Skip to Main Content

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

November 30 – December 27, 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.

Stolen Hunting Dog Leads to Charges:  On November 25, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Tyler Dagliano responded to an incident in Middlesex County involving a stolen hunting dog taken from a hunting club. Upon taking the dog, the person was informed by a hunt club member that they wanted the dog back. The person then fled the area and left vehicle tire ruts in a yard nearby.  The suspect drove the dog approximately 7 miles away and released it. CPO Dagliano interviewed the hunt club members and was able to gain enough information to track down the person that took the dog.  After consulting with the Commonwealth Attorney, appropriate charges were placed against the person.

Tree Stand Incident:  On December 3, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Krista Adams responded to a tree-stand hunting incident in James City County.  CPO Sgt. Joe Valasek also responded to the scene to assist.  Upon their arrival, the officers located a climbing tree stand still attached to a dead tree that had fallen while a deer hunter was in it.  James City Fire and Rescue had already extracted the hunter and transported him to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News.  Conservation Police Master Officer Roy Morris responded to the hospital to interview the hunter while Officer First Class Chris Smith responded to the hunter’s residence to contact next of kin to let them know about the incident.  The hunter sustained a broken arm and a broken back.  He has had 2 surgeries to repair his broken bones, but is expected to make a full recovery.  The hunter was not wearing blaze colored clothing as required by law during the general firearms deer season.  This incident is still under investigation.

Trespassing with No License:  On November 11, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Keith Wilson received a call of trespassing in Campbell County.  With the assistance of Virginia Conservation Police K9 Officer Richard Howald, they followed the potential violator, along with K9 Skye, and found the hunter hunting on the property without permission.  The hunter was not wearing the required blaze orange and did not have a hunting license.  Appropriate charges or warnings were placed.

Deer Shot in the Water:  On November 24, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Kevin Webb was patrolling a local lake in Nottoway County.  He observed an individual standing at the rear of a truck, then proceed to rapidly move a rifle from the top of the dog box to the cab.  CPO Webb contacted the individual who then told him that he had just shot a nice buck, which was now floating in the lake.  The individual stated that he had not shot the deer while it was still in the water.  Hunt club members brought a boat to retrieve the deer, and once recovered, the shot location didn’t correspond with the hunter’s description to CPO Webb.  The potential violator ultimately admitted to shooting the deer while it was in the water.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Deer Taken Out of Season:  On November 25, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Brandon Harris and Officer Jared Howell received word that an antlerless deer had been killed on a day when it was legal only for antlered deer to be harvested.  CPO Harris developed a potential violator and initially the individual denied shooting the deer.  However, when CPO Howell asked him about the fresh evidence in his truck bed, he admitted his error and showed the officers where he had hidden the deer.   Appropriate charges were placed.

Shooting across the Public Highway:  On November 21, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Brandon Harris received information about trespassing and shooting from the road.  Upon his arrival to the location, CPO Harris observed two vehicles and two individuals standing outside them.  He approached and one of the individuals stated that he knew CPO Harris was coming because someone had accused him of shooting from the roadway.  The hunter said he knew it was illegal to shoot from the road and that he had not done so.  He said he was in the grass alongside the road when he shot.  CPO Harris, with assistance from Virginia Conservation Police K9 Officer Tyler Blanks, found material evidence that contradicted the potential violators version of the events.  When presented with these facts, the individual admitted to shooting down and across the road at the deer. Appropriate charges were placed.

Over the Limit of Waterfowl:  On November 27, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Brandon Harris and Officer Jared Howell were on a waterfowl patrol.  They heard shots and located a nearby pond, and wetland area, and saw waterfowl flying.  The officers waited to listen for additional shots.  Soon afterwards, they heard vehicles start up and then drive up to their location.  The vehicles stopped and conversation began.  CPO Harris determined the hunters had been duck hunting and asked to see what they had harvested.  Ultimately the two individuals had harvested too many wood ducks and one individual did not have a plug in his gun.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Bear Killed Illegally:  On November 28, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Dotterer received a call regarding an illegally killed bear in Pittsylvania County.  CPO Dotterer investigated this and discovered that the potential violator was not properly licensed to hunt, had shot a bear during closed season, and then attempted to purchase a hunting license and check the bear in after the fact.  The potential violator said that it happened so quick he did not have time to think.  The appropriate action was taken.

