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Conservation Officer (CO) Jenni Hanson was invited to the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission’s (GLIFWC) summer camp ‘Career Day’ at Camp Nesbitt. Along with a United States Forest Service (USFS) law enforcement officer, CO Hanson displayed her issued equipment, such as patrol truck and four-wheeler. Children from 11 different tribes, and three different states, attended the summer camp and had great questions and interactions with the officers.
CO Jenni Hanson attended the annual Fall Safety Meeting at the Ironwood Forest Service Office for USFS personnel. Along with a USFS law enforcement officer, CO Hanson discussed basic laws such as transporting firearms, hunter orange, and baiting regulations. She also discussed the newest regulations regarding harvest reporting.
CO Phil Helminen investigated a complaint from the Report All Poaching (RAP) center of waterfowl being taken out of season in Iron County. CO Helminen contacted a witness and collected the waterfowl that had been shot. COs Helminen and Alex VanWagner went to the suspect’s residence and interviewed him about the incident. The suspect admitted to shooting waterfowl out of season. A report was forwarded to the Iron County Prosecutor for charges of taking waterfowl out of season.
COs Phil Helminen, Jared Ferguson, and Alex VanWagner attended a hunter safety field day at the Sagola Sportsman’s Club in Dickinson County. The COs provided instruction to the students on hunting laws and safety. The COs also answered questions that the students had related to hunting.
CO Jeremy Sergey participated in a boat parade in Marquette’s Lower Harbor. The parade followed the end of the South Shore Fishing Association Veteran Fishing Day. The annual event takes military veterans out on Lake Superior fishing for the morning and early afternoon. Extremely generous local anglers donate their time and equipment for the event.
COs Jeremy Sergey and Jackson Kelly attended the National Night Out celebration at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marquette. The event has not been held in two years due to COVID-19. The COs had a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) patrol truck on display for kids and adults to check out. The event was well attended.
COs John Kamps, Jeremy Sergey, and Jackson Kelly assisted the Michigan State Police (MSP) with serving felony warrants on an individual who is known to flee on an off-road vehicle (ORV) and hide in the woods. The COs used ORVs to transport MSP troopers and set up perimeters around the suspect’s residence. The suspect was found hiding in a crawl space of the residence. He was taken into custody and lodged in the Marquette County Jail.
CO Chris Lynch conducted several marine safety and Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) patrols on the Little and Big Bay De Noc and inland lakes in Delta County. Several contacts were made, and compliance was high.
All district conservation officers worked shifts at the Upper Peninsula State Fair. It was held at the Pocket Park in Escanaba and COs interacted with several fair goers during the week-long event. They answered many questions regarding conservation-related laws and changes in effect for this year. There were many positive contacts with individuals, families, and youth attending the event.
CO Steve Butzin was patrolling the waters of Little Bay de Noc checking anglers during a local sport fishing tournament. CO Butzin encountered one angler registered in the tournament who was fishing without a license, that individual was cited. Overall, the walleye bite in Little Bay de Noc has been picking up.
COs Chris Lynch, Steve Butzin, and DNR Staff Jo Ann Alexander as well as Kari Diffenderfer conducted a hunter safety field day at the Pocket Park in Escanaba. The class resulted in 24 students receiving their hunter safety certificate.
CO Andrea Dani assisted with scenario-style training at the Northern Michigan University Regional Police Academy. The recruits were sent through a series of basic scenarios and received input on their actions from participating officers.
CO Brandon Maki was patrolling on his ORV near the Forest Lake Basin. CO Maki had just finished his ORV patrol and started to make his way back to one of the main roads in his patrol truck when he came around a corner and observed two adults and one juvenile who appeared to be in distress. One of the adults ran to CO Maki and advised they were part of a scout’s group, and the juvenile was having an allergic reaction. CO Maki requested emergency medical services (EMS) and transported the juvenile and one chaperon to the ambulance.
CO Brandon Maki assisted the MSP and Alger County Sheriff’s Department with the recovery of a person who had been missing for approximately two weeks. The terrain where the individual had been found was very muddy and had deep water holes nearby where the individual’s vehicle had been left. CO Maki used his patrol truck and ORV to find an alternate route for the tow company.
