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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

January 26 – February 15, 2022

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

Hunters Need Rescuing Due to Windy Weather – On January 29, 2022 Conservation Police Officers Morris and Joyce responded to a report of a group of waterfowl hunters in distress on the Mattaponi River, in King William County.  Weather conditions on this day were treacherous with a gale warning in effect and winds sustained at 25-30mph. The officers launched their patrol boat in heavy waves and headed in the direction of the hunters.

Upon arriving on scene, the officers determined the hunters had become stranded in the marsh after strong winds caused their boat to drift away from their blind.  The officers assisted with recovering the hunters’ boat and then followed them back to where they launched due the small size of their vessel and the dangerous weather conditions. The Department of Wildlife Resources reminds all boaters to check the weather conditions before going on the water to ensure a safe and enjoyable day.

Hunter Kills 8 Point Buck Out of Season – In early January 2022, Conservation Police Officer Howlett initiated an investigation into an 8point buck that had been killed in the Williamsburg area. CPO Howlett was familiar with the area and eventually developed a suspect and location of the deer kill. CPO Howlett interviewed the suspect and determined the deer had indeed been illegally taken out of season. The suspect was participating in the urban archery hunting season which only allows antlerless deer harvesting when he shot the buck deer. The deer was donated to a local food bank and a charge of killing the buck deer out of season was placed against the suspect.

Hunter has a Bad Day in a Tree Stand – District 17 Conservation Police Officers received a report of a hunting accident with injuries late in the deer hunting season and began an investigation into the incident.  Sergeant Valasek and CPO Chester completed their investigation and it was determined that a 78 year old hunter was in a 17′ high tree stand when deer appeared behind him and he decided to take a shot.  As he stood to face the rear of his stand where the deer were at, he fired one round from his 12 gauge shotgun.  The recoil from the shotgun was sufficient enough to knock the hunter out of his stand and he fell to the ground.  CPO Chester found that not only was the hunter careless in his shooting position in the tree stand, but he also had piles of corn and a mineral block on the ground in front of his stand that he was illegally hunting over that day. A charge of hunting deer over a baited area was placed against the unlucky hunter. The hunter miraculously suffered only broken ribs in the fall. The Department of Wildlife Resources reminds all tree stand hunters to wear a proper safety harness while hunting to avoid serious injuries from an unexpected fall.

Bear Taken Out of Season – On February 6, 2022, Conservation Police Officer Gilmore began investigating the harvesting of a black bear in Isle of Wight County by a hunter. Officer Gilmore questioned the hunter who checked the bear in and learned that he was not the person who killed the bear. A story was fabricated by this hunter to indicate the bear ran at another hunter who then shot the bear in self-defense. Officer Gilmore used photos from his investigation of the hunters celebrating the successful bear hunt to discredit this theory. Afterwards, Gilmore determined who the actual shooter was and when he was interviewed he admitted that he killed the bear while hunting with hounds. The actual shooter of the bear did not have a bear tag, so his friend used his tag to illegally check in the bear.  Charges for the violations will be placed against both subjects once the local Commonwealth’s Attorney reviews the case file.

Hunter Exceeds His Limit of Deer – On February 3, 2022, Conservation Police Sgt. Bumgarner completed an investigation that began in December 2021. During the hunting season, information was received regarding a hunter in Mathews County who had exceeded the season limit for taking antlered deer. Sgt. Bumgarner located the subject hunting in Mathews County in late December.  Upon interviewing the subject, Bumgarner determined the subject had killed seven antlered deer which exceeded the season limit by four deer.  Sgt. Bumgarner completed his investigation into the matter and charges were placed against the hunter.

A Cold Day for a Good Cause – On February 5, 2022, Conservation Police Officers from District 13 supported the Polar Plunge event, a fundraiser for Special Olympics held at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Over 2500 people took the icy water plunge in the Atlantic Ocean and well over $1 million was raised for this worthy cause.  The water temperature was approximately 40 degrees with a blustery north wind blowing that day during the event. CPOs along with other marine law enforcement officers wore marine dry suits and stationed themselves as a protective perimeter to assist participants if in trouble and keep them out of the deeper ocean waters.

