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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

April 26 – May 22, 2023

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 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 1

Virginia Conservation Police Participate in Colonial Pipeline Training Exercise.  On April 27, 2023, Colonial Pipeline hosted local and state agencies for a training exercise that simulated a release of product into the Chickahominy River. Colonial Pipeline demonstrated a well-organized response during the training event that included communicating needs to local agencies, notifying the local public for safety concerns, protecting unaffected areas, and providing adequate equipment to recapture the released product.  Virginia Conservation Police identified boating safety concerns, effects on wildlife and fish populations and aid abilities CPOs can offer during a real time event.

Wanted Person Arrested while Fishing on Ocean View Beach.  On April 29, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police patrolled the Ocean View area of Norfolk in the evening for checking compliance of surf anglers.  Sergeant Brewer and CPO Druy encountered numerous anglers fishing in the area.  One group that was checked included several people without proper fishing licenses. Upon further inspection, it was determined that a female in the group was wanted for failure to appear in Norfolk Court.  The CPOs placed her under arrest and transferred custody of her to Norfolk Police Department without incident.

Virginia Conservation Police Demonstrate K9 Abilities to Children: On April 27, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Zach Howlett and Bonnie Braziel, along with K9 Grace, participated in an outreach event with the James City County 4H Club. The CPOs spoke to approximately 10 youth participants about the everyday duties of being a Conservation Police Officer and the importance of protecting our natural resources. Participants also got to view and ID a variety of different wildlife furs, whitetail deer antlers and wild turkey feathers. CPO Braziel and K9 Grace also ran a live demonstration showcasing Grace’s ability to locate evidence such as several spent shotgun shells in a large open field. Both CPOs received very positive feedback from the participants and camp counselors.

Virginia Conservation Police Speaks to Ruritans:  On April 25, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Tyler Dagliano attended the Hanover Ruritan club meeting as a special guest speaker. Dagliano gave a talk about hunting, fishing, and boating laws, along with the duties of a CPO. After CPO Dagliano spoke, another guest speaker was invited to give a presentation on coyote conflicts. Unbeknownst to Dagliano, that speaker was a college professor whom he had worked with in the past on a research project. The attendees were all excited about the information they received and that Dagliano and his professor were able to catch up after several years.

Virginia Conservation Police Educates Personal Watercraft Operators:  On April 23, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jared Scripture was inspecting numerous anglers for compliance at Osbourne Landing on the James River. During his interactions, he observed several personal watercraft (PWCs) operate at dangerously close distances to the occupied fishing pier. At one point, a PWC actually snagged one of the angler’s fishing lines in the water and broke it. Several of the anglers told CPO Scripture that those particular PWC operators had been doing this improper activity most of the day. CPO Scripture retrieved a patrol boat and returned to find the unruly operators still on the water.  He contacted several of the PWC operators and identified them from the earlier incidents. CPO Scripture explained the boating safety laws and rules of navigation to the operators and conducted watercraft inspections of the vessels. Several violations were dealt with accordingly with the operators. Virginia Conservation Police would like to remind operators of personal watercraft that it is illegal to operate in excess of the slowest possible speed to maintain steerage and headway within 50 feet of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps, people in the water and vessels other than personal watercraft.

Arrests Made for Shooting Goose:  Virginia Conservation Police Officer Brett Stone responded to Western Branch Reservoir in Suffolk after receiving a complaint from an angler that someone was shooting at geese in close proximity to their location.  Western Branch Reservoir is a 1,265-acre lake owned by the City of Norfolk and is heavily fished. CPO Stone gathered evidence that a goose was shot and killed and he believed the shooter to be a resident from a nearby home.  CPO Stone identified a person of interest and interviewed him.  After first denying any involvement, the shooter confessed to killing the goose and cooperated in the investigation.  The shooter was charged for the violation.

Career Day at School:   Virginia Conservation Police Officers Kyle Jones and Bonnie Braziel attended career day for the Suffolk Public Schools at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary.  CPO Braziel and K9 Grace taught students about the capabilities of Conservation Police K9s and CPO Jones provided game animal furs and hands-on experiences for students to learn about native wildlife in Virginia.  The day was a great experience for the students and their teachers.