CO Cole VanOosten was on patrol in Mackinac County when he received a call of an 87-year-old man with dementia who had walked away from his residence and had not returned. CO VanOosten was first on scene and was able to gather information from a family member before attempting to track the man. CO VanOosten was able to track the man through the woods for approximately 30 minutes before additional units arrived. The officers located tracks, as well as discarded items that the man had dropped as he ate a candy bar he had with him. The man was located after approximately a seven-hour search and had traveled approximately 1.2 miles into an area of dense vegetation. The man had lost his shoes during his venture and was extremely thankful to see the officers. CO VanOosten carried the man out of the woods to a nearby two-track where CO Justin Vinson provided him with a ride back to the residence where the man was determined to be in good condition and needed no additional medical assistance. Other agencies involved included the Mackinac County Sheriff’s Office and MSP.
CO Adam LeClerc assisted the Boyne City Police Department with the location and apprehension of an attempted murder suspect out of Boyne City. The suspect was seen in a wooded area with ORV trails throughout. CO LeClerc, being familiar with the trail system, utilized an ORV to patrol the area. Eventually the suspect was flushed out of the woods to awaiting officers and arrested.
COs Nathan Beelman and Chad Baldwin assisted with traffic control in the city of Charlevoix after a bomb threat was called into central dispatch. The threat focused on the main bridge in the city along US 31 and resulted in a large backup of traffic and many pedestrians having to be removed from the downtown area.
CO Nathan Beelman was on routine patrol when he observed a side-by-side operating the opposite way down the center of the road. CO Beelman turned around and observed the side-by-side fail to stop at a stop sign, operate on the roadway, and was paced at approximately 50 miles per hour (mph). Due to these violations, CO Beelman stopped the side-by-side and found that the driver was only 11 years old and was driving his father to the store. The father admitted he knew the juvenile was too young and stated he had not taken an ORV safety class yet. The parent was ticketed for allowing a juvenile under 12 years old to operate an ORV on a public road and given warnings for the other violations. The parent was educated on ORV regulations and provided with an ORV safety book.
CO Chad Baldwin responded to an ORV personal injury accident in Charlevoix County. The trail bike rider lost control and drove off the roadway and into a ditch where he crashed the bike. A companion called for help and once first responders arrived on scene the rider was taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment of what appeared to be a broken back.
CO Duane Budreau participated in the Antrim County Fair as part of the First Responder Exhibit. CO Budreau talked with several people from around the country who were visiting northwest Michigan. CO Budreau fielded several questions about the career of a Michigan conservation officer and the hiring process as well as more specific questions pertaining to the new mandatory harvest reporting requirement. He also had a table with Michigan native furs that were shown to the curious youth as they visited the conservation officer’s booth.
COs Sidney Collins and Dan Liestenfeltz received a complaint of campers staying too long at a dispersed camp site in Montmorency County. The COs contacted several subjects at the campsite. The subjects stated they were recently homeless and had no place to go. Two of the subjects had warrants for their arrest and were transported to jail. The COs gave the others an adequate amount of time to leave the area.
CO Sidney Collins followed up with a serious boating accident that happened in Montmorency County. A family was boating on East Twin Lake when a child was struck by the propeller of the motor. The child was airlifted to a Grand Rapids hospital in critical condition. The child is now stable but has a long road to recovery having already undergone nine surgeries.
CO Sidney Collins responded to a RAP complaint of a dead deer on private property in Montmorency County. CO Collins met with the landowner who stated his home was broken into and several items were stolen including three guns and an ORV. The homeowner found a piece of venison in the back of one of his side-by-sides and a deer carcass in his field. There have been several break-ins in the area, and this one seemed to be related to the others. CO Collins did a necropsy on the deer in the field and was able to find a bullet in the deer. The bullet matched the caliber of one of the guns stolen from the residence. Later, the suspects were identified and confessed to the killing of both deer, along with several other deer over the summer.
