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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

August 19 – September 22, 2020

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 to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] 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 I – Tidewater

Multi-Agency Boat Patrols – On Saturdays August 15th and 22nd, 2020, Virginia CPOs conducted boat patrols during three Pro President Trump Boat Parades on the James and Chickahominy Rivers to ensure safe travel for the boating public.  On Saturday, August 15, Districts 14 and 15 CPOs participated in a joint law enforcement effort with the U.S. Coast Guard, VMRC and local police departments to monitor and patrol two scheduled Trump Boat Parades and one large boat flotilla party event on the James River, near Jamestown.  Even with stormy and very rough water conditions that day, approximately 100 boats of various sizes showed up to participate in the parade and flotilla events.  On Saturday, August 22, District 15 CPOs along with other local law enforcement agencies conducted boat patrols and monitored boat traffic on the Chickahominy River for a large Trump Boat Parade that included approximately 275 recreational boats of all sizes.  All of these events were safe and orderly with no major incidents.

Undercover Patrol Leads to Numerous Fisheries Violations – In response to community complaints of unlawful fishing activities, Virginia CPOs Dobyns and Rabago conducted plainclothes operations in an unmarked vehicle on Saturday, August 22, 2020, in Mathews County along the Chesapeake Bay. The officers fished alongside other anglers in order to ensure that fishing regulations were being followed. During this time, the officers observed six separate parties were fishing and five of those appeared to be keeping fish under the minimum size limit. Upon contacting the individual parties and measuring their creel, four undersized red drum, one undersize speckled trout and one undersize scup were recovered. In addition to the illegal fish, several subjects did not have valid fishing licenses. As the officers were preparing to leave the area, Officer Dobyns observed a bucket containing oysters sitting next to a kayak. As the area was closed to the harvest of oysters, Officer Dobyns identified the owner of the vessel and conducted a compliance check, finding additional oysters inside the kayak. More than 95 oysters were found and returned to the waterway.

Upon concluding their patrol in Mathews County, the officers conducted a second plainclothes operation in the County of Lancaster, on the Rappahannock River. They arrived at a popular fishing spot and observed a group fishing from shore. The officers took position and began fishing beside the subjects. After approximately 15 minutes, Officer Rabago observed one of the subjects catch what appeared to be an undersized red drum and place it into a plastic shopping bag that contained additional fish. Officer Rabago conducted an interview of the subject and discovered three undersized red drum while Officer Dobyns began a compliance check of the additional subjects. While doing so, Dobyns observed a cooler hidden in the brush adjacent to the fishing area. Upon retrieving the cooler, the officers discovered that it contained 17 undersized red drum. Initially, the subjects denied any knowledge of the cooler, but when faced with the evidence that they were the only group fishing the area, they admitted to keeping the fish illegally. Two subjects did not have valid fishing licenses.

In total, 12 subjects were found to be out of compliance, 26 illegal fish were recovered, and 95 illegal oysters were returned to the waterway. Appropriate charges have been placed.

CPOs from Across the Tidewater Region Saturate a Baited Dove Field – On Saturday, September 5, 2020, Virginia Conservation Police Officers from across the Tidewater region participated in an operation targeting a heavily baited dove field in Greensville County. For weeks prior to the season opener officers had spent countless hours conducting surveillance, collecting bait samples and attempting to identify possible suspects. On the morning of the 5th officers got an early start and took up observation posts for the day. At approximately 4:30 p.m., after consulting with Officer Kyle Jones, who was the primary officer, LT Shuler and SGT Woodruff decided the time had come to contact the hunters. With the assistance from K9 Officer Braziel and her partner Grace, as well as uniformed officers from across the region, the officers moved in and made contact.

