BUCKHANNON — Local Rotarians hosted a special guest speaker for their Tuesday meeting at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Officer Tanner Collins, a seven-year veteran with the Division of Natural Resources, addressed the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur to provide information on his job duties and the organization for which he works. Collins serves as a Game Warden and part-time Police Officer for the Buckhannon City Police Department.
Collins was asked to report about what he does with the Division of Natural Resources and tell a little bit about himself. Collins is a native of Upshur County. He was very well received by the group, as questions began to zing from all over the room. Collins was informative and knowledgeable about all the questions asked of him.
In 1897, the Natural Resource officers were formed, making the organization one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the state of West Virginia. Wildlife enforcement, litter laws, and all environmental laws are the scope of work for the DNR Officers, according to Collins. “Anything that deals with hunting, fishing, and any environmental issues, solid waste, littering, anything from open dumps to illegally shooting deer or waterfowl, stuff like that,” Collins explained of his duties.
Collins reported that litter is one of the biggest issues he deals with on a day-to-day basis in Upshur County, in addition to open dumps. He stated, “I have had nine complaints in the last two weeks just on trash. When I say trash, it is more people not going to the city dump or allowing the city to come and collect their trash.” According to Collins, WV State Code states that persons must have trash pick-up once per month or you must take your trash to the city dump at least once, or legally dispose of the trash.
Wildlife violations is another area of enforcement that Collins and other DNR Officers must deal with. Violations include illegal trapping and hunting. Collins indicated that drug use is another big issue for him as an officer. “Two or three years ago, I had one of my largest drug busts. I took three ounces of methamphetamine off one single lady. We flipped her and did a buy bust in Lewis County, and took another three ounces off somebody off the street, and that was just Division of Natural Resources. We worked with the City of Buckhannon on that one and Lewis County Sheriff’s Office,” added Collins.
Collins teaches hunter safety courses for youth, ages 10 through 18. The hunter safety course is also for adults and is offered four times per year at the Buckhannon Safety Complex. The class is a three-day course, consisting of 15 hours, firearm safety, hunting laws, and all requirements for hunting. Collins also teaches a one-day boating safety course. Boat patrol on the lakes during the summer is another scope of the job for a Natural Resources Officer.
Approximately 10 years ago, conservation officers got a name change to Natural Resources Police. “We actually have full state power and that makes me a Federal Wildlife Officer also, enforcing all federal laws in the state of West Virginia,” proclaimed Collins. Collins completed four months of training at the WV State Police Academy in Charleston, the same training that city and county police complete. DNR officers are paid by the State of West Virginia.
Collins discussed the various hunting seasons for bear, deer, coyote, and more. Collins gave an overview of hunting with dogs, spotlights, posted properties and online check-ins. Collins has a wide array of issues he deals with as an officer. He also covers several other counties when needed.
In other news from the Rotarians, they co-sponsor the 32nd Annual Upshur County Spelling Bee with The Record Delta, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. The club will also work with the guidance counselors at B-UHS to identify freshman students to sponsor for the Youth Leadership Conference that will be held in May at Jackson’s Mill. The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur will also be collecting blankets for The Parish House. The Parish House is in need of blankets of any type and size. Blankets can be new or used, and dropped off during open hours from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. daily.
Upshur County is thankful for the hard work and dedication of Officer Tanner Collins. Continue to follow The Record Delta for news and updates from the Rotary.