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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

September 23 – October 13, 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

Not a Good Example for Youth and Apprentice Day – Virginia’s youth and apprentice deer weekend opener dawned on September 26th with high humidity and intermittent rain in the Richmond Metro area. While on patrol, Conservation Police Officer Hennaman was checking baited stand locations in Hanover County. At one location baited with corn, salt, and pears, he encountered an adult male armed with a 12ga shotgun loaded with four, 00 Buckshot rounds and a juvenile armed with a .410 shotgun. The adult stated he was only armed for protection because he had pictures of bears and coyotes on the property. He had no answer when asked why he thought a .410 was insufficient to kill a coyote, but sufficient to kill a deer. Officer Hennaman asked the juvenile if he had been practicing handling and shooting a firearm, to which he responded that he had never shot a gun and did not even know how. In addition, the baited site was well over the property line of the residence the two hunters came from. When asked who owned the property where the blind was located, the adult responded that he did not know. Appropriate charges were placed.

Stolen Boat Found – On September 28, 2020 CPOs Bumgarner and Dobyns responded to an area along the Rappahannock River in Essex County after receiving a report of illegal fishing activity.  Upon arriving in the area, the officers located the suspect vehicle and boat trailer.  Upon querying the tow vehicle and trailer registration the officers determined the trailer and associated vessel had been reported stolen from Westmoreland County in May 2020. The officers then contacted Special Agent Croft of the Marine Fraud and Theft Unit for assistance.  The officers conducted surveillance and gathered intelligence on the stolen trailer for the next six hours into the early morning hours of September 29th.  At approximately 0100 hours, the suspect returned operating the stolen vessel.  Upon interviewing the suspect, the officers gained further intelligence related to the larceny of the vessel.  A search warrant was obtained for the suspect’s mobile phone and charges are pending further investigation and consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Eastern Shore Migratory Bird Enforcement Activity for September 18-20, 2020:

Conservation Police Officers in District 12 conducted a joint DWR/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operation during the lunar tides the weekend of Sept. 18.  Lunar tides are higher-than-normal tides usually causing minor coastal flooding.  Hunters from the Tidewater region come to the Eastern Shore to hunt clapper rails, a migratory game bird, during these yearly tide cycles.  It is illegal to hunt these birds utilizing the outboard motor to propel the boat through the marsh.  Historically, this is the primary violation officers observe during the clapper rail seasons. In total, four boats were stopped, eight individuals charged with Take/Attempt to take Migratory Game Birds with Aid of Motor, and 38 illegally taken clapper rail seized as well as three verbal warnings given.

 Sept. 18,2020: Northampton Co. – CPO Bratton and Pennino observed two people hunting clapper rails with the aid of the motor.  Officers documented the number of times these hunters took the migratory game bird “under power.” Both hunters were charged with taking migratory game birds w/aid of motor.  The boat operator was charged additionally with Aid and Abet to take migratory game birds w/aid of motor. A total of 21 clapper rails were seized as evidence.  Of special note, Officer Pennino was able to utilize a pair of 15×20 image-stabilizing binoculars he had just been issued that morning to make the case.

Sept. 19, 2020: Northampton Co. – CPO Machen and Sgt. Garvis patrolled the coastal marshes north of Mockhorn Island Wildlife Management Area and observed hunters in a boat that appeared to be hunting clapper rails.  After 30 minutes of observation, Sgt. Garvis observed two occurrences where the shooter shot while the boat was still under power.  However, Sgt. Garvis felt these were not intentional acts.  During the field interview, officers learned that these were new hunters on their first Eastern Shore rail hunt.  Verbal warnings were given and the laws for the hunt were clarified.

Sept. 20, 2020: Accomack Co. – CPO Machen and Sgt. Garvis took up a concealed observation position to observe three individuals hunting clapper rails using a motor boat in the coastal marshes northeast of Wachapreague.  From 10:20 a.m. until just after noon, officers observed the three people shoot and pursue clapper rails with the aid of the motor. Officers documented and filmed these hunters taking and attempting to take clapper rails 21 times in violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  All three hunters were charged with Take/Attempt to take Migratory Game Birds w/ Aid of motor. A total of 17 clapper rails were seized as evidence.