Based on the number of officers present, they were able to contact the hunters very quickly and begin to determine what violations were present. After numerous inspections and interviews, the officers were able to identify two of the primary subjects that were responsible for baiting the area with cracked corn, sunflower seeds, millet, and rye. They also discovered other violations such as hunting with an unplugged gun, possession of marijuana, and hunting under the influence of alcohol. Based on the violations present, 122 doves were seized and numerous charges are pending.

CPO Uncovers Multiple Counterfeit Duck Blind Licenses – On August 29, 2020, Officer Smith inspected a waterfowl blind on Cow Creek, off the North Landing River, in Chesapeake. As he approached, he noticed that the blue 2021 blind license, which was affixed to the license plate, had bleeding colors. This did not look right to him, so he got closer and noticed that the license was printed on regular printer paper, cut out to the same dimensions as a real license, and affixed to the license plate with a clear piece of shipping tape. He took photos and left it alone for the time being, since he knew this blind and other blinds around Chesapeake and Virginia Beach are hunted by members of a local hunt club. Further investigation revealed that the counterfeit license had the same customer number and GPS coordinates as a legally licensed blind further up Cow Creek.

On September 1, 2020, Officer Smith launched a boat in the Northwest River to inspect several other blinds that is owned by members of the same club. Of the blinds inspected, two others had counterfeit non-riparian 2021 licenses on them. Both had the customer number and GPS coordinates of a legally licensed blind, in a different location on the Northwest River. He seized the license plates on both of those blinds, returned to Cow Creek, and seized the license plate on that blind. Non-compliance stickers were placed where the license plates used to be on all three blinds.

On September 5, 2020, Officer Smith drove to the house of who he suspected may have been involved in the manufacturing of the counterfeit licenses. He made consensual contact with the suspect in his front yard and obtained a full confession from the suspect. He admitted to scanning two different legally purchased licenses on his computer, printing them in full color, cutting them out to the same dimensions as a real license, and affixing them to the three different blinds.

On September 8, 2020, Officer Smith spoke to an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney about the investigation. Charges are pending for three counts of felony forgery, and three counts of felony uttering.

Two of the three locations have since been staked by other duck hunters. The suspect was given until the end of September to disassemble the blinds in those locations, or face more charges for failing to do so.

CPO Closes Lengthy Turkey Poaching Case – During the 2020 Spring Turkey Season, Officer Nevel responded to a call of hunters trespassing on private property in Northumberland County. Once on scene, Officer Nevel found a hunting blind containing shotgun shells, blood, turkey feathers, drug paraphernalia, and litter that the hunters had left behind. With a vehicle description provided by the landowner, Officer Nevel initiated an investigation, which included the collection of evidence, witness and suspect interviews, and the recovery of GPS data. Using this information, Officer Nevel was able to identify three suspects and obtained confessions for trespassing. After a lengthy investigation, the appropriate charges were placed on all three suspects in September.

O.P.S. Coin Delivered – The United States Fish and Wildlife Services Rappahannock Refuge Manager, Kendra Pendault, has gone above and beyond to assist both District 11 and 16 officers. Kendra worked with Sgt. Spuchesi to facilitate a meeting between the Federal Refuge Officers in the surrounding areas and the Conservation Police Officers to meet about issues surrounding the refuge prior to the hunting season. Kendra offers meeting space on the refuge for the district’s monthly meetings. During the Spring of 2019 the officers of District 11 and 16 needed a quick office relocation due to unforeseen conditions at the current district office.

Kendra quickly stepped up working with the Department of Wildlife Resources to get the officers a temporary office space on the refuge free of charge. Most recently, Ms. Pendault has offered the division a permanent office space, which is a 1,500-square foot house located on the refuge that will be used solely by the officers on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.  After MOU review and approval by both the Department of Wildlife Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Service, officers are set to move in at the end of this month.

Region II – Southside

Off Duty CPO Takes Action – On August 14, 2020, Senior CPO Michael Morris was off duty at a community function in Bedford County when he heard people yelling and observed a man lying on the ground.  CPO Morris ascertained that another subject who was attempting to flee the scene had assaulted the individual on the ground.  CPO Morris intervened and was able to calm the situation while ensuring the assailant remained on scene until deputies from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office arrived.  Charges were placed against the suspect.

