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While attending training in Sault Ste. Marie, Conservation Officers (COs) Steve Sajtar and Cody Smith assisted local law enforcement with a suicidal subject. The subject had climbed atop a bridge and threatened to jump into the Sault Ste. Marie power canal. The power canal is approximately 24-feet deep, flowing at a swift rate of 10-feet per second. While the Sault Police and Fire Department attempted to talk the subject down from the bridge, COs Sajtar and Smith staged at the next bridge downriver. The COs prepared for a water rescue in case the subject decided to jump. Luckily, the subject decided to climb down and was taken into protective custody by the Sault Police Department.

In Menominee County, COs John Kamps, Jackson Kelly, and Steve Sajtar concluded an illegal bear baiting case after a lengthy investigation. On commercial forest land in Spalding Township, the COs located multiple illegal bait barrels. Each barrel was found with chocolate bait and excessively large holes. Some barrels even contained pieces of plastic mixed with the bear bait. Following a series of interviews, four suspects agreed to show the COs where the rest of their illegal bait barrels were located. The COs recovered 14 illegal barrels dispersed across a 16-mile stretch of commercial forest land. Multiple verbal warnings were issued, and citations were divided amongst the four suspects.

CO Steve Sajtar received a complaint of an individual in possession of an untagged buck in Menominee County. Through an investigation, it was determined that the suspect had already registered another buck on opening day of archery season. CO Sajtar contacted the suspect and located an untagged 8-point buck. The suspect admitted that he had shot a total of three bucks since opening day of archery season. CO Sajtar suspected that the individual was retaining an unvalidated kill tag for another buck. The untagged buck and unvalidated kill tag were seized for evidence. Multiple verbal warnings were issued, and a citation was issued for possessing a deer with no valid kill tag attached.

In Menominee County, COs John Kamps, Jackson Kelly, and Steve Sajtar worked a grouse decoy along a county road in which road hunting complaints had been received. The COs observed a pickup hit their brakes as they passed the grouse decoy. The pickup drove up the road, turned around, and came back for a second pass at the decoy. When the pickup returned, the suspect driving the pickup had a loaded 12-gauge shotgun propped out the window of his truck. The COs contacted the suspect and issued a ticket for possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

CO Alex VanWagner responded to a residence in Iron River to assist Michigan State Police (MSP) troopers with a domestic assault in progress between a father and son. Interviews were conducted on scene and the son was taken into custody. The incident was turned over to the MSP.

CO Phil Helminen followed up on a Report all Poaching (RAP) complaint of a person potentially hunting deer after hours. CO Helminen found the suspected hunter’s residence the next day and observed an untagged buck was hanging. A citation was issued for failing to immediately validate and attach a kill tag.

CO John Kamps contacted an individual as he was exiting the woods and holding a large empty sack. CO Kamps walked with the hunter back to the hunt site and found approximately 20 gallons of pumpkins, corn, apples, and sugar beets. A citation was issued for baiting deer with more than two gallons and the subject cleaned up the excess bait.


CO Steve Butzin was on patrol in Garden Township when he conducted a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, he discovered the driver was operating an unregistered vehicle. The driver also had two outstanding warrants and was in possession of a possible methamphetamine or fentanyl substance. The individual was arrested and lodged in the Delta County Jail.

CO Steve Butzin received a complaint of two individuals bough cutting on state and Lyme Timber Great Lakes owned lands. CO Butzin went to the location of the complaint for several days before encountering individuals in the act of bough cutting. Foresters from both the state and Lyme Great Lakes Timber will be assessing the damage to the trees. A report will be submitted to the Delta County prosecutor requesting charges of unlawful cutting of state-owned trees for the cutting that occurred on state land and malicious destruction of private property for the cutting that occurred on Lyme Great Lakes Timber land. Restitution for the trees will also be requested.

Sgt. Mark Zitnik, along with COs Andrea Dani and Brandon Maki, taught two hunter safety field days. The participants were eager to learn and brought a lot of energy to the hands-on portion of the course. All participants passed the course and received their hunter safety certificates.

CO Michael Evink responded to a complaint where a 10-point white-tailed deer was stuck in a muddy bog just off US 2. Once on scene, CO Evink observed people trying to pull the buck out of the mud. Additionally, he observed a bolt sticking out of the back of the deer. One of the individuals attempting to pull the deer out stated he shot it because it was previously injured. CO Evink is continuing to investigate the incident.

COs Justin Vinson and Mike Olesen taught two different hunter safety classes in both Luce and Chippewa Counties. All 46 participants passed the class and received their hunter safety certificate.


