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Conservation officers (COs) are responsible for enforcing laws and regulations under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Stationed in nearly every county of the state, these fully licensed peace officers enforce laws related to fish and wildlife, state parks, trails and forests, and outdoor recreation activities such as off-road vehicle use, snowmobiling and boating. They are also first responders to a variety of natural disasters and emergencies.
CO duties vary from season to season and include observing and checking hunters and anglers, enforcing snowmobiling, off-road vehicle and watercraft regulations; enforcing laws that protect the environment; outdoor recreation safety education; writing criminal case briefs and giving court testimony. They work varied shifts, often outdoors in inclement weather. Because they enforce hunting regulations, COs often deal with those possessing firearms. As peace officers, on occasion they make physical arrests of criminals who may be intoxicated and/or disorderly.
In addition to enforcement, COs have a wide array of responsibilities including education, recreational safety and public outreach. They also take part in multi-agency operations, patrols and training exercises with the U.S. Coast Guard, Michigan State Police, county sheriff departments, city police departments, U.S. Customs, Border Patrol, and Fish and Wildlife Service, and tribal agencies.