Intuition Leads to Arrest – On August 24, 2020, Senior Officer Brandon Harris was patrolling in Halifax County when he observed vehicle tracks entering onto private property.  Recently the owner of the property had informed him that no one had permission to be on the property.  Officer Harris initiated a foot patrol and soon observed a male walk from a tent and begin to fish in a creek.  Officer Harris crossed the creek and contacted the individual, who had stopped fishing and was now standing near his vehicle, which was parked beside his tent.  The individual denied fishing and stated that he had permission to camp on the property from the landowner.  Officer Harris checked the vehicle registration, which came back to a different vehicle.  He then explained to the subject that he had observed him fishing and asked about the license plates.  The subject admitted to fishing without a license and to using incorrect plates on the vehicle.  As he was addressing these violations, Officer Harris checked and discovered that the subject had outstanding warrants from two jurisdictions.  Officer Harris placed the subject in custody without incident.

As he was securing the vehicle, Officer Harris observed a firearm inside.  Further investigation uncovered a loaded .22 rifle, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, and ammunition.  A check confirmed that the suspect was a convicted felon.  Officer Harris later executed the outstanding warrants as well as placing the additional charges.

CPOs Provide Critical Assistance – On August 23, 2020, CPOs Brett Clawson and Joe Williams received a request for assistance from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office regarding an assault at a public boat landing.  Both officers responded via patrol boat and were able to secure the scene, interview the victim and witnesses, and provide critical information leading to the apprehension of the suspect who had fled the area.

Wildlife Illegally Held Captive – On August 27, 2020, CPO Leslie Wright received information regarding a whitetail deer being held illegally in Bedford County.  Upon locating the pen, Officer Wright was surprised to find there were actually three yearling fawns inside.  CPO Wright also discovered a raccoon and three gray squirrels in separate cages at the same location.  The illegally held wildlife was removed and turned over to DWR Biologists for evaluation.  The appropriate charges are pending.

Altercation Leads to Unrelated Charges – On August 29, 2020, CPO Shane Wilson received a request for assistance from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a fight at a local marina.  CPO Wilson arrived on scene as the assailants were leaving but was able to catch up to them and initiate a traffic stop.  While conducting his investigation, the driver provided false information but Officer Wilson was eventually able to determine her identity and discovered her driving privileges were suspended.  The appropriate charge was placed and the vehicle was impounded as required by code.

Reckless Operation Deterred – On August 30, 2020, CPO Keith Wilson was on boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County when he observed a PWC with two occupants following closely behind a motorboat, which was traveling on plane.  The PWC was within 10 feet of the motorboat with speeds estimated between 30-40 mph.  Officer Wilson initiated a stop and the appropriate charge were placed against the operator of the PWC.

Whitetail Deer Held in Captivity – On August 31, 2020, CPOs Shane Wilson and Tyler Routon investigated a report of a captive whitetail deer in Bedford County.  The CPOs were able to locate the yearling fawn, which was being held in a pen adjacent to a residence.  The fawn was seized and turned over to DWR wildlife biologists for evaluation.  The appropriate charge was placed.

Utility Vehicle on Major Highway turns DUI – CPO Cory Harbour was nearing the end of his shift when he observed an individual operating a utility vehicle on Highway 460 in Campbell County. Officer Harbour initiated a traffic stop and made contact and detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the operator.  Upon completion of the field sobriety tests it was determined that the operator was well beyond the presumptive BAC to operate a motor vehicle. The suspect was taken into custody and charged for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Boating Under the Influence on Lake Gaston – On Sept. 5, 2020, CPO Matt Sandy and Sgt. Jessica Whirley were on a boat patrol on Lake Gaston in Mecklenburg County. The officers observed a PWC operating above no-wake speed in a no-wake zone. Officer Sandy stopped the vessel to conduct a safety check and address the violation. Upon the stop, a strong odor of alcohol was detected coming from the operator’s person. Field Sobriety Tests were conducted and the operator was arrested for operating under the influence.