 Sept. 20, 2020: Northampton Co. – CPOs Pennino, Bratton and Wildlife Officer Darren Dick took a concealed observation position to observe three individuals hunting clapper rails with the aid of motor.  Officers observed and documented numerous times the hunters shot at and recovered clapper rails while using the aid of the motor.  Again, three hunters were charged with taking migratory birds with the aid of the motor.

Fishermen Caught Red Handed – On October 4, 2020 CPO Rollings and K9 Officer Braziel patrolled Hog Island WMA, in Surry County, for fishermen.  While on patrol Officer Rollings observed a group of fishermen catching red drum, black drum, and speckled trout.  After a few minutes, Officer Rollings observed a child repeatedly taking fish to a nearby car and placing them in the trunk of the car.  While observing the fishermen, Officer Rollings heard the child make several comments about the size of the fish.  At that point, Officer Rollings approached the group and caught them red-handed hiding an illegal fish. Upon seeing the officer, the suspects immediately knew they were caught based upon their vulgar, yet comical, statements.  The suspects were issued multiple summonses including fishing without proper licenses and possession of undersized red drum. The illegal fish were donated to a needy family.

Charges Pending After Tree Stand Accident – On October 3, 2020, which was the opening day of archery deer season, CPOs received a call for an individual who fell from a tree stand and injured himself in Isle of Wight County.  Officers Rollings and Gilmore responded and spoke with the victim’s hunting partner.  While there, officers discovered both hunters had bait placed approximately 50 feet in front of each stand.  Through the investigation, the officers also discovered that the victim had smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol before the incident.  The victim was transported to Norfolk General Hospital for his injuries.  Charges are pending for the violations.

Region II – Southside

Hunting Over Bait for the Second Year in a Row – On September 26, 2020, CPO Dale Owens was on patrol for the Youth Hunting Weekend. While searching for hunters, CPO Owens noticed some fresh vehicle tracks leading off the roadway down a path. He decided to investigate further and found a vehicle. Based upon his experience, it appeared the subjects that were using the vehicle were hunting so he did some walking and located a hunter hunting with a youth. They were both properly licensed, but unfortunately hunting over bait. While contacting the hunters, CPO Owens realized that he had previously encountered the adult hunter last year for hunting over bait and not possessing a valid hunting license. CPO Owens addressed the violations and continued his day.

Hunting Violations on Youth & Apprentice Day – On September 26, 2020, which was a designated youth and apprentice hunting day, CPO Shane Wilson was conducting a patrol in Bedford County when he discovered an adult and a juvenile actively hunting.  A compliance check revealed the subjects were not wearing blaze orange, were not properly licensed, and were hunting over an illegally baited area.

Illegal Road Hunters Identified – On September 26, 2020, CPO Shane Wilson was off duty when he received a call for service in reference to a dispute between hunters in Botetourt County.  CPO Wilson responded to the call and initiated an investigation which revealed two juveniles shot a deer from the roadway on property where they were not permitted to hunt.

Two Young Men Learning a Lesson – On Saturday of youth weekend in Appomattox County CPO Stephen Ritchie was working baited stands he had located that week. He located two juveniles hunting over bait.  Through admissions from each and taking into consideration the young age of each hunter, Officer Ritchie contacted the hunter’s parents and took the appropriate action to prevent this type of hunting activity from occurring again.

Conservation Officers Assist Brunswick County Deputies – On Monday, September 28, 2020, K9 Officer Tyler Blanks, K9 Bruno and Officer Matthew Sandy responded to Brunswick County to assist with a suicidal subject that had fired at Brunswick Sheriff’s office deputies. Officers Sandy and Blanks were requested to launch a boat on Lake Gaston as the suspect threatened to escape from his home on a vessel. The officers arrived on scene as the suspect surrendered.  The situation ended successfully and all officers and citizens involved were safe due to the quick actions of Conservation Officers and Brunswick County Deputies.