Multiple Violations Detected in Pittsylvania County:  On November 29, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Dotterer responded to a trespassing to hunt complaint in Pittsylvania County.  CPO Dotterer’s investigation revealed a hunter shot an antlerless deer during closed season and then illegally pursued it onto neighboring property where they did not have permission to hunt.  The hunter was not wearing blaze orange as required by law.  After retrieving the deer, the hunter began processing it without first checking it in.  The appropriate action was taken.

District 22 CPOs Spread Holiday Cheer:  In an effort to spread holiday cheer and raise awareness of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Leslie Wright volunteered to coordinate Conservation Police involvement at three Christmas parades in the Roanoke Valley.  CPO Wright communicated with representatives from the Town of Vinton, City of Salem, and the Town of Bedford to ensure all protocols were followed.  She designed an elaborate display using a law enforcement patrol boat, outfitted with hundreds of blue and green Christmas lights, and featuring a guest appearance from Rudolph.  The tour kicked off on December 1, 2022, in Vinton with stops in Salem on December 2, 2022, and Bedford on December 3, 2022.  During the parades, CPO Wright was joined by Conservation Police Officers First Class Shane Wilson and Tyler Routon along with Master Conservation Police Officers Joe Williams and Michael Morris.  The CPOs enjoyed the opportunity to engage thousands of constituents from diverse backgrounds and were rewarded with countless smiles and positive comments.  Unsurprisingly, Rudolph was the star of the show.

Community Engagement in District 21:  On December 2, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Dotterer represented the Department of Wildlife Resources in the Town of Chatham’s annual Christmas parade.  CPO Dotterer displayed his patrol vehicle and made many positive contacts and engaged a diverse group of constituents while raising awareness of the unique way Conservation Police Officers serve their communities.  A great time was had by all.

Protector Challenge Coin Presented:  On December 4, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Slaughter and Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Dotterer had the privilege of presenting Mr. Mark Slade, of Pittsylvania County, with the 105th Protector Challenge Coin.  Mr. Slade has been an advocate of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for well over thirty years.  Most notably, Mr. Slade has shared his wealth of knowledge concerning nuisance wildlife control, trapping, and hound hunting with Officers and citizens alike.  Mr. Slade was surrounded by his family when presented with his Protector Challenge Coin.

Tracking a Deer Leads to Multiple Violations:  On October 2, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer David Peake responded to a citizen who heard gunshots on his property during the early archery season.  CPO Peake arrived, and he began his investigation.  He spoke with the landowner and the hunter, who the landowner had located with a deer.  The hunter said he had shot the deer with archery gear on property he had permission to hunt.  However, the deer went onto an adjoining property, so he returned to his vehicle and left his archery equipment there before attempting to track it.  While tracking the deer, he saw it several times and shot at it several times with his pistol.  CPO Peake returned to the location of the initial shot and located a baited tree stand.  Appropriate action was taken.

Stolen Vehicle Recovered on WMA:  On November 30, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Eric Rorabaugh received a call a Virginia State Police Radio Technician in reference to a vehicle parked behind a locked gate on the Big Survey Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Wythe County.  CPO Rorabaugh contacted DWR Dispatch, and the vehicle registration indicated that it was stolen from the town of Wytheville.  CPO Rorabaugh responded along with Captain Stacey Dixon from the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Darren Umberger, from the Town of Wytheville Police Department.  The Town of Wytheville PD processed the vehicle and took possession of it.  The investigation is still underway by the Wytheville Police Department.

What an outstanding example of multiple agencies coming together to work together.

Exceeding the Season Limit of Deer:  On November 27, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ben Boyette investigated a complaint concerning the illegal killing of deer and possibly exceeding the season limit of antlered deer.  The potential violator had taken four antlered deer, the deer had not been properly checked in and the seasonal limit of antlered deer had been exceeded.  The appropriate action was taken.

