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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

September 1- 28, 2021

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 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

DWR Assists in Search for Missing Fisherman – On September 2, 2021, Sergeant Bumgarner and Officer Thomas responded to the area of the Chesapeake Bay, near Reedville, to assist the United States Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police and other local rescue partners with the search for a missing fisherman who did not return from a morning fishing trip.  The fisherman had gone out alone on his boat and did not return. His boat was located quickly and a search for the fisherman was coordinated with multiple federal, state and local agencies. The Port of Virginia Maritime Incident Response Team was also activated and responded to assist with the search. CPO Thomas and Howlett returned the next day to continue the search. The missing fisherman was recovered on September 4th and it was determined that he apparently had fallen overboard. CPOs train regularly with their state and local partners in order to provide search and rescue responses to maritime emergencies.

Adrift Kayak Causes Search and Rescue Response – On September 8, 2021, CPO Sgt Bumgarner along with CPOs Dobyns, Nevel and Dean responded to a report of a missing kayaker on the Rappahannock River, near Tappahannock, after an unmanned kayak was observed floating adrift by a concerned citizen. Sgt Bumgarner coordinated a response of DWR assets to try and locate the missing kayaker.  After recovering the kayak, officers received information that the kayak may have originated from the area of Piscataway Creek.  Sgt Bumgarner and CPO Dean conducted a waterborne search of this area and located a kayaker departing from shore in an identical make and model kayak as the one they had just recovered.  The officers interviewed the kayaker and determined that individuals had taken the kayak out early in the morning before severe thunderstorms moved through the area later that day.  Upon returning home, the kayak was left on the shoreline where an abnormal high tide caused it to go adrift.  Virginia Conservation Police were assisted in the search by the United States Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Abingdon Volunteer Fire Department, Gloucester County Volunteer Fire Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and Essex County Sheriff’s Office. Virginia Conservation Police would like to remind the owners of all paddle craft to mark their vessels with their name and phone number in a manner that can quickly be observed by first responders. This enables first responders to determine if in fact an emergency does exist and allows for proper allocation of search and rescue resources if a kayak or other paddle craft is found adrift..

Region II – Southside

Fugitives Located and Apprehended – On September 7, 2021, Officer Keith Wilson received a request to assist the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service, in locating a fugitive wanted since April 2021 for drug and firearm violations.  The individual was living on Treasure Island, located on the James River.  Officer Wilson contacted Senior K9 Officer Richard Howald to assist, due to his extension knowledge of tracking and the James River.  Once on scene, the Amherst Sheriff’s Office deployed a drone to fly over the island.  With information gained, a DWR patrol boat was launched by Officer Wilson, who transported Officer Howald, an Amherst Deputy, and two US Marshals to the island.  When they located the two suspects, Officer Wilson returned with two additional officers and a patrol canine.  Contact was made and both suspects were taken into custody without incident.  Law Enforcement recovered Methamphetamine at the site and additional charges are pending. Learn More »

2021 Virginia Deer Hunters Association Youth Hunt (Amelia County) – On Saturday, September 25, 2021, Conservation Police Officer Cory Harbour attended a Youth Hunt that was organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association.  Officer Harbour was invited to interact with the youth hunters and discuss general topics of hunting safety, ethics, and regulations.  The group consisted of 13 youth, ages 5-15, from many different areas of the state.  Officer Harbour prepared handout bags for each participant so that the young hunters would have something memorable to take home no matter the success of their afternoon hunts.

Region III – Southwest

Grayson County Clean River Month – On August 28, 2021 Virginia Conservation Police Officers Jason Harris and K9 Officer Wes Billings assisted with the Grayson County Clean River Month.  This was an initiative between the New River Wildlife Club, Grayson County, DWR staff and volunteers, and many community partners. Over 220 tires were removed from the river over the course of the month along with a lot of other trash.  Countless hours were spent organizing and promoting this event and it was only successful due to the teamwork of all partners involved.

