Skip to Main Content

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

October 12 – November 8, 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

Greensville County Farm Day – On October 14, 2022, Conservation Police Officer Cody Barnes and DWR Fishery Biologist Eric Brittle participated in the Greensville County Farm Day for over 225 third graders and kindergarteners from the local elementary school and YMCA.  The event, organized by the Chowan River Basin Soil and Water Conservation District, provides local schools with hands on education about water and soil conservation, farm operations, forestry practices, wildlife and nutrition.  Jesse and Susan Harrell, who have a long history supporting Hunter Education and CPO outreach events, hosted the event at their farm in Emporia, VA.

CPOs Assist Outreach with Programs – The DWR Outreach Division coordinated two local programs geared toward helping new hunters with hands on training.  On October 22, 2022, Conservation Police Sergeant Mark Brewer and Conservation Police Officer Amanda Janicki assisted a Field to Table class hosted at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk.  New hunters were taught how to process a deer after harvest.  Sgt. Brewer coordinated with local farms to provide deer for the class.  On October 23, 2022, the DWR Outreach Division coordinated a hunter education course with live fire activities at the Bronco Rod and Gun Club in Southampton County.  Conservation Police Officers Joel Early and Chris Gilmore provided segments on hunting laws and regulations.  Hunter education instructors taught live fire, shoot/ don’t shoot exercises, climbing tree stands with a firearm and other life like hunting scenarios.

Conservation Police Officer Receives MADD Award – On October 26, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Cameron Dobyns received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Award for his efforts to combat intoxicated boaters and drivers on Virginia’s waterways and highways.  CPO Dobyns is a 16-year veteran of the Virginia Conservation Police Division and has been an active DWR law enforcement instructor in his efforts to reduce impaired operation on Virginia’s waterways and highways. CPO Dobyns commonly instructs Marine Field Sobriety Testing classes to CPO Recruits at the DWR Conservation Police Academy and instructs other local and state law enforcement agencies in their marine unit training sessions.

The MADD award reads ” For your outstanding service to reduce impaired driving in Virginia “.  CPO Dobyns led his region this year in contacts and arrests for impaired boaters under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Region II

Opportunity to Learn Outside the Classroom:  On October 20, 2022, Conservation Police Officers Leslie Wright and Joe Williams, along with Blue Ridge Parkway Rangers, hosted 40 special needs students from Roanoke City Public Schools at Carvins Cove Reservoir in Botetourt County.  The students were given the opportunity to fish, hike the trails along the reservoir, learn about local wildlife, and develop an understanding of how Carvins Cove provides clean drinking water for the residents of Roanoke and Botetourt Counties.  The children really enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the classroom and the officers have already been asked to assist with future events.

Region III

Bear Hunting Violations – On Sept 27, 2022, Sgt. John Koloda patrolled a remote national forest area in Montgomery County, Virginia, focusing on bear hunting violations.  Sgt. Koloda located a Toyota truck sitting on the side of the road with a dog box and no displayed license plates. The truck’s occupant admitted to bear hunting and had a firearm in the truck’s cab with him. He did not possess any hunting licenses and was cited for the violations.

Sgt. Koloda continued his patrol and found another truck pulled off along the road. The flatbed truck had a cardboard box attempting to conceal a freshly skinned-out bear carcass. Nobody was around the truck, but the windows were rolled down, and the keys were in the ignition. After locating the hunters and completing the investigation, multiple violations were detected and addressed involving the bear carcass, including:

  • Kill bear illegally
  • Hunt bear over bait
  • Fail to check bear
  • Unlawfully possessing a black bear

Illegal Deer Kill – On August 27, 2022, Radford City Police Department contacted DWR relating to an antlered deer found deceased in the backyard of a residence within the city. CPO Wood responded and began his investigation. A crossbow bolt was found sticking out of the deer. A blood trail was located, and officers back-trailed it to a city road where the shot possibly originated. District units continued working on the investigation in hopes of developing a suspect.

On September 12, 2022, information was obtained, and with joint efforts by the Radford City Police Department, officers conducted interviews with two suspects at their residence. Items at the residence matched evidence DWR officers collected during the initial investigation.  Both subjects admitted to shooting the deer at 1 a.m. as their vehicle traveled through the area after a night of fishing.

Appropriate lawful action was placed. This was an excellent example of agencies working together and community policing efforts the District has promoted!

Wildlife Presentation to Middle School Students – On October 5th and 6th, Senior CPO Eric Rorabaugh attended an educational program at the Soil and Water Conservation District Educational farm in Grayson County. Approximately 250 middle school students from Carroll County Schools attended over the two days. Senior CPO Rorabaugh spoke with the groups regarding wildlife in Virginia and the job duties of a Conservation Police Officer.  Several students expressed an interest in being a CPO after Officer Rorabaugh’s presentation.

Region IV

Waterfowl Violation – A District 42 officer patrolled the James River in Rockbridge County on October 8th and observed several goose decoys and an individual using a goose call.  The officer observed the hunter near the decoys, using a goose call and firing a shotgun several times. Contact was made with the waterfowl hunter, who had two ducks in his possession, an unplugged shotgun, and no Federal duck stamp.  The hunter was educated on hunting seasons and tactics, and the appropriate enforcement action was taken.

Trespassing Complaint – On November 1, 2022, Conservation Police Officers from DWR Districts 44 and 45 responded to a trespassing to hunt complaint in Spotsylvania County. While speaking with the complainant, it was brought to light that gunshots were heard only 1 hour prior to the officers first arrival on the scene. After gathering the incident information, officers left the complainant’s house and responded to a suspect’s residence.

Officers located the suspect with two dead antlered deer in his possession. Officers stopped the processing of the deer meat by the suspect and continued the investigation. By the end of the investigation, two suspects were identified with two deer and one firearm seized as evidence for court.  Four summonses were issued on-site to the suspects for the illegal killing of the deer and more charges are pending.

This was a great effort by multiple officers from two law enforcement districts to catch blatant poachers of our natural resources.

Special Operations

K9’s Assistance Helps Prove Subject’s Innocence – Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke and his K-9 partner Coal were called to assist CPOs in Washington County in searching for evidence of a subject possibly hunting out of season.  The landowner stated he heard what appeared to be a rifle shot at approximately 0800-0830 am on his property.  The landowner stated that he had given permission to a subject and that subject was hunting the morning in question.  CPO Units #331 & #332 went to the subject’s residence, who stated that he was hunting on the property with his 15-year-old grandson, and the juvenile had killed a doe that morning with archery equipment.

K-9 Coal was deployed in the area in question, a field with high, thick vegetation.    After a few minutes, Coal indicated to the area the hunter stated the deer was standing when his grandson shot it. A compound bow arrow with blood was recovered from the thick grass.  Locating the evidence showed that the hunter was truthful and cleared him of any wrongdoing.  DWR’s K-9s assist our field CPOs in collecting evidence.  The location of that evidence can prove a hunter’s innocence and guilt.

Click here for our visitor's guide to DWR properties for all the info you need to make sure your adventure is a successful one.
  • November 22, 2022