Trophy Buck Shot from Roadway:  On December 1, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ben Boyette was notified of a trophy deer that was possibly killed from the public roadway.  CPO Boyette identified the potential violator, but he denied killing the deer illegally.  CPO Boyette talked to several individuals, gathered evidence, and ultimately the potential violator admitted to his wrongdoing.

Illegal Hunting Under the Moon Light: During the November-December deer hunting season, Master Conservation Police Officer Eller received information regarding an area in Spotsylvania where several individuals were hunting property at night while utilizing red solar lights. CPO Eller scouted the property and located several hunting blinds overlooking tube feeders filled with corn and mineral blocks, which are commonly used for illegal deer hunting over bait. On December2, CPO Eller and First Class Conservation Police Officer Sumpter conducted nighttime surveillance of the property as the individuals were hunting. After hours of observation, the officers entered the property and contacted three individuals. Through their investigation, the CPOs determined that the hunters were hunting deer illegally at night. Also, at the hunting sites, each hunter had low-level solar lights illuminating the sites where the food sources were placed, which were within close proximity of the hunting blinds. The individuals were all using crossbows during their nighttime hunts. One of the sites also had apples and pumpkins placed in front of the tube feeders. The appropriate charges were placed for these unlawful activities.

Hunting Deer after Hours : On November 26, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Chambers and K9 Officer Ostlund received a call about individuals hunting deer after hours near the Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County line.  The CPOs arrived approximately one and a half hours after legal hunting hours and located two hunters, utilizing ambient light from a nearby billboard to hunt deer with crossbows.  It was also determined that the hunters were not appropriately licensed, hunting over bait and were in possession of illegal deer excretion used as a scent.  Appropriate enforcement action was taken.

Early Morning Spotlighting Bust: On December 3, 2022 at 3:59 am, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Roger Palmisano received a call from a deputy in Fauquier County regarding a suspicious truck parked at a local convenience store.  The truck had a large amount of blood on the side of the truck bed and a dead deer in the truck bed. A rifle was in the passenger seat of the truck along with spotlighting equipment and numerous beer cans and liquor bottles inside. While the deputy was waiting outside to see who would return to the vehicle, he noticed two males loitering inside as if they were avoiding returning to the truck.  When the deputy went inside to speak with the individuals, one person ran out a side door and fled the scene.  CPO Palmisano arrived to assist and interviewed the person who did not run. CPO Palmisano received a full confession from the person for illegally spotlighting deer along with additional information of the fleeing person’s name.  After the interview, Palmisano went out to the truck to photograph the deer for evidence for court. However, the deer was now gone. The store manager was able to provide security camera footage of the other hunter sneaking up to the truck, removing the deer and hiding it under another vehicle before running away from the parking lot.  The following day, Palmisano contacted the fleeing poacher, who provided a complete confession about the previous night’s activities.  Numerous charges are forthcoming.

This is another great example of how local police and Conservation Police Officers work together to catch and prosecute wildlife violators.

Baiting Deer and Trespassing to Hunt: On October 31, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Krista Adams responded to a complaint of a hunter trespassing on private property and hunting over bait used to illegally attract deer.  CPO Adams responded to Henrico County and checked the area where she located a baited tree stand along with multiple trail cameras which were overlooking the deer bait.  After additional investigation in the next few weeks and obtaining a search warrant to obtain the trail camera footage, CPO Adams was able to determine who the individual was that was trespassing and placing the bait.  During an interview, the person admitted that he had placed the bait to lure deer to the scene and that the tree stand found on the private property belonged to him.  Appropriate charges have been placed for trespassing to hunt on private property and placing bait with the intent to hunt deer over it illegally.