CPOs Assist in Rescue – On September 3, 2021, Conservation Police Officer Matthew Arnold was assisting Washington County EMS with a call when DWR dispatch notified him of a subject trapped in South Holston Lake under a lawn mower. CPO Arnold broke off from the assist and immediately headed to the lake. CPO Gardner also responded and both officers were able to coordinate to have CPO Gardner get the patrol boat as CPO Arnold attempted to locate the trapped person by land. Officer Arnold arrived on scene to find the Green Springs Fire Department attempting to help the subject who had slid off a rock cliff into the water while mowing. Although he was no longer pinned under the partially submerged mower, the driver had sustained a complete break in his lower leg and was unable to be transported back up the cliff and was still in the water. CPO Gardner arrived with the DWR patrol boat as CPO Arnold entered the water to assist on scene EMS personnel. They were able to put a PFD on the injured subject and transported the subject to a nearby boat ramp, where they were able to extract him from the water with the use of a transport board. The victim was transported to a nearby medical center. Both CPO’s assisted with removing the mower from the water as it became a hazardous materials issue due to the fuel, oil, and battery that was beginning to leak into the water. The mower was successfully guided back up the rock cliff with the aid of a tow truck.

Captive Deer Found on Scene – On September16, 2021, Officer Rickels was contacted by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a captive deer found while on scene at the site of a domestic incident being worked. Officer Rickels responded and spoke with the homeowner. The homeowner explained that her husband had picked up the fawn two months ago and she had been taking care of it since that time. The deer had an orange dog collar around its neck and was being kept inside a fenced yard. Officer Rickels contacted the District 34 Biologist who came and took possession of the fawn. Charges are pending in the incident.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Treacherous Trotlines – On a hot and humid afternoon in August, CPO Heine received a call about a blue heron that was tangled up in a trotline on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.  The concerned caller and Shenandoah Co Animal Control were able to cut the heron free of the line and took it to a wildlife rehab center where it ultimately died from its injuries.  When CPO Heine arrived, the heron had already been transported.  However, there were still three trotlines hanging from the bridge over the middle of the river.  Each line consisted of a machine nut and twine that held the line between the concrete bridge side panels, and an exposed treble hook that dangled at the water’s surface.  None of the lines were labeled with the owner’s name and contact information, or had any jug, flagging, or reflective material to warn passing boaters or kayakers of the dangling hooks.  CPO Heine photographed and removed these lines to prevent any further injury to wildlife and to prevent any unsuspecting boater from catching one of these treble hooks in the body or face.  Given only a last name, physical description, and general location of the county where the trotline fisherman lived, CPO Heine was able to locate the person who set the trotlines.  The man stated he was trying to catch snapping turtles and hadn’t checked the trotlines for days.  He was unaware that he had snagged a blue heron by setting the lines and leaving them in this fashion.   The man was charged with fishing without a license and for leaving the trotlines unattended for days while not in use.  CPO Heine also educated the man about the legal requirements surrounding the use of noodles/jug lines, trotlines, and set poles/limb lines. These regulations were designed to help prevent injury to boaters and other wildlife while allowing the use of these devices to catch nongame fish and turtles.  This information is available on our VDWR website under the “Fishing” section.

OUI on Lake Anna – On the night of Sept. 4, 2021, CPO Jacob Chaffin and Sgt. Steve Ferguson was patrolling Lake Anna by boat. At approximately 9:20 pm, the officers encountered a boat traveling down the lake without displaying the required stern light. Upon stopping the boat, the officers immediately suspected that the operator may be under the influence of alcohol. Field sobriety tests confirmed the officers’ suspicions. CPO Chaffin placed the operator under arrest for operating a boat under the influence and transported him to the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office. A breath test was administered which showed a reading of 0.13, over one and a half times the legal limit. Charges were placed for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol.

DUI – On Sept. 5, 2021, CPO Bostic was traveling west on Zachary Taylor Hwy in Orange County.  In the area of Monrovia Rd, an oncoming vehicle entered his lane of travel crossing the solid double yellow lines approaching head-on. The driver corrected, keeping half their vehicle in the appropriate lane as CPO Bostic took evasive maneuvers to avoid collision and conducted a quick turn to keep the vehicle in view.  CPO Bostic activated his emergency equipment and caught up to the vehicle as it traveled into Louisa County.  The female driver stated she picked up her passenger at a party because he was intoxicated and had a few drinks of her own.  She was asked to exit the vehicle as the smell of alcohol was very strong coming from her person as she displayed red bloodshot eyes and a flushed face.  SFST’s were conducted.  The driver gave multiple clues indicating impairment and the female driver was taken into custody for DUI and possession of alcohol under 21 years of age.  The female provided a breath sample of .14 g/210 L breath.

