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Conservation Officers Shannon Kritz and Jeremy Sergey attended a career fair at the National Guard Armory in Calumet. This was a boss lift event where employers had the opportunity to experience what soldiers do while they are completing their drill weekends. This was also an opportunity to demonstrate the skills soldiers bring to the job market, along with demonstrating the importance of the duty’s soldiers complete during their drill weekends. CO Kritz and CO Sergey made many contacts during this event and were able to explain how the skills, leadership, and integrity that soldiers possess could translate into a career as a conservation officer.
Lieutenant Ryan Aho, CO Anna Viau, and PCO Josh Salas attended a career fair at a local school in Iron County. The COs presented to students about the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division (LED) and what the career entails. The COs answered questions about job requirements and shared their experiences becoming Michigan Conservation Officers.
CO Anna Viau and PCO Joshua Salas were on patrol when they noticed an individual operating a lawnmower on the highway. The COs pulled behind the individual and prior to them stopping their patrol truck, the individual was already walking back towards them. Through the COs interaction with the individual, they noted that he was possibly intoxicated due to his slurred speech, watery eyes, and unsteadiness on his feet. The COs attempted to perform field sobriety tasks (SFSTs) on the individual. The individual was unable to complete horizontal gaze nystagmus before stating he had chest and arm pain, at which point emergency medical services (EMS) was requested. Shortly after complaining of chest and arm pain, the individual attempted to walk away from the COs. They ordered the individual to stop walking multiple times, but the individual continued to walk away. The COs caught up to the individual and took control of him by grabbing his arms. The individual then began to fight with the officers and had to be taken down to the ground by the COs. The individual was later transported to the hospital where he was cleared and then taken into custody and arrested for operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired, operating a motor vehicle with a revoked driver’s license, and assault on a police officer.
CO Alex VanWagner followed up on a prior complaint regarding a collapsed ice shanty which was left out on a lake in Iron County for multiple weeks. The subject previously stated the shanty was left out there after the free fishing weekend. The CO recontacted the subject and the shanty was now sunk in and frozen in the ice. A citation was issued for failing to remove the shanty after March 31st.
CO John Kamps and PCO Marc Mankowski responded to a supplemental feeding complaint in an area where many car-deer accidents have occurred. The COs located multiple hay bales and corn piles throughout the property that were within a quarter mile from a paved highway. The COs explained the safety hazard that it was creating at the nearby roadway as well as the rules regarding supplemental feeding. A warning was issued to the property owner, and they were given 24 hours to clean up the feed.
CO John Kamps and PCO Marc Mankowski contacted a trapper who was loading up his gear prior to checking his trap. During the routine check of the trapper, the COs noticed many untagged traps. Additionally, when the trapper escorted the COs to the trap in the water, it was determined that the trap was untagged as well. A citation was issued for using a trap that was not tagged with owner identification.
CO Cody Smith responded to a two-car accident in Baraga County. Upon arrival at the scene, he discovered two vehicles blocking the roadway. Occupants from both vehicles sustained substantial lacerations from the impact. CO Smith assisted Michigamme first responders while the ambulances were enroute. The road was opened back up and traffic resumed as normal.
COs Jeremy Sergey, John Kamps, Anna Viau and PCOs Joshua Salas and Marc Mankowski taught at the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office Youth Police Academy. The COs spoke with seven students about the various duties that conservation officers conduct in law enforcement. Students then took part in a species identification activity and were given a scenario where they had to conduct a check on a hunter and locate various deer hunting violations. Several students were very enthusiastic about pursuing the job of a conservation officer in their future.
CO Steve Butzin received a complaint of dogs chasing deer in Delta County. After following up on the complaint, it was found that an individual, for over a month, had been allowing his two dogs to run on to the neighbor’s property and chase deer almost every day. The neighbor had recorded the dogs on camera numerous days, often multiple times per day. He requested the neighbor to keep the dogs home, but the request was ignored. When CO Butzin contacted the dog’s owner, he stated, “They’re hunting dogs, that’s what they do.” A report has been submitted with the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office.