Impeding a Lawful Hunt – On October 3, 2020, Senior CPO Brandon Harris received a call in reference to someone impeding two archery hunters in Halifax County.  Officer Harris responded and spoke with the hunters who advised that while they were in their stands they heard a vehicle enter the property and someone began to yell and curse at them.  The vehicle then revved its engine for several minutes before leaving.  Concerned about this, they exited their stands.

When they arrived at their vehicle, they discovered that it had been vandalized and moved from where they had parked.  It had been pulled several yards into an overgrown field and was placed up against several small trees.  Officer Harris confirmed that both hunters were lawfully hunting the property and documented evidence left behind by the suspect vehicle.  Officer Harris developed a suspect who lived nearby.  Officer Harris made contact with the suspect and was able to match the suspect’s vehicle to evidence found at the scene.  When confronted with this information, the suspect admitted to damaging the vehicle, impeding the hunters, and towing their vehicle into the brush.

As a side note, prior to contacting the suspect, Officer Harris had looked for potential evidence of unlawful activity on the suspect’s property.  He located baited stands and evidence that someone had recently hunted them.  The subject also admitted to baiting the stands and to hunting without proper licenses.  Charges are pending.

CPOs Representing Cancer Awareness Month – The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is honored to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Conservation Police Officer Nick Belotte (Charlotte County) and Conservation Police Officer Cory Harbour (Campbell County) are representing Region II in the department’s October initiative.  These pink decals are a way that DWR and Conservation Police Officers honor and celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness while also promoting hunting safety by encouraging hunters to wear blaze-colored clothing during hunting season, which includes blaze pink.

Baited Stand Investigation – On Saturday, October 3, 2020, DWR Officers Nick Belotte and Kevin Webb conducted a foot patrol in Charlotte County.  They had identified three baited stands but upon checking them, no hunters were present.  Continuing their patrol, they located two unoccupied vehicles.  K9 Officer Tyler Blanks and K9 Bruno were contacted for assistance. The K9 began a track, which led to two hunters hunting two separate baited stands.  The officers obtained confessions and discovered that a deer had been harvested earlier that morning.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Opening Day Bait Investigation – CPO John Daniel had located numerous baited stands on a property in Amherst County prior to the opening of archery season.  On opening morning, he began work early in an effort to apprehend as many violators as possible.  He apprehended two individuals hunting over bait.  One of the violators was sitting in the loft of an old barn watching a large corn pile and a mineral block that he recently put out.  He was very surprised when Officer Daniel popped up into the loft.  The other violator was hunting an area that had been baited for a long period.


Region III – Southwest

Trespassers to Dig Ginseng Charged – On September 15, 2020, Virginia CPO Rickels and K-9 Officer VanDyke responded to a trespass in progress on a hunting lease in Wise County. The officers met with two members of the hunt club. They advised that a truck was parked on the lease and they believed that the subjects were digging ginseng. The officers located the suspects very quickly. Upon being interviewed both subjects admitted to digging the ginseng and they didn’t have permission to be on the property. They were in possession of 132 ginseng roots. Senior Officer Ross assisted by aging the ginseng. Of the 132 roots, nine were under age and 13 were unable to be aged due to the missing rhizome. Multiple charges have been placed.

 Petty Larceny and Trespassing Charges Placed for Digging Ginseng without Permission – On September 15, 2020, while following up on a trespassing complaint on Penn Virginia property in the St. Charles area of Lee County, Virginia Senior CPO Daniel Ross and Officer Matt Meade came across a vehicle parked on the property. The lessee stated it was common to see others on the property and they were constantly having gates and locks vandalized. They waited for the vehicle’s owner to return and made contact. When asked, the suspect stated he was digging for ginseng and had found roughly a pound and a half. He also stated he had permission from an individual who did not own the land, and had no written paper allowing him to be on the property. They informed the individual that if he did indeed have permission he would need to provide a written permission slip on the court date. Since he had no way to prove his permission charges were placed for petty larceny and trespassing.