Saturation Patrol Nets Violator – On Sept. 4, 2021, District 46 units conducted a saturation patrol in Culpeper / Fauquier counties for dove hunting violations.  While observing dove hunters, CPO Bostic made contact with a male subject who was suspected of having an unplugged shotgun based on the number of shots coming from his area during observation.  The male subject unloaded his pump shotgun and sat down as CPO Bostic approached on foot. After conducting a license check consent was gained to check the shotgun for a plug.  The shotgun was found to be unplugged and the hunter was found to be restricted from possessing firearms due to being involuntarily admitted or ordered to an outpatient treatment facility.  The subject was taken into custody and transported to the Magistrates Office where the appropriate charges were placed.

Charges Placed During Saturation Patrol – On Sept. 4, 2021, District 46 units conducted a saturation patrol in Culpeper / Fauquier counties for dove hunting violations.  While contacting a hunter in Fauquier County, CPO Bostic asked to see the hunting license of a hunter.  The subject stated he only had a photo of the license which was missing a HIP Registration number. The male was asked to provide an ID to verify his identity.  CPO Bostic found that the subject purchased a resident hunting license but was not a resident of Virginia.   Appropriate charges were placed for falsifying information to obtain a resident hunting license and hunting without required licenses.

Firearms Training for Wildlife Division – Several Firearms instructors from Region 4 Law Enforcement assisted the Wildlife Division with their firearms training held in Shenandoah County.  Topics including firearm safety and maintenance, DWR policy, and State laws were covered, as well as live-fire exercises.  Seventeen Biologists from around the Commonwealth participated.  The training serves as yet another example of the intra-agency collaboration, which allows DWR to accomplish its mission to Conserve, Connect and Protect.

The Golden Spotlight Award – On September 15, 2021 District 46 conducted its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The district wished Officer Guizar well on his recently accepted transfer to the wild and wonderful southwestern County of Dickenson.  In addition, CPO Guizar was recognized for his outstanding efforts in District 46 presenting him with the Golden Spotlight Award!  CPO Guizar leads the district, Region 4, and is one of the top-performing CPOs across the state in Spotlight Enforcement.  One could attribute his success to luck. “Right place, right time”, but if you know CPO Guizar, you can understand it is far from luck. CPO Guizar has built an excellent knowledge of his area of assignment over the past three years placing him in prime areas to detect violations. His efforts to apprehend violators are greatly appreciated.  The golden spotlight award was created by district officers to enhance esprit-de-corps while highlighting the accomplishments of great CPOs such as Josh Guizar!

Special Operations

DWR K9 Officer and Special Agent Respond to a Complaint of Illegally Harvesting and Commercializing Snapping Turtles – On Labor Day, DWR received a call from a concerned hunter about illegally harvested snapping turtles. K9 Officer Patrillo was on patrol nearby and responded to the scene. The complainant stated that he was working on his tree stand and noticed several bags containing snapping turtles located near his tree stand. Officer Patrillo responded to the scene and located the turtles along with turtle harvesting equipment. Officer Patrillo was also able to identify where the subject in question had been accessing the river. The complainant stated that he worked for the company that owned the property and that no one else had permission to be on the property. Officer Patrillo, and a DWR Special Agent, surveilled the property for several hours and were in the process of setting up surveillance cameras when they observed a person entering the property with turtle harvesting equipment. Officer Patrillo contacted the subject and quickly determined that the subject was properly permitted to harvest turtles commercially. The subject was also able to provide evidence that he had properly been permitted to access the property. Officer Patrillo informed the complainant and confirmed the access permission with the complainant’s employer. Officer Patrillo and the Special Agent’s actions were able to address the complainants concerns and prove compliance of our constituents. Both of these outdoorsmen were grateful and enjoyed the remainder of their holiday in the outdoors.

CPO Conducts K9 Demo – On July 30, 2021 Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke and his K-9 partner Coal conducted a K-9 demo for a church teen/youth group in Russell County.  Officer VanDyke spoke on the role and responsibilities of DWR’s K-9 units.  Prior to the K-9 Demo the youth group had just completed a tube float on the Clinch River.  This gave Officer VanDyke an opportunity to speak about boat and water safety.  Officer VanDyke spoke on the use of a PFD during his presentation. After the presentation, students and staff were able to meet and interact with Coal.

McGruff Meets McGrace-Southampton County National Night Out Event- On August 3rd, 2021 Sergeant Woodruff, Officer Braziel, and K9 Grace took part in the Southampton County National Night Out Event.  They brought furs, antlers, and turkey fans to display for all.  This event was a huge success and brought together multiple police, fire, and EMS agencies, along with many other agencies. Hundreds of children and adults turned out for the event.  Sergeant Woodruff and Officer Braziel spread the word about what we do as CPOs while K9 Grace met plenty of new friends, including McGruff!