CO Jack Gorno participated in a “Trunk or Treat” event with the Cheboygan County Sheriff's Department. This community public relations event helps increase relationships with the public and interactions with local youth. CO Gorno answered several wildlife-related questions during the event.

CO Dan Liestenfeltz assisted the Montmorency County Sheriff’s Department and the MSP Emergency Services Team with a search for a wanted man with a firearm in a wooded area. The law enforcement agencies worked together attempting to locate the subject. While searching, law enforcement heard a single gunshot near their location. All the officers backed out of the woods and regrouped. Upon further searching, law enforcement officers located the subject deceased.

CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling Montmorency County when he heard Montmorency Central Dispatch tone out a call about a subject who had a tractor roll on top of them and they were unable to move. CO Liestenfeltz responded to the scene and located the subject underneath the tractor. CO Liestenfeltz was able to push the tractor forward just enough to pull out the subject before the tractor rolled back on the subject. CO Liestenfeltz immediately began searching for and asking the subject about injuries. The subject stated that both of their legs were in pain, but they did not believe they were broken or had any serious injuries. The subject was checked out by emergency medical services on scene and cleared of any significant injuries.

CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling Montmorency County when he observed a Dodge Challenger passing vehicles in a no passing zone and traveling approximately 60 miles per hour (mph) in a 35 mph zone. CO Liestenfeltz attempted to catch up to the vehicle. Once the vehicle reached the 55 mph speed zone, it began to continue to pass cars aggressively and was speeding excessively. CO Liestenfeltz used his RADAR speed measurement device and observed the vehicle traveling at speeds of 98 mph, 104 mph, and finally 112 mph. CO Liestenfeltz was able to catch up to the vehicle and initiate a traffic stop. CO Liestenfeltz issued the operator a ticket for operating a motor vehicle in a careless and negligent manner.

CO Alex Bourgeois stopped an ORV that was travelling on M 65 in Alpena County and issued a ticket. The driver asked CO Bourgeois if he would get another ticket if he drove on M 65 again. When CO Bourgeois said, “Yes,” the man then yelled, “Come and get me then!” and proceeded to drive out onto M 65 at a high rate of speed. CO Bourgeois pursued the subject a couple of miles until he stopped again. The subject then refused to get out of the side by side. The CO, and assisting officers, were unable to dislodge him and a TASER had to be deployed. The man was arrested and lodged at the Alpena County Sheriff’s Department on multiple charges.


COs William Kinney and Amanda Weaver responded to a suspicious animal noise in the woods behind Meijer in Grand Traverse County. The COs responded and found a coyote decoy set up in the wetland area next to the parking lot. The COs also heard an electronic coyote call. CO Kinney contacted the company who recently did a wetland restoration project in that location. CO Kinney was told the decoy and electronic caller were set up to deter beaver that were threatening the newly planted trees. Given this deterrent method was causing a disturbance, the company asked the COs to turn off the electronic caller for them. COs Kinney and Weaver found the call in a tree along the stream and terminated the noise.

CO Amanda Weaver assisted the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park rangers with the North Manitou Island deer hunt departure. The officers checked in approximately 200 hunters who are spending the next week on North Manitou Island for a special firearm deer hunt. The annual event attracts participants from around the country who come to enjoy the unique opportunity to hunt such a remote and historical area. 

CO Tim Barboza contacted a turkey hunter walking out of the woods who was carrying two untagged turkeys. The hunter explained that he had accidentally shot two turkeys and was planning on buying a second tag. CO Barboza cited the hunter for taking the over-limit and warned him for failing to immediately tag the other.

COs Angela Greenway and Kevin Bunce attend a career fair at Ferris State University. This was a large-scale career fair with many exhibitors from all over the country. This was a great opportunity to connect with a diverse group of individuals from all over and educate them on what conservation officers do.

COs Angela Greenway and Kevin Bunce put on a hunter safety field day for a home study class at the Mecosta Osceola Career Center. There were approximately 30 students who participated in the program. This is planned to be an ongoing part of the curriculum in the Criminal Justice/Fire Safety program.


COs Charlie Jones and Jacob Hamilton assisted the Kalkaska County Sheriff's Office with a search and rescue of a subject who went missing while putting up hunting blinds with his dad in Kalkaska County. The COs responded to the incident command location. The subject was located by CO Hamilton when he was able to walk out of a swamp on his own. The tired but unharmed son was reunited with his elated father.
CO Tyler Sabuda was checking salmon anglers in Iosco County when an angler started fishing within 10 yards of CO Sabuda’s location. CO Sabuda watched as the angler intentionally foul hooked multiple fish. When the angler went to switch lures, CO Sabuda announced himself and without turning around the angler stated, “Can you please just give me a warning?”  The angler was issued a citation for snagging.

