Conservation Police Officers in Virginia: What You Need to Know

Ed Riley, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for Virginia, says that Conservation Police Officers in the state, in some ways, have more powers than police officers, especially when it comes to their ability to search you, your vehicle, and the area in which they find you, without warrant or arrest. [Read The Full Transcript Below the Video]

 

Many Law Shield members are also hunters, and in Virginia, the hunting laws are enforced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Conservation Police Officer, formally known as the game warden, is the individual who enforces the hunting laws in the Commonwealth. There are a few key things that you need to be aware of regarding the authority of a Conservation Police Officer:

– Virginia Code, Section: 29.1-336 requires anyone with a hunting license to carry it with them while they are hunting.

Section 29.1-337 requires you to immediately produce it upon demand from any Conservation Police Officer.

Section 29.1-209 empowers the Virginia Conservation Police Officer to inspect game, without arrest, to determine of bag limits have been observed.

Searches Without a Warrant

This last regulation is significant, because it gives the Conservation Police Officer the power to search you without a search warrant, and without arresting you, which is not typically the case in most police encounters.

It’s important to note that the Conservation Police Officer enforces the hunting laws, but they also have the authority to enforce all other criminal laws of the Commonwealth.

For example, if an individual is hunting and is confronted by a conservation police officer to check their bag limits, that officer can search that person and it may generate violations of the criminal statutes not related to hunting. That officer can then arrest that hunter for those violations if he or she so chooses.

Additionally, if you have been arrested by a Conservation Police Officer, they have the authority to search your person and the area around you for any game that you may have illegally obtained.

Weapon and Vehicle Seizures

They also have the authority to seize your weapon and any potential vehicles that were used in obtaining the illegal game. 

Finally, a Conservation Police Officer has jurisdiction throughout the entire state of Virginia and he can enforce any of the hunting laws throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are simply too many to name here, so if you want to get into those in more detail, we suggest you look into Title 29.1 of the Virginia Code.