CO Paul Fox was just finishing his shift and checking out of service when a call came out over central dispatch regarding a personal injury ORV crash near Black Mountain. CO Fox loaded his ORV and responded to the scene. It was determined that the rider was operating on a multi-use trail when his ORV collided with a downed tree leaning into the trail. The tree wedged between the rider’s leg and the fender of the ORV, resulting in the rider’s leg being broken. The rider was located by a Cheboygan County Sheriff’s deputy prior to CO Fox’s arrival. CO Fox assisted medical personnel in removing the victim. CO Fox investigated the crash scene and assisted responding park rangers with removing and securing the ORVs.
CO Paul Fox was on patrol in Presque Isle County when a local sheriff’s marine deputy advised that a vessel on Grand Lake was failing to stop for him. The marine deputy attempted to stop a vessel for a registration violation when the operator became irate and took off toward their residence on the lake. CO Fox, along with sheriff deputies, responded to the residence and contacted the irate subject. The subject stated he did not think marine deputies had enforcement authority. He was reminded that they do in fact have enforcement authority as the marine deputy issued the man a ticket.
CO William Kinney received an illegal burning complaint from the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department. The property owner had pushed a large volume of materials into a pile one evening and started it on fire. Mattress springs, metal cabinets, refrigerator, drywall, metal sink, garden hose, plastic gutter/tubing, full garbage bags, dimensional lumber, and manufactured lumber were all stated to have been observed in the contents of the burnt material. After conducting his investigation CO Kinney is charging the suspect with illegal burning of solid waste.
CO Josiah Killingbeck took a complaint of a boat running into a flock of geese and killing several of them. The complainants had taken video of the boat that struck the geese. CO Killingbeck interviewed numerous witnesses and was able to locate the boat responsible for striking the geese. CO Killingbeck interviewed the subjects at the residence, and they advised that another subject who had already left had been the operator. CO Killingbeck is working on interviewing the suspect and the investigation is ongoing.
CO Josiah Killingbeck, while responding to a car crash, was following a fire truck headed to the same call, when another vehicle drove into the lane of the fire truck which resulted in a head-on collision. CO Killingbeck stopped and rendered first aid and discovered that the subject who was at fault showed signs of intoxication. CO Killingbeck began investigating and discovered that the subject was operating under the influence of alcohol. The subject was taken to the hospital, along with a firefighter. CO Killingbeck will be submitting a report to the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office for charges.
CO Zack Walters backed up the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) and MSP trooper on an incident involving multiple individuals fighting in Evart. Upon arrival, all parties had separated. CO Walters stayed with some of the individuals involved while OCSD deputies interviewed the involved persons and witnesses.
COs Ben McAteer, Matt Zultak, Breanna Reed, and Jacob Hamilton conducted a patrol on Houghton Lake for Bud Bash festivities in Roscommon County. While on patrol, the COs were alerted to a sexual assault in progress on the water. The COs navigated to the location and observed an in-progress assault on an unconscious female floating on a tube. CO McAteer repeatedly yelled commands at the male perpetrator, but the subject refused to comply with the CO’s commands. The male suspect then attempted to flee the area by pulling the unconscious female under a nearby pontoon. COs McAteer and Zultak entered the water to assist the female and apprehend the male suspect. Both the male and female were taken to shore. The male suspect was interviewed while the female was evaluated by emergency medical personnel. The male suspect was placed under arrest for indecent exposure and additional charges are being sought for resisting and obstructing. The female was escorted to her hotel by Roscommon County Sheriff’s deputies.
CO Ben McAteer and Probationary Conservation Officer (PCO) Ryan Cox responded to an ORV chase being called out in Crawford County. At one point, the ORV came head-on at the COs before swerving around them to get away. The ORV later crashed in the woods behind a residence and the suspect fled on foot. The suspect was taken into custody by Crawford and Roscommon County deputies. The COs assisted with impounding the ORV and taking evidence photographs for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
CO Ben McAteer and PCO Ryan Cox conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle at the Crawford/Roscommon County line on I 75 for failing to maintain its lane. The vehicle hit the rumble strip and weaved back and forth across the fog line and centerline. The driver admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day but results from the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Standardized Field Sobriety Task showed no signs of being under the influence of the marijuana. The driver consented to a vehicle search. A Crawford County deputy arrived on scene and assisted with the search. They discovered a safe box with a white crystal-like substance inside. A field test on the substance was administered by the Crawford County Sheriff’s deputy which came back positive for methamphetamine. The safe box was seized, and the driver was subsequently cited for driving on a revoked license. The safe box has been sent to the MSP crime laboratory and additional charges for possession of methamphetamines will be sought.
