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.
- Game Warden Donald Gentry was killed in an airplane accident while flying a night patrol in Southampton County, Virginia. The Piper aircraft they were flying crashed near Newsoms. The wreckage was not found for two days. End of Watch: Tuesday, December 19, 1972
- Game Warden Allen Flippo was killed in an airplane accident while flying a night patrol in Southampton County, Virginia. The Piper aircraft they were flying crashed near Newsoms. The wreckage was not found for two days. End of Watch: Tuesday, December 19, 1972
- Game Warden Lindsay was shot and killed in Norfolk, Virginia, by a suspect who had just murdered a taxi driver during a robbery attempt near Norfolk International Airport. Warden Lindsay was shot when he observed the cab in a ditch and stopped to offer assistance. End of Watch: Thursday, March 10, 1960
- Game Warden Cecil Bays was shot and killed in Wise County on Thanksgiving night by one of two men who had yelled at him earlier in the evening. The initial encounter and shooting were both unprovoked. End of Watch: Thursday, November 27, 1952
- Game Warden Frank Tompkins was shot and killed near Clinchport in Scott County. Warden Tompkins was shot twice in the abdomen by a former deputy sheriff. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with his murder. End of Watch: Thursday, November 1, 1934
- Game Warden John Cox, who also served as a county policeman for Wise County, was seen turning around to follow a car on the highway. Several minutes later the driver of that car shot him five times before he was able to exit his car or draw his weapon. A passerby drove Game Warden Cox to the hospital in Norton where he was pronounced dead. The shooter turned himself into the county sheriff the following day. On the day his trial was to begin his case was Nolle prossed after the prosecutor stated there was not enough evidence to go to trial. End of Watch: Sunday, June 28, 1931
- Game Warden Carter was shot and killed in the Slant section of Scott County while questioning a man. The two began to argue and exchanged shots. Game Warden Carter was struck in the face by a shotgun blast. His body was found 30 hours later. The suspect who was seen being chased by Warden Carter was charged with murder but was acquitted. End of Watch: Tuesday, September 2, 1930
- Game Warden Gillam was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a hunter for hunting out of season. End of Watch: Sunday, April 28, 1929
- Game Warden Joseph Powell was shot and killed in Greensville County while conducting an investigation. He was found with two gunshot wounds to his abdomen. A suspect was arrested at his home a short time later suffering a gunshot wound to his arm. End of Watch: Tuesday, December 16, 1924
- List of law enforcement agencies in Virginia
- Conservation Police Officer
- Virginia Wildlife Management Areas
- About the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia, Fallen Officers