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CO Training Academy: Week 21 - Dec. 2-7

Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy reported for week 21 with anticipation to learn about small and big game enforcement.

With only two weeks left until graduation, recruits soon will be in the field as certified conservation officers. They proved they are ready this week by demonstrating an understanding of how closely COs are integrated into their communities. The class collected and donated more than 50 toys for the Toys for Tots Christmas drive, sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. The toys were delivered to the Salvation Army and will be donated to local children.

toys for tots, recruits

Recruit School 9 donated more than 50 toys to Toys for Tots, which will go to local children.


COs are considered experts on all game species found in Michigan. Small game includes a variety of species, such as pheasants, squirrels and rabbits. Sgt. Bobbi Lively taught the recruits about small-game enforcement laws and provided specimens for the recruits to examine. Recruits were able to handle the specimens, allowing them to compare the differences in similar species of game and nongame birds and other small game animals.

small game, recruits

Recruits examine game and nongame birds found in Michigan.


Tuesday the recruits were tested on identifying small game species. Recruits had to answer additional questions about the species they identified and their respective hunting season. Following the small-game species identification test, Lively taught the class about the different kinds of firearms they will encounter in the field. She went over the different kinds of firearm actions, including lever, pump, break, bolt and semi-automatic. This training helped recruits become familiar with handling different types of firearms.

On Tuesday afternoon the recruits worked in pairs for scenario testing. The scenario involved contacting a small-game hunter and addressing any violations. The recruits completing the scenario received constructive feedback from their peers. After all of the recruits completed the scenario, Lively showed the class how she would handle the enforcement situation. This experience helped the recruits reflect on how they will shape their own contact procedure.

“It takes time to become comfortable handling hunting contacts – the learning experiences in the academy will help recruits increase their confidence once they begin their probationary field training in January,” said CO Shannon Kritz.

small game identification, recruitsfirearms training, recruitsfirearms, outdoors, small game

Tuesday photo 1: Recruits were tested on identifying small game species, including facts about the species they identified and the species hunting season.

Tuesday photo 2: Recruits learn about the different types of firearms from Sgt. Bobbi Lively.

Tuesday photo 3: Sgt. Bobbi Lively gives recruits tips for handling a scenario involving a small-game violation.


On Wednesday the recruits transitioned to learning about big-game enforcement with Sgt. Dan Bigger and CO Richard Stowe. The CO’s covered laws and enforcement practices when dealing with deer, elk, bear and turkey criminal cases.

Wednesday afternoon the recruits practiced recovering bullets and gutting deer, then performing necropsies – the process of finding out how an animal died. Recovering bullets from an animal carcass can often lead to crucial evidence for a poaching case.

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Wednesday photo 1: Sgt. Dan Bigger and CO Richard Stowe provide the recruits with instruction on recovering bullets, field-dressing and performing necropsies on deer.

Wednesday photo 2: Recruits work together to field-dress a deer.


On Thursday, Sgt. Marc Pomroy and DNR wildlife biologist Bill Scullon taught the recruits about bear, moose and wolf investigations. Scullon talked about the animals’ habitat and behaviors, and Pomroy concluded the lesson with enforcement tactics for each of the species.

game enforcement, bear cub, recruits, outdoors

Bill Scullon, DNR wildlife biologist, taught the recruits about bear habitat and behaviors.


Friday the recruits completed a final law enforcement scenario. In the scenario, the recruits were patrolling state land when they observed a side-by-side with an uncased shotgun on the dashboard. Recruits conducted a traffic stop and addressed any violations they observed.

CO Jeff Goss concluded the week with a lesson about taxidermy inspections. COs conduct periodic inspections to ensure taxidermists are in compliance with the laws and rules governing their profession. Goss covered the laws that apply to taxidermists and the records taxidermists are required to keep.

Goss, taxidermy, classroom

CO Jeffrey Goss taught recruits about taxidermy laws and the records taxidermists are required to keep.

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