Safety First - Plan Your Hunt, Hunt Your Plan!
To make your spring gobbler hunt successful and safe, hunters need to take some basic precautions to protect themselves and protect others. Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. Know where others may be hunting in your vicinity and never assume you are "the only one hunting there." Hunt "defensively" and make sure of your target and beyond before pulling the trigger. ALWAYS use basic safe firearms handling practices. Safety and courtesy are FREE, use them generously and always. Review the special safety tips for spring gobbler hunting in the Be Safe... Have Fun and the Hunting News You Can Use sections below. Bring home that gobbler safely.
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Annual Bluebell Festival At Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area April 11
VDGIF Wildlife Lands Manager, Ron Hughes, invites you to bring your family
and friends to Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Saturday, April
11, to welcome spring and view the spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the Cedar Run floodplain for nearly a mile. Events include a nature art show and naturalist-led tours to Cedar Run, where everyone can learn more about the wildflowers, birds, butterflies, frogs and wildlife habitats on this special Wildlife Management Area.
A variety of Northern Virginia environmental organizations will provide displays, including opportunities to meet turtles and other wildlife up close and personal and activities for children of all ages in the front yard of the WMA Center. Participating organizations include the Audubon Naturalist Society, Prince William Art Society, Prince William Conservation Alliance, Prince William Wildflower Society, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and VDGIF.
This event is made possible by the Merrimac Farm WMA Conservation Partners: Prince William Conservation Alliance, Marine Corps Base Quantico and VDGIF. For more information, visit the PWCA website or call
Wheelin' Sportsmen Hosting Gobbler Hunting and Trout Fishing This Spring
It's time for Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen members to hit the woods and the streams again! We have some exciting events planned for the spring. There are four exciting
spring gobbler hunts and four trout fishing events scheduled for this spring. A limited number of hunters with disabilities will be drawn for each
spring gobbler hunt. If you have a disability and would like to participate, download our 2009 Spring Gobbler Hunting and Trout Fishing Application Forms now to be entered into the hunt draw. Gobbler Hunting Application deadline is April 1 and Trout Fishing application deadline is April 15. Check VANWTF website for details.
Trout Unlimited Hosts Front Royal "Kids Fishing Day" April 11
The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF will be hosting the 11th annual "Kids Fishing Day", Saturday, April 11. The event will be held at Happy Creek next to the Bing Crosby Stadium off Commerce Street in Front Royal. Starting time will be 9:00 a.m. The VDGIF will be stocking on Friday and volunteers will help the kids on Saturday. There always are BIG FISH stocked for Kids Day and this year is no exception. Prizes will be given for each age group. Registration/logging the catch is at the middle pavilion. Donations to NSVTU are always accepted. Come on down to Happy Creek, bring your child, grandchild, or neighbor's child and have a great day helping your kids fish. For information, call Jim Hart at (540) 635-7970.
Fly Fishing Festival April 18-19 in Waynesboro Biggest Ever!
Attention, fly anglers: the 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will be held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, April 18-19. This is the largest fly fishing event in the state and draws anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic. Here's where you can learn all the latest techniques and gear and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. Festival sponsors include The City of Waynesboro, Dominion Power, SunTrust Bank, Orvis, Brookside Flies, Water Skeeter, Virginia Sportsman, Red Fish Roy, Virginia Living, Appomattox River Company, Mid Valley Press, Garden and Gun, Temple Fork Outfitters and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.
Noted fly anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic will speak and demonstrate fly casting at the 2009 event, including Bob Clouser, King Montgomery, Dusty Wissmath, Capt. Brian Shumaker, Mike Smith, Eric Stroup, Gordon English, Colby and Brian Trow, Tom Brtalik, Bryan Kelly and festival artist Alan Folger. Also, Beau Beasley, author of "Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters," will be speaking and autographing copies of his book. Multiple fly tyers will also be on hand including Captain Tommy Mattioli and Walt Cary. Kayak expert Captain Cory Routh, will be on hand autographing copies of his first book, "Kayak Fishing, The Complete Guide" and giving demos riverside. This lively event features over $10,000 worth of raffle prizes, wine tasting, live riverside music and kids activities.
Daily admission to the festival is $15 per person and the festival runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for more information about the festival.
Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 18
The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRP) will hold its annual "Clean Rivers Day" April 18. The clean-up encompasses the Blackwater/Nottoway watershed. Teams or individuals wanting to help can pick a spot they would like to clean or have one designated. The event is staged from the city of Franklin, but you do not have to travel to Franklin to participate. Jeff Turner, BNRP Riverkeeper, notes that this will be the Riverkeepers ninth clean-up, which to date has removed 53,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. BNRP is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. For more information call: (757) 562-5173.
Mint Springs Kids Fishing Day May 2
The 15th annual Kid's Fishing Day will be held at Mint Springs Park in Crozet on May 2, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Trout Unlimited, VDGIF, Kingfishers and the Albemarle County Department of Parks and Recreation. All kids age 12 and under may fish for free and no license is required. Only one fishing rod per youngster is permitted. Trout Unlimited and Kingfisher volunteers will operate a concession stand and assist the kids. A raffle will be held for a fishing outfit. Some bait and tackle will be offered for sale. The annual event has drawn over 200 youngsters each of the past eight years. The sponsors host the event to promote cold-water fishery conservation and fishing as a wholesome family activity. Additional information is available on this PDF form or by calling (434) 296-5844.
Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
More than 30 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts; see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.