COs Matt Zultak and Ben McAteer responded to a waterfowl safety zone complaint at a lakefront residential community in Roscommon County. The complainant heard a “pop” and observed a flock of Canada geese hurry into the water. However, one of the geese appeared injured and soon died. COs Zultak and McAteer conducted interviews of multiple subjects in the area. One subject showed signs of dishonesty in his answers. After CO Zultak further questioned the subject, he confessed to shooting at the geese to scare them away. Both the firearm and the type of ammunition used were recovered by CO Zultak. CO Zultak preformed a necropsy on the deceased goose and recovered a bullet appearing to match the ammunition seized from the suspect. A report was filed with the Roscommon County prosecutor, who authorized on multiple waterfowl violations as well as hunting within a safety zone.
COs Jeff Goss, Phil Hudson, Ryan Weakman and Sgt. Jon Wood worked the 9th annual Gladwin County ORV fun fest. Several hundred ORVs participated in the event that leads them through areas of public land and county roads. The COs addressed safety and resource protection concerns.
While on patrol in Bay County, COs Paul Lyden and Jacob Daniel came across two individuals with a trailer full of lawn bags and lawn mowing equipment. CO Lyden approached one of the individuals and asked what they were doing. The individual said nothing, and CO Lyden moved around the back side of the trailer and noticed multiple lawn bags full of clippings dumped on state land. The individual was cited for littering.
CO Adam Beuthin received an anonymous complaint that there was a fishing charter on the Saginaw Bay with seven people fishing, violating the maximum seven passengers allowed by law to be on a charter vessel. CO Beuthin and Sgt. Chad Foerster waited on shore for the charter to come in from the morning’s fishing trip. When the vessel came in the COs separated all the members on the vessel to verify who was in fact a member of the crew and who were members of the fishing trip. It was determined one of the individuals was not telling the truth and was not a crew member but a paying customer of the charter. The captain of the charter boat was issued a citation for violating the conditions of his charter inspection.
COs Mike Eovaldi, Paul Lyden, Ethan Gainforth, Jacob Daniel, and Sgt. Robert Hobkirk hosted a hunter safety field day at Gateway Sportsman’s Club in Tuscola County. The COs reviewed the digest with the students before the students were able to shoot shotguns, .22 rifles, and learn about the importance of tree stand safety. At the end of the day, 29 students took the test to become hunter safety certified. All the students passed and received their hunter safety certificates.
While checking activity at a DNR boat launch near the Isabella and Clare County lines, COs Mike Haas and Josh Russell contacted a large group of ORVs operating illegally in the parking lot. The COs observed one machine leaving the lot that appeared to have open containers of alcohol. A traffic stop was conducted, and the COs pointed out that the operator was driving an unlicensed ORV, operating in an area closed to ORVs and driving with open alcohol containers. The driver was cited for the multiple violations and the remaining group members at the boat launch were advised to leave the closed area.
COs from District 6 and one from District 4 participated in two field days, back-to-back in Montcalm County. Each class was full with 80 students in attendance. The students had the chance to shoot .22 rifles, shotguns, and archery equipment, as well as listen to a safety discussion about the importance of tree stand safety. The COs had the chance to showcase their areas of interest and knowledge and answered a wide variety of questions from the parents also in attendance.