Illegal Deer Dumping: On November 22, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Krista Adams received a complaint of a deer carcass being illegally dumped on private property in James City County.  Adams responded to the area and located a deer that had been shot with a bow and the remains dumped on someone else’s property. The deer had a very identifiable wound from the bow shot that made it easy to recognize if photographs were found later of the deer and hunter.  The deer was dumped about 20 yards into the woods from the roadway directly between two “No Trespassing” signs.  Adams photographed the area and started investigating the illegal dumping with CPO Officer First Class Zach Howlett assisting with the investigation. During the investigation, they were able to obtain evidence which linked the dumped deer to a person of interest.  CPO Howlett was able to determine that the person did not have any of the licenses required to hunt deer during the archery season and that the deer had not been checked in with DWR as required by law.  CPOs Adams and Howlett interviewed the person, who initially lied about the dumping location of the deer and where he had harvested it.  The person stated that he had harvested the deer on his grandfather’s property, so that he would be exempt from having the required hunting license on family land. He also stated that he did not think that he was required the check the deer in on the DWR deer checking system.  Ultimately, the hunter confessed to killing the deer without the appropriate hunting licenses, trespassing to illegally dispose of the deer carcass, transporting the illegal deer carcass and not checking in the deer with DWR as required.  The person also told the officers that he was hunting that day with another individual that had assisted him with dumping the deer carcass.  The officers determined his hunting partner did not have the required archery hunting license as well, which he also confessed to when interviewed about the incident.  Appropriate charges have been placed for the violations.

CPOs Represent DWR in Holiday Parade: On December 11, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Zach Howlett and Officer First Class Joshua Joyce participated in the annual Providence Forge Annual Christmas Parade in New Kent County.   They drove one of the Department’s Dodge patrol trucks and pulled a War Eagle patrol boat.  The parade had over 200 other participants and a huge turnout of spectators lining the parade route for the festive event.

Trespassing to Hunt and Stolen Game Trail Camera: On November 4, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Clawson received a call from a Rockingham Sheriff’s Deputy about a person trespassing to hunt and the larceny of a hunting trail camera.  CPO Clawson contacted the victim who was able to provide a trail camera photo of the offending hunter.  With the assistance of CPO K9 Handler Ostlund with his K9 partner and the Grottoes Police Department, CPO Clawson was able to identify the hunter responsible for the violations. The CPOs located and interviewed the offending hunter which led to other persons of interest in the hunting trip and eventual confessions from these hunters for multiple hunting violations.  On December 7th, CPOs Clawson and Chittum served an arrest warrant on the original hunter for trespassing and theft of the trail camera.  Appropriate lawful action was also taken against the remaining involved hunters.

This case is a great example of the extra efforts Virginia Conservation Police make every day and highlights their ability to thoroughly investigate and coordinate with multiple other law enforcement agencies to bring justice, ethics and fairness to the sport of hunting.

 Hunting Incident:  On December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police responded to a hunting incident in Surry County.  Responding CPOs learned that the victim suffered a gunshot wound to the left foot and was transported to Southside Regional Medical Center prior to their arrival.  Once on scene, CPOs learned that 63 hunters were participating in an organized deer hunt.  During the hunt, two individuals shot at three deer running by them for a total of 8 shots.  One of the pellets fired from the shotgun of the shooter struck another hunter in the foot.  The victim was standing approximately 94 yards from the shooter when the incident took place.  CPOs identified the shooter as a juvenile who was accompanied by an adult during the hunt.  The juvenile had completed a hunter education course.  The case remains under investigation and charges are pending.

These hunting incidents highlight the need to be sure of what or who is in your line of sight before you pull the trigger.  Safety should be the first priority during any hunting trip, especially in a large, organized hunt with multiple hunting stands scattered around an area.

Tree Stand Hunting Incident:  On December 13, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police responded to a report of a tree stand incident in Southampton County.  When CPOs arrived on scene, the victim had already been removed from the woods and flown to Norfolk General Hospital for treatment.  Senior Officers Gilmore and Early used their tracking skills to locate the incident scene in the woods.  There they found a climbing tree stand and determined that a broken cable caused the stand to detach from the tree and fall with the hunter to the ground.  The hunter only sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital.

This incident serves as a reminder to all hunters to routinely check their hunting equipment and to properly maintain it each year to avoid incidents such as this.

 Hunting Incident: On December 18, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officers from Districts 11 and 16 responded to a hunting incident that occurred in King George County.  Two hunters said that they were tracking a deer that one of them had shot the day before.  The deer jumped up in front of one of the hunters who shot at it 3 times striking the deer, and also the second hunter in the leg with one buckshot pellet.  The injured subject was carried out of the woods by rescue personnel and transported to a local hospital.  The incident is currently under investigation.

