The following story came to light in a comment post on NoNais.org. Activists set about to verify it and the email below gives more details. What gets my hackles up is that there is not one media report about it. I was told that within minutes of the event, the local media was contacted and refused to cover the story. At least, with the Faillace sheep incident, remarkably similar, the media was on it.
As you read this shocking first-hand account of what has happened at Willis River Hunting you will want to hide your head in the sand because the reality of what will happen again and again unless we reel the USDA and Departments of Agriculture in. I hate to think about what I will do if they ever come here and try.
And now, read it and weep. Weep for the loss of our rights to own property without undue search and seizure. What? You say you have no animals? I ask you this: What do you have that the government is going to want to control?
This our story…first hand. Do with it as you please. You have our permission to use it to your advantage. We thank you for your concerns.
This is a true story about a little ranch in (very) rural Buckingham County, Virginia. Its name is Dancin’ Hills Ranch.
My husband and I own 152 acres and he has run a private wild boar hunting club for 16 years. This was very first of its kind in Virginia. Please know that he is not a “fly-by-night” hunter. He was 1 in 10 in the nation at one time for professional archery, he was a producer, as well as hunted for a TV show out West called “Wild and True”. He ran a very decent club, with hunters from the Pentagon and Quantico as frequent guests. They came here to have fun and de-stress. Our place was peaceful and a retreat for many. He did this as a hobby because he loved the sport and the company. We made little, if any, money off of the place once we made the land payment and paid for the feed and fence upkeep. My husband has served as police officer and a state trooper. He worked narcotics and sexual abuse cases. He is what you would call “a good man”.
On September 12, 2006, at 5:00 in the morning, we were roused out of bed to a knock on our door. It was the Game Warden. He was here to arrest Danny on a Class 2 Misdemeanor for “operating a mammalian shooting enclosure without a permit”. Now that whole issue is a story in its own and one best explained by my husband. Long story short, he did everything he was supposed to do 16 years ago and was “grand fathered in”. When he started the preserve there was no other and he went to authorities to make sure of what was required. That was the last he heard until September 12th.
On May 20, 2006 an agent had “harvested” a pig. The same hunter/agent had come back on September 9, 2006 and killed another pig.
As my husband was taken off the property in the wardens car, they could hear over the scanner, “Okay, we can go in now, he’s off the property.” At that point 9 vehicles/SUV’s/4-wheelers came up our driveway, lights glaring. Game wardens were posted and we were told we could not go near the preserve. It was under armed guard; the game wardens being requisitioned by the State Vet to guard them. (From us?)
They had a Quarantine Order and the “special agents” began to immediately kill our pigs.
We were not allowed to have any information. No one would answer our questions. The only thing we were told was that the order called for 10 pigs to be killed and tested, if they turned out okay, they would kill another 10, if they turned out okay they would then kill up to 30. All during this time we were given no news.
We were told that the State Vet was at a “command post” nearby and was due at 7:00 am to pick up samples and it would take a few hours before they knew anything. We waited. Although the killing continued, no one told us ANYTHING. When we tried to ask, the Game Wardens could only say that they were there just as security and knew nothing about it until 4:00 that morning. The USDA agents would not talk to me.
The shooting went on into the night, all night. The guards were on duty 24 hours a day, 3 shifts, even if the agents were not. During this time we saw one of the jeep-type vehicles with a cartoon drawing of a pig with the words “HOG DOWN!” written on the dirty back window. There was also a young blonde female that jumped off the back of the 4-wheeler and “high-fived” another agent after a kill. It was only the beginning.
On Thursday, September 14, my friend and I were in my home. She had come up to be with me. I heard 12 gunshots coming from an entirely different part of our property. As I looked at her, I knew that they had killed our two pets… I had raised these two pigs from 3 days old. I bottle fed them during the winter and kept them inside in a crate. They were sweet and gentle. The local 4-H clubs came to visit them and pet them. They were a local “point of interest” for church groups and family. We loved these guys… They were exactly 5 years 7 months old on the day they were shot. Cupid was over 500 pounds; Valentine was almost as big. (Yes, they were born on Valentine’s Day.) These pigs were in their own pen, on another piece of property altogether, not attached in any way to the preserve that they had quarantined. They were not tested; just killed while I listened. I was given no warning, no head’s up. I just heard the shots. I looked out the window and a few agents were driving up the driveway on 4-wheelers. Other agents were at the site. Our pets were chained and pulled over the grass into our gravel driveway. They left the drag marks and blood behind. I reached my limit and broke down.