COs Andrea Dani, Mark Zitnik and Todd Bunce participated in the Munising Baptist School Wildlife Game Dinner’s “Ask the DNR” presentation. Approximately 150 members of the community asked the COs questions throughout the night including fish and game regulations, and the steps necessary to become a conservation officer. The night which featured wild game dishes, trophy taxidermy mounts, and a multitude of door prizes. Many of the youth in attendance have participated in the DNR’s Youth Mentored Hunt or Hunter’s Safety programs offered throughout the year.
COs Michael Evink and Jackson Kelly responded to a dirt bike personal injury accident. The COs were first on scene and upon arriving they observed the operator of the dirt bike sitting on the side of the road with two people holding blankets over her. EMS personnel arrived shortly after. The operator and witnesses stated that she fell of the dirt bike while trying to do a wheelie on the road. The operator stated that she felt like she broke her arm and had a laceration on her forehead because she was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. EMS rendered aid to the operator and the COs are investigating the accident.
COs Todd Sumbera and Brandon Maki conducted a fisheries patrol on Drummond Island when they contacted an individual ice fishing who possessed 14 lake herring. The individual stated, “I am one away from filling my limit.” CO Sumbera asked him if he was sure the limit was 15. After a brief pause the individual stated that he forgot the limit was 12. COs Sumbera and Maki then explained that the legal possession limit for herring was actually 10. A citation was issued for the over-limit.
CO Mike Olesen was the first law enforcement officer on scene of an accident involving two semi-tractors in Chippewa County. CO Olesen checked the well-being of both operators and assisted with traffic control. One of the semi-tractor operators was cited for operating a vehicle to fast for conditions by an MSP Motor Carrier officer.
CO Justin Vinson received a complaint that an eagle and fox were caught in traps near Engadine, in Mackinac County. CO Vinson responded to the scene and upon his arrival discovered that Wildlife Division staff had already released the eagle, which had been trapped in a cable restraint (snare). CO Vinson observed several snares, a trail camera, and a trapped fox near a deer carcass. CO Vinson assisted Wildlife staff with the release of the live fox then seized the equipment. CO Vinson was able to locate and interview the suspect, who believed fox and snaring season was open. He informed the suspect that the use of cable restraints and fox season ended March 1st and that the eagle had been in his snare for four days. Total violations found included trapping fox outside of the open season, using cable restraints outside of the open season, using unlawful cable restraints, failing to check traps every 48 hours, and protected species unlawful acts. Charges are being sought through the Mackinac County Prosecutor’s Office.
COs Cole VanOosten, Brandon Maki, Todd Sumbera, (Sgt.) Calvin Smith, and DNR Park and Recreation employees assisted the States Attorney General’s Office with the reconstruction of a snowmobile accident that had occurred in Chippewa County. The COs closed the portion of the trail where the accident had taken place and assisted at the scene.
CO Adam LeClerc and PCO Cheyanna Langworthy presented to St Mary’s School in Charlevoix. The COs talked to classes ranging from pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade. The COs brought a fur kit for the classes to see and hold different furs from animals in Michigan. The COs also answered questions from the groups regarding the work as a conservation officer. PCO Langworthy also read a book to the pre-Kindergarten students before the fur presentation.
CO Adam LeClerc and PCO Cheyanna Langworthy were patrolling the Pigeon River County (PRC) area when they came across a vehicle that had lost control and hit a tree. The driver was still with the vehicle and had no injuries. The vehicle had minor damage, The COs completed a crash report and gave the driver a warning for driving too fast for conditions.
CO Matt Theunick received a trash dumping complaint at Green Timbers in the PRC. An individual or individuals had dumped several mattresses in the parking lot. If you have information about who may have committed this crime, please contact the Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline at 1-800-292-7800.
CO Tom Oberg was on patrol when he observed fresh ORV tracks on the Iron Belle Trail in Otsego County. The trail is used as a snowmobile trail in the winter and is strictly a walking/biking trail outside of snowmobile season and is closed to all ORVs. CO Oberg noticed the fresh tracks traveling north and followed them. CO Oberg soon came across a side-by-side ORV on the trail approaching him. The CO initiated a traffic stop on the side-by-side and questioned the operator why all the “No ORV” signs he had passed in his venture didn’t catch his attention. The operator did not have an explanation. The operator was issued a ticket for operating an ORV on a closed trail.