DUI Driver:  On December 16, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Andrew Jones was on patrol in Westmoreland County in his marked patrol vehicle.  At approximately 3:00 pm, a vehicle turned into his lane of traffic and almost collided head on with his patrol vehicle.  Jones quickly turned around and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle.  During the stop, Jones observed that the operator was showing signs of impairment.  Field sobriety tests were conducted, and the driver was offered a PBT (preliminary breath test).  The driver was arrested and transported to the magistrate.

CPO Jones’ alert actions demonstrate Virginia Conservation Police’s concern and awareness for public safety, not only in the woods and waters of the Commonwealth, but also on the public highways in Virginia.

Shop with a Cop:  On December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police K9 Officers Bonnie Braziel and Master Officer Roy Morris participated in a “Shop with a Cop” event with Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office. The event was hosted at WalMart in Gloucester Courthouse with 93 children attending. The CPOs were able to introduce K9 Grace to several children and build community bonds that will leave a lasting impression. Grace was also able to escort several children to see Santa Claus and get a photo with Mr. and Mrs. Claus herself.

Waterfowl Patrol Leads to Multiple Violations Detected: On December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Cameron Dobyns was patrolling for waterfowl hunting activity in Essex County. Dobyns checked a baited swamp and was able to walk through heavy cover and watch several duck hunters in the baited area. Eventually, Dobyns contacted the hunters and conducted inspections for hunting licenses. One of the hunters was found to be hunting with an unplugged shotgun that was capable of holding more than the legal limit of 3 shells. Appropriate charges were placed for the violations. Dobyns then patrolled the Rappahannock River and located several groups of waterfowl hunters in the area. Multiple violations were detected during this inspection also.

 Missing Boater Recovered:  On December 7, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Shane Wilson, and Tyler Routon, aided by Glasgow Volunteer Fire and EMS personnel, recovered the remains of a missing boater who went missing while boating on the James River on November 12, 2022.  Officers First Class Leslie Wright, Cory Harbour, Nick Belotte, John Daniel, and Keith Wilson, and Master Officers Michael Morris, Joe Williams, Matt Sandy, Owen Heine, Master K9 Officer Jim Patrillo, K9 Sergeant Richard Howald, Special Agent Paul Inge, and Sergeants Sonny Nipper and Chance Dobbs, assisted with the search.  A variety of resources and techniques were used during the 25-day search to include land searches, on water searches by boat, searches using Human Remains Detection (HRD) K9s, both on land and water, and searches using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  The officers’ ability and willingness to work together, beyond district and regional boundaries, is commendable.  While the outcome was unfortunate, it was respectable to give the family some closure.

CPOs Assist with Search for Wanted Suspect:  Just before midnight on December 9, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Adam Roberts, and James A. Hale, along with Sergeant Jamie Slaughter, assisted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office with the search for a subject who was involved in a domestic assault followed by the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and a residential burglary.  The CPOs assisted with securing the scene of the assault and subsequent searches for the suspect at several locations.  The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has obtained multiple felony warrants for the suspect who has yet to be located.

Bedford Shop with a Cop:  On December 10, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Leslie Wright joined forces with the Town of Bedford Police Department, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police to give back to their community during the Annual Shop with a Cop Event.  There were over 30 local children in attendance, each of whom was paired up with an officer and taken on a holiday shopping spree.  The children were able to select much-needed clothing as well as a few fun items.  It was not clear whether the children’s or the officer’s smiles were brighter.

D21 CPOs Give Back to their Community:  On December 10, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Slaughter, Officer First Class James Hale, and Senior Officers Bruce Young and Dale Owens, teamed up with the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police for the 7th Annual Shop with a Cop Event in Patrick County.  The program benefits local children who without this program, would have little to no Christmas.  This year the officers had the chance to spend quality time shopping with 70 local children who were able to purchase shoes, clothing, and toys.  The event was a huge success and a very rewarding experience for the officers.

