Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers (CPO), previously called game wardens, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of the variety 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 actual field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration]of the Law Enforcement Division VDGIF. 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. Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen!
Region I – Tidewater
Plain Clothes Patrol on Crappie Fishermen – On February 15, 2017, CPO Joe Rollings received an email from Bureau biologist, Scott Herman. It had been reported to Herman that large numbers of huge Crappie were stacked up in a certain cove at Beaverdam Reservoir in Gloucester and fishermen were keeping over their limit. Herman expressed a concern of overfishing and the effect it would have on the Crappie population. Officer Rollings planned a plain clothes patrol of the area and watched the area being fished. As the fishermen left, Rollings inspected them back at the boat landing. Everyone checked was found to be in compliance having under their legal limit of fish. It was said that to a casual observer, someone with a creel of 12” to 15” fish, it would appear they were keeping more than they were supposed to. Officer Rollins sent a detailed report of his findings to Herman who was very appreciative of the timely action taken. Rollings will continue to monitor the area.
Follow-up to previous activities reported:
Court Completed – On February 17, 2017, CPO Dunlevy completed court regarding a shooting in the road right of way from an incident which occurred December 21, 2016 and in a previous activity report. The deer hunter was found guilty in King & Queen County. He was fined $100.00 and his hunting privilege was revoked for 2 years.
Court Completed – Also, in King & Queen court on February 17, 2017, Senior Officer Tyler Bumgarner had a subject who had been charged with 4 counts of failing to check deer and 4 counts of illegal possession. These charges were a result of Tyler’s data mining of social media and DGIF records. A plea deal was reached where the hunter was found guilty on 2 counts of each charge, $800.00 in fines all suspended, with his hunting privilege revoked for 3 years with 3 years of probation. Since 2012, this subject has been convicted of nine hunting and fishing related violations.
Warrant Served Following Investigation – On January 5, 2017, Officer Cameron Dobyns received a text message from a landowner in Essex County. The text included a photograph taken by the landowner’s trail camera of a hunter trespassing on the posted property. Dobyns began investigating the incident and was able to determine the identity of the suspect in the photo. It turned out that the suspect did not live at the address found on record for him. Dobyns continued his pursuit of his leads until he was able to make contact with the suspect on February 16, 2017. After the interview the suspect was subsequently charged with trespassing to hunt on posted property and served with a warrant obtained from the magistrate.
Back for More – On February 17, 2017 Officer Smith patrolled Northwest River Park in Chesapeake in plain clothes. The lake at the park had been stocked with trout for the urban trout program the previous day. While patrolling Officer Smith observed an individual catch his limit of trout, pack his belongings, and head towards a vehicle. The individual told Officer Smith he was going home to clean those fish and he would be back for more that evening. A couple hours later Officer Smith returned to the park to observe people fishing. While walking across the parking lot the suspect pulled next to Officer Smith and said “You’re back for more.” Officer Smith continued on his patrol. Shortly afterwards he observed the suspect catch his fish and return back to the parking lot. At that time Officer Smith advised the suspect he was a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. The suspect was surprised and admitted that he was caught. He received a summons for his violation.
Region III – Southwest
Surveillance Activity Yields Violations – On February 23 and February 24, 2017, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Nikita Burke, Cody Hash and Sergeant Jamie Davis conducted trout fishing surveillance operations in Smyth County at Buller Dam. Numerous violations were detected including exceeding daily creel limit of trout and fishing after obtaining daily creel limit of trout. Fishermen were surprised to see the officers “come out of nowhere” and they were also thanked by several fishermen and women for addressing the issue of exceeding daily creel limits.
Public Outreach – On February 26, 2017, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall and Officer Nikita Burke gave a summary of Virginia’s Boating Laws and Boat Registration and Titling; to students enrolled in Virginia’s Boating Basics course held at Cabela’s in Bristol, Virginia. A total of fifteen students were enrolled in the course which was administered by VDGIF’s Volunteer Boating Education Instructors. The officers answered numerous questions during the event.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley
CPO’s Speak to Future Law Enforcement Officers – Sergeant Carl Martin and CPO Owen Heine spoke to the Winchester City Sheriff’s Office Explorers group on Tuesday night, February 21st. They brought two patrol boats and discussed the importance of life jackets and boating safety enforcement efforts of CPO’s on Virginia waters. CPO Heine gave a PowerPoint presentation that he developed showing an overview of Conservation Police Officers and the laws they enforce. As a result, the kids asked many questions about the hunting, fishing, and boating laws. The CPO’s provided job requirements and guidance to careers in wildlife law enforcement. Since the Explorers goal is to explore the different law enforcement opportunities available to them, we may see one of them in the VDGIF Academy in the future!