Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or VDGIF, regulates fish and wildlife in Virginia. It is managed by the Director of Game and Inland Fisheries and overseen by the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries.
VDGIF's goals are to:
- to manage Virginia’s wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth;
- to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people
- to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia;
- to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing;
- to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia’s fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.
Under Virginia Code Section 29.1-109 the Director of Game and Inland Fisheries has the power to:
- Enforce or cause to be enforced all laws for the protection, propagation, and preservation of game birds and game animals of the Commonwealth and all fish in the inland waters thereof
- IInitiate prosecution of all persons who violate such laws, and seize and confiscate wild birds, wild animals, and fish that have been illegally killed, caught, transported or shipped.
- Enter into reciprocal or mutual aid agreements with other states pertaining to the enforcement of laws across state boundaries,
- Employ persons necessary for the administrative requirements of the Board and to designate the official position and duties of each,
- Perform such acts as may be necessary to the conduct and establishment of cooperative fish and wildlife projects with the federal government,
- Make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of his duties and the execution of his powers.
The law enforcement officers of VDGIF carry the official title of Conservation Police Officer. The official title was Game Warden prior to July 1, 2007. Conservation police officers from the Law Enforcement Division of VDGIF have full police powers but focus on enforcing Virginia's wildlife and boating laws in the state's numerous fields, forests, and waterways. Usually a single officer is assigned to work in a county or city. There are some exceptions, depending on the needs of the community. Conservation officers assist each other in adjacent counties within their work areas. They also work with local law enforcement agencies when performing manhunts, search and rescue, and other endeavors. Conservation Police Officers are fully certified officers through the Department of Criminal Justice Services, with the authority to enforce all of the laws of Virginia. As Deputy US Fish and Wildlife Special Agents, they may also conduct investigations and cross state lines when violations of federal wildlife laws have been committed.
Since the establishment of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, nine officers have died while on duty.
- List of law enforcement agencies in Virginia
- Conservation Police Officer
- Virginia Wildlife Management Areas