CO Tom Oberg reports the disposition of three illegal deer cases he investigated from the 2021 deer hunting season. Three separate suspects pleaded guilty to the violations. Two cases dealt with shooting a deer during firearm deer season without a license and another case dealt with a suspect who shot a deer during archery deer season and failed to tag the deer. $3,000 in reimbursement was paid to the state Fish and Game Fund for the three illegal deer, in addition to court fines and costs.
CO Sidney Collins assisted Montmorency County Sheriff’s deputies with a complaint of aggravated assault. A subject and his neighbor went to the grocery store and ended up having some drinks at the bar. When the victim wanted to go home, the suspect got upset and assaulted the victim, kicking, and punching him several times. The suspect then drove the victim home. When the officers arrived on scene, the victim’s eye was swollen shut and had injured to his ribs and nose. EMS checked out the victim and recommended he go to the hospital, but he declined. The officers attempted to contact the suspect at his residence, but he would not comply. Charges are being sought by the sheriff’s department. The victim admitted himself to the hospital later in the night and was found to have broken his orbital bone and nose.
CO Sidney Collins assisted the Montmorency County deputies with a domestic assault. Two deputies responded to the residence, but the suspect’s vehicle left before they arrived. Dispatch broadcasted the suspect’s vehicle description. CO Collins located the vehicle and made a traffic stop on it. While interviewing the subjects, CO Collins noticed the driver and passenger were intoxicated. CO Collins performed SFSTs on the driver and ultimately arrested him for operating while intoxicated (OWI). During the arrest, the passenger of the vehicle got extremely upset and got out of the vehicle. The passenger attempted to push toward CO Collins arresting the subject and would not listen to the deputy on scene. After refusing several commands, the passenger was arrested for resisting and obstructing. Montmorency County Sheriff’s deputies are requesting charges for the domestic assault as well.
CO Jon Sklba assisted Rogers City police with apprehending a subject in connection with a larceny of fuel from Rogers City. The subject did not pull over when signaled but rather accelerated reaching speeds over 130 mph. CO Sklba was eventually able to contact the subject who admitted to the theft of fuel as well as putting others in danger from his driving. The driver was arrested and lodged on multiple charges.
CO Ben Shively and PCO Mark Reffitt were patrolling along federal and private land when they came across two individuals cutting wood along the private land. CO Shively had been previously notified by a deputy that the property owner did not give permission to anyone to be cutting any wood on the property which had been clear cut. The COs contacted the male and female and asked for their written permission to be cutting on the property. Both subjects gave different answers as to who gave them permission, which did not match up with the property owner. File checks were run on both subjects and the female subject returned with six valid misdemeanor warrants for her arrest. She was taken into custody on the warrants and lodged at the Oceana County Jail. All wood was unloaded and left at the scene and warnings were issued for larceny of the wood.
CO Ben Shively and PCO Mark Reffitt were leaving the Muskegon River after assisting DNR Fisheries Division personnel with the walleye egg take in Newaygo County when a vehicle passed their marked patrol on a double yellow line and then accelerated to 90 mph in a 55-mph zone. A traffic stop was conducted on the vehicle and the subject stated that he was late for work. A file check was run on the subject, who was found to have a criminal bench warrant for a traffic violation. The subject was subsequently taken into custody and lodged on the warrant.
CO Micah Hintze and PCO Cody Bourgeois were checking anglers along a trout stream in Oceana County. From a distance, they observed two anglers smoking marihuana amongst several other anglers and a few children. The COs addressed the situation and told them they were setting a poor example to the anglers and children in the area. The anglers were issued a citation for use of marihuana in public.
CO Micah Hintze and PCO Cody Bourgeois were patrolling Tanner Swamp in Oceana County when they observed fresh tire tracks in the mud leading towards a known mud bog. The COs followed the tracks and eventually discovered a Jeep operating within the Beaver Creek Wetland. The COs contacted the driver, who stated he was just out two-tracking. The driver stated its public land so he thought he could drive wherever and however he wanted. The COs explained the irreversible damage that he was causing to the wetlands and that the area was closed to ORVs. The driver was cited for operating an ORV within a closed area and operating an ORV through a wetland.
COs John Huspen, Ben McAteer, Matt Zultak and PCO Elisabeth Killingbeck led a search for two subjects who got stuck on state land while driving local two-tracks in Crawford County. The COs were assisted by Crawford County deputies, MSP, and Camp Grayling Fire Department. One subject left the vehicle on foot, while the other stayed with it. The vehicle was located first just before dark. The subject on foot was found shortly after the vehicle was located. A wrecker was contacted and directed to the location of the car. The subjects were a little wet and cold, but otherwise healthy and followed the wrecker and search party back to the paved road.