Hunter Caught with Illegal Substance.  Recently while patrolling Coastal Forest WMA in Accomack County, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Mark Machen encountered a hunter coming out of the woods unusually early for a morning spring turkey hunt.  During the hunting license inspection, the hunter attempted to retrieve his hunting license from his pocket.  While doing so, the hunter dropped a baggie of white powder on the ground and quickly tried to recover the substance and empty the baggie without the CPO noticing.  CPO Machen recovered the baggie and the remaining powder as evidence to be tested for narcotics by the state lab.  Once the substance is positively identified as a controlled substance, the hunter will be charged for the violation.

Anadromous Fish Operations:  Virginia Conservation Police from District 14 recently completed a series of patrols targeting illegal harvests of shad and herring.  Throughout early spring, CPOs conducted 5 covert boat patrols and highly visible uniformed patrols to deter the illegal take of shad and herring in popular fishing areas.  These areas included Barrett’s Landing Park, Holland-Coucill Memorial Bridge, Cary’s Bridge Boat Ramp and the Hercules Boat Ramp on the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers.  The efforts were in response to reports of anglers taking numerous daily creels of fish away and then returning to continue harvesting more fish.  The operations resulted in 9 summonses for fishing and boating violations.

Turkey Poacher Apprehended: On May 6, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers from District 14 executed search warrants on a hunter that they had been watching throughout the spring 2023 turkey season.  Upon executing the search warrants, the hunter admitted to killing 5 turkeys during the season and checking only three in with the DWR checking system.  Officers conducted surveillance of the hunter and acquired photographs of the hunter with multiple turkeys throughout the season. Further investigation revealed that the hunter had killed two turkeys before the season had started and continued to hunt dozens of times after obtaining his yearly legal limit of turkeys.  This brings to close a season long operation that was planned out and executed by District 14 and District 13 CPOs.

Department of Wildlife Resources Opens 4,000 Acres to Public Access:  DWR recently acquired 7,800 acres of property for public access.  4,000 acres were opened just in time for the spring turkey season.  Virginia Conservation Police Officers from Accomack and Northampton Counties have been patrolling the newly acquired properties on a regular basis to monitor hunting activities.  CPOs have observed light hunting pressure thus far and only a couple minor violations have been detected since the opening of the property.

PWC Violations: On May 7, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jared Scripture was conducting a patrol at the Dutch Gap boat ramp in Chesterfield County. Scripture observed two personal watercrafts (PWCs) operating at excessive speeds within 50 feet of the pier; one of which had 4 passengers and the other with an expired registration. CPO Scripture made contact with both operators and conducted inspections of the vessels. While issuing summonses for the violations, Scripture discovered that one of the operators had an active arrest warrant from North Carolina. Chesterfield Police were called and took the wanted person into custody after Scripture issued the appropriate boating charges. Virginia Conservation Police would like to remind PWC operators that it is illegal to operate a personal watercraft while carrying a number of passengers in excess of the capacity limit for which the craft was designed by the manufacturer.

Virginia Conservation Police Execute Search Warrant: On May 11, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police executed a search warrant in Newport News for the illegal possession of captive wildlife by a local resident. The investigation began in September of 2022 with CPO Amanda Janicki identifying a person holding captive wildlife as a pet.   A subsequent interview and search of the apartment rendered no evidence of illegal wildlife.  CPO Janicki continued to monitor the situation and obtained a search warrant in early May of 2023.  CPOs executed a search warrant on the apartment and located illegal captive wildlife (squirrel) and observed evidence of illegal narcotics distribution. Wildlife Biologist Todd Englemeyer assisted with the removal and relocation of the captive wildlife. After consulting with the local Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, a subsequent search warrant was obtained for the narcotics. After all was said and done, CPOs seized illegal captive wildlife, narcotics, drug smoking devices, plastic baggies and scales used in the distributing of illegal drugs.  CPOs on scene also worked with the local apartment complex management to ensure that the residence was secure after completion of the search warrants.

