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Conservation Officer (CO) Shannon Kritz attended a sturgeon collaboration meeting with the DNR Fisheries Division and several COs from Delta County. The meeting was held to address the growing sturgeon population in Green Bay of Lake Michigan. The purpose of the meeting was to share information about sturgeon behaviors and populations. With that information, area COs were able to come up with some effective enforcement methods to protect the species.
CO Shannon Kritz attended the Escanaba Coalition meeting, which was attended by the NORMENCO Sportsman’s Club, Upper Peninsula Sportsman’s Club, and Common Coast Research & Conservation. Information was presented by the DNR Wildlife Division on 2021 deer surveys. CO Kritz answered questions about upcoming law changes for the 2022 hunting seasons.
CO John Kamps and PCO Marc Mankowski responded to a 911 call of an individual who fell through the ice at the mouth of the Carp River. The COs were first on the scene and contacted a group of eight males who were safe and voluntarily swimming in the open water. The group was informed by the COs of the potential dangers of swimming in the current of the Carp River and potentially being swept under the ice on Lake Superior. The group realized the dangers they were putting themselves into and left the area.
CO Jeremy Sergey received a tip that an individual harvested a 6-point buck during the archery deer season. That same individual shot another 5-point buck during the rifle deer season and illegally used another person’s kill-tag on the 5-point buck. During the investigation, CO Sergey obtained a confession from the suspect and the 5-point buck antlers were seized. The case is being submitted to the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office where multiple charges are being discussed.
COs Chris Lynch, Steve Butzin, Rob Freeborn, and Mike Evink conducted a group night patrol on Little Bay de Noc. During the patrol, numerous anglers were contacted during the closing weekend for walleye season. Violations encountered included unattended lines, fish without license, no/name address on tip-ups, and fail to exhibit fishing license. Seven citations and 12 warnings were issued for the violations.
CO Steve Butzin successfully served an arrest warrant without incident on a subject who illegally shot a deer without a license.
COs Rob Freeborn, Steve Butzin and PCO Todd Bunce interviewed an individual regarding a deer license that was believed to have been purchased after taking a deer in Delta County. The individual claimed to have harvested his deer on Thanksgiving Day, but records showed his license was purchased the following day. After a brief interview, the individual admitted to hunting without a license for a two-day span leading up to his kill and then purchasing his license after killing his deer. A report has been submitted to the local prosecutor.
CO Mark Zitnik noticed numerous deer being hit on H 58 close to a nearby residence that was supplemental feeding. After a brief investigation, it was found that the deer were crossing the county road to eat at the home, but when the deer would leave the residence, they would climb a steep hill and jump a guard rail onto the road. Ultimately this was causing the deer to get struck by passing vehicles. CO Zitnik spoke with the couple at the home and asked them to stop feeding the deer. The CO appreciated their efforts but felt they were doing more harm than good. The couple understood and informed the CO they would stop feeding.
CO Mark Zitnik received a complaint from the Marquette DNR Office that a call was received regarding someone feeding deer right next to the road on Curtis Drive in Au Train. The complainant was concerned for the safety of the deer because every morning when he went to work deer were on the road and jumping in every direction. The CO responded to the area and observed deer feed two feet off the road. CO Zitnik spoke with the owner of the home and informed him that it’s appreciated they are feeding the deer, but they should not be doing so right next to the road. The homeowner appreciated the warning and will find a better place to feed the deer.
COs Justin Vinson, and PCO Cameron Wright were patrolling north of Newberry when they witnessed two snowmobilers fail to stop at a stop sign. The intersection had an oncoming vehicle that was only 150 feet away when the snowmobilers carelessly crossed. A stop was made, and it was found that one of the riders was operating on a revoked operator’s license. Citations were issued for careless operation of a snowmobile and operating a snowmobile while revoked.
COs Cole VanOosten and PCO Marissa Hassevoort were first on scene of a personal injury accident in Luce County involving five vehicles. The COs provided first aid on scene to a severely injured man who had sustained lacerations to his head and face and numerous broken bones. The man who caused the accident was lodged by the Michigan State Police (MSP) for reckless driving causing serious injury and suspected operating while intoxicated (OWI).
