Boar preserve owner takes plea
Danny Henshaw, the Buckingham man whose pig hunting preserve was swarmed by state and federal agents in a September 12 SWAT-style predawn raid, accepted a plea bargain in court March 2.
In January, Henshaw was found guilty of operating an illegal hunting enclosure, but the judge agreed to consider Henshaw's motion to quash on the grounds that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which state code gives jurisdiction over seven "game animals"– deer, bear, bobcat, rabbit, raccoon, fox, and squirrel– had no right to arrest Henshaw for hogs, which are not listed as game animals.
Now living in Colorado, Henshaw and his wife, Cindi, flew in for the court hearing and accepted the Commonwealth's offer: a fine of $250, suspended on the condition he repay the state $1,500, the cost of DGIF agents hunting three boars at Henshaw's Willis River preserve in Gladstone.
"He felt it was the best thing," says Charlottesville attorney Norman Lamson, who represented Henshaw. "It would end it so he could move forward." And with a Class 2 misdemeanor conviction, Henshaw was facing the possibility of up to six months in jail.
The state claims it initiated the raid because the hogs killed by undercover agents tested positive for pseudorabies, a highly contagious swine disease.
However, critics question allegedly ham-fisted tactics used by the state and USDA against Henshaw, who's run a Virginia preserve since 1990 and moved his operation to Buckingham six years ago. Henshaw supporters pointed out that the Internet-advertised facility was no secret, and they wonder why the animals were not tested and quarantined, rather than blasted away by shotgun-toting government agents, who took out Cindi Henshaw's separately housed pet pigs, Cupid and Valentine.
"What is really sad is this is happening all over this country!" writes Becky Coit in an email to Henshaw supporters. "Not just to Danny and Cindi, but to many people, who have chosen the farm way of life, the very people who for generations have built this country from the ground up."