WCBY TV Fox Channel 5 TV in Bristol featured the news story by Cassandra Sweetman last Thursday night June 16th on the Virginia Conservation Police charging three local men with poaching four elk in Buchanan County. The three men charged are facing jail-time and major fines for animal poaching, accused of killing the newly restored elk. Some people think the penalties aren’t strict enough for the severity of the crime.
VDGIF Conservation Police Sgt. Jamie Davis is featured in the newscast noting that after an intense investigation and assistance by the local sportsman community, the three poachers were apprehended and charged with a variety of wildlife related crimes. Sgt. Davis explained that these poachers are not hunters and it has been the hunters through partnership efforts with Buchanan County community, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation [RMEF] and VDGIF that have brought these elk back to southwest Virginia.
Local businessman and RMEF Coalfields Chapter Chairman, Leon Boyd, described the role of partners like RMEF and the tremendous amount of volunteer work involved in this project and how it impacts the whole community. Boyd is also a Member of the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries and expressed pride in the VDGIF staff- the Conservation Police Officers, biologists, veternarian and wildlife technicans that worked diligently over several years to restore the elk herd to Buchanan County and continiously work in close partnership with local volunteers from sportsman conservation organizations to enhance habitat that benefits all wildlife in the area.
The WCYB TV 5 story outlines the economic value of the restored elk and the criminal penalties faced by the poachers. Kathy Funk, Virginia Volunteer State Chairman RMEF, commented on the arrest and charges, “This was a very important story for everyone that appreciates our wildlife resources and the dedicated people who manage and protect this magnificent resource. Our [RMEF] hats are off to everyone involved in investigating and bringing this unfortunate incident to a quick resolution and make sure that the message was sent that poaching elk will not be tolerated. I feel so blessed to live in Virginia where our DGIF and CPO’s take so much pride and ownership in restoring and protecting our elk herd.”