CASH Courier > 2005 Summer Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from Summer 2005 Issue 


Richard Firth, a C.A.S.H. member, has been following and reporting on the scandal that has rocked the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). In spite of the total disarray of the Department, crossbow hunting has been approved by five votes.

While VGIF is saying that the reason is to help out disabled hunters, it makes bow and arrow hunting easier for women and children, their new target market. Even the executive vice president of the VA Bowhunters Association is not happy about it, he was quoted as saying, “Our real concern is people that aren’t as familiar with the challenge of harvesting an animal with an arrow—we’re going to get a large influx into that early archery season.” Clearly this man is concerned for his OWN safety – but the safety issue was not a point that worked to stop this from passing.

We congratulate Richard Railey Jr. who was the sole opposing vote of just 6 voters. He posed questions that were never answered in the article. He wondered if there were enough game wardens to supervise crossbow use and enforce the law, plus he questioned the wisdom of adding yet another weapon for general use. He asked, “Where do we stop?” Obviously, there are few limits.

Many board members were missing from the vote due to prior resignations caused by a scandal that has rocked the department.

The following e-mail from Richard Firth explains more:

Louis Hansen in the Virginian-Pilot of March 17, 2005 wrote:

During the state’s budget crisis of 2002 to 2004, leaders at the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries failed to follow the governor’s order to curb travel and spending.

A Virginian-Pilot review of department spending records shows that officials regularly traveled to conventions, bought expensive sporting goods and routinely exceeded limits on their state-issued charge cards.

From January 2003 to February 2004, department leaders traveled to six national conventions, including trips to Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. In most cases, the same four officials made the trips: board chairman Dan Hoffler, executive director William L. Woodfin Jr., Col. Terry C. Bradbery and Maj. Michael G. Caison.

Oversight of the department’s use of charge cards appeared lax: 19 different employees exceeded their state-imposed monthly limits, many repeatedly. A July 2004 statement showed Bradbery’s assistant rang up charges of $10,132 despite a $2,000 limit on her card.

Detailed complaints to the state whistle-blower hot line claimed that many of the charges on that statement were related to an African safari taken by Hoffler, Woodfin, Bradbery and Caison in September. Expenses surrounding that trip are a focus of the third state internal investigation into the department in three years.

Mr. Firth wrote the following letter:

I am writing to respond to your article, “Point of View”, appearing in the Richmond Times Dispatch edition of June 26th concerning the State’s allowance of the Crossbow to kill deer. I wish to become the 178th person to protest in the strongest terms possible the use of this insidious device, which now compounds the utter misery and suffering inflicted on the animal shot by either one of these two devices.

It seems the methods allowed to hunt animals become crueler and less humane as time goes by. Being shot by an arrow causes grievous wounds and a slow, agonizing death unless the arrow pierces the heart. Wounded animals run many miles bleeding to death.

I despise our fish and game departments who are only dedicated to preserving our wildlife mainly for the hunters, fishermen and trappers to slaughter for their own personal advantage.

This current scandal in our own Department shows what type of people serve us in connection with supposedly protecting and preserving our wildlife.

Two have already resigned in disgrace and I hope and pray all the others will be severely prosecuted for such arrogance toward the law and the animals they are supposed to help.

Most sincerely,

Richard W. Firth, VA


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