 CPO Assists Wyoming Game and Fish Department – On September 22, 2020, CPO Matthew Arnold helped conclude an investigation by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in regard to a subject living in Virginia, but claiming residency in Wyoming in order to obtain resident licenses. The offender had been illegally obtaining resident elk, moose, deer, archery, and fishing licenses under Wyoming Statue 23-3-403. Officer Arnold began assisting with the case in July of 2020, after being contacted by Wyoming Game and Fish Officers, and the case culminated with the subject being charged with five violations, all occurring in Wyoming.

 Charges Pending in Illegal Deer Harvest – On September 23, 2020, DWR dispatch received information about a subject who had just killed a deer and loaded it up in Wythe County. CPO Boyette was provided the information and was able to identify a suspect with assistance from Sgt. Keene. CPO Boyette responded to the location and located the suspect truck parked at a garage where multiple people were inside. There was blood in the bed of the pickup truck and the man who answered the door had blood on his shirt. The man admitted he had just shot an 8-point buck with a rifle on property he did not have permission to hunt. He stated he had been coyote hunting when the buck walked out into the field and that he could not help himself. The subject was cooperative and showed CPO Boyette the location he had killed the deer, and the dismembered carcass inside the building. Appropriate charges are pending.

 Compliance Check Leads to Arrest – On August 7, 2020, CPO Boyette was on patrol at Creek Lake in Carroll County when he initiated a compliance check of a male individual fishing. During the encounter he observed the man had a wooden object hanging out of his pocket. The officer asked about the object, and the man told him that it was a shovel for digging ginseng. CPO Boyette then asked several questions to determine if the man had any ginseng with him and learned that the man had a concealed pistol on his person. The man admitted he did not have a concealed handgun permit, but complied as the officer removed the loaded pistol from his person and secured it. The subject then stated that he had two fish inside a fishing vest that was lying beside a backpack on the bank.

Initially, the man told the officer he could not search the backpack, but then admitted that there was meth and marijuana inside the backpack. These items were then located and seized and the two fish were determined to be legally possessed. No ginseng was located and the man admitted he had not been able to find any at that location. He stated he had ginseng at his house, but maintained it had been legally harvested and that he would allow officers to look at it. CPO Boyette placed the suspect under arrest and transported him to a magistrate where appropriate charges were placed. During this time, CPO Harris responded to the suspect’s house where his wife allowed him to inspect the ginseng. While several things about the ginseng, and where it had come from, remained questionable, no violations could be proven and no additional charges were placed.

 Vandalism Suspects Caught and Charged – On September 23, 2020, CPO Rorabaugh concluded an investigation into vandalism at the Big Survey Wildlife Management Area in Wythe County. In April 2020, CPO Rorabaugh was checking the Big Piney Access parking lot and located where someone had spray painted multiple trees and bottles and placed them on tree limbs. CPO Anders had previously set cameras to monitor activity in this area and obtained photographs of a vehicle and three individuals in the parking lot carrying spray paint cans in their hands. A few weeks later the officers located more vandalism in the same area and also on a kiosk at another access point. The officers also identified vandalism in Smyth County that matched the same markings and initials discovered on Big Survey. The officers identified and interviewed two of the individuals involved and received confessions on all of the vandalism. The appropriate charges have been placed.

 Triangle Sportsman Club Annual Kid’s Day – On September 26, 2020, Senior CPO George Shupe assisted the Triangle Sportsman Club in Tazewell County with their annual kids’ day.  A total of 36 kids attended the event. The youth were able to enjoy trap shooting, skeet, 5 stand, as well as .22 rifles and pistols at the event, which was part of a grant secured by the club from DWR.  Door prizes were given to each youth.

Spotlighting Charges Placed on Two Individuals – On September 26, 2020, CPO Tyler Sheets conducted a spotlighting patrol in an area of Washington County that has been the source of numerous complaints over the past few hunting seasons. At approximately 2140 hours, Officer Sheets observed a pick-up truck come to a stop in the roadway and a light was cast from the vehicle for several moments, before driving off. Officer Sheets initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle and found two loaded rifles and a handheld spotlight sitting between the operator and the passenger. This was the second encounter that Officer Sheets had with the passenger related to spotlighting offenses. Two firearms and ammunition were seized in the incident and appropriate charges were placed on both individuals related to spotlighting.