Over the Limit for Doves – On Sept. 5,2020, CPO Kevin Webb and K9 Officer Tyler Blanks were working together to patrol Brunswick and Lunenburg Counties for dove hunting activity. The officers checked multiple fields for dove hunters and their compliance with law. One field checked was found to have been baited and appropriate charges were placed. In another field the officers found multiple people with an over the daily limit of doves. In most of the cases the hunters had well over their daily bag limit of doves. Education of the law was explained and appropriate charges were placed.

Boaters In Distress – Conservation Police Officer Dale Owens had just finished a long day on the water at Philpott Lake, and was almost home, when he received a call for a boater in distress. The caller was a third party that was working at the lake marina and reported that someone told them about a boat taking on water. Wasting no time, CPO Owens immediately responded back to the lake to assist. CPO Owens located the vessel, which was tied to the bank, and assisted the couple and their dog back to safety.

Smith Mountain Lake Boating Incident – On September 9, 2020, CPO James Hale responded to a boating incident on Smith Mountain Lake. A 24-year-old male was wakeboarding when he got his arm stuck in the tow rope where he sustained minor injuries. The incident is still under investigation.

Special Operation in Nelson County –  On Saturday September 12th, 2020 Conservation Police Officer Stephen Ritchie was asked by an Amherst County Deputy if he would be willing to attend a birthday party for a young boy who really loves police officers. Officer Ritchie felt like it was a good idea and quickly agreed to attend with his patrol vehicle. Amherst County deputies, Nelson County deputies, CPO Ritchie and others drove to the boy’s house and surprised him with their lights and sirens. The young man was ecstatic and his family was very gracious for the officers making time to come by, while the officers were happy for the support for law enforcement shown by the boy and his family.

Philpot Lake Boaters in Distress – On September 15, 2020, CPO Eric Dotterer received a call for help from a couple that were stranded on Philpott Lake. It was dark, and combined with the recent cool temperatures, a dense fog started to form over the water. Officer Dotterer attempted to reach the couple by land to provide assistance based on where they had tied up the vessel but the terrain prevented him from making it to their location. However, he did make verbal contact which comforted them.  He then proceeded to the boat ramp for a patrol boat. CPO Adam Roberts had just returned to District 21 after a long evening of training and overheard the situation. Without hesitation he volunteered to assist.  Officer Roberts met Officer Dotterer and they launched a DWR patrol boat and located the couple. A short time later they were able to get the boat operational and ensured the couple returned to the boat dock safely.

SML Annual Paddleboard Race – On September 19, 2020, CPOs Adam Roberts and Bruce Young, attended the 8th Annual Smith Mountain Lake (SML) Stand Up Paddleboard Race on Smith Mountain Lake, and provided watercraft support to aid with participant safety during the race. This event is hosted by the Franklin County Parks and Recreation and during this year’s event, a record number of participants arrived.  Overall it was a safe and successful event!

Region III – Southwest

Incident on Claytor Lake Leads to OUI Charges – On Aug 23, 2020, CPOs Gene Wirt and Troy Phillips were on a Claytor Lake boat patrol when a call came out for a possible hit-and-run boat incident.  The officers were in the area and spotted a pontoon matching the description and registration numbers.  A stop was made where the operator was questioned about the earlier incident.  A strong odor of alcoholic beverage was noticed about the vessel and operator. Officer Wirt conducted field sobriety tests on the suspect.  The operator failed to successfully complete any of the tests given and declined to give a PBT sample.  The operator was subsequently arrested and taken to the New River Valley Regional Jail, where he refused provide an evidentiary breath sample. He was charged with OUI and refusal. Minor boat damage occurred during the incident, and did not meet the requirements of a boat incident.