For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.
People and Partners in the News
VDGIF Honored with National Sport Fish Restoration Award
The Fisheries Administrators Section of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) presented the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) with the 2008 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award, in the category of "Research and Surveys," at the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond April 7, 2009. The project, entitled "Restoration and Enhancement of the New River Walleye Fishery" has been a multi-year partnership between fisheries biologists with VDGIF and researchers from Virginia Tech. The Annual Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Awards are intended to both highlight the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration Program and to recognize excellence in fisheries management. Only three of these awards are given nationally every year.
"Receiving this award is an excellent way to recognize and honor years of dedicated research and field work to manage and to improve the unique walleye fishery of the New River," stated VDGIF's Director of Fisheries Gary Martel. "This project has truly been a team effort among our fisheries biologists, hatchery workers and researchers at Virginia Tech, with much of the success built on the professional leadership of VDGIF Fisheries Biologists George Palmer and Joe Williams," added Martel.
The New River in Virginia is nationally renowned for its smallmouth bass fishery, but a limited walleye fishery also existed for many years. Occasional catches of large walleye by anglers had resulted in several state records and fisheries surveys periodically yielded walleye greater than 15 pounds. A genetically unique walleye stock was identified when fisheries biologists with VDGIF partnered with researchers from Virginia Tech to conduct research in the upper New River (upstream of Claytor Lake) from 1997-99. In 2000, management of the upper New River population focused on conservation of the unique stock through genetically selecting brood fish and supplemental stocking the "native" strain. This was done with the goal of re-establishing the population of unique walleye stock in the 74 miles of New River above Claytor Lake in order to provide a viable fishery for recreational angling.
More information about the walleye restoration work on the New River and the Sport Fish Restoration Program can be found on the
Department's website along with updates, biologist's reports, news and information to keep anglers informed on other fisheries projects across Virginia.
Bill Kittrell Named Fisheries Professional of the Year by VA-AFS
Regional Fisheries Manager William B. (Bill) Kittrell has been honored with the Eugene W. Surber Professional Fisheries Biologist Award at the 2009 Meeting of the Virginia Chapter American Fisheries Society (VA-AFS) in Lexington. This annual award, presented by the VA-AFS to a professional fisheries biologist, is based on significant contributions to the field of fisheries science and is considered the most prestigious professional fisheries recognition bestowed by the Chapter.
Kittrell earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Masters of Science in Fisheries Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He worked as a fisheries biologist in both Texas and in Florida before coming to VDGIF in 1989. Bill's career with VDGIF began as a district fisheries biologist in the Farmville Office. He was promoted to regional fisheries manager in Marion in 1995.
Bill also continues to be professionally active in the American Fisheries Society (AFS). During his early years in Virginia, Bill served on the Southern Division American Fisheries Society (SDAFS) Striped Bass Technical Committee. In 1994, he helped organize and host a SDAFS striped bass symposium in Virginia Beach, including arranging for VDGIF personnel to produce a video of this event. He served the Virginia Chapter AFS as treasurer and currently serves as Chapter Secretary.
With 20 years of dedicated service to the aquatic resources of Virginia, along with his love and dedication to fisheries science and management, Bill Kittrell is most deserving of the Eugene Surber Award.
Complementary Work Force Needs Trout Stocking Volunteers
Volunteers are needed in Bath County to join the VDGIF Complementary Work Force to assist with trout stocking by loading fish early in the mornings at a private hatchery, while Coursey Springs is under construction. To join CWF go to the DGIF website to sign up or contact Jason Hallacher at email@example.com
Check out the latest CWF newsletter - Volume 9, March 2009
Ducks Unlimited Receives Grant For Wetland Restoration in Suffolk
Ducks Unlimited (DU) was recently awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to conserve wetland habitat in Suffolk. DU and project partners will restore and enhance 50 acres of emergent wetlands and 32 acres of forested wetlands in the project boundaries. "NAWCA grants are a crucial funding source for conservation partnerships such as this one," said Kirk Mantay, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. "As a result of this funding opportunity, we will be able to cooperatively restore critical wetland habitat for the benefit of waterfowl and other migratory birds." Ducks Unlimited partnered with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and the private landowner to receive matching NAWCA funds.
Approximately $40,000 in matching funds from project partners and $67,500 in NAWCA grant funds will restore, protect and enhance forested and emergent wetland habitat critical to waterfowl in Suffolk. Many of the functions and values of these former wetlands have the potential to be restored by plugging drainage ditches and creating low head embankments. Work is expected to take place over the next year with survey, design and permit acquisition to be completed this summer. The construction should be completed during the summer of 2010.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature's most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year. For more details contact Kristin Schrader (734) 623-2000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruffed Grouse Society Sponsors Youth Poster and Essay Contests
The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is sponsoring its Second Annual Youth Poster and Essay Contests open to youngster's ages 6-11. The theme of this year's Poster Contest is: "Show some of your favorite outdoor activities." All entries must be submitted on an 11 x 17 poster. First place winner will receive a pair of Steiner 8x22 Safari Series binoculars and a one-year RGS Junior membership.
The Essay Contest is open to children ages 12-18. This year's theme: "What person in your life has taught you the most about the outdoors,'" should be described in 350 words or more. First place winner of the essay contest will receive a Tri-Star 20-gauge Youth Model Semi-Automatic shotgun. Owen Morgan, 12, of Wytheville, Virginia, was the 2008 winner. His winning composition "To kill a grouse" also appeared in the 2008 fall issue. Read his winning essay.