Bear Hunter Charged – Senior CPO George Shupe received information during the summer, concerning a subject feeding black bear in Buchanan County. After gathering information concerning the illegal activity, Officer Shupe determined that the suspect implicated in the incident(s) hunted during the early bear season. On September 3rd Officer Shupe received information that the suspect identified had entered the woods by ATV in the direction of the location of the illegal feeding activities.  Officer Shupe, along with CPO Joel Early arrived on scene and observed fresh ATV tracks entering into the wooded area.  After a short walk the officers located the ATV and the suspect.  The officers found the area being hunted by the suspect baited with corn, cake icing, slop in a barrel, and a salt block.  The subject was also found hunting with a firearm. The appropriate charges were placed on the suspect at the scene.

 Charges Placed on Suspect that Shot Deer from the Road – On October 1, 2020 Virginia CPO Sergeant James Hale received a call in Dickenson County in reference to a deer that had been shot from the road just before dark. While on the phone with the complainant, the complainant stated that a truck kept driving by his hidden location very slow.  Sgt. Hale instructed him to stay hidden and try to get a tag number.  Shortly after, the complainant stated that two men got out of the truck and went toward the deer in the darkness. Sgt. Hale asked DWR dispatch to notify the Dickenson Sheriff’s Office in case a deputy was closer. Shortly after arriving, Sgt. Hale and a deputy located the suspects dragging a 6-point buck.   Upon interview by Sgt. Hale appropriate charges were placed.

Trespasser Located and Charged – On October 3, 2020 Virginia CPO Sergeant Hale overheard a trespassing-in-progress call in Buchanan County given to D-33 officers. The D-33 officers were tied up on other calls over two hours away.  With Sgt. Hale knowing the area, he was less than an hour away and responded to the call. Sgt. Hale met with the complainant and was shown where the trespasser had parked. While Sgt. Hale looked for the trespasser, Officer George Shupe cleared from his call and came to assist.  Sgt. Hale located the subject and interviewed him.  The suspect had been hunting the area for several years along with others and gave much information about the other illegal issues going on in the area. Appropriate charges were placed.

 Hunter Charged with Baiting – On October 3, 2020 Senior CPO George Shupe was patrolling an area of Tazewell County, when he observed a vehicle parked at a location where he previously had a complaint of a subject baiting deer.  Officer Shupe entered the woods and tracked the subject to a ladder stand.  Located in front of the ladder stand was a hole in the ground.  When Officer Shupe questioned the subject, who was hunting with archery tackle, it was determined that he had placed numerous salt blocks at the location to draw deer into bow range.  The appropriate charges were placed on the subject.

Illegal Hunting Activity – On October 3, 2020 CPO Tyler Sheets responded to a call in the vicinity of the City of Bristol, Washington County concerning illegal hunting activity in progress. On arrival, Officer Sheets located two suspects in the reported incident at the location specified in the call. Officer Sheets was able to determine that one of the subjects was hunting deer over a baited area, and that the other was hunting deer with archery tackle without the appropriate licenses. The appropriate charges were placed on both subjects.

Hunter Arrested – On October 3, 2020, CPO Jason Harris responded to a request from Galax Police Department for assistance with a subject hunting illegally in the City of Galax.  Officer Harris arrived on scene and determined the hunter who had killed a spike buck with a shotgun was also under the influence.  The subject had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage about his person; he was weak and unsteady on his feet and blew a .24 on the PBT.  He was arrested and charged with Hunting under the Influence, Closed Season, Trespassing and License Violations.