COs Brandon Maki and Sgt. Calvin Smith followed up on the remains of an ice shack that was found on Munuscong Bay. CO Maki came across the remains during a patrol on the bay and was able to locate a partial last name on the ice shack. An interview was conducted, and it was reported by the owner the shack had caught on fire from the heater. CO Maki explained to the individual that he was still responsible to clean up the remains or he could face possible fines.
CO Nathan Beelman was the first on scene for an unknown disturbance call at a residence. While enroute, dispatch relayed information that one of the subjects involved had a warrant out for his arrest for assault that was issued the day before. CO Beelman arrived on scene and found three subjects outside of the residence who stated that they were just talking. CO Beelman verbally identified one of the males as the one with the warrant. CO Beelman placed the male under arrest and eventually transferred custody of the male to the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Department when they arrived on scene.
CO Adam LeClerc and PCO Michael Lator assisted the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Department with searching for a missing woman. The woman had gone for a walk and failed to return at a reasonable time and due to her age and the freezing temperatures assistance was called to find her. The COs arrived with snowmobiles to help look for the individual. Shortly after arriving on scene and while being briefed, the woman was found by a family member up the road.
COs Adam LeClerc, Nathan Beelman and PCO Cheyanna Langworthy patrolled Walloon Lake well after ice shanties were to be removed from the lake. The COs found two shanties thoroughly frozen into the ice about 10 inches deep. The COs chipped the ice away and recovered as much of the shanties as possible before they would sink into the lake once the ice melted. The materials were discarded properly off the lake.
CO Andrea Albert and PCO Sydney Griffor received a complaint through Antrim County Central Dispatch about a confrontation between rabbit hunters on state land. This complaint led to barrels of feed being found on state land which violates deer feeding laws. After further investigation, the COs found trees had been cut down on state land and the subject admitted to cutting the trees and the feeding. The subject was issued a ticket.
CO Kyle Cherry was on patrol in Otsego County when he located a vehicle from a “be on the lookout” that was reported by dispatch to be all over the road. CO Cherry observed the vehicle swerve into oncoming traffic and conducted a traffic stop. A roadside investigation determined the driver was under the influence of alcohol. The driver also had a loaded handgun between his seat and center console. CO Cherry arrested the driver for OWI. Additional firearms related charges are being sought through the court system.
CO Tom Oberg served two misdemeanor warrants without incident regarding investigations that he compiled and submitted reports on to the Otsego County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor’s office authorized charges for both investigations. One charge was for a case where a subject was using a snowmobile to hunt, pursue, and/or chase an elk during the 2020 December hunt. The other charge was for a case involving recreational trespassing onto someone else’s property to pursue a deer during the previous firearm deer season.
CO Tim Rosochacki responded to assist the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department with an in-progress breaking and entry. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspects had left. CO Rosochacki remained on scene, checking with neighbors for any witnessed suspicious activity.
CO Tim Rosochacki participated in an active shooter training drill with the Tuscarora Township Police Department and Inland Lakes Schools.
CO Tim Rosochacki responded to one of several roll-over accidents which occurred almost simultaneously along a stretch of I 75 in Cheboygan County when temperatures suddenly fell causing icing on the roadway. CO Rosochacki ensured the driver was ok and contacted a wrecker service to remove the vehicle.
CO Jon Sheppard attended a criminal justice class at Alpena Community College. CO Sheppard went over the hiring process for conservation officers, as well as an explanation of the day-to-day job of being a CO.
CO Jon Sheppard noticed what looked like a school bus on the side of an unpaved road at an odd angle while patrolling Alpena County. As CO Sheppard got closer, he realized that the rear part of the school bus was in the ditch and the main door was unable to open due to the way the school bus was sitting on the road. CO Sheppard made sure that nobody onboard was injured and advised central dispatch of the situation. The driver had called the bus garage for a tow truck and a spare bus to pick up the remaining children. CO Sheppard remained on scene to slow down traffic on the road until the tow truck was able to pull the bus out of the ditch. The children were then delivered safely home.
CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling Briley Township in Montmorency County when a vehicle traveling towards his direction crossed the center line of the roadway, causing CO Liestenfeltz to drive onto the shoulder to avoid an accident. CO Liestenfeltz turned around and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. When attempting to gather the driver’s information, the driver was hesitant in giving any information to CO Liestenfeltz. After a brief discussion on laws, the driver gave CO Liestenfeltz a name and date of birth. CO Liestenfeltz ran this information through Montmorency County Central Dispatch. When running the information, the dispatcher advised CO Liestenfeltz that someone a couple days prior that was driving that vehicle had given a police officer false information on a traffic stop. CO Liestenfeltz received a Secretary of State picture of the subject that the driver claimed to be, and it was not the same person. The driver eventually gave CO Liestenfeltz the correct information and it was determined that they had a suspended driver’s license and five warrants for their arrest. CO Liestenfeltz issued an appearance ticket for driving on a suspended license and advised the subject of their warrants, none of which were in pick-up range. The vehicle was towed from the scene and the subject was picked up by a friend.
CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling Albert Township in Montmorency County when he observed two snowmobiles disregard three stop signs on a snowmobile trail that runs alongside a county road. CO Liestenfeltz initiated a stop on the snowmobiles. Upon contacting the operator, CO Liestenfeltz immediately noticed signs of intoxication. CO Liestenfeltz put the subject through standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) which they did not pass. The subject consented to a preliminary breath test (PBT) which was well above the legal limit. CO Liestenfeltz placed the subject in custody and transported them to the jail where they were lodged. The snowmobiles were driven back to the cabin by other operators in the group.
CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling Albert Township in Montmorency County when he observed a large amount of dark smoke coming from a nearby residence. CO Liestenfeltz drove past the residence and could also smell what appeared to be chemicals and other unnatural materials. CO Liestenfeltz pulled into the driveway and observed multiple pieces of furniture and bags of garbage that were being burned. When CO Liestenfeltz exited his patrol truck, a neighbor walked past and stated that they were about to call dispatch because the fire has been burning all morning and they were tired of the smell it was causing. CO Liestenfeltz contacted the homeowner and issued them a ticket for the unlawful disposal of solid waste.
CO Paul Fox and PCO Lisa Taube were on patrol when they heard a call from local dispatch regarding a child welfare check and possible domestic issues. The Rogers City Police Department was dispatched to the scene and the COs assisted the responding unit. The child was fine, and the issue involved a civil family custody matter.
CO William Kinney received a complaint of an illegal snowmobile drag race in Grand Traverse County. Upon arrival to the frozen lake, CO Kinney witnessed a large gathering of people blocking the boat access site. Multiple snowmobiles were staged, and race cones had been set up on the ice. The race had not been permitted and multiple snowmobile and park violations were present. CO Kinney spoke to the large group and shut down the unpermitted drag race.
CO Josiah Killingbeck was contacted by an Ohio conservation officer asking for assistance locating a hunter that had purchased a deer hunting license after he had shot his deer. COs Killingbeck and Ryan Andrews contacted the hunter and learned that two hunters had been in Ohio hunting, and after shooting a deer, claimed that they did not know they needed a deer hunting license on top of the general hunting license that Ohio requires. The investigation is ongoing with Ohio.
CO Josiah Killingbeck and Sgt. Robert Meyers of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a snowmobile for disregarding a stop sign. The operator looked back at the officers and began to flee from the officers. The subject drove into the woods and CO Killingbeck followed the subject on foot. The subject came back out of the woods and accelerated his snowmobile at CO Killingbeck. The subject fled back to a two-track where Sgt. Meyers attempted to stop the snowmobile. The subject attempted to strike Sgt. Meyers, missing Sgt. Meyers by inches. Another pursuit ensued by CO Ryan Andrews. Tracks were followed to a residence and the investigation is ongoing.
