We were shocked by reports last month that 78 skinned animal bodies were found illegally dumped into Catoctin Creek in the area of Featherbed Lane Bridge near Lovettsville. Community outrage initially centered on the possibility that one of the dead animals had been a domestic dog, and Loudoun County Animal Services launched an investigation.
On December 4, Animal Services announced that after a joint investigation with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) wildlife biologist and Virginia State Veterinarian pathologists, all of the animal bodies were determined to be wildlife. Therefore, Loudoun County Animal Services will not file animal cruelty charges.
The fact remains, however, that the skinned bodies of the 78 animals – mostly foxes, raccoons, and coyotes, we understand – were illegally dumped into a waterway. While it is currently legal for people to trap and skin these animals in Virginia, the sheer number encountered in this case has raised many eyebrows and concern. In addition to the illegal dumping of the bodies into the creek, questions remain as to whether the trapping was done according to guidelines and why there were so many. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is continuing to investigate this case.
In a phone call that we made this week to VDGIF, Conservation Officers emphasized that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members and friends can play an important part in preventing wildlife crime and solving cases, by contacting our local VDGIF office (540) 899-4169 whenever we see any suspicious activity or evidence.