Virginia Conservation Police Respond to Boating Incident: On May 13, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Amanda DeZalia-Burks and Sgt. Mark Brewer were on boat patrol in the Elizabeth River when they received a call of a boating incident at the Western Branch Reservoir in Suffolk.  The CPOs responded and found that a jon boat had hit a tree stump, ejected 3 occupants and submerged in the water.  Other nearby anglers came to the aid and rescued the 3 occupants of the vessel.  They were also able to bring the jon boat ashore and de-water it.  None of the occupants were injured in the incident.  Virginia Conservation Police would like to remind everyone to wear an approved PFD (life Jacket) while on the water and to take a boating education class.

Virginia Conservation Police Participate in TSA Joint VIPR Operations:  On May 10, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police participated in a Transportation Security Administration joint federal, state and local law enforcement operation at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Multiple agencies teamed up for the  TSA VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) team operation.  While the TSA and local law enforcement agencies conducted a traffic checkpoint and traffic stops on the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel, Virginia Conservation Police provided a maritime component to the operation in the area of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay/Bridge Tunnel in Virginia Beach.

CPO Speaks to High School Students: On May 12, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Andrew (Kyle) Jones attended a zoology class at Northumberland High School. The class, which included 15 students, had been studying conservation and natural resources. In anticipation for the visit from Jones, the students prepared a list of questions which pertained to wildlife conservation and outdoor activities. After answering the questions, CPO Jones spoke to the students about the day to day duties of a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. Virginia CPOs strive to be good stewards in their communities and hope experiences like these inspire young people to participate in outdoor activities and pursue a career in natural resource protection.

Conservation Police Officer Saves a Life:  On Monday, May 15, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Tyler Bumgarner was on routine patrol in the area of Colonial Beach located in Westmoreland County.  At 8:10 AM, Sgt. Bumgarner observed an individual administrating CPR to a subject that was lying unconscious on the ground.  Sgt. Bumgarner quickly conducted a U-turn in his patrol vehicle and stopped to provide assistance. The individual administrating CPR stated that the subject had overdosed on narcotics.  Sgt. Bumgarner then retrieved his issued NARCAN overdose kit and AED.  A dose of the naloxone was administered to the subject and AED pads were attached.  After a second dose of naloxone, the subject became conscious and sat up.  Medical personnel then arrived on scene and transported the subject to a local hospital for further treatment. If it were not for the quick reactions of Sergeant Bumgarner, this situation very well could have had a tragic ending.  Conservation Police are issued NARCAN ( Naloxone ) kits and are provided training on the proper way to administer it so that they are prepared for situations like this.

Virginia Conservation Police Teach Man-Tracking Class: On May 16, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Tyler Bumgarner instructed a man-tracking class near Fredericksburg.  In attendance were 20 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents who specialize in evidence collection. Sergeant Bumgarner was able to demonstrate basic tracking techniques and show the agents the dynamics of visual evidence recovery.  Every Virginia Conservation Police Officer attends man-tracking classes during their Basic CPO Academy while those CPOs on the DWR Regional Man-Tracking Teams attend more advanced and specialized training.  This training is utilized by our CPOs in finding lost, injured or incapacitated individuals and others in need, usually in rural environments throughout the state.

CPO Participates in Youth Field Trip Event:  On May 19, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Tyler Dagliano participated in a Botetourt Elementary School field trip at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester County. In addition to CPO Dagliano, law enforcement officers from Virginia Marine Resources, Virginia State Police and the Poquoson/York County Sheriff’s Office participated in the event. During the event, approximately 90 second grade students were able to fish, learn about boating safety, observe the inside of multiple police vehicles and go on a nature walk. CPO Dagliano lead the nature walk where he spoke about native wildlife, species diversity and wildlife habitat. He also took the time to talk about DWR and what it is like to be a Conservation Police Officer.

Region 2

Campbell County Elementary School Career Days:  During the month of April, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Cory Harbour attended two Elementary School Career Days in Campbell County. CPO Harbour gave presentations at the Leesville Road Elementary School for approximately 600 kids and at the Rustburg Elementary School for approximately 500 kids.  During his presentation, CPO Harbour discussed the importance of public safety and natural resources protection.  The kids also got to check out a patrol boat and all the unique gear the Virginia CPOs use in their job duties.