Officer Experience Leads to Finding a Trespasser:  On December 2, 2022, District 31 Virginia Conservation Police Officers were participating in their monthly meeting when a call came in about a trespassing hunter who had run from a landowner in the Christiansburg area.  Christiansburg Police Department officers were on scene and had set up a perimeter.  Conservation Police Officers arrived on scene.  CPO Wirt soon spotted the potential suspect dressed in camo, laying on his back with his face covered, about 15 yards deep in a thicket.  He gave directions to the individual and ultimately placed him under arrest.

Felon Possessing Firearm While Deer Hunting:  On December 3, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Jason Harris was on hunting patrol when he observed two individuals hunting.  The hunters appeared to have been stalking a deer when CPO Harris contacted them.  The hunters did not have valid hunting licenses and were not wearing blaze orange.  Further checking resulted in one of the individuals having been convicted of a violent felony. This potential violator was arrested.

Illegal Road Hunter Identified:  On December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Dotterer concluded an investigation into illegal road hunting in Pittsylvania County with assistance from Senior Officer Bruce Young.  The investigation began six days prior when a citizen observed a vehicle parked in the roadway with the barrel of a firearm extended out of the driver side window.  CPO Dotterer developed a potential violator and interviewed him.  The potential violator admitted to hunting from their vehicle.  The appropriate action was taken.

Special Visit in Botetourt County:  On December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Shane Wilson and Tyler Routon visited a young man in Botetourt County who aspires to one day become a Conservation Police Officer.  The officers spent time talking with the young man and presented him with some Department of Wildlife Resources swag.  The young man was ecstatic and told the officers it was the best Christmas ever.  Special thanks to Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Karly Goad, who helped make the connection, and to DWR Director of Engagement Tom Wilcox for providing some DWR swag for this special occasion.

 Felon Possessing Firearm While Trapping:  On December 9, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Jason Harris and Senior Officer Ben Boyette encountered a trapper who was checking his traps on National Forest Lands in Smyth County.  The officers spoke with the trapper who was sitting in his vehicle with rifle resting against his leg.  They asked for a trapping license, to which he stated that he had one but did not it with him.  He then proceeded to show them a trap set that he had but it was not labeled as required by law.  The officers checked the individual’s history and discovered that he was a convicted felon.  They placed him under arrest.

 Crime Line Report Leads to Closure on Multiple Incidents:  On December 10, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Matthew Arnold and Corey Gardner responded to a hunting from the public roadway complaint.  The caller had observed a vehicle pull into a neighbor’s driveway, heard two shots, and then saw the vehicle leaving, but was able to get the vehicle tag number.  The CPOs arrived and located a freshly harvested deer.  While there, CPO Gardner observed a vehicle matching the description drive by at a low rate of speed and then quickly accelerate away.  The officers soon located the potential violator vehicle with him sitting inside with two rifles.  The CPOs asked the individual about this event and soon realized that this potential violator was involved in other open investigations.  As a result of this interaction, the CPOs were able to close several open investigations.

Killing Deer by Aid of Light Leads to Charges in Two States:  On December 13, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ben Boyette received a call from Grayson County Sheriff’s Office regarding a deputy who had stopped individuals for spotlighting and killing a deer. CPO Boyette responded to assist.  The officers determined that the potential violators had been spotlighting in both North Carolina and in Virginia where they killed the deer.  Grayson County Sheriff’s Office placed appropriate charges for the violations in Virginia.  The potential violators agreed to meet with a North Carolina Wildlife Officer about the violations in North Carolina.  The North Carolina Wildlife Officer confirmed that they were suspects in a North Carolina investigation.

The teamwork and partnership between various law enforcement agencies resulted in successfully bringing a string of wildlife offenses to an end.