CO Josiah Killingbeck, while on patrol, observed a vehicle with a plate on the vehicle that did not belong to that vehicle. CO Killingbeck stopped the vehicle and determined that the driver was suspended, there was no insurance on the vehicle, and the vehicle was not registered. A passenger in the vehicle was found to be a parole absconder out of Mason County. The vehicle was impounded, and the driver cited for the violations. The passenger was arrested and turned over to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Mike Bomay was checking anglers at Davis Bridge on the Muskegon River who were coming for the last ice. Sgt. Bomay educated the group of anglers on how quickly the ice breaks up and begins to flow downstream, trapping anglers in the past. The group of anglers laughed and said that they were rescued from the ice years ago by a CO that arrived just in time with a small boat as several anglers were trapped on a large chunk of ice that broke from shore. Sgt. Bomay advised the group that he was that CO over 12 years ago. The group thanked Sgt. Bomay again for that day’s event and said they were done fishing the ice for the season.
CO Zack Walters was on patrol and observed black smoke coming from behind a residence. CO Walters observed two subjects behind a residence tending a fire that was producing large quantities of black smoke. CO Walters contacted the individual tending the fire and the property owner and discovered they were burning an old camper. CO Walters advised them to put the fire out and issued a citation to the individual who had lit the fire. The individual who was tending the fire had a warrant for his arrest and was taken into custody by CO Walters.
CO Josh Reed contacted a suspect in an ongoing feeding complaint in the Township of Big Rapids. The suspect had been feeding deer and turkeys in her back yard over a period of 29 years. The adjoining property owners had complained of property damage due to the high volume of deer in the area. Over 70 deer had been taken in the immediate area by hunters and the US Department of Agriculture during the past hunting season. CO Reed contacted the elderly female and explained the situation in detail and the result if the feeding did not stop. The property owner, in the end, agreed to stop feeding the deer and wanted CO Reed to come and inspect the property in the coming weeks to make sure everything was ok.
CO Josh Reed was patrolling Trans Canada property in Austin Township. CO Reed came upon two subjects squirrel hunting just inside the gas company property. One hunter was not wearing hunter orange. After speaking to the hunters at length, it was determined that both hunters had parked in the game area and had followed the map on their phone. CO Reed asked to see the map, which had been turned upside down and the hunters were attempting to walk back to the game area and their truck. CO Reed went and found their truck and pointed them in the right direction to exit the gas company property. The hunter not wearing hunter orange was issued a citation for not wearing hunter orange.
CO Ben Shively and PCO Mark Reffitt were patrolling along the Muskegon River in Newaygo County when they observed an ORV in a state access site and the operator was not wearing a helmet. Contact was made with the subject who was also found to be operating with a revoked driver’s license and had not obtained an ORV license. The subject was checked through Station 20 and was found to have two outstanding warrants for dangerous drugs out of Kent County. The subject was outside of pickup range and was advised and released on the warrants. He was cited for operating an ORV without a helmet and given warnings for operating while his driver’s license was revoked and the unlicensed ORV.
While patrolling federal land in Oceana County, CO Micah Hintze and PCO Cody Bourgeois observed a Jeep covered in mud operating through a large mud bog and standing wetland. The driver was contacted and stated they were just out two-tracking. In order to exit the wetland, the Jeep had to exit the way it came, and it was evident this vehicle, along with others, had eroded the ground so severely that the Jeep had water up to the driver’s window. The driver was cited for operating an off-road vehicle through a wetland.
COs Tyler Sabuda, Casey Pullum, Dan Liestenfeltz, PCO Olivia Moeller, and US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Justin Repine conducted a group patrol for a special event called “Twisted UTVs” in Oscoda County. There were approximately 400-500 people with roughly 200 UTVs that participated. The patrol resulted in four minor violations.
COs Jeff Goss and Ryan Weakman were patrolling Gladwin County when they stopped a group of ORVs for speeding. One of the operators was found to be driving with open intoxicants and another had a suspended driver’s license. Citations were issued for the violations.