CPOs, with the Assistance of K9 Molly, Solve Illegal Deer Kill Case – On October 3, 2020, CPO Boyette and Sergeant Keene were patrolling in Carroll County for the opening day of archery season when they received word of an 11-point buck that had been killed in the area. They drove by the hunter’s house and observed him in the process of skinning the buck. The officers stopped and checked the man’s license and ensured that the deer had been checked in. It was evident that the deer had been killed with archery equipment and Officer Boyette observed that the broadhead had broken off in the wound channel. The subject stated he had lost the crossbow bolt and was not sure where it was. Two days later, Officer Boyette, Senior Officer Billings, and K9 Molly located a bait site in the same area of the county based on an anonymous tip. At the bait site, they located a blood trail leading from the bait to a gut pile a short distance away. Along the trail they located a crossbow bolt covered in blood that had the shaft of a broadhead broken off at the tip. Officers confirmed that the site was being maintained by the subject who had killed the buck, and subsequently obtained a search warrant for his residence. On October 7, 2020, Officers Boyette and Harris went to the man’s residence to serve the search warrant with assistance from Officers Wirt and Peak from the adjoining district. After being confronted with the evidence against him, the man admitted he had shot the deer from the bait site. He also admitted that he had shot the deer from his truck prior to legal shooting hours, by aid of light. Officers seized the buck and appropriate charges will be placed.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Vehicle and Foot Pursuit End in Arrest – In the early morning hours of September 20, 2020, CPO Hatmaker was checking a farm for spotlighting activity in Louisa County. At 1:30 am, Officer Hatmaker heard Louisa Sheriff’s Office radio traffic from a deputy who was attempting to stop a vehicle for suspicion of DUI.  The vehicle would not stop, and had increased its speed to 80 mph while driving recklessly in an attempt to feloniously elude the deputy.  Because Hatmaker was close by, Louisa Sheriff’s Office requested that Officer Hatmaker assist the deputy.  Officer Hatmaker and the Louisa deputy pursued the suspect for a short distance, where the suspect subsequently drove off the road and into a field and then fled on foot.  A foot chase ensued, and eventually both Officer Hatmaker and the Louisa deputy took the suspect into custody.  The suspect was charged with felony eluding, DUI, and driving on a revoked license.  The suspect was also currently out on federal probation.

CPO Locates Stolen Property in the Woods – On Sept. 25, 2020, while patrolling the Powhatan Wildlife Management Area, CPO Matt Cavazos discovered an ATV and trolling motor stashed in the woods. After making contact with the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that these items were stolen from a Breaking and Entering that occurred the week prior. Powhatan Sheriff’s Office responded to CPO Cavazos’ location and were able to recover the ATV and trolling motor along with a generator and power tools that were found in the woods nearby.

Busy Opening to the Archery Deer Season – At the end of September, Officers Hatmaker and Eller returned to a tree stand in Stafford County that had been baited with corn during the 2019 season. Both officers observed a fresh pile of corn in front of the stand. On Saturday, October 3rd at first light, both officers arrived at the stand to find the hunter in his tree stand, and attempting to hide his head from the officers. The hunter was issued a summons for hunting over bait.

The officers then left Stafford to check a baited tree stand from last year in Spotsylvania County.  As the officers began to walk to the stand, they saw two hunters walking towards them. The officers made contact and asked the hunters what they were doing.  Only one of the hunters spoke, and appeared nervous. He said they had just got done hunting on his grandmother’s property, and they were walking around.   After a brief discussion, Officer Hatmaker asked to see the tree stand they were hunting out of that morning.  The hunters showed the officers the tree stand that had been baited last hunting season, but there was no bait was present.  Knowing the one hunter appeared nervous, Officer Hatmaker asked the hunter to show the officers the other tree stand.  After a brief walk, the hunters led the officers to another tree stand that had a pile of corn in front of it.  The nervous hunter admitted he had hunted out of the baited stand that morning.  A license check revealed that the other hunter, who was a friend of the nervous hunter, did not have a hunting license. Charges will be placed for hunting over bait and hunting without a license.

Team Effort Results in Opening Day Bait Cases – While scouting properties prior to the opening day of Archery Season, CPO Mike Corrado located four baited tree stands on the same property in Warren County. CPO Corrado, along with CPOs Owen Heine, Michael Chittum, K-9 Officer Ian Ostlund and K9 Reese, and Sgt. Carl Martin checked the area on opening morning. While approaching from different directions, the CPOs located four individuals hunting in baited stands with one hunter failing to have any hunting licenses. The CPOs charged the hunters with the violations of Virginia’s game laws.