Lack of Good Sportsmanship During Field Trial – On February 5, 2022, Conservation Police Officer Krista Adams responded to several trespass complaints in Charles City county from upset landowners. Upon arriving in the area, CPO Adams located multiple subjects that appeared to be hound hunting until the subjects explained that they were involved in a large fox hunting field trial. CPO Sergeant Joshua Thomas responded to assist and was able to contact the upset landowners in the area who explained that hunters had trespassed on their properties to retrieve dogs in an illegal manner. As the officers worked the area, they encountered multiple trespassing violations by the field trial participants and had to explain to them that they had to abide by the right to retrieve law which did not allow them to randomly drive onto landowners’ property without their permission and also while in possession of firearms. During the event, the officers had to issue several summonses and warnings because of trespassing issues. The field trial headquarters was visited to conduct a permit inspection and to explain to the hosts that many of their participants were unfamiliar with the field trial permit conditions and basic landowner property rights. It was advised to the hosts of the event to better educate their participants at the next event as to basic dog hunting retrieval laws, good sportsmanship and appropriate landowner/hunter relations.

Region III

Patrol Focusing on Waterfowl Hunters – On January 22, 2022 Virginia Conservation Officers from D-32 conducted an early morning special assignment patrol focusing on waterfowl hunters on the New River and its tributaries. Although the temperatures were unseasonably cold and many areas were frozen up, Master Officer Harris, Senior Officer Boyette and Officer Bobbitt located over a dozen waterfowl hunters during the course of the patrol that covered the entire New River in Wythe, Carroll and Grayson Counties. The officers encountered several violations, ranging from unsigned Federal Ducks Stamps, to license violations. The hunters and one fisherman fishing the holes in the ice were surprised to be checked, but appreciative of the efforts and the fact that the officers were out patrolling.

Lengthy Investigation Leads to Multiple Violations – On January 25, 2022 Officers Boyette and Bobbitt served a subject with numerous magistrate summonses concluding a case from earlier in the year. After receiving complaints of illegal fishing activity at the Crooked Creek Fee Fishing Area in Carroll County late in the summer, Officer Boyette began conducting surveillance on a subject. Over multiple days of surveillance over a period of several weeks, Officer Boyette observed and documented numerous violations by the subject including littering while fishing, violation of posted DWR regulations, fishing after obtaining daily limit of trout, and fishing without required daily permit. Following several weeks of surveillance, Officer Boyette interviewed the subject who initially denied any wrongdoing. The subject then admitted to repeatedly exceeding his daily limit of trout, as well as to some other violations. The subject was charged with multiple violations and warned several additional violations.

Special Operations

Great Hope Baptist Church-Pre-Schoolers– On January 14, 2022 Officer Braziel and K9 Grace spoke to a Pre-School Class at Great Hope Baptist Church.  The class was learning about wildlife, so Officer Braziel brought in pelts of native animal species, a bear rug, deer antlers, a turkey fan, and a turkey beard and feet.  K9 Grace was introduced to the class as well, and her job role was discussed to the students. The students enjoyed giving K9 Grace a walk and seeing the police truck.

2022 Mid-Atlantic Boat Show – On January 28, 2022 Officer Braziel, K9 Grace, and Sergeant Mark Brewer worked the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Boat Show in Virginia Beach.  Due to COVID, the show had not occurred in 2 years.  The officers set up a booth and answered many questions on boating, fishing, and hunting.  K9 Grace met many people throughout the course of the day, and many people were very interested in her role as an officer.

Season Long Investigation Comes to an End – Officer Braziel recently ended a season long trespass to hunt investigation.  From September 2021 through January 2022 the suspect was trespassing to hunt, as well as committing numerous other hunting violations, to include: hunting over bait, killing deer out of season, killing turkey out of season, and killing over his limit of antlered deer. Numerous charges were placed and the suspect is currently awaiting trial.

Take Deer Out of Season – On January 29, 2022 Officer Braziel received information from Officer C. Smith regarding possible hunting during the closed season.  K9 Officer Braziel arrived on scene and followed what appeared to be game cart tracks down a path and through the woods.  While following the tracks, Officer Braziel came upon a man wearing camo, a blaze orange vest/hat, with arrows on his back, and pulling a game cart with a field dressed doe on it.  The man advised he thought the deer season was still in.  Officer Braziel advised the man that the season was closed and the appropriate charges were placed.

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  • February 24, 2022