While patrolling Gladwin County, COs Ryan Weakman and Joshua Wright heard a call come out for a domestic assault situation involving an intoxicated male. The COs responded to the address to back up two Gladwin County deputies who were on scene. Upon arrival, the COs assisted controlling and arresting the male suspect, who was resisting arrest by the deputies. The male was intoxicated and had a “no-contact order” against him from another subject at the residence. He was taken to the Gladwin County Jail and booked on assault, resisting arrest, and other related charges.
CO Joshua Wright received a Report All Poaching complaint for the larceny of a 330 body-gripping trap from a local trapper. The trapper was able to describe a four-wheeler that was seen in the location of the larceny. CO Wright thought he remembered the four-wheeler as it belonged to another trapper in the area. While checking the area of the stolen trap, CO Wright also located numerous illegally set cable restraints. CO Wright conducted an interview with the suspect trapper. The individual admitted to stealing the 330 body-gripping trap, as well as being responsible for the cable restraint violations. CO Wright is seeking charges for the cable restraint violations through the Clare County Prosecutor’s Office. The 330 body-gripping trap was returned to the rightful owner.
While patrolling in the Flat River SGA, CO Mike Haas and PCO Jacob Hamilton witnessed a truck speeding and missing a license plate. A traffic stop was conducted, and it was discovered the truck also did not have insurance and the owner had failed to transfer the title. Coincidently, the driver had been cited by CO Haas a year prior for the same violations in a different vehicle, also operating in a closed area. A citation was issued to address the violations.
While checking anglers on the Chippewa River, CO Mike Haas and PCO Paul Lyden located an angler trespassing on private property where numerous complaints had been received. The angler stated he was unaware he was trespassing. The COs pointed out the “no trespassing” sign next to the angler’s fishing equipment. Recreational trespassing charges are pending.
During a patrol in Isabella County, CO Mike Haas and PCO Paul Lyden witnessed a vehicle swerving on the roadway. The vehicle crossed the center line and failed to maintain a constant speed. When the vehicle began traveling westbound in the eastbound lane, a traffic stop was conducted. The COs noted that the driver was having difficulty keeping his eyes open and was slurring his speech. The driver was unable to complete any of the SFSTs and an open, almost empty container of alcohol was found in the vehicle. The driver was arrested for operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor. At the jail the breathalyzer test results showed that the driver was over twice the legal limit.
CO Travis Dragomer conducted a check on an individual fishing from shore on the St. Joseph River in Berrien County. The angler advised that he watched a lot of the “North Woods Law” show while he was in prison and knows the laws. The angler did not have a valid fishing license and received a ticket for the violation.
CO Jeff Robinette received a complaint about an ice shanty that had fallen through the ice on Indian Lake in Cass County. CO Robinette contacted the individual whose name and address was on the shanty. The individual stated that the shanty was his and was issued a littering ticket for the shanty having gone through the ice. CO Robinette also advised the subject that he needed to get the shanty removed from the lake as soon as possible once conditions were safe to go out in a vessel. Several days later the individual was able to remove the ice shanty.
CO Anna Cullen was patrolling local power lines in Muskegon County for ORV activity and observed an active deer feeder on private property. There was corn on the ground near the feeder and there were people walking around on the property. CO Cullen contacted the individuals and located the property owner. A citation was issued for feeding deer in a closed area.
CO Anna Cullen was patrolling Muskegon County when she observed a vessel coming off the White River. It was 40 minutes after sunset, and the vessel was not displaying navigational lights. CO Cullen contacted the operator and checked for safety equipment and fish. Along with one of the anglers not having a fishing license, the vessel was also missing a Type 4 throwable floatation device. CO Cullen issued a citation for failure to provide a portable floatation device and issued warnings for the remaining violations.
CO BJ Goulette rescued a Barred owl from the basement of a home near Borculo. It was released unharmed.
CO Casey Varriale received a report of an angler retaining foul hooked fish and an over-limit of Steelhead Trout at 6th Street Dam on the Grand River in Kent County. CO Varriale arrived on scene and witnessed the suspect place a netted fish in the parking lot. CO Varriale contacted the suspect and asked to see his stringer. The suspect pulled the stringer from the river revealing three additional steelhead. When interviewed, the suspect admitted that maybe two of the fish were hooked in the head instead of inside the mouth. CO Varriale issued a citation for retaining foul hooked and fish and possession of an over-limit of trout.
