Eaton Rapids conservation officer recognized as Wildlife Officer of the Year

Contact: Lt. Andrew Turner 517-284-4747
Agency: Natural Resources

April 12, 2019

Burton, Eichinger, Klarr, Thorn, HaglerMichigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Todd Thorn is the 2018 recipient of the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year award.

The Shikar-Safari Club sponsors an annual award for the wildlife officer of the year in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces and the territories of both nations. Each year, the Michigan DNR presents the award to a conservation officer in its Law Enforcement Division.

“Todd Thorn is an exemplary conservation officer,” said Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Thorn is a role model for other officers, new and old. He has an impressive career of fish and game cases that were made by initiating contact based on general criminal violations. It is an honor to have Todd wearing green. I look forward to future successes from Todd throughout his growing career.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife management from Michigan State University, Thorn graduated from the Mid-Michigan Police Academy – earning five of the six awards available to graduates. In 2010, Thorn was assigned as a conservation officer to Eaton County, where he has spent his entire law enforcement career.

As a new officer, Thorn quickly earned respect from his peers. He has become well-known for making contact with individuals based on general criminal or motor vehicle violations, which often reveal additional natural resources crimes. Thorn has made numerous fish and game cases by utilizing unique patrol techniques, including kayak, dirt bike and mountain bike. Local law enforcement agencies regularly involve Thorn as a resource in their cases.

“He is just as motivated and hard-working as he was from day one,” Sgt. Richard Nickols said. “I am often amazed with the game cases he makes from good old-fashioned police work. Todd is the epitome of what a conservation officer should be.”

Committed to developing skills in new officers, Thorn has trained recruits for the past five years. As an instructor for the DNR Conservation Officer Recruit School Academy, he has taught emergency vehicle operations and survival tactics training. Currently a field training officer, he mentors new officers entering the field. Just two weeks ago, Thorn was working with a new officer, Jaime Salisbury, conducting a special patrol at Belle Isle Park, when the officers prevented a man from jumping off the Mac Arthur Bridge in Detroit.

Working in the core area of the chronic wasting disease outbreak, Thorn has been a valuable asset in helping to prevent the spread of this disease. He continues to enhance himself as an officer by attending training sessions and staying current with fish, game and general criminal laws. Additionally, the DNR relies on Thorn’s willingness to test new technology and system upgrades.

As an MSU alumnus, Thorn is invested in his community – assisting with special assignments in Ingham County and beyond. Eaton and Ingham County residents often make personal requests for him to attend events. As an active member at the Charlotte Assembly of God Church, Thorn recently secured a $50,000 grant for the church, and routinely organizes a hunter education field day for youth.

Thorn and his wife Amanda live in Eaton Rapids with their three children.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

  • Photo: Assistant Chief Steve Burton, DNR Law Enforcement Division, Dan Eichinger, DNR director, Gunnar Klarr, Shikar Safari Club International, Conservation Officer Todd Thorn, Chief Gary Hagler