This type of activity went on for 11 days. On our property, at our home. 24 hour armed guards to keep us off the preserve. Day and night vehicles came and went. USDA trucks, jeeps, 4-wheelers, State cars, game wardens and requisitioned stock trailers and trucks. The trailers hauled off the killed animals, taking them somewhere to be incinerated. We think it was to either Lynchburg or Roanoke. I did get one agent to tell me that the tests were “probable”.
Now, it is important to know a little about pseudo rabies, which is what the original quarantine paper stated. This disease affects the reproduction of the stock. The sow’s litters will be aborted, still born or mummified. It is transferable form stock to stock by contact or for a short distance, airborne. Our stock is totally fenced in, quite well, I might add. Our stock comes into contact with no other stock. They lived on approximately 70-75 acres of dense wood. I state, unequivocally, OUR PIGS HAD NO SYMPTOMS OF THIS DISEASE. Symptoms include sluggishness, malnourished and coughing. Our stock was healthy, robust and extremely fertile. (What hunter would want a malnourished, sluggish pig?)
On the 11th day, September 22, one USDA agent, one representative from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and one game warden (for safety, remember?), came to our front door. They told us that they wanted to leave, but they could not catch all the pigs and that they were at their wit’s ends. They had shot them, starved them for days, put out corn for them (after the starving), used trapping devices and pens, numbers of “special agents trained for this kind of thing” (quote), and they FINALLY ask my husband (the expert) to help them. They wanted to know if they left corn, would he feed them and once caught, would he kill them FOR THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. Amazing. They also left a key to the lock they had placed on the preserve. We never locked it…we closed it with a chain, but it was never locked. They estimated that they had killed 79 pigs.
Now, the irony of it is this:
We listened to the pigs getting caught in snares, being shot over and over. We watched them be driven down the driveway, dead. We could not do anything or Danny’s bond would be revoked.
- These pigs were so diseased that they were a threat to the state of Virginia. They were so diseased that not only did it take special agents to kill them, the State Vet personnel had to put on white suits and gloves and masks. They left Danny (the criminal) in charge of finishing their job.
- That these pigs had pseudo rabies, which inhibits their reproduction. The majority of the pigs that they left were babies, piglets. As in, not aborted, stillborn nor mummified! If they had this disease, why so many healthy, agile, quick, smart (at least smarter that the special agents) pigs still running around? Our stock was superior in size, agility, speed and they LOVED their living conditions. These pigs knew the game. They knew that they were well fed, taken care of. Once in a while one was sacrificed for the others. But they were happy (if pigs can be happy.)
That was Friday, this is Sunday evening. We still are having a hard time believing this happened, in our country, on our property, by our officials.
Danny has since taken pictures of the pens, the trash left on our land from their lunches/dinners, boards and used gloves outside the preserve, covered with blood, used toilet paper at various and asundry places accompanied by the reason for such.
This is our home. This place was peaceful. Serene.
Danny and I feel as though our pure land has been raped. We have been degraded. He was arrested and taken in on a Class 2 misdemeanor, like a criminal. I was left here with an army of uniformed officials and no answers. I didn’t know whether to call for help to raise money to get him out or to call an attorney. I was told by one of the game wardens that one of the agents told him I needed to round up my dogs (pets) because the undercover agent saw a dog with my husband on the day of his hunt. They would need to kill him also. I was petrified. I was also told to gather my tax documents. My husband did not return for 3 hours.
I am not exaggerating the facts. I don’t need to. The reality is far worse than my imagination. As of today, we have heard nothing on the test results. We have no way of refuting anything these departments have to say…the evidence has been incinerated.
At this point we cannot believe anything they would have to say. THEY killed our pigs, THEY tested the animals, THEY took them away, THEY have the results, THEY left us to clean up the mess. They never considered our rights. They never respected our feelings. It is a tragedy. Our place is “sad” (I can’t think of a more glamorous description). We are heartbroken, but not broken. This situation has literally brought us to our knees with sorrow, but it is from this very position we will regain our strength. We are country folk, trying to get along. But this does not mean we are either stupid or weak.
We appeal to you as a human being. What would you do if it were your home?
Willis River Hunting ~ Danny Henshaw
Route 2, Box 68G Gladstone, VA 24553
(434) 933-8455 Phone