CPO Immediately Responds to Calls for Help – On August 30th, 2020 Senior CPO Phillips was on a scheduled patrol in Radford City along the New River.  There were a lot of people in the water swimming and floating on tubes on that Sunday afternoon.  Sr. CPO Phillips noticed a college-aged couple swimming out in the middle of the river together.  The couple started to swim back to shore and became distressed.  Sr. CPO Phillips heard cries for “HELP!” and immediately responded.  The male subject had gone under water multiple times and both swimmers appeared to be very tired.  Sr. CPO Phillips retrieved his Type-IV throw device out of his patrol vehicle and proceeded to the water.  The swimmers were too far away for the Type-IV to be thrown, so Sr. CPO Phillips entered the water and swam closer.  Sr. CPO Phillips swam into range and was able to successfully throw his Type-IV to the swimmers.  Both grabbed the throw cushion and held on until a man with a floating tube swam out to assist them back to shore.  Both subjects were attended to by EMS and taken to Carilion New River Valley Medical Center to be evaluated.

Reckless operation of a motorboat and knee boarder – On September 7, 2020 CPO Tyler Sheets and CPO Sergeant Dan Hall were conducting a boat patrol on South Holston Lake in Washington County. During the patrol, Officer Sheets observed a motorboat towing a subject on a kneeboard. The subject on the kneeboard reached out and attempted to touch a private dock as it neared the officer’s patrol boat. Officer Sheets initiated a stop of the motorboat and questioned both the operator and the subject on the kneeboard concerning the reckless act. The subject on the kneeboard apologetically stated that he knew it was unlawful. The operator of the motorboat was also apologetic concerning the incident and advised that he knew the officers were just doing their jobs. Appropriate charges were placed related to reckless operation of a motorboat, manipulation of a water ski or a similar device on both the operator of the motorboat and the subject skiing, related to the incident.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Several CPOs and Assisting Agencies Work Together to Search for, and Recover, Missing Kayaker – On Sunday, August 30, 2020, CPO Justin Hall responded to a missing kayaker in the Rappahannock River in the area of City Docks Park in the City of Fredericksburg.

The investigation revealed that two kayakers departed from the park at approximately 15:00 hours. Soon after one kayaker began to have difficulty maneuvering and the other came to assist. The kayaks collided causing both persons to enter the water. One person was rescued by good Samaritans, but they could not reach the other who attempted to swim to shore and disappeared under the water. Neither kayaker was wearing personal floatation devices.

During the next two days Sergeants Rich Goszka, Steve Ferguson and Frank Spuchesi, Officers Justin Hall, Daniel Eller, Daniel Newton, Justin Sumpter, Daniel Rabago and Tyler Bumgarner searched the river for the victim’s body. The search was hampered by rain and high water. The body was eventually recovered by DWR officers on September 1st, over 6 miles downriver from the incident.

The Fredericksburg Police and Fire, Prince William Police, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Stafford Sheriff’s Office assisted with the search, rescue and recovery operation.

Deer causes damage to local restaurant – On September 8, 2020, Senior Officer Billhimer was driving on South Main Street in Rockingham County. Officer Billhimer observed a person run out of a restaurant waving down Officer Billhimer. The person advised a large 10-point buck jumped through the front window and was tearing up the inside of his restaurant. The restaurant had occupants dining inside. Officer Billhimer entered and found the deer in the kitchen area. The antlered deer had tables and chairs upside down and broken. The restaurant was a wreck. Officer Billhimer was able to grab the deer by the antlers and restrain it to the ground. The deer had to be put down because of its injuries where the glass severely cut the deer. The restaurant owners thanked DWR for taking care of this situation so fast and without injury to the customers.