First Grade Students Visited by CPO in Patrick County:  On May 5, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Dale Owens partnered with the Virginia State Police and the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office for a Touch-a-Truck event in Patrick County.  Forty first grade students from Blue Ridge Elementary School were in attendance and were given the opportunity to see CPO Owens’ patrol vehicle and law enforcement equipment up close.  The students were fully engaged and asked many questions.  CPO Owens provided each student with a sticker badge making them honorary CPOs for the day.

Closed Season Turkey Hunting:  In March 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Gracie Talbert received information that a turkey hunter had killed three turkeys during the closed season in Amelia County.  Her investigation revealed that the turkeys were killed on two days in late March.  Furthermore, this poacher had harvested and checked an additional turkey on the opening day of the Spring Turkey season, which began two weeks later.  On April 16, 2023, CPO Gracie Talbert, Officer First Class Kevin Webb, and K9 CPO Tyler Blanks located and contact the hunter and unbelievably, he had a fifth turkey in possession that he had just killed that morning.  During the interview, the poacher admitted to shooting three turkeys out of season and two in season.  Charges are pending.

City of Lynchburg Criminal Justice Class Presentation:  Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Cory Harbour serves on the Criminal Justice Program Advisory Committee for the City of Lynchburg schools and every year he gives a career presentation to the class.  CPO Harbour has served on the Committee for several years, and he now assists with developing and approving the program’s annual curriculum.  During this year’s presentation, CPO Harbour discussed the role that Virginia Conservation Police Officers play in public safety and detailed what their job duties consist of.  To help capture their attention, he displayed a patrol boat and all the unique gear the Virginia CPOs are issued.

 OUI Refresher Training on Smith Mountain Lake:  On May 19, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers from Region 2, Area 2A, which is the western portion of Region 2, received refresher training on the topic of Operating Under the Influence (OUI).  This training was conducted at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Bedford County.  Master Officers Joe Williams and Matt Sandy provided a classroom lecture followed by an on-water practical exercise.  Master Officers Eric Dotterer, Dallas Neel, Senior Officer Bruce Young, and Officers First Class James A. Hale, Leslie Wright, Shane Wilson, and Tyler Routon participated in the training.  Lieutenant Jessica Fariss, First Sergeant Tim Dooley and Sergeants Jamie Slaughter and Michael Morris served as role players during the practical exercise.  Ongoing training is important and helps the officers maintain a high level of proficiency in the detection and prosecution of OUI violations.  According to the US Coast Guard, alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States.  Conservation Police Officers train hard and work even harder as they are the last line of defense in keeping boaters safe on the waters of the Commonwealth.

Region 3

VCP Officer Assists with Public Safety Threat:  On April 21, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ben Boyette responded, with Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police, to a location where there were reports of a subject brandishing a firearm on a public highway in Carroll County.  Responding law enforcement arrived to find an armed subject who was confrontational and refused to comply with law enforcement commands.  A stand-off ensued and Law enforcement worked to establish a perimeter to protect citizens in the area.  Eventually, the individual was taken into custody and the scene was secured.  Unfortunately, a deceased individual was in the suspect’s vehicle.  CPO Boyette assisted with scene security while the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police processed the evidence.  The suspect was subsequently charged with felony murder and other serious charges.  While the matter continues to be under investigation, the cooperation of all involved agencies resulted in the resolution to a serious public safety threat.

Prior Knowledge of Area helps Officers Uncover Illegal Turkey Hunting Activity:  On April 22, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Eric Rorabaugh responded to a possible trespassing turkey hunter complaint in Wythe County.  Initially, a caller had reported hearing two shots coming from the property.  CPO Rorabaugh was familiar because of previous violations there and he soon located a potential suspect and interviewed him.  The individual admitted to trespassing to hunt and killing two turkeys without a hunting license.  CPO Rorabaugh was assisted in the investigation by CPO Boyette, K9 CPO Chaffin, and K9 Molly.

