On June 19, 2017, the Honorable Judge Henry Barringer of the Buchanan General District Court ruled on a poaching case that Virginia Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) had been investigating since April 2016. The defendant, Nelson Drummond, received a sentence of 2,370 days plus an additional 6 months of incarceration, a 5 year loss of hunting privileges, and restitution of $25,500 for poaching 4 elk, 3 deer, a black bear and a bobcat.
This investigation commenced on April 3, 2016 when Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries CPOs received information of an illegally killed bull elk lying approximately 15 yards off the roadway with the head removed. Over the next several months, CPOs continued to receive information and collect investigatory evidence. During the course of this extended investigation, CPOs determined and obtained evidence proving that on eight different occasions, Drummond utilized a .22 caliber lever-action rifle equipped with a laser sight to illegally poach animals. CPOs recovered videos and pictures of Mr. Drummond with several of the animals. Included in this evidence was a video where Drummond described his actions as, “Poaching 101.”
Also captured in the video was Drummond shooting a deer, transporting the dead animal to the Conaway Bridge, and laughing as he tosses the animal over the side of the bridge onto the road below. While handing down the sentence, Judge Henry Barringer stated that, “There is no reason to kill animals in that nature,” and further characterized Drummond’s actions as “cruel.” Through a great working relationship with Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Arrington, the appropriate charges were placed on Drummond and several accomplices that were identified during the investigation.
On June 15, 2017, Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Arrington presented evidence which included testimony from Dr. David Kalb, a biologist with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, to explain how over a million dollars had been invested into the development of the elk population in Buchanan County–which is currently home to one of only three established elk populations east of the Mississippi. Additionally, the Commonwealth called Leon Boyd, President of the Southwest Virginia Elk Foundation and member of the Board of Directors for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, to explain that the Foundation, through local companies and private donors of money, time and equipment, had contributed over $100,000 to maintaining the elk habitat in Buchanan County.