DUI Investigation with Children in the Vehicle – On the evening of September 7, 2020, Officer Eric Plaster was conducting a boating safety patrol at the Leesylvania State Park boat ramps. While patrolling he received a call from a park employee stating that a gentleman wanted to exit the park and needed assistance. The employee, noticing impairment, contacted Plaster to meet in a particular area. Plaster met them and noticed the gentleman was impaired and had young children in the car. Plaster conducted a DUI investigation and placed the subject under arrest. Plaster had to wait for the mother of the children to arrive from Loudoun County to care for the children. Despite this long delay the subject still had a final BAC of .12 several hours after the arrest. He was charged with DUI with children in the vehicle and lodged in the Manassas Jail.

She’d give the shirt off her back to help! – It was a rainy morning in Augusta County on September 12, 2020. While on patrol in National Forest, Senior Officer McGuire encountered a group of bear hunters. Their dogs were on a bear, which would not tree and was injuring and killing dogs. Several dogs were being carried out of the woods. Officer McGuire walked a couple hundred yards into the woods, across a creek, and up a ridge to take her first aid kit to a hunter who had a severely injured dog. She assisted him in wrapping his wounds and taping his mouth shut. Officer McGuire had been told that one hunter had gotten either mauled or bitten by the bear during the fight. The bear had then crossed the National Forest road and still had four dogs with it that wouldn’t come off the track. The dogs appeared to have stopped or treed about 400 yards from the road up the ridge.

Officer McGuire offered to go in with the hunters in case the bear became aggressive again. There were four youth hunters there including a scared 6-year-old girl who walked up to Officer McGuire, held her hand, and asked her not to leave. Officer McGuire asked that one of the hunters stay out of the woods with the children or offered to stay at the road herself with them. The hunters said they’d rather her be in the woods so one of them stayed with the children. Officer McGuire caught two of the four dogs and the hunter that went in with her caught a third dog. The rest of the group had joined them in the woods to help with the dogs. The bear had continued up the ridge with the last dog on its heels.

Officer McGuire offered to take the dogs and children out so they could continue. The little girl once again took her hand and asked her to take her to the truck. Shivering, she told Officer McGuire she was cold. Knowing she had on an undershirt, Officer McGuire took off her uniform shirt, put it on the girl and buttoned the top button. Officer McGuire walked out with a dog on lead in one hand and a little girl holding the other. The girl kept tripping and struggling to get through the woods so Officer McGuire slung her on her back (piggy-back style) and got her out of the woods. The fourth dog eventually came off the track and joined the group at the road. All of the hunters were grateful for the extra time and compassion Officer McGuire showed them that morning.

Spotlight Patrol – On Friday Sept. 18, 2020, CPO Guizar conducted a spotlight patrol on a partially cut corn field in Culpeper County. While on patrol a white pickup truck was observed passing by the field.  After a short time, the truck returned. This time when the truck returned it turned into the corn field and using the front headlights made several passes shining its headlights along the edge of still standing corn and also the area that had been harvested. The truck then made a complete turn in the field and cast its headlights on the opposite side of harvested corn. A stop was conducted and the operator claimed to be looking for his raccoon hunting dog. The truck did not have a dog box and the dog did not have a GPS collar according to the driver and he also did not have a GPS to show the dogs location. The individual was found to be in possession of a loaded .308 caliber rifle with only one round in the magazine. Appropriate charge was placed for spotlighting.

Special Operations

DWR Organizes Multiple Agency Training Exercise – On Aug. 20, 2020, Master Officer Mark DiLuigi organized a K9 training exercise for K9 teams from DWR, VSP, and the Brunswick County SO.  The K9 handlers and CPOs from District 45 met at Lake Anna State Park to participate in a joint tracking training exercise.  Individuals laid tracks from different locations in the park that ended at the lake’s edge.  Upon reaching the lake, CPOs operated vessels and transported track layers to an island adjacent to the park to finish the track.