Special Operations

CPO Assists with Overturned Tractor Trailer – CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese drove upon an overturned tractor trailer crash on Interstate 81, Rockingham County.  CPO Ostlund was the first law enforcement on-scene and relayed critical information to responding EMS personnel and the Rockingham communications center.   Several citizens selflessly stopped to assist at the scene, as well as two public service professionals (one of which was an out-of-state EMT instructor).  The injured but responsive tractor trailer driver was never left alone in the wreckage, and was ultimately successfully extracted by a highly skilled technical rescue team.  CPO Ostlund provided basic first-aid to a citizen cut by broken glass and assisted in gathering witness information at the scene.  K9 Reese kept a watchful eye over the scene from her DWR Tahoe.

 CPO and K9 Partner Meet with Student Wanting to be a CPO – CPO Ostlund was requested to meet with a local college student that is actively pursuing a career as a Virginia CPO.  With that in mind, CPO Ostlund invited the student to participate in the training of K9 Reese on the grounds of Turner Ashby High School.  The prospective CPO hid scent articles in grass and woodland environments for K9 Reese to find.  She also accompanied CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese on a short track that was graciously laid by an employee of John Wayland Elementary School.  CPO Ostlund used the opportunity to answer the prospective CPOs questions, as well as explain how K9 Reese utilizes her senses to perform her duties.

CPO Captures Injured Hawk – CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese responded to a report of an injured hawk in Rockingham County.  CPO Ostlund was able to capture the injured hawk and transport it to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, where it could receive the care it needed.

CPO and K9 Partner Assist with Shooting Incident – CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese were requested by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the search for a firearm utilized in a shooting.  Over a two-day period, Officer Ostlund and Reese searched large tracts of farmland (totaling almost 300 acres) for the firearm.  While they were unsuccessful in locating a firearm, Reese did alert officers to the suspect’s track-line, which crossed several fences.

CPO and K9 Partner Provide Demonstrations – CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese participated in a specially approved Hunter Education workshop held at the West Rockingham Ruritan Club, Rockingham County.  CPO Ostlund spoke to the masked gathering of over 75 attendees about the role of DWR K9s and the special tools that K9 teams rely upon.  K9 Reese energetically performed two demonstrations in which she located a scent article hidden in a field by a youth attendee, as well as locating a buried shotgun, shot wad and spent shotgun hull.   Based on feedback that CPO Ostlund received, the attendees were very impressed with K9 Reese’s abilities!

CPO and K9 Partner Assist with an Eluding Police Case – CPO Ostlund and K9 Reese were requested by the Dayton Police Department to track an unidentified subject that had eluded Harrisonburg Police at high speed and later crashed within the Dayton town limits.  K9 Reese worked through a great deal of scent contamination at the scene and was able to locate a fresh track leading away from the scene of the crash.  Due to the time/distance gap the subject was not located that night.

CPOs and K9 Partners Recover Evidence from Home Burglaries – CPO Ostlund K9 Reese were requested by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the follow-up search for evidence relating to the breaking-and-entering of at least one home near the Rockingham and Shenandoah County line.  During the home break-in numerous items were taken, including a handgun.  K9 Reese located the fled subject’s tracks and led officers along the track-line.  Along the track-line multiple items of evidence were located and recovered.  Due to the very expansive search area, CPO Ostlund requested the assistance of Senior CPO Howald and his K9 partner Sky.  The CPOs joined forces and tracked the suspects a long distance.  On multiple occasions the CPOs were able to utilize their visual sign-cutting abilities to follow the track-line, even across a river.  Senior CPO Howald and K9 Sky located additional items of evidence, one of which was firearm-related, providing Deputies with an additional investigative lead.  The K9s performed amazingly despite the tough conditions.  During the deployment CPO Ostlund learned a valuable lesson, that even though it may be hot, long-sleeves should be worn while tracking through river bottom terrain (see photo).  It should be noted that the more veteran Officer Howald wore long sleeves and a smile throughout the day:)

  • October 22, 2020