While enroute to Holland State Park, CO Sam Schluckbier passed a vehicle operating at a high rate of speed and crossing the centerline. CO Schluckbier was able to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle a few miles down the road in Allegan County. Once stopped, the passenger threw a beer can out the window and into the ditch. CO Schluckbier questioned the occupants about the poor driving and the thrown beer can, to which they both denied the actions. CO Schluckbier performed field sobriety tests on the driver and found him to be highly intoxicated. The passenger was cited for the open alcohol containers that were located inside the vehicle. The driver was arrested and lodged in the Allegan County Jail.
CO Carter Woodwyk was conducting a marine safety patrol on the Kalamazoo River in Allegan County when he observed a vessel anchored and fishing in a quiet section of the river. The CO contacted the anglers to check for fishing licenses. The anglers indicated they had caught a few sunfish and a bass. The CO conducted a count of the sunfish and between the two anglers counted 56 sunfish, an undersized channel catfish, and one largemouth bass. Additionally, one of the anglers did not have a 2022 Michigan fishing license. Both anglers were issued citations for possessing more than 25 sunfish each.
CO Joshua Salas was contacted by CO Cameron Wright to assist with a captive raccoon complaint in Cass County. The COs contacted a homeowner who admitted to having a raccoon in her home. Upon further investigation, the COs learned that the individual had six raccoons in her possession and was currently trying to obtain her rehabilitator license through the State of Michigan. The six raccoons were turned over to the COs and were able to be released back into the wild.
COs Anna Cullen and Jackie Miskovich were patrolling White Lake when they observed two jet skis operating above the slow no wake speed in a designated area. The COs contacted the two riders, who advised they were not aware of the law. The COs referenced two large signs at the launch where the riders advised they launched their vessels. The COs issued two civil infractions for the violations.
CO Anna Cullen was driving on US 31 southbound when she observed a vehicle in her rear-view mirror approaching at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of traffic. The vehicle flew by CO Cullen’s patrol truck and proceeded to pass the vehicle in front of her on the shoulder of the road. CO Cullen activated her emergency lights and siren and was able to catch up to the vehicle and successfully stop it. The driver was cooperative, and admitted they made a mistake and apologized for putting CO Cullen in that position. A citation was issued for speeding.
While patrolling the Middleville State Game Area (SGA), CO Justin Ulberg discovered a vehicle parked in a pull off that appeared to have been there for a while. The vehicle was missing a front tire and was propped up on cinder blocks. A check of the license plate in the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) revealed the vehicle was stolen out of Ionia County. The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was contacted, and the vehicle was impounded for processing.
CO Justin Ulberg was checking anglers along the Grand River in Kent County when he encountered a subject who would not produce a fishing license. The subject also would not provide CO Ulberg with a name because he stated he, “Didn’t trust the police.” Eventually the subject provided CO Ulberg with a name; however, the name was false. With the information provided, DNR dispatch was able to locate the correct subject and discovered the subject had an active warrant out of Kent County. The subject was taken into custody and turned over to the Grandville police department to be lodged on the warrant.
While on marine patrol in the Bass River Recreation Area in Ottawa County, COs Justin Ulberg and Casey Varriale heard a vehicle revving its engine and then observed a large dust cloud at a nearby parking lot. Patrolling closer, they could hear loud music playing and observed several vehicles with numerous people standing around them. While watching the group, a female in the back of a pick-up truck stood up with an alcoholic beverage and stated, “Well, I’m only 19 years old”. Eventually the group of individuals were contacted, and two citations were issued for minor in possession of alcohol.
COs Casey Varriale and Justin Ulberg were on patrol in the Lowell SGA when they witnessed a man operating an ATV with two young children unsecured on it. None of the individuals were wearing helmets. The COs conducted a traffic stop, and the man quickly became agitated citing he had a commercial driver’s license and would never get in an accident because he is a professional driver. At that point, the gentleman asked for a ticket so he could be on his way. The COs explained the laws and safety issues to the gentleman who continued to make rude remarks to them. CO Varriale cited the individual for the offenses and a court date was set for mid-October.