CO Ben McAteer and PCO Elisabeth Killingbeck were on patrol in Crawford County when they observed an ORV with expired ORV licenses. The COs activated their emergency lights to conduct a stop. Before pulling over, the passenger threw a can out of the side window. The operator continued to drive a short distance before coming to a stop. Upon speaking with the subjects, the passenger stated he threw a White Claw can out of the ORV because he, “Didn’t think he was supposed to have it.” The driver claimed a tumbler in a cupholder next to her but stated she had not had anything to drink. The COs questioned why there was bright pink lipstick on the straw at which point she admitted to drinking chardonnay while on the ride. SFSTs were conducted, and she was found to be over three and a half times the legal limit. The driver was placed under arrest for operating an ORV while intoxicated.
CO Ben McAteer and PCO Marc Mankowski concluded an investigation of a deer illegally taken in Crawford County. The COs were alerted to an individual who had shot a 7-point buck during firearm deer season without a license. The COs conducted an interview and gained a confession for shooting the deer and purchasing a license later in the evening. A warrant is being sought through the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office for taking a deer without a license.
CO Ben McAteer concluded an investigation of two illegally taken deer in Crawford County. CO McAteer was contacted by a hunter and advised of an individual with a “remote controlled dog” chasing deer on state land. The hunter stated he overheard the dog handler talking on a cellphone saying an 8-point buck is heading his way. The hunter was able to provide a description of the subject, dog, and the subject’s vehicle. CO McAteer patrolled to the area and located the vehicle along with a second truck. As CO McAteer contacted the driver of the truck, a dead 8-point was found in the back. Both drivers were interviewed, and several violations were observed. While interviewing the dog handler, CO McAteer learned of a second deer that had been illegally taken at the individual’s residence. Charges have been authorized by the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office for hunt deer with a dog, loan a deer license, fail to immediately validate kill tag, and transport a deer without a license.
CO Brad Bellville was patrolling a closed trout stream in Ogemaw County when he came upon a truck parked by the river. The CO approached the anglers fishing the closed stream on foot and took up a good vantage point to observe. Although the anglers were oblivious to the CO being nearby, their four-legged companion was not. The angler’s Chocolate Labrador sniffed out the CO and came to investigate. One of the anglers yelled to the dog, “Hey girl, what are you smelling over there?” At which time CO Bellville answered, “Just the game warden.” A citation was issued for fishing a closed trout stream.
CO Matthew Neterer responded to a call near Caseville of a man who had fled from police into a nearby wooded area holding a box cutter to his neck. CO Neterer assisted Huron County deputies and an MSP trooper in setting up a perimeter. After a brief foot pursuit, the man was apprehended and taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
While patrolling the Au Sable State Forest in Midland County, COs Mike Haas and Adam Schiller came across a subject cutting wood. The subject’s truck was full of timber, and it was discovered that the man had failed to obtain a permit. Further investigation revealed that the subject had confirmed arrest warrants out of Gratiot and Montcalm Counties. The subject was advised of his warrants and released but issued a citation to address the removal of forest products from state land without a permit.
CO Adam Schiller came across three trucks parked on the side of the road within the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area (SGGA). Contact was made with two individuals who were training their dogs on raccoons and using GPS to track the dogs. One of the dogs was in an area within the game area that was difficult to traverse. CO Schiller spoke to an occupant in a truck who was concerned because her boyfriend had not returned from retrieving their dog, The dog was in an area that was impassable by foot. Realizing that the dog was unwilling to cross the water, CO Schiller retrieved a canoe to assist with helping the dog and locating the dog’s owner. CO Schiller launched the canoe, retrieved the dog, and continued the search for the owner. CO Schiller located the owner who was on an island surrounded by deep water and was soaking wet from walking through the flooded area. The CO transported the subject and dog safely back to the parking area.
