In mid-September 2021, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) officers in Mineral County started receiving complaints of someone spotlighting deer. Those tips ultimately led to 223 charges filed on Jan. 24 against against eight Mineral County residents for killing 27 bucks.
According to a press release from WVDNR, two of the eight people involved were deputy sheriffs in the county, Tyler Biggs and Dalton Dolly. Both have since resigned. Colton Broadwater, Ivy Rodenhaver, Robert Horner Sr., Robert (Beau) Horner Jr, Gregory Broadwater, and Christopher Biggs were also charged with crimes.
According to the Cumberland Times News, Christopher Biggs was appointed EMS chief of the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services in 2019. He was suspended from his position following this announcement.
“Anytime you have fellow law enforcement officers involved, it’s not a day you’re jumping up and down about, but we took the case where it was leading us and those responsible are going to have to face the consequences,” Lieutenant Tim White of WVDNR told West Virginia MetroNews.
Currently, the poachers have been charged with more than 200 crimes across Hampshire, Mineral, and Grant counties in West Virginia and in parts of Maryland as well. These charges include spotlighting, hunting during closed seasons, illegal possession of wildlife, hunting from a motor vehicle, hunting outside legal shooting hours, carrrying a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, failure to check deer, exceeding the yearly limit of antlered deer, trespassing, and conspiracy.
Of the 27 poached bucks, 12 of them meet trophy fee requirements because their antler spread between the main beams is greater than 14 inches. West Virginia law uses a system in which poaching fines are determined by the size of the deer poached. If the animal's inside spread is between 14 and 16 inches the fine per deer is $2,500; between 16 and 18 inches it's $5,000; 18 and 20 inches it's $7,500; and anything above 20 inches wide carries a $10,000 fine.
Spotlighting is a misdemeanor charge that can result in a fine between $100 and $500 and jail time between 10 and 100 days. Ultimately the judge will decide these poachers’ sentences, but if they're found guilty it’s likely they will face thousands of dollars in fines and possibly jail time.
“By and large, they weren’t little tiny spikes or scrub bucks, but they were shooting what looks like anything from six or eight points and above,” Lt. White said.