To qualify, all entries must be submitted by May 31, 2009, and include a return address. Send to: Editor, Ruffed Grouse Society, 451 McCormick Road, Coraopolis, PA 15108. Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage. Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on their website.
NWTF Youth Writing Contest Features "The Hunt"
The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is sponsoring a writing contest for JAKES (youth) members entitled "The Hunt". Here's your chance to put your writing and storytelling skills to work. Simply write an essay, up to 500 words describing a hunting or outdoor experience you've had and how it has affected your life. Entry deadline is May 31, 2009. Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 12 and under and 13 to 17 years old. Prizes in each category are: First $250, Second $150 and Third $50. Contest entry information is found on the VANWTF website.
Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!
Where can teenagers go to learn more about Virginia's natural resources and their impact on our quality of life? For over 60 years, hundreds of youngsters have turned to the Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - a week-long residential program. Nominations are now open for the 63rd annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, to be held June 15-20, 2009, at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox. This action-packed camp is hosted by Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), with support and cooperation from other conservation agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals. Teachers, natural resources professionals and others working with youth may make nominations for this popular camp. Campers must be Virginia residents 13-16 years old with good academic standing, an interest in natural resources, and must not have attended Forestry Camp before.
"One unique aspect of Forestry Camp is that school teachers may also attend the program," notes Camp Coordinator, Ellen Powell. "Teachers who participate can earn up to 35 hours toward their required certification." To nominate a camper, visit the VDOF website. Nominations are due by April 20. For more information, contact Ellen Powell at
(434) 977-6555 or email@example.com.
Youth Conservation Camp Sponsored by Soil & Water Districts
The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students (grades 9-12) on the campus of Virginia Tech for 32 years,. The program brings together about 90 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources by conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. The 2009 Camp is July 12-18, 2009. Applications are available online and must be submitted to your local soil and water conservation district. Check with your local office for due dates. Contact information for your local office can be found at, VASWCD's website. All final applications will be due to the VASWCD May 8, 2009. For further information please contact Beth Sokolik at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 559-0324.
See Eaglets Progress on Eagle Cam
The public can follow these young eaglets as they grow by watching the Eagle Cam, a joint project of VDGIF, the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC.com. This high quality web cam provides 24-hour coverage of the nest with a blog posted by
VDGIF wildlife biologists explaining what's happening. The eagles can be visited in person (from a distance of course) by visiting the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative Website Now Online
In the face of declining trends in bird populations and of the growing loss of natural habitats, bird conservation has gained increasing relevance and support in North America over the course of the past century. In the past two decades, the bird conservation community at large has undergone an exceptional effort in organizing itself into networks of partners operating at international, national, regional, state and local scales. Here in Virginia this network is represented by the Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative (VABCI), a partner-led initiative coordinated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. VABCI was launched in 2006 with the goal of furthering bird conservation in Virginia, while coordinating with efforts at the regional, national and international level.
A new VABCI website is now online. The website features information on VABCI organization, projects and partners, and an event calendar with links to meetings and workshops of interest. The centerpiece of the site is the Resources section, which features a database of population estimates and trends for Virginia's priority bird species. This section also houses the Virginia Bird Survey Database, the first effort to comprehensively catalog the Commonwealth's bird survey and monitoring projects past and present. This first iteration of the database features over 30 projects. The database is a long-term project that will be continuously updated. Please have a look at www.vabci.org.
Hunting News You Can Use!
The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.
Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey Available on Website
It's time to head back to the woods and fields for some spring gobbler hunting. VDGIF Small Game and Furbearer Manager Gary Norman, encourages turkey hunters this spring to participate in the 2009 Spring Gobbler Survey. Be sure to view the results of the 2008 Spring Gobbler Survey. Encourage your hunting buddies to also take the survey to help gather valuable data to improve turkey hunting opportunities.
Reports and Photos from Young Hunters
From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from
around the state it looks like last Saturday's Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt
was a real success. For 11 year old Emily Bowman (left), last Saturday proved
not only to be a chance to take her first wild turkey, but an opportunity to
fulfill a family tradition. Read about Emily's hunting experience, "Emily's
Turkey", as told by her father.
How did you do? Send stories and photos
email@example.com. If we use your story that includes a youth or
first time hunter, you'll receive a complementary Virginia Wildlife
Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!
Virginia sportsmen are fortunate to have good populations of wild turkeys and five weeks of "prime time" spring hunting opportunities. Enthusiastic turkey hunters in pursuit of these elusive game birds must use a great deal of strategy to coax a gobbler into range. The large birds have highly sensitive eyesight and hearing, and are quick to flee from any unusual movement or sound. A gobbler on the strut is a magnificent sight but it takes a lot of preparation to create that situation. Spring gobbler hunting is unique with the use of camouflage, calling, decoys and tactics that require common sense safety precautions. Add to the mix the thrill and heart-pounding excitement of a gobbler answering your call and safety may be compromised. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield during the upcoming
spring gobbler season, VDGIF recommends the following guidelines for a safe
spring gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:
- Because a gobbler's head is distinguished by its bold white, blue and red colors, NEVER wear white, blue or red clothing - not even socks or undershirts - because a flash of white could be mistaken for a turkey. Even a red bandana or blue snack food wrapper could be misread in the woods during turkey season.
- Never shoot at a sound or movement. Wait until you have a good, clean shot at a legal bird. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Instead, call out in a loud voice and remain hidden, until the other hunter acknowledges your presence.