Suicidal Subject at Wildlife Management Area:  On April 22, 2023, the Virginia Conservation Police Region 3 Tracking Team, comprised of the following members: Sergeant Arnold, CPOs Rorabaugh, Boyette, Gardner, and K9 CPO Chaffin, responded to a call for assistance from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, for a suicidal subject last known to be at Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area.  Sergeant Arnold served as the Incident Commander, and three multi-agency teams were sent out on a  search and attempted to locate the individual prior to inclement weather arriving with dangerously cold conditions.  Just before midnight, they located the person and then he was transported to the Washington County Hospital for evaluation.  This was an excellent example of teamwork that yielded a successful outcome.

VCP Officers Provide Outreach Resources in High School Competition:  Recently, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Guizar and Harding assisted the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts with the 2023 Area IV Envirothon, a competition for high schools to prove their understanding across several topics, including Wildlife, Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, and a current event, Climate Change.

On March 17, 2023, CPOs Guizar and Harding were responsible for the Wildlife station for the student training day.  At this station, they provided a practice test, answered questions, and provided information.

On April 21, 2023, CPO Harding operated the Wildlife Booth during the competition.  In this event, students from Abingdon, Castlewood, Council, and Blacksburg High Schools took an updated 25-question test, which had been prepared by CPO Harding, in which they identified antlers and pelts, and competed for the top overall scores of the day.  Representatives from Dominion Energy, the United States Dept. of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment were all in attendance as well.

Tracking Team Assists with Inmate Escape:  On April 23, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Rickels received a call from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office requesting assistance in locating two prisoners who had escaped from the local jail and fled on foot.  Region 3 tracking team members, Sergeant Arnold, along with CPOs Harding, Rorabaugh, and Gardner, responded to the last known location.  While on the way, CPO Rorabaugh assisted Virginia State Police with the apprehension of one of the prison escapees.  The tracking team found the last known location of the second suspect and began to track the suspect, who no doubt was trying to evade them.  These attempts were unsuccessful, and the team soon flushed the escapee, and the suspect was apprehended by Scott County Deputies.  The suspect later confirmed trying to evade the tracking team and observed the team coming before being caught.

 Youth Outreach Event:  On April 29, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Bobbitt assisted the Bland County Many Beards, Chapter of the NWTF, with their annual Kids Fishing Day.  This year’s event was called “Cops and Bobbers” since it was sponsored by the Bland County Sheriff’s Office and the Rocky Gap Volunteer Fire Department.  The event helped bring approximately 100 young anglers to one of the departments stocked trout streams on Laurel Creek.  The biggest catch of the day was by a young 5-year-old angler, who caught a 5-pound 20-inch Brown Trout.

Kids Outreach Event is an Enormous Success:  On May 6, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officers Gene Wirt, and David Peake, along with K9 Officer Jacob Chaffin and K9 Molly, conducted the annual Kids Fishing Day Event at Pandapas Pond, in Montgomery County.  The US Forest Service was also on hand to display one of their fire trucks and the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Office cooked hotdogs for all the kids and families in attendance.  Prizes were given for the largest trout, largest 3 fish combined and smallest fish.  A total of 1000 pounds of trout were stocked for the event, including 22 trophy sized rainbow trout.  This 2023 fishing event hosted over 80 children in attendance.

Cub Scout Fishing Event Going Strong Now for 22 Years:  On May 7, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officers Gene Wirt, and David Peake, along with K9 Officer Jacob Chaffin and K9 Molly, conducted an annual Fishing Event for Cub Scout Pack 141.  This event was in Montgomery County, with Cub Master George Evans, and makes 22-years that CPO Wirt and Evans have hosted the event.  Trout were purchased from a private hatchery and stocked in a pond for the young kids and their families.  After the event, the fish are filleted, cooked and dinner is served with fresh fried trout and hushpuppies.  Over 30 Scouts and families attended the 2023 outing.  For several people, this was their very first fishing trip, and they learned new skills to include, how to tie hooks on-line and catch their first fish.