The handlers and their K9 partners had to locate scent tracks in the park and follow them through numerous subjects visiting the park to the correct location at the lake’s edge.  They were then picked up by boat operators and dropped off on the island, attempting to reacquire the correct track and find the track layer.  This training was based on recent incidents where individuals were tracked to the water’s edge.  The goal of training was to familiarize the K9 teams with vessels, interrupt a track, and attempt to reacquire current track at a different location.  The assistance from District 45 officers made the event a huge success and another training exercise will be scheduled in the future.

Hunter Quesenberry and CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese. Photo by Jared Quesenberry

Future CPO in the Making – On August 30th, CPO Ostlund and his K9 partner Reese were conducting a rigorous day of training at CPO Ostlund’s family farm in Rockingham County, preparing for the upcoming hunting seasons.  Mr. Jared Quesenberry and his son, Hunter, were driving in the area and stopped to say hello.  Knowing that Hunter was an aspiring CPO, Officer Ostlund invited the father-and-son team to participate in several training scenarios.  Hunter excitedly accepted the invitation!  In the first scenario, Mr. Quesenberry laid a fresh track incorporating two sharp turns.  He hid out of sight of both Hunter and Officer Ostlund.  He also hid two scent-articles in locations unknown to either Hunter or Officer Ostlund (one item he concealed under debris).

While letting the track age, Officer Ostlund educated Hunter about K9 Reese’s equipment, what “scent” is comprised of, and how K9 Reese is able to follow a human scent-trail.   After Officer Ostlund placed Reese in her tracking harness and gave her the command to track, she very quickly located the fresh human track.  Hunter could hardly believe how fast Reese located the track and how quickly she worked down the track-line.  Reese handled both turns with relative ease and alerted on a baseball cap laying in the tall vegetation.  After Hunter collected the evidence, Reese resumed tracking and found Mr. Quesenberry hiding behind a thicket.  Hunter couldn’t hide his excitement and feeling of exhilaration as he recounted the track with his dad!

Next, Reese performed an article search for the second item hidden by Hunter’s dad.  After a few minutes Reese located the item’s scent, worked up the scent-cone to the source and laid down with it between her paws.  Hunter was thoroughly impressed!   Reese also located a spent shotgun hull from scenario that CPO Ostlund had set up several hours prior.  Hunter thoroughly enjoyed his day afield as a “Junior CPO,” and was able to keep the spent shotgun hull as a souvenir.

K9 Teams Locate Evidence for Homicide Investigation – On Friday September 11, 2020, K9 Officers Jim Patrillo, Tyler Blanks, and Mark DiLuigi responded to Emporia, VA to assist the FBI and Emporia Police Department in a gang-related homicide investigation.  DWR officers were briefed on the events and formulated a plan to search areas requested by the investigators.  Each team did four separate searches and was successful in locating evidence related to the investigations.

K9 Team Performs Safety Talk and Demonstration – On Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, K9 Master Officer Mark DiLuigi and K9 partner Lily joined the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia for its 5th annual dove hunt.  DiLuigi gave a safety briefing and the team did a demonstration.  Activities included trap/skeet shooting, hunting, and lunch.  The event was attended by many families, Director Brown, former DWR Board Chairman Brent Clarke and US Congressman Wittman.

K9 Team Locates Evidence in Attempted Homicide Case – On September 10, 2020, Sgt. Valasek informed K9 Officer Jim Patrillo that the Caroline County Sheriff’s office had requested his and K9 Bailey’s assistance with an attempted homicide investigation. The sheriff’s deputy stated that he would like assistance locating spent shell casings from an AK47 in a remote area. Officer Patrillo responded to the crime scene with his K9 partner. Bailey was deployed at the crime scene, which had previously been searched by officers, and quickly located a spent shell casing from the firearm in question. Bailey was rewarded with her toy and put back to work. Bailey located a second shell casing a short time later. The firearm in question was later located at the suspect’s residence.

  • September 23, 2020