CO Kevin Bunce and Sgt. Rich Nickols were on patrol in Eaton County when they received a RAP complaint regarding an individual live trapping and drowning gray squirrels in the back yard. Upon contacting the homeowner, CO Bunce and Sgt. Nickols were informed that the squirrels had become overpopulated in his neighborhood and were getting into the eaves of his neighbor’s home and caused damage to his landscaping. After admitting to the trapping/drowning of the squirrels, the subject was advised of other, more humane methods, of maintaining his yard while also keeping the gray squirrel population in his neighborhood in check.
While off duty, CO Kevin Bunce was traveling from Marquette to Big Rapids when he encountered a vehicle southbound on 131 that was driving erratically and crossing the centerline. CO Bunce contacted Mecosta/Osceola dispatch to report the potential drunk driver and learned there had been numerous calls on the vehicle, but police had been unable to locate it. CO Bunce followed the vehicle for miles on the back roads of Mecosta County until deputies were able to locate and stop it. The subject was intoxicated and arrested for the violation.
After leaving Cass Lake from a marine patrol, CO Cody Bourgeois was traveling through Waterford and noticed a group of ORVs driving through town. CO Bourgeois quickly activated his lights and siren and followed the group down a side street. One member in the group who was on a four-wheeler stopped while the other minibikes fled. CO Bourgeois got out to contact the two individuals on the ORV when he noticed they were juveniles. When CO Bourgeois asked them where they were headed, they stated home, which was a few blocks away. CO Bourgeois got the suspect’s name and address and told the juvenile that he needed to speak to a legal guardian and would follow them back to their residence. Once at the residence, the suspect’s mother came outside, and he explained the situation and all the violations that were present. The mother received a citation for allowing the juvenile to operate without parental supervision and warnings for: operation without a helmet, operation in a closed area, operation without ORV certification, riding double, and failure to license ORV. CO Bourgeois also explained that he would not be impounding their vehicle.
CO Sydney Griffor followed up with a wildlife RAP complaint of individuals that were in possession of live raccoons. CO Griffor spoke with the suspects and found out they have been attempting to rehabilitate five baby raccoons for a few months. They stated a few died, a few were released, and they were down to one baby raccoon. CO Griffor issued a citation for possession of wildlife without a rehabilitator permit.
COs Sydney Griffor and Kris Kiel patrolled Raft Off in Muscamoot Bay on Lake St. Clair. Thousands of vessels showed up for the unsanctioned marine event. CO Griffor issued two citations for operating an unregistered vessel. One citation was for a boat and the other was for a personal watercraft (PWC). Warnings were given for failure to display boat registration and failure to display boater’s safety certificate on a personal watercraft.
CO Eric Smither and Sgt Shane Webster worked a youth “Touch a Truck” event and had approximately 100 participants come through. The kids were able to learn about conservation officers and what they do as well as check out different equipment including patrol vehicles, boats, and ORVs.
CO Dan Walzak, while working on Belle Isle, observed a subject on a café racer style motorcycle blast through a stop sign at a high rate of speed – much higher than the 25 miles per hour allowed on the island. CO Walzak, along with Sgt. Chad Foerster, caught up to the cycle and spoke with the operator. When asked why he was driving so fast, the operator shrugged his shoulders. When asked if he knew that he ran a stop sign the operator responded, “I know.” Checking further, the motorcycle had expired plates. The subject was issued citations for careless driving and the expired plates.
Nearing closing time at Belle Isle, COs Ariel Young and Marc Mankowski stopped to check some anglers. While inspecting the buckets of fish, the COs located an undersized smallmouth bass measuring 3.5 inches and round gobies, an invasive species in Michigan. The angler was issued a citation for both issues. The small fish was seized, and the gobies were killed and discarded.
CO Brandon Hartleben and PCO Nick Thornton were working a Belle Isle shift when they received a report from MSP Station 20 of a suicidal female subject on the MacArthur Bridge. CO Hartleben and PCO Thornton responded to the area immediately and assisted DNR park staff who were already on scene. Both the COs and park staff were in constant communication with the subject and took measures to prevent her from accessing the bridge railing. Medical support was requested, and because of the rapport that had been built through communicating with the subject, she voluntarily agreed to committal at an area hospital to seek further treatment. The subject was transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital by Detroit Fire/EMS for additional treatment.