- Tie a strip of blaze orange to a tree near your calling position to alert others of your presence.
- When choosing a calling position, don't hide so well that you cannot see what is going on around you. Select a calling position with a good view of your surroundings and where the sun does not distort what you are seeing.
- If you use a pop-up tent blind, have a blaze orange strip visible from 360 degrees near the blind.
- When you harvest a gobbler, carry it out of the woods draped in blaze orange. Otherwise, another hunter might just see the bird and not you.
Support Your Sport
Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous outdoor skills training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation. Also make a small "investment" in the future of our hunting heritage by attending a local fundraising event by one of many sportsmen conservation organizations. These events are carried out by fellow sportsmen in your community and most of the funds raised go to local projects to improve habitat, teach children outdoor skills, ethics and safety. The events are family oriented and you will have a great time and meet new friends - you may even win a shotgun or find a new place to hunt or fish. Remember sportsmen pay for conservation!
Tips for Preserving Your Trophy Gobbler
Goooobbbbllleee...Goooobbbllleee... For the lucky hunter who harvests a trophy gobbler this spring the following tips from taxidermist, Todd Rapalee in Goochland, may be helpful in preparing your bird for mounting.
Take care in handling the bird to minimize feather damage. Do not carry the turkey by the neck. This will damage the fine neck feathers sometimes beyond repair. Place a paper towel in the bird's mouth and a plastic bag with a rubber band seal over its head. This will keep the feathers clean, not to mention the back of your jacket and pant legs. Remember, the extra care that you take in minimizing feather damage, the finer the outcome of the finished mount.
DO NOT field dress your turkey. Deliver it to the taxidermist within hours after the harvest or place the bird neatly in a large plastic bag and freeze it until it can be delivered to the taxidermist.
If you will be hunting out of state or out of the country for turkeys, call your taxidermist ahead of time for preparation and shipping instructions. Turkey shipments originating outside of the US must be sent to a USDA approved taxidermist.
As with any trophy you wish to have mounted, find a professional taxidermist that will produce a quality mount for you to enjoy for years to come. Don't go by price alone. Go and visit their studio and showroom to see first hand the quality that you will be receiving. It is not too early to start visiting taxidermy studios to find a taxidermist to handle your trophies from upcoming fall hunts. Fall hunting, like turkey season, will be here before you know it!
This information was provided by Todd Rapalee of Rapalee Taxidermy.
Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Share the Experience of Spring Gobbler Season
With the upcoming Spring Gobbler Season, it's a great time to introduce a youngster or new adult hunter to the sport by getting an Apprentice Hunting License. Also, the six week Spring Gobbler Season is only 3 days away. An apprentice license can be purchased by a new hunter before successfully completing the Department's hunter education course. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted to its website. The video is an overview of how the new Apprentice Hunter program works. Watch the video and consider becoming a mentor to a friend or family member who's always wanted to try hunting.
What are you waiting for? Call toll-free 1-866-721-6911 for more information.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Hunting Safety Focus of New PSAs
With the spring turkey season upon us, the Hunter Education Unit reminds hunters to be ever mindful of safe practices while afield. To bring this important safety message to the forefront, the hunter education and video production staff have filmed and produced two public service announcements. One deals with the rather somber scenario relative to a completely preventable treestand incident. The second is an uplifting reminder of our past, present and future responsibilities for safe firearms handling. The music was recorded in house and certainly adds to the atmosphere of the message! For your safety and that of your hunting companions, be sure and share these important, possibly life saving messages with your family, friends and neighbors. Remember safe hunting is no accident!
No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30
All outdoorsmen are reminded that the "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect from February 15 until April 30 to help prevent forest fires. The law bans all open air burning, including campfires, before 4 PM if your fire is within 300 feet of the woods, brush, or dry grass which can carry the fire to the woods. You are allowed to burn debris or have campfires between 4 PM and midnight, as long as you take proper care and precaution and attend your fire at all times. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more.
"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," advised John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law, people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia."
"Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts
This section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoor enthusiasts can join with others to do simple things in your outdoor pursuits that can make a big difference in keeping Virginia "green" and wildlife "wild" to benefit us all.
Virginia Naturally Offers Earth Day Ideas
The March/April Virginia Naturally Newsletter features Earth Day resources, grant information and upcoming events.
Virginia Confirms Cases of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic
VDGIF has received results from specimens sent for analysis to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and the news is not good. The results confirm the presence of the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats from two caves in Virginia. While conducting winter surveys of caves where bats hibernate, known as hibernacula, biologists and volunteers from VDGIF, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Virginia Speleological Survey discovered bats that showed signs of WNS in Breathing Cave in Bath County. Soon after, similar clinical signs were found in bats in Clover Hollow Cave in Giles County.
The impact of white-nose syndrome on bat populations could be highly significant if the condition cannot be controlled and continues to spread. Significant losses in bat populations could cause a substantial ripple effect due to the important role that bats play as insect feeders, as a food source for other animals (hawks, owls, raccoons, skunks, and other animals that prey on bats) and with their contributions to cave ecosystems.
Given these recent findings, VDGIF is emphasizing the request it made last month for recreational cavers to refrain from entering caves. The Department has closed the caves on its wildlife management areas. Because of the potential impact of WNS, the VDGIF urges cavers and cave owners to help Virginia's bat populations by reducing cave traffic until more is learned about this syndrome.
Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic
Due to concerns about spread of WNS, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has closed the caves on its wildlife management areas until more is known about the transport of the syndrome. The Department will be asking private landowners with caves on their properties to consider closing their caves temporarily. Caving groups and individuals who enjoy caving are being asked to respect this temporary closure of Virginia caves and to suspend recreational and research caving activities until more information about the cause and spread of WNS can be determined.
VDGIF Asking Citizens To Assist In CWD Surveillance
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is asking citizens for assistance with the agency's continuing surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Since 2002, 4431 samples have been collected by VDGIF for CWD testing, and CWD has not been detected in any deer in Virginia.
Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal neurological disease that infects members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. The disease is believed to be caused by abnormally shaped proteins, termed "prions", that deteriorate brain tissue and causes a deer to starve to death due to difficulties ingesting food, hence the term "wasting" disease. CWD has been detected in two Canadian provinces and 15 states, including West Virginia. To date, 38 deer in Hampshire County, West Virginia, have tested positive for the disease. Symptoms of a CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, acting confused and marked weight loss.
Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF regional office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF.
During the 2008-2009 hunting season, more than 250 hunter-killed and vehicle-killed deer from the CWD Surveillance Area in western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties (the counties closest to where CWD has been detected in West Virginia) were sampled and tested for CWD along with more than 50 captive and clinical suspect deer from across the state. Again, no evidence of CWD was found.
For additional information on CWD, please visit the Department's website
Habitat Improvement Tips
Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone
The nation's economic slowdown has reached the forests of Virginia. Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry report that sales of tree seedlings are down about 30% from the previous year. Of the 32 million seedlings planted, 22.6 million have already sold. Of the 9.5 million still available, the bulk of them, about 8.5 million, are pines. The VDOF grows 45 species of pine and hardwood tree seedlings each year. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don't wait too much longer as several species, including Black Cherry, Red Maple, Sycamore, Crab Apple and Yellow Poplar have already sold out. Landowners may still purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors, and timber management. For product information, pricing and ordering go to the Virginia Department of Forestry's website.
Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.
The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.
The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map to find the major river or lake you want to know about.
For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website.
The Shad are Back
Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. American shad and hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and should arrive at Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American
shad (check VDGIF and VMRC regulations). Click on this link for more information on the American Shad Restoration Project to collect American shad eggs and stock fry as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock
Rivers. Get updates on Fish passage progress. Shad
Cam is back up for the season and enthusiasts can once again enjoy capturing images of American shad and 20+ other species of riverine fishes as they pass through the Boshers Dam fishway on the James River. Time to go fishing!
VDGIF is also continuing the Shad Tagging Study in 2009, tagging American shad and hickory shad to learn more about shad populations and their spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock
Rivers. Tagging is planned for March through May of 2009. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish near the dorsal fin (top/back) on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number, date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested or released.
Wanted! – American Eels From the Roanoke River Basin, Upstream of the Roanoke Rapids Dam
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is cooperating with Dominion (Virginia/North Carolina Power), the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and federal resource agencies in a study investigating the presence of American eels in the Roanoke River basin upstream of Roanoke Rapids Lake, North Carolina. The study is being conducted as part of a program to restore American eels to the Roanoke River basin by providing passage upstream of dams owned and operated by Dominion. Any eels caught by anglers from the Roanoke (Staunton) River or its tributary streams (including the Hyco, Pigg and Dan Rivers), or from Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir, Leesville Reservoir, Smith Mountain Lake or Philpott Lake are of interest.
If you catch an American eel from the Roanoke River basin, it would benefit the study if anglers kept the eel and contacted Mr. Bob Graham of Dominion at
(804) 271-5377, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob will make arrangements with you to collect the eel for scientific study. As soon as possible after catching the eel it should be bagged and frozen. If facilities are not available to freeze the eel, it should be kept on ice. Cooperation in the study will be greatly appreciated, and will benefit efforts to restore American eels to their historic range. Thank you!
Life Jackets Required
Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.
Sara White's Notebook
Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
More than 30 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.
For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.
Picture the Excitement in the Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest!
It certainly isn't hard to "picture it," kids 'n fishing that is - smiles, laughs, looks of anticipation and excitement. So, join in on the fun, catch the excitement of your child on film while fishing and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company… celebrate National Fishing Week!
The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. Winning pictures will also be posted on the VDGIF website, the Outdoor Report and may be used in a variety of VDGIF publications. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do.
For rules and entry information
visit our website.
Region 1 - Tidewater
Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (804) 878-3111. "Everything" is coming out right now, according to Terry Olinger. Big bass are "going crazy" - try rattletraps or spinner baits. Crappie are also biting well on minnows. Cats are still hitting well. Stripers are going for live eels, minnows, rattletraps and crankbaits. Yellow perch are there to be had. Terry says that swimbaits are good for all the above. The water is stained and 62 degrees.
Lower Potomac: J.G. Sports (571) 436-7521. Bass are hiding in grass beds and gravely points and biting hard on rattletraps and chatter baits. You can also try 5 inch Senko in green pumpkin. Crappie are lethargic, but may be fooled by small live minnows. No word on cats. Bluegill are attacking nightcrawlers. Stripers are aggressive right now, especially on cut bait and herring. The water is stained in the creeks and clear in the main river. The temperature is 51 degrees and warming.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. As the water warms up, croaker and flounder are starting to show up around the CBBT. Tautogs are beginning to show up around bridge pylons and can be fooled with fresh fiddler crabs. The water is 51 degrees and clear.
Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Park ranger Eddie Hester says that lots of big bass are being caught at tournaments on the reservoir. Chain pickerel and good sized crappie have also been brought in. The water is 50.1 degrees and slightly stained.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that the herring are running and can be brought up with nets. Big cats find fresh herring delicious and can be fooled by them as bait. The crappie bite is starting to heat up in the back of creeks and are falling for live minnows and small tub jigs. Other angling has been slow with only a few white perch, bluegill and bream being brought to boat. The water is clear and 59 degrees.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports as the water warms bass are going for topwater lures in the back of creeks. During mid-day try crankbaits and spinners around grass beds and points. White perch are on the shoreline and biting beetle spins and shiners. Crappie are also hitting on small minnows. Only a few cats have come up, but they were big. No word on stripers. The water is clear and in the low 60's.
Norfolk Lakes: Dashiell's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Bass action is improving in Lake Smith where crankbaits and jigs seem to be the lures of week. Cats are going for cut bait. As the water warms look for more action in bream and bluegill. The water is clear and around 50 degrees.
Blackwater/Nottoway Rivers: Riverkeeper Jeff Turner email@example.com. Fishing is still slow on both the Blackwater and Nottoway this past week. Unusually high river levels are making it difficult to get a lure to the fish. A few white perch were caught and those were nice I was told. Shad are still hit and miss and it seems they have not made their big push yet either. I heard nothing about stripers this past week. The water is going down and things should get kicking soon, though I have said that for the last two weeks! The anadromous fish (herring, shad, etc.) like a good strong flow but the rivers were borderline flood stage last week, so that was a bit too much water. Let's try 'em this week and see.
Willard Mayes, our man in the boat reports that he visited the Nottoway Reservoir and landed lots of crappie, some 12 inches long. He also got two bluegill. The water was stained and "kinda cool". A trip to the Nottoway River resulted in one American shad being brought to boat.
Region 2 - Southside
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports bass are biting "decent" on size 4 crayfish imitations in black, dark blue and dark brown. No word on cats, stripers or crappie. Bluegill are going for size 12 nymphs. For weary brookies try a Quil Gordon, size 14. The water is stained and 40 degrees, cooler in the higher streams.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store.
Striper: Fish are starting to move towards the rivers for spawning. Good catches
of 6 to 10 lb. fish are being made in Grassy Creek
and a little larger are found in Eastland Creek. Most of the fishermen are trolling with planer boards using large shad and blue back herring.
Catfish: Blues are above Buffalo to the first few miles of both the Dan and Staunton Rivers. They can be caught using live or cut shad, perch, jumbo minnows, crappie, etc.
Crappie: Fish remain in the same patterns. We had a little more rain last week, pushing the lake up some more. A few fish are still in the bushes spawning, but the majority are still holding in the flats in the backs of the major creeks. Good areas are Buffalo, Bluestone, Butchers and Rudds
Creeks. Product colors that have been good are Kalin's chartreuse shad, John Deere green and lemon meringue.
Bass: Reports of good fishing up in the bushes as fish have started making a major move for spawning. Try Mann's and War Eagle jigs and Yamamoto creature baits fished Texas rigged. The water is stained and warming.
Philpott Reservoir: Professional Angler Jimmy Cannoy (276) 632-8406. Bass
were biting well until recent rains; but they can still be had if one goes to the edges and pockets and uses spinners, jigs or crankbaits. Walleye are hanging on red clay points, nightcrawlers work best. Crappie can be found on the back of Fairy Stone Creek and go for small jigs and minnows. It's too cold for cat or bream action. The water ranges from stained to clear and is in the low 50's.
James Near Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes (434) 286-3366. Sadly, "there's not much to report." Recent rains have made the James very muddy, high and fast running – conditions not suited for good angling. L.E. hopes that by May things will really pick up as shad and stripers start their run up the river. The water is muddy and warming.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. According to Ron Seward, the bass action is "pretty good" try red crankbaits and dark jigs. Crappies are really hitting well on minnows and jigs. Cat action is slow, but some biggies have been landed. A 5.5lb, 25 inch walleye was brought up by a lucky angler. No word on perch, bluegill or stripers. The water is stained and around 50 degrees.
Kerr Reservoir: Local Guide Tim Wilson (434) 374-0674. Tim reports that the water level is up. The bass are in pre-spawn mode; your best bet is jigs and spinners in the brushes. Stripers are moving up lake in their spawning run. Live shad and bucktails should improve your luck. Crappie are about ready to spawn. They can be found in pockets and backs of creeks. Minnows and jigs are a good bet.
Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead (540) 721-4867. The recent rains have discolored the upper lake and creeks, and the frequent cold evenings have kept the water temperature in the upper 40's and low 50's for the past several weeks. This has extended the pre-spawn patterns of the bass and crappie. While we have cruisers up along the bank we need a little warm weather to get things kicked into high gear. The lake continues to be at full pond and all ramps on the lake are open. Bass fishing continues to be mixed as anglers use a variety of different lures to catch transitional fish. Some bass are moving up in pre-spawn patterns and others have enough color to suggest they have been up for a while. Deep diving, suspending jerkbaits continue to produce good fish. Anglers are also reporting success using spinner baits, crankbaits, shaky head and stand-up jigs with small finesse worm and plastic craw or creature bait trailers. Striper fishing patterns continue to change as the water temperature varies. Some anglers are still having success using jigging spoons and flukes to catch stripers marked below the surface, but most are moving their efforts into shallow water. The crappie have moved up out of deep water, but the bite is still very light. Most anglers still report that they are having the best success using small live minnows. Many of the crappie being caught weigh between ¾ and 1 ¼ pounds. While some anglers are still finding most of their fish suspended in treetops in water from 3 to 6 feet deep, others report success around docks. The water temp is around 52 degrees and water clarity fair to stained.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett says that bass angling is "phenomenal." At a recent tournament, the winner, Jay Adams of Pulaski, landed 5 smallmouth bass, weighing a total of 15 lbs. Crappie are responding well to minnows and small jigs. No word on cats. Stripers are being fooled by live bait on planer boards. Bluegill and bream are starting to hang around the docks, both like nightcrawlers and red wigglers. The water is somewhat stained and in the low to mid 50's.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide Mike Puffenburger (540) 468-2682, Maple Tree Outdoors. Mike reports that yellow perch can be had with small minnows. It's just too cold for crappie action. No word on cats. Smallmouth are doing well on white spinners, jigs and small minnows. In another week or two largemouth and chain pickerel should give anglers some action. The water is clear and warming.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
Jackson River: By A B&B at Llewellyn Lodge. Much needed rain this past week has greatly improved the stream flows in the counties of Highland, Bath, Alleghany and Rockbridge watersheds. The Upper Jackson is running 353 cfs and the lower Jackson 1100 cfs below the Gathright dam as of Sunday, April 5. All of the mountain headwater streams are in great fishing shape with the Jackson River also clearing and in its best shape in many months. Most of the put-n-take trout waters like Hidden Valley, the Maury, Mill Creek and others have received some heavier stockings and there are lots of carryover trout in the higher water. Most of these waters will receive more stockings any day now and fishing should be better than any time in the last 10 months due to the increased flows. Cooler nights will slow the hatches this week but black, tan and olive caddis are coming off now as well as small stoneflies. Blue Quill and the Quill Gordons are just starting to appear. Heavier nymphs, streamer and minnow imitations will turn trout heads in the bigger water.
North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop (540) 984-4212. Harry reports that the smallmouth streams of the river are too high and too muddy to fish. Things should be better by Friday. In the stocked trout streams, high water has moved the trout around, but they can be had. Good bets are the Betsy Streamer, sizes 10 and 12, and the Casual Dress, also sizes 10 and 12. The water is stained and 54 degrees. In the high mountain streams, fishing is good at the heads of streams. Good flies are the Mr. Rapidan Dry, sizes 14 and 16, and the Spirit of Pittsford Mills, also sizes 14 and 16. The water is 48 degrees and clear.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Brittle Angler Service Center to reopen under new management
Michael Day was recently awarded the contract to operate Lake Brittle's Angler Service Center. He will be open daily from sunrise to sunset except Thursday. Mike will begin operation with 10 new 14-foot jon boats, trolling motors and other angling needs for rent. He will also have bait and snacks for purchase and will begin stocking rudimentary terminal tackle. Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Department had run the Center for years but had to cease operations due to budget constraints. Mike brings past experience, as he helped run the Center for several years under county management. Anglers are reminded that they can fish or launch boats at Lake Brittle 24 hours per day (even when the Center is closed). For more information, contact VDGIF Fisheries Division at the Fredericksburg Regional Office, (540) 899-4169.
Lake Anna: C.C McCotter.
Bass: Fish shallow wood throughout the lake and you'll do fine now.
Fish beaver huts and docks in the lower lake region. Docks and the backs of coves/pockets mid-lake and docks, rocks and grass in the upper sections. Top down-lake lures are a soft plastic jerk bait, wacky worm and drop shot. Mid-lake anglers will want to use the shaky worm. Up-lake Tiger Shad spinner bait, swim bait and suspending jerk bait are great. Look for spawning fish down lake in two weeks.
Striper: Excellent fishing in the upper Pamunkey and Terry's Run. The end of the annoying dredging in the upper North Anna should clear that area up and fishing should improve. Hit the banks with swimbaits and jerkbaits. Live herring is the best live bait now.
Crappie: Fish are everywhere in the up lake region - docks, rocks, grass and brush. Expect a spawn in two weeks. Many sub keeper fish have moved up now, but look for the slabs any day now in the same spots.
Lake Anna: Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. Spring has arrived and so has the urge for all species in the lake to begin their
spawning rituals. Water temperatures will be warming later this month into the 60s setting the stage for some incredible fishing. We expect great fishing with numerous citations to be recorded this month. Fishing doesn't get any better for crappie than in April. Everyone can catch crappie this month and remember to take a kid with you. There is no other outdoor activity a child can enjoy than being on the water and catching fish after fish. For bass you might have to work the warmer waters down-lake which is conductive to sight fishing or the stained warmer waters way up lake. Swim baits like the Berkley hollow body lure are great baits to use this month. Striper fishing has been great and promises to be even better in April. Stripers are feeding all over the lake on 5 to 15 foot flats and points. Literally every shallow flat and primary point on the main lake and near the mouth of creeks are producing nice catches.