 Smyth County Shop with a Hero:  On Saturday, December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Tyler Sheets and Officer First Class Matthew Arnold attended a “Shop with a Hero” event in Smyth County.  This yearly outreach program pairs children with first responders to shop for Christmas presents.  Donations from Walmart, local police agencies, Utility Trailer, and local fire departments fund the event to allow each of the fifty children to pick out over $100 in gifts.  First Responders assist the children in selecting gifts, while the kids get to ask questions and interact with them.  At the end of the event, the children get to meet Santa Clause and have their photo taken with him and the First Responder they were paired with.  CPO Arnold assisted one young boy and talked to him about fishing and hunting.  The young man even picked out a tackle box for the next time he gets to go trout fishing.  CPO Sheets shopped for two young girls who were unable to attend the event.  Overall, the event was a huge success and helped local Officers, EMS, and Fire Departments connect with their community.

Buchanan County Shop with a Cop:  On Saturday, December 17, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police First Sergeant James Hale, Master Officer George Shupe, Officer First Class Derrick Rickels and Officer Trace Hughes assisted with the Buchanan County Shop with a Cop Program.  The yearly event allows First Responders the opportunity to spend time with children in the community in a positive and meaningful interaction.  This year, 95 children from Buchanan County’s four local elementary/middle schools participated.

Trophy Buck Call Leads to Happy Reunion:  On November 25, 2022, the Virginia Conservation Police Dispatch Center received a call from a woman in Lynchburg City stating that she had found a large dead buck in her backyard.  Virginia Conservation Police K9 Sergeant Richard Howald and Officer First Class John Daniel responded to find a very large 13-point trophy buck that had been shot by an archery hunter.  CPO Daniel was able to retrieve a partial arrow shaft with an expandable broadhead attached.  The officers attempted to locate anything that would help them proceed but were not able to.  Additionally, they were unable to determine if the deer had been shot legally or not; so, they collected evidence, which included the deer head, a partial arrow shaft, and the broadhead.  CPO Daniel contacted Lynchburg Police Department to inquire about city deer permits.  He also talked to CPO Harbour to make him aware of it.

On December 6, 2022, a local hunter came forward claiming that it was a deer that he had shot on November 17th.  He stated that due to his poor shot placement, he had left the area and came back the next day but couldn’t find the deer.  He then hired an individual with a blood tracking dog to help.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it.  Not giving up, he continued to look nearly every day until he eventually found it.  He was surprised to see the head had been removed but he figured someone else had found it, until he talked to a nearby homeowner who told him that Conservation Police Officers had taken it.

Still not giving up, the hunter reached out to Officer First Class Leslie Wright who passed along his contact information to CPO Daniel.  After hearing the story, the hunter gave CPO Daniel a partial arrow shaft and a complete arrow with a broadhead he was using.  CPO Daniel used this to match to the evidence collected and on December 7th, returned the trophy to the hunter.  The hunter was extremely excited to get his deer back since he had searched for weeks and lost a lot of sleep over it.  He stated it had been a rollercoaster of emotions and could not believe that it had worked out the way it did.

CPOs Assist Local Law Enforcement: On December 19, 2022, Virginia Conservation Police Sgt. Bumgarner and Officer First Class Jones were on patrol in Northumberland County when they heard a request from Virginia State Police for assistance over their radio.  The officers were close to the area and responded to assist the trooper who was out on a traffic stop with multiple individuals.  The officers remained at the location with the trooper and assisted with maintaining order while he conducted his investigation.  It was found that one of the individuals had several outstanding warrants and was taken into custody by the Virginia State Police Trooper.

Later that day, the CPOs were on patrol when again they heard a request by Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office for all available units to respond to a fight in progress at a local business establishment.  The officers were less than a quarter mile away from the incident and were the first law enforcement officers to arrive on scene.  Once on scene, the CPOs observed a large group of people exiting the building.  The CPOs entered the building and began attempting to restore order to the crowd.  Officers with the Northumberland Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police arrived on scene a short time later and the officers assisted with maintaining order until the situation could be restored to normal.

Virginia Conservation Police Officers’ primary duties are to enforce the hunting, boating and fishing laws of the Commonwealth. However, they are empowered under Virginia law with full general police powers to enforce all state laws.  In most jurisdictions in Virginia and especially in rural Virginia localities, CPOs routinely are the nearest law enforcement officers to a call for service from citizens and routinely assist their local and state law enforcement counterparts in response to mutual aid and public safety calls for service.

  • December 29, 2022