CO John Byars responded to a dog bite complaint in Ingham County. CO Byars secured the scene which allowed emergency medical technicians to enter the residence. The victim was treated on-site while CO Byars contacted the owners of the dogs. Ingham County Animal Control arrived on scene and took over the complaint. The owner of the dogs was determined at fault and issued several citations from Ingham County Animal Control.
CO Ed Rice responded to a suicidal subject. CO Rice ensured the safety of the subject and secured the scene for medical personnel. The subject was transported to a nearby hospital for further medical evaluation.
CO Cullen Knoblauch located a possible illegal deer while conducting deer processor records inspections at a local business. CO Knoblauch contacted the hunter to find out more about the hunt and the 9-point buck dropped off on October 29, 2021. The hunter was caught in a lie and admitted he hunted most of October without buying a license. The hunter killed the deer on October 29th and bought a license afterwards. The case will be forwarded to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
COs Thomas Jaakkola and Cullen Knoblauch conducted a marine patrol on the Chain of Seven Lakes. While on patrol, COs Jaakkola and Knoblauch heard a dispatch to Blackman Township Public Safety for kayakers who thought they found body parts in plastic bags near the Moon Lake Bridge. COs Jaakkola and Knoblauch responded to assist with checking the bags and found the contents to be deer carcasses.
CO Jaime Salisbury was patrolling the Lapeer SGA when he noticed a truck in the middle of a grass field in the game area. CO Salisbury contacted the driver who stated he was looking for old arrow heads and didn’t want to walk too far. CO Salisbury issued the driver a citation for entering the closed area with his vehicle.
CO Dave Schaumburger was conducting surveillance at Lake St. Clair Metropark and observed an angler place several perch into a plastic bag, and additional perch into another plastic bag. The first bag was placed into the angler’s sled, while the second bag was placed in the bottom of a bucket with a minnow bucket over it. CO Schaumburger relayed what he observed to CO Kris Kiel who contacted the angler as he arrived at his vehicle. CO Kiel asked the angler how many fish he had and where they were. The subject stated they were in the bag in the sled. CO Kiel counted the 18 perch that were in the bag and asked if he had any more fish. The subject stated, “No.” CO Kiel asked what was in the bucket and the subject replied, “just minnows.” The CO asked the subject to pull the minnow bucket out of the larger bucket which revealed the other bag with more perch in it. The subject possessed a total of 37 yellow perch, 12 over the limit. A citation was written for the violation and reimbursement for twelve fish will be sought.
COs Jaime Salisbury and Raymond Gardner participated in the Lapeer Community Schools career day. The COs spoke to several hundred 8th graders about being a CO and what the job entails day to day.
CO Mike Drexler and PCO Lisa Taube followed up on a litter complaint where a significant amount of trash was dumped on the side of a county road. The COs gathered identifying information that led to a suspect. The COs contacted the suspect who claimed a relative dumped the trash on the side of the road. When the COs advised they wanted to issue the citation to the correct person, the suspect would not provide much additional information and stated she would take the citation. A citation was issued for littering.
CO Mike Drexler was patrolling in Saline when he observed a Saline Police Department officer on a traffic stop. As CO Drexler drove around the block, he observed the Saline officer had a subject out of the vehicle. As CO Drexler drove closer to check on the officer, he saw the subject pull away while being placed under arrest. A foot pursuit ensued, and CO Drexler and the Saline Police officer pursued the subject on foot approximately half a block before he was taken into custody.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll and PCO Mark Reffitt stopped an individual who failed to stop at a red light. After speaking with the individual for several minutes, it was determined he had several warrants out of the 1st District Court, one warrant out of 23rd District Court, and one warrant out Monroe, Ohio. CO Ingersoll and PCO Reffitt arrested the individual and lodged him for his warrants.