Tidal James: Local Guide Mike Ostrander (804) 938-2350. In the words of a great oldie... "Catfish are jumpin'"... Well not really, but they are biting the hooks of anglers who fish fresh cut bait along channel ledges of the main river. Clients caught fish to 55 pounds last week with lots of fish in the 15-20 pound range. Many citation blue cats, over 30 pounds, were caught along with a few striped bass, channel cats and flathead catfish. Shad and herring are also in the river and available on spoons, shad darts and Sabiki rigs. Best action is within two miles of the I-95 Bridge. Lots of wildlife can be seen or heard along the river's edges, including bald eagles, osprey, blue heron, various waterfowl, wild turkey, barred owls, great horned owls and Canada geese.
Tidal James: Local Guide Captain Joe Hecht Fat Cat Guide Service (804) 221-1951. The American and hickory shad have made it to the fall line. Top baits include silver and gold spoons, Sabiki rigs and shad darts. Anglers are now catching them on every other cast. Also the herring are biting great. We are catching them in deeper water on Sabiki rigs. White perch are being caught on bottom rigs with tiny pieces of cut shad or blood worms. Stripers are being caught up and down the river from the fall line at Richmond to Jordan Point. Stripers are hitting bucktails, sassy shads and shallow running crank baits. The large catfish are still biting on cut shad on channel edges and heavy structure. These large fish are starting to move and feed in preparation for the spawn. As long as water levels remain manageable and does not get to high fishing should remain red hot. Good luck and tight Lines!
Lake Orange: Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darrell Kennedy reports that bass are going for live bait, spinners and cranks. Crappie are hitting small minnows. Chicken livers have fooled a few cats. Roy Farley of Orange, landed two largemouth, one over 6 lbs. and one over 5 lbs. Raymond R. Veldran brought in a citation largemouth over 8 lbs. The lunker was undone by a lively minnow. The water is clear and 50 to 55 degrees.
All anglers are reminded to acquaint
themselves with a good description of the northern
snakehead fish. If you should manage to catch one of
these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and
report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources.
View video about the snakehead »
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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
||To increase awareness
of the activities of our dedicated
Conservation Police Officers, 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.
Senior Officer Saunders Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2009
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce Senior Officer Brett L. Saunders has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2009.
Brett Saunders began work for VDGIF in November 1985, and was assigned to Nottoway County where he continues to work today. Currently, his work area includes Lake Chesdin, Sandy River Reservoir and Briery Creek Lake. Officer Saunders came to the Department not long after graduating from Southern Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with a Wildlife Management emphasis. He has continued to build on his education by participating in a number of courses and programs including FEMA NIMS Introduction course; the National Hunter Ethics Seminar; Search and Rescue First Responder School; and more. In addition, he attended the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Law Enforcement Instructors and Field Training Officer schools.
One area in which Officer Saunders really shines is in community outreach. He has written and professionally recorded 14 public service announcements covering hunting safety, boating safety and regulation changes. These approved scripts and recordings have also been made available for use by officers in other districts and regions. He has provided educational outreach programs in both public and private schools in the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Prince Edward and Prince George, as well as in him own county of Nottoway. Officer Saunders has helped coach the Nottoway Shooting Sports Team, a group of young men and women who routinely win awards at both the 4-H shooting sports competitions and at the VDGIF Hunter Education Championship.
For more than 23 years, Officer Saunders has set the standard for serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Conservation Police Officer. His devotion to duty and high moral and ethical outlook make for the consummate professional law enforcement officer. Whether it is in his interaction with the public one-on-one, or at youth events that he has coordinated, Officer Saunders is an excellent representative of the Department and as asset to furthering the agency's mission. The Department and the citizens of the Commonwealth have benefited greatly from the commitment to duty and outstanding efforts of this officer. It is an honor to name Senior Officer Brett Saunders as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Officer of the Year 2009.
For additional information contact: Julia Dixon, VDGIF Media Relations Coordinator
Telephone: (804) 367-0991
Senior Officer Billings Named Virginia Boating Officer of the Year
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) announced that Senior Conservation Police Officer Wes Billings has been named Virginia's Boating Officer of the Year 2009, and with that he has been nominated for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Boating Officer of the Year 2009.
Senior Officer Billings has served as the VDGIF representative to The Friends of Claytor Lake, a group dedicated to preservation and safety of Claytor Lake, for 10 years. Officer Billings organizes activities on Claytor Lake with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary that include patrol coordination; Operating Under the Influence enforcement efforts and safety violation reporting; search and rescue operations; boater safety issues at the State Park fireworks display; public outreach programs; and patrols of areas of the lake that receive frequent complaints about boater or personal watercraft operation. He has built a strong working relationship with the Auxiliary by working closely with them and by attending monthly meetings of the Flotilla.
Billings served as the Department's representative on the Appalachian Power Company (APCO) navigational aid study. He assisted with the drafting of the Navigational Aids on Claytor Lake document that was submitted to and accepted by APCO. The document is now being used as the primary resource for the placement of navigational aids along the 22-mile impoundment.
In the course of his work he patrols the New River in a six-county area from the North Carolina state line to the West Virginia state line. He has made boating arrests in seven jurisdictions. He consistently leads the district in number of boat inspections, boating arrests, and boat patrol hours. Arrests include Operating Under the Influence, reckless operation, underage and reckless operation of a personal watercraft, no wake violations, safety equipment and lighting violations. In addition to powerboats, Billings has also patrolled by canoe and kayak.
Based on his experience in recreational boating enforcement, education and outreach to the community, Senior Officer Wes Billings has been named Virginia's Boating Officer of the Year 2009, making him the Virginia nominee for the NASBLA Boating Officer of the Year. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.
Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!
Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers