Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says that weekend surveillance operations on the Shenandoah River in Clarke County did not reveal evidence of further cast net violations.
In a phone interview from DGIF’s regional office in Verona, Virginia, DGIF Lieutenant Ronnie Warren said that DGIF conservation enforcement officers conducted operations over the weekend as a follow-up to enforcement operations on July 17 that netted 17 cast net violations.
“DGIF brought in two conservation enforcement officers from another district to conduct the surveillance” Warren said. “We’re not able to say for sure whether it was because of the rain or the previous enforcement operations, but no cast net violations were observed.”
Warren supervises conservation enforcement officers in Virginia DGIF District 41 which includes Clarke, Warren, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah counties. Warren said that the conservation resource officers used in weekend surveillance were brought in from a different district because fish poachers often recognize the DGIF personnel associated with a certain area.
“When we need additional assistance in an area we often call on conservation officers from other districts” Warren said. “When we learned about the problem in Clarke County we decided to bring in two officers from outside of the district so that they wouldn’t be recognizable to people familiar with that stretch of the river.”
Warren also said that there was no evidence of gang member involvement in the July 17th cast net sting operation. Warren said that DGIF works closely with the Gang Task Force, when necessary, and has encountered gang issues in other counties but not in Clarke.
“Nothing led us to believe that the cast net violations involved gang members” Warren said.
DGIF enforcement resources are limited to one conservation enforcement officer per county. Warren said that resources are particularly stretched in DGIF District 41 because the Shenandoah conservation enforcement officer position is vacant.
“We’re advertising to fill that position now” Warren Said.
While Clarke County does have a conservation officer assigned to protect its wildlife resources, some county residents have expressed frustration with DGIF responsiveness to violation concerns.
Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper confirmed that game enforcement is increasingly being passed to his department.
“We have seen a steady decline in the presence of “wardens”, and our office has had a steady increase in game calls because of this” Roper said.
Lt. Warren requests that citizens who observe game violations either call Clarke County Central Dispatch at 540.955.1234 or to call the DGIF Dispatch Office directly at 804.367.1258.
“If you see a violation in progress call us direct, a dispatcher is on duty at that number 24/7” Warren said.
The July 17th cast net citation recipients are scheduled to appear in Clarke County Circuit Court on September 2, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.