CO Carter Woodwyk received a complaint in Allegan County of subjects trespassing to fish on the Rabbit River in Hamilton. He located two subjects fishing just yards away from a “posted, no trespassing” sign. When the subjects were contacted, they stated they were not aware they were on private property, even after walking directly past an abandon building in the middle of the property. The property manager wished to pursue charges for recreational trespassing. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Carter Woodwyk received a complaint in Allegan County of three shotgun shots fired on the Rabbit River in Hamilton and moments later an injured Canada goose landing in the water near the complainant’s residence. The CO arrived on scene and observed the suspect in a vessel on the river. CO Woodwyk directed the subject to come to shore. When the subject anchored his vessel, the CO observed a dead goose on the floor and a loaded shotgun in a case. The subject immediately admitted to shooting the goose because he wanted to try eating it. A report has been submitted to the Allegan County Prosecutor’s office seeking charges of taking geese during the closed season.
CO Sam Schluckbier and PCO Jacob Hamilton received a complaint in Allegan County of someone netting fish in Bear Creek. Upon arrival, three individuals were contacted in a parking area. The subjects initially stated that they had been coyote hunting, but further investigation revealed eight steelhead trout and three spears. Seven of the trout were found in the bed of a pickup truck and another was found hidden in the woods. All three admitted to spearing the steelhead, and to knowing it was illegal to do so. Charges are being sought through the Allegan Prosecutor’s Office.
CO Cullen Knoblauch discovered a possible illegally taken deer while conducting a processor inspection in Jackson County. CO Knoblauch contacted the hunter and inquired about the buck that was dropped off on November 15th, 2021. The hunter admitted to killing the buck two and half hours prior to purchasing his 2021 deer hunting license. A report will be forwarded to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
CO Ed Rice received a RAP complaint of an individual cutting trees from Lost Nation SGA in Hillsdale County. CO Rice contacted the suspect and recognized him from an encounter roughly a month prior wherein the suspect asked about the process of removing wood from state land. The suspect provided CO Rice with a blank fuelwood permit and stated someone at the DNR told him to print the document and keep it with the wood. CO Rice advised the suspect the application period did not open until April 1st. CO Rice contacted the Waterloo Field Office and confirmed the suspect was never issued a permit. A citation was issued for removing trees from state land without a permit.
CO David Schaumburger assisted CO Matthew Zultak by interviewing a subject who was accused of shooting a bobcat in a trap and leaving it to suffer. The hunter admitted his wrongdoing and charges will be sought in Otsego County for animal cruelty.
CO David Schaumburger, while on marine patrol on Lake Erie, came upon a fishing boat with eight fishing lines. When the CO approached, he asked how many lines the pair of anglers had out, to which they replied, “Too many.” A citation was issued for fishing with too many fishing lines.
CO Mike Drexler and PCO Lisa Taube received an anonymous complaint for a subject keeping walleye on the Huron River at the Hydro Dam. The subject was found to be in possession of seven walleye, all less than 15 inches in length. The subject was charged with take/possess walleye out of season and take/possess walleye less than 15 inches in length.
CO Mike Drexler and PCO Lisa Taube followed up on information from CO Tom Jaakkola on suspects in Washtenaw County who possibly purchased their license after taking a deer. Both suspects were contacted at their residences and admitted to taking deer prior to buying their license. Reports will be submitted to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
CO Kris Kiel and PCO Cameron Wright received a complaint about a person hanging poison-soaked rags in trees in their yard to kill squirrels. The officers determined the rags were covered in fox urine, not poison. The subject told the COs that he is frustrated with the squirrels and has been trying everything he can to deter them from his property.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll received a complaint of individuals who had dumped approximately 60 sucker fish along a creek on private property. CO Ingersoll was able to locate two juvenile suspects who had dumped the fish the previous night after spear fishing. CO Ingersoll spoke with the complainant who allowed the juveniles to remove the fish from the property and warned them for trespassing and dumping the fish.
GREAT LAKES ENFORCEMENT UNIT (GLEU)
Corporal Justin Vanderlinde completed an investigation of a commercial minnow catcher who had failed to submit monthly catch reports with a report being sent to the local prosecutor’s office for review.
District 25 staff participated in a group patrol in District 8 and District 9 focusing on aquatic invasive species being transported through interstate commerce. During this group patrol Conservation Officers worked in conjunction with the Michigan State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division targeting fish haulers looking for prohibited aquatic species. Multiple stops were made, and cargo inspected. Compliance was high.