Youth Outreach Fishing Event was a Huge Success:  On May 6, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Jason Harris assisted with a Kid’s Fishing Day on Big Wilson Creek in Grayson County.  He worked alongside the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, Rugby Fire and Rescue, and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Fisheries Division.  Youth of all ages packed the creek bank and were successful in several catches.  Participants are looking forward to next year’s event.

Career Day Presentation:  On May 11, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Dylan Harding and K9 Master Officer Mark Vandyke attended the Wise County Central High School’s College and Career Fair day. The officers answered questions and provided information to 9th-12th grade students eager to pursue careers in Wildlife Conservation and other law enforcement, as well as others interested in pursuing Wildlife and Fisheries biologist positions within DWR.  The officers provided handouts and a photo display, and K9 CPO VanDyke introduced K9 Coal to the students.

Youth Fishing Outdoor Event Program:  On May 13, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Mark Shaw and K9 Officer Jacob Chaffin assisted with a Kid’s Fishing Day Event on Little River in Floyd County.  110 youth participants were excited to begin fishing for approximately 1,300 pounds of brown and rainbow trout, that had been stocked by the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) specifically for this event.  They were equally excited to know that some of the fish weighed more than four pounds!  Each participant received a tee-shirt and lunch with numerous door prizes and trophies presented for the largest fish caught.  There were several young fishermen who creeled there limit.  This event proved to be an excellent opportunity to watch all the young children explore the great outdoors while enjoying a day of fun fishing.  The event was sponsored by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.

Fishing Olympics Field Day:  On May 13, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Eric Rorabaugh and Master Officer Jason Harris attended the annual ‘Fishing Olympics’ fishing day in the Elk Creek section of Grayson County.  The event is held annually for special needs persons and provides them a day of trout fishing, food, and prizes.  The event is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), Summer Field Farms, Fishing Olympics, Elk Creek Fire Department, and the New River Wildlife Club.

Career Day Presentation Highlights the Department of Wildlife Resources:  On May 15, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police K9 Master Officer Mark Vandyke, Sergeant Matthew Arnold, and Elk Project Leader Jackie Rosenberger, attended a career day at St. Paul Elementary School in Wise, Virginia.  Second through Fifth grade students attended the event where Ms. Rosenberger and K9 CPO Vandyke presented on a multitude of topics ranging from elk collaring, fur identification, and the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) K9 program.  Over 50 children were able to ask questions and learn about the elk program, as well as meet K9 Coal.  The event was a huge success geared towards and through educating the children on the many different aspects of the DWR.

Region 4

Fish Compliance Patrol Brings Multiple Violations: On April 13, while conducting an anadromous fish compliance patrol at Rapidan Mill in Culpeper County, Virginia Conservation Police Officers observed a party comprised of several people fishing.  A closer look showed that the group was in possession of six illegally obtained game fish.  In addition, CPO Bostic observed one individual in the group pull a small baggie containing a white powdery substance out of her pocket and snort some of the substance, before sharing the substance with others in the party.  CPO Bostic then approached the group and began a field interview.  The individual with the powder substance (later determined to be cocaine) became evasive, but CPO Bostic effectively controlled the crowd.  CPO Daniel Eller overheard what was transpiring on his mobile radio and realizing that he was the nearest backup, immediately proceeded to the scene.  In order to complete the field interview, CPO Bostic called CPO Alberto Medina to provide Spanish translations for the individuals.  He also called for assistance from Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office for a female officer to search three of the female suspects in the party.  One person was taken into custody at the scene and the others were released on summons.  The teamwork spanning three districts and the local law enforcement agency proved to be effective in apprehending violators that both abuse the resources and narcotics at the same time.

Mint Springs Valley Park Annual Kid’s Trout Fishing Day: On April 29, 2023, Conservation Police First Sgt. Ferguson and Master Conservation Police Officer Heberling attended the annual Kid’s Trout Fishing Day at Mint Springs Valley Park in Albemarle County. Every year, Albemarle County Parks and Recreation and DWR partner to stock trout in the two main lakes at the park.  The park is then closed to fishing until the kids arrive on Saturday morning.  Approximately 70 kids, ages 12 years old and younger, participated this year. Many young anglers were successful at landing fish, including at least 3 citation brook trout.

Wildlife Checkpoint for Spring Enforcement Initiative: On April 29, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police conducted a wildlife/hunting/fishing license checkpoint in the Elkhorn Lake area of Augusta County.  The checkpoint, which was located in the George Washington National Forest, was planned in conjunction with the district’s trout and spring turkey enforcement efforts.  CPOs Jasemine Brown, Master Officer Mike Entsminger and Sergeant Ken Williams all took part in the checkpoint.  Summons were issued to those anglers who failed to purchase a license.

 Shenandoah County Residents Voice Concerns over Trout Stockings:  Virginia Conservation Police Officer Owen Heine organized a meeting between the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the ShenCo Troutfitters to address concerns centered around Mill Creek and Stoney Creek in Shenandoah County.  The concerns about the number and quality of trout stocked were brought up after the annual trout stream clean-up.  DWR Coldwater Biologist Brad Fink presented an overview of DWR’s trout program along with an update on the Coursey Springs Fish Cultural Center. Virginia Conservation Police provided information about trout enforcement efforts and answered questions about landowner rights on designated stocked waters.  This event highlights the importance that DWR staff places on their relationship with community stakeholders and the mutual benefit gained through a continued working partnership.

CPOs Participate in United States Coast Guard Training:  On May 1, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Goszka and CPO Medina participated in a training symposium at the USCG Joint Base Washington.  The training was held for governmental agency stakeholders whose jurisdictional boundaries include areas of the Potomac River adjacent to the District of Columbia.  The training highlighted the roles that state and local law enforcement partners each play while working together, which allows the USGC to carry out its mission more efficiently.  District 46 CPOs patrol the Potomac River and its tributaries in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William as well as the City of Alexandria.

 Rockbridge County Trout Angler:  On May 1, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jasemine Brown and Sergeant Ken Williams were participating in an enhanced trout enforcement operation focusing on designated trout waters in Rockbridge County.  CPO Brown watched as an angler caught and kept a limit of trout and left the area.  CPO Brown carefully observed the characteristics of the angler and notified Sgt. Williams to be on the lookout for the angler.  Several hours later, the CPOs located the angler again who was continuing to fish in designated trout waters and now had 3 more fish in his possession.  CPO Brown spoke to the angler who initially denied the truth about how many trout he had caught and kept that day. When presented with what CPO Brown had observed earlier in the day, the angler admitted to having exceeded the daily creel of trout.

 CPO Assists in Highland County Jakes Turkey Event:  On April 29, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Neil Kester participated in the Highland County Jakes turkey event.  CPO Kester assisted 82 youth participants who attended various training stations including a turkey seminar, a BB gun shooting range, pond fishing, talks by the Highland Sheriff’s Office and local fire and EMS departments.  Partnership events like this National Wildlife Turkey Federation Jakes Event are an excellent example of the Department of Wildlife Resources’ R3 efforts designed to recruit, retain or reactivate licensed hunters, anglers, boaters and wildlife watchers.

Special Operations

Stolen Boat Recovery from New York: On May 5, 2023, Special Agent Inge was notified by DWR customer service of an individual applying for a title/registration of 1996 Crownline cuddy cabin vessel. The applicant filed several DWR forms and was attempting to utilize the affidavit for transfer process. Within that application was a statement that the vessel was acquired without title or bill of sale. Customer service checked the vessel through the Coast Guard database and noticed there was a NCIC hit from New York associated with the vessel. The information was forwarded to SA Inge who began an investigation into locating the vessel. Suffolk County Police in NY was contact, verified the stolen status and supplied the victim contact information. Special Agents Inge, Croft and CPO Harbour responded to an address in Bedford County and were able to locate the applicant staying on the property in an RV. Upon inspection around the RV, the boat was not present. The applicant was interviewed and determined the vessel was being stored at Bay Rock Marina in Franklin County. The applicant was unable to provide any proof of ownership or transfer. Agents responded to Bay Rock Marina and were able to locate the stolen Crownline vessel and Load Rite trailer. Both were confirmed stolen out of New York. The victim was notified of the recovery and given information on where the vessel was towed and stored. Charges for perjury for boating records are pending completion of Suffolk County PD charges.

Cinco’s Birthday Celebration- On May 5th, 2023, K9 Officer Bonnie Braziel, K9 Grace, CPO Sarah Druy, and CPO Amanda Dezalia-Burks participated in a unique community event in the city of Chesapeake, Cinco’s Birthday Celebration.  This 2nd annual event brought several members of different K9 communities together to network as they also celebrated Cinco turning 6.  Braziel, Druy, and Dezalia-Burks answered several questions about what they do as Conservation Police Officers, what K9 Grace capabilities/disciplines are, and handed out several cards to the community.  The event took place on the courthouse lawn so several court officials, fire officials, police officials, and vendors were on the grounds.  Pictured below is Chesapeake Fire Marshall Whit Gibbs and his arson dog Cinco, with K9 Officer Bonnie Braziel and K9 Grace.

Tracking Team Assists with Prisoner Escape: On April 23rd, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Rickels received a call from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office to assist with two prisoners who escaped from the local Jail and fled on foot. Region 3 tracking team members Sergeant Arnold, along with Officers Harding, Rorabaugh, and Gardner, were activated and responded to the last known location of the suspects. While enroute, Officer Rorabaugh assisted Virginia State Police with the apprehension of one of the escapees. The tracking team found the last known location of the second suspect and began to track the suspect who was attempting to evade the tracking team. The attempts of evasion were unsuccessful as the team flushed the 2nd suspect out and apprehended by Scott County Deputies. The suspect would later confirm they were trying to evade the tracking team and saw the team coming before they were caught.

Suicidal Subject at DWR WMA: On April 22nd, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Region 3 Tracking Team members Sergeant Arnold, along with Officers Chaffin, Rorabaugh, Boyette, and Gardner received a call from Washington County Sheriff’s Office to assist with a suicidal subject last known to be at Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area. Sergeant Arnold was designated as incident command and three multi-agency teams were sent out to search in attempt to locate the subject before weather conditions became dangerously cold. The subject was located alive just before midnight and was transported to the Washington County Hospital for evaluation.

Vessel Inspection Uncovers Conspiracy to Clone Vessel: During the month of May, Master Officer Jon Hart conducted a vessel inspection for a Chesterfield man who was attempting to obtain a title for a vessel lacking a Hull Identification Number. Officer Hart picked up on some irregularities in the man’s story and contacted the Marine Theft & Fraud Unit. Special Agent Jim Croft inspected the vessel and determined that the vessel had a HIN and the owner had concealed the existing HIN plate with fiberglass resin. There were several different vessels in the gentleman’s yard, and it appeared that the individual was also selling boats without a dealer’s license. SA Croft instructed the individual that he needed to sand off the fiberglass concealing the HIN and once the numbers were revealed, SA Croft would assist him in applying for an Affidavit of Transfer.

The individual decided that he would not follow these instructions. A couple of weeks later, SA Croft spotted an advertisement on the internet where the individual was offering this boat for sale and listing it as a Sears vessel. SA Croft also determined that the individual had recently purchased a Sears boat and titled it in his name.

Based on experience, SA Croft suspected this individual had just placed the HIN plate from the Sears boat on the vessel that was originally inspected and was using the Sears title to launder the vessel. This method is referred to as “cloning”. Once the suspect sold the vessel, SA Croft located it and saw the Sears HIN on the original vessel boat. That plate was removed, and the fiberglass sanded down to reveal the original HIN and he was able to identify the legitimate owner. The next day, May 12th, Special Agents Jim Croft and Paul Inge, along with CPO’s Zachary Howlett, and Krista Adams, executed a search warrant on the suspect’s residence where they seized the suspects cell phone. He was also arrested for 2 felonies for obtaining money by false pretenses and tampering with serial numbers.

Special thanks to Master Officer Jon Hart who has been very effective in locating cloned vessels in the past.

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  • May 25, 2023