Police Department and Wal-Mart were the organizers of the event.  This event has grown steadily over the last four years from 50 children the first year to 122 this year.

Shop with a First Responder – On December 15, 2019, Sergeant Daniel Hall and Officer Matthew Arnold attended the annual Shop with a First Responder event in Smyth County. This event allowed 50 children to pick gifts that they normally would not be able to afford for this coming Christmas. Police Officers, Firefighters, Correction Officers, and EMS attended the event and shopped with the children. Each child received $100 to spend, totaling $5000 that was donated by Walmart. The vast amount of smiles and laughter that surrounded the event was a wonderful precursor for this holiday season.

Bluefield Shop with a Cop – On December 14, 2019, Senior CPO George Shupe assisted the Pocahontas Police Department with a “Shop with a Cop” event held at Walmart in Bluefield, Virginia. Children (17) from the town of Pocahontas in Tazewell County spent the morning shopping with local law enforcement.  Enough donations were raised to allow each child to choose gifts in the amount of $200 each.

Hunting Over Bait – On December 28, 2019, Senior CPO George Shupe received information concerning two suspects hunting over bait in an area of Washington County.  Arriving at the location of the incident, which was in progress, Officer Shupe entered a wooded area on foot and located two subjects hunting from treestands with muzzleloading firearms over baited areas. After brief interviews with both subjects, the appropriate charges were placed in the incident.

Investigation Concluded with Several Charges Placed – On December 28, 2019, CPOs Matthew Arnold and George Shupe concluded an investigation involving two suspects taking over their seasonal bag limit of deer during the 2019 hunting season. During interviews with both suspects, the CPO’s received admissions of violations which occurred in multiple jurisdictions involving wanton waste, failure to check deer, exceeding the seasonal bag limit for deer, taking deer during closed season, and possession of illegally taken game. The appropriate charges have been placed in the incidents.

Spotlighting Stop Leads to a Felon with a Firearm – On December 22, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks responded to a call from Smyth County Sheriff’s Dispatch in reference to a vehicle stop made by Smyth County Deputies, where an antlered deer was found in the bed of a truck. Officer Brooks was advised by Smyth County Officers on scene that they had received a complaint of spotlighting in the area before stopping the vehicle. Officer Brooks initiated interviews with both occupants of the suspect vehicle and received confessions from both male suspects that they had killed the deer by use of headlights of the truck and a .22 Caliber rifle.  The main suspect, who was the passenger in the vehicle, admitted to shooting the deer.  Criminal history information revealed that the shooter in the incident was a convicted felon. In concluding the incident, Officer Brooks issued summonses to the operator of the vehicle involved related to the spotlighting offense and the subject identified as having taken the deer by firearm, was arrested and transported to the Washington County Regional Jail, where he was held without bond.

Untagged Traps Set – On December 23, 2019, Virginia CPO Derrick Rickels was on patrol in a section of National Forest in Scott County. Officer Rickels observed an individual checking his trap-line. When Officer Rickels made contact he noticed several untagged traps in the bed of the subject’s truck. The subject stated that raccoons had torn the tags off but the traps he had set were tagged. Officer Rickels followed him to a trap he had just reset which was not tagged. Appropriate charges were placed.

Fishermen’s Complaints Lead to Several Violations -On December 27, 2019, Virginia CPO Derrick Rickels was checking several fishermen on a popular section of the Clinch River in Scott County.  One of the fishermen complained about several jug lines set in the river. Later that day Officer Rickels was able to check the two gentlemen that had set the jug lines. Multiple boating safety and fishing violations were detected.

Several Charges Placed After Individual Discharges Firearm Near a Residence –  On Nov 27, 2019, Sgt. Keene and Officer Rorabaugh responded to a report of an individual that had discharged a firearm near a residence and was then seen dragging a deer behind multiple residences and properties in Wythe County.  Sgt. Keene arrived on scene and located the subject field dressing a deer behind an out building.  The individual admitted to shooting the deer and it appeared he did not have permission to hunt where the incident occurred.  Officer Rorabaugh arrived on scene and took the suspect to the location where he shot the deer and received an explanation that included an admission to trespassing to hunt, hunting without a license, failing to wear blaze orange and reckless handling of a firearm.  The appropriate charges have been placed.

Hunters Trespassing Lead to Several Charges – On December 27, 2019, CPO Boyette received a call of hunters trespassing on private property in Carroll County. According to the information, the hunters were camped on private property and had been hunting on several different properties without permission from the landowners. Officer Boyette responded to the remote campsite along with two Virginia State Troopers and located the camp. There were two hunters at the camp who were in the process of cutting up a deer. There were several bags of corn and two high powered rifles sitting at the camp. The men admitted that they had put out corn and killed the deer with rifles even though it was currently muzzleloading season. The hunters did not have hunting licenses and had not checked in any of the three deer they had killed. The appropriate charges were placed.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Right Place, Right Time – On Dec. 19, 2019, CPO Jacob Chaffin and Sgt. Steve Ferguson patrolled by the DGIF owned boat landing on the James River at Maidens in Powhatan County. The officers arrived just in time to apprehend two men who had just dumped a large amount of tree cutting debris in the parking lot. After receiving a summons, theen spent the next 40 minutes putting the debris back on their trailer and hauling it away.

Highland County Bait Site – On December 28, 2019, Senior CPO Beth McGuire and Officer Ian Ostlund checked a baited area of the national forest in Highland County. The officers apprehended 4 people hunting over bait and using ATVs on the national forest. None of the hunters had any of the required hunting licenses, and none were wearing blaze orange. One hunter was in possession of marijuana, and another was using a .243 rifle during the late muzzleloader season. The hunters admitted to killing several deer over bait earlier in the season. A total of 54 separate violations were detected, and 20 summonses were issued.

Season Long Investigation and Great Team Effort Nets Several Violations – On the evening of January 23, 2020, and into the early morning hours of January 24, District 46 with assistance from Districts 45 and 47 operated on a tip from Sgt. Goszka and ended a season long investigation of social media by going to five locations to interview 8 suspects.  The operation included a search warrant of a taxidermist with no permit doing taxidermy for profit and interviews of a group of suspects participating in several social media platforms.  In total the operation netted evidence and confessions for operating a taxidermy without a permit, several instances of unlawful possession of wildlife and wildlife parts, several instances of hunting without a license, an illegal bear, and a total of 18 untagged and unchecked deer.  Records and a cell phone were taken as evidence and the investigation is ongoing.  A great total team effort.

  • January 30, 2020