K9s and Handlers Provide Presentation at “Touch a Truck” – On Aug 14, 2021 K-9 Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke and his K-9 partner Coal, conducted a K-9 presentation at the annual “Touch a Truck” in Tazewell County.  The event was for local students from all grade levels to meet first responders.  Students were able to sit in and see firsthand the equipment first responders use daily.  Officer VanDyke spoke on the role and responsibilities of DWR’s K-9 units.  Students and parents were surprised at the abilities and daily duties of the K-9’s.  Students were able to meet and interact with Coal and set in Coal’s patrol vehicle.

K9s and Handlers Attend Outdoor Show – Officers Hennaman, DiLuigi, and Brazil along with K9s Waylon, Lily, and Grace were assigned to the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show for supporting the DWR display for the duration of the show. The Officers and their K9 partners contacted hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from around the state, and answered questions and introduced their K9 partners to the public.

K9 Team Participates in National Night Out – CPO Ostlund, and K9 Reese participated in the National Night Out alongside the Dayton Police Department in Rockingham County.  K9 Reese performed multiple article search demonstrations for both adults and children in attendance, and spoke with multiple attendees.

K9 Team and CPO Provide Program to Local Church – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund and his K9 partner Reese, along with CPO Chambers, provided a presentation to a gathering of adult members of a Waynesboro area church.  The officer’s educated the attendees about the role and responsibilities of VA Conservation Police Officers and showcased some of their respective issued equipment.  CPO Ostlund also provided a detailed presentation regarding the division’s K9 program and K9 Reese performed a very informative and interactive K9 demonstration.  Attendees shared a great deal of positive feedback regarding the program and would like to have the officers and K9 Reese back on another date to meet with the church’s youth.

Captive Goose Confiscated – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund investigated a report of an illegal captive goose in Rockingham County.  After concluding a cursory investigation CPO Ostlund coordinated with district wildlife biologists and an operations plan was developed, and the goose confiscated without incident.

Illegal Deer Kill Call Also Leads to Illegal Bait Station – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund and CPO Sergeant Dobbs investigated an antlered buck illegally shot out-of-season with an arrow in Augusta County.  During the ensuing investigation CPO Ostlund also located an illegal deer feeding/baiting site and appropriate action was taken.

K9 Team and CPO Investigating Ginseng Case – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund and his K9 partner Reese assisted CPO Chambers with an investigation into multiple persons reportedly trespassing on private property to harvest ginseng in Augusta County.  K9 Reese located track evidence at the scene and the investigation is ongoing at this time.

Ruritan Club Meets K9 Reese – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund and his K9 partner Reese gave a presentation to the Singers Glen Ruritan Club in Rockingham County.  CPO Ostlund educated attendees about the roles and responsibilities of VA Conservation Police Officers and K9 Reese interacted with club members.

K9 Team Tracks Hunter Preparing for Deer Season – CPO K9 Handler Ostlund and K9 Reese successfully tracked a hunter setting up a tree stand in a suspicious vehicle, to the Singers Glen area.  While the hunter was quite surprised when Officer Ostlund and K9 Reese approached him in the woods, he seemed genuinely glad to meet them both and shared stories of past deer hunts.

K9 Team Aids Stranded Elderly Couple – While driving home after attending K9 in-service training at Occoneechee State Park, CPO K9 Handler Ostlund observed a pickup truck that had just had one of its tires explode on Highway 15 in Brunswick County.  Officer Ostlund checked the welfare of the elderly couple in the truck.  Both the driver and his wife were a bit overwhelmed by the situation, and the wife pleaded with CPO Ostlund to not leave them.  Officer Ostlund assured her that he was not going to leave them.  He then changed the tire for the couple and they told him that he was their guardian angel.  Officer Ostlund followed the couple to their residence to ensure they got home safely.

K9 Teams Assist U.S. Parks Service in Ginseng Case – CPO K9 Handlers Howald and Ostlund were called to assist U.S. Park Service law enforcement with a ginseng investigation on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Augusta County.  During the course of their investigation, U.S. Park Service LEOs seized a large volume of ginseng root.  Both K9 Sky, and K9 Reese, conducted searches over a vast area and located items of interest.

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  • September 30, 2021