COs Tyler Sabuda, Casey Pullum, Jeff Panich, Jesse Grzechowski, Jon Warner, Kyle Bader and Sgt. Bobbi Lively, along with a US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer, participated in a late-night shining flight. In the early morning hours during the flight, COs were notified of a vehicle in a rural portion of Oscoda County that was casting a light from the window. The COs located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop for the violation of shining after 11:00 PM. The occupants admitted to using a flashlight to locate deer. Weapons were in the bed of the pickup truck cased and unloaded. A citation was issued for shining after 11:00 PM.

CO Jeff Panich responded to a complaint of a single gunshot behind a residence during the archery deer season in Alcona County. CO Panich located two hunters retrieving an antlerless deer which appeared to have a gunshot wound. In addition, the deer did not have a kill tag attached and it had been taken over bait. The hunter admitted to using a shotgun to harvest the deer because he was on private property. The hunter’s deer and firearm were seized. Charges for taking a deer out of season and baiting in a closed county are being sought through the Alcona County Prosecutor’s Office.

CO Josh Russell was on patrol in Clare County when he came across a side-by-side on its roof in a ditch. The driver was fine and did not have serious injuries. CO Russell assisted in the recovery of the ORV and stayed on scene until the operator was able to get a ride back to his truck.

CO Jeff Goss followed up on multiple illegal hunting locations that were located earlier in the year. Illegal ORV trails, major resource damage, wetland damage and trees being cut were common violations. In addition, all spots were heavily baited and had illegal tree stands that had been left on state land for years. With the help of COs Chey Rizor and Josh Russell, several of the suspects were contacted in their stands while they were hunting over illegal baits. On two Saturday nights in October, six of these locations were visited resulting in several citations being issued for various violations.


While on patrol in Gratiot County, COs Adam Schiller and Michael Lator came across a vehicle parked in a parking lot near a “Do Not Enter Refuge” sign. The COs went on foot to investigate. Shortly thereafter, they heard a manual duck call coming from the refuge and worked their way towards the calling. The COs were able to locate two subjects hidden in willow trees within the refuge waterfowl hunting. After having them pick up all their belongings, the hunters followed the COs out of the refuge to their trucks. Both were cited for entering/hunting within a closed refuge.


A RAP complaint was received by CO Sam Schluckbier of a subject attempting to net salmon in a creek that was restricted. The caller advised he told the “kid” to stop who ignored his request and continued to net more fish. CO Schluckbier arrived at the suspect’s house and his parents claimed their son was a law-abiding teenager who barely fishes. After further investigation, CO Schluckbier was able to gain a confession to illegally netting four salmon and having his grandmother fillet them. The fish were confiscated from the grandmother’s freezer as evidence. Further questioning revealed the parents and grandmother were covering up for the suspect and advised him to lie to the DNR officer. Charges are being sought through the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office. 

CO Tyler Cole witnessed a husband and wife stop at a creek and proceed to attempt to snag salmon. One salmon was foul hooked in the tail and the subjects unsuccessfully attempted to use a gaff to land the salmon. The subjects continued to attempt to snag and fish in the closed stream and at one point, one of the subjects attempted to snag so hard that the spoon on the end of his line flew over his head and landed at the feet of CO Cole, who was about to contact the subjects. The subjects were written citations for, “Fish Closed Stream,” and, “Attempt to Snag.”

CO Cameron Wright was working a complaint at the Mottville Dam about people keeping undersized bass. CO Wright contacted an angler fishing near the dam and observed a stringer packed full of fish. CO Wright asked the angler how many fish he had on the stringer, and he said he was not sure. The fish were brought back to CO Wright’s patrol truck and counted. There were 38 panfish and one smallmouth bass that was not even 10 inches long. The limit for panfish is 25 and the size limit for bass is 14 inches. Citations were issued.

COs Jeremy Beavers and Mark Reffitt received information that two subjects were snagging and keeping salmon in a closed Type 1 trout stream. Upon arriving on scene, the COs observed the subjects snagging fish. The COs made contact and informed them they were in a stream that was closed to fishing. The COs then asked where the fish were located and both anglers denied having a fish. Further investigation revealed the illegally snagged salmon hidden in a van. Citations were issued for fishing in a closed trout stream, snagging, and using a treble hook with a weight permanently attached.


CO Cullen Knoblauch was assisting the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office with locating a wanted felon. CO Knoblauch observed a subject matching the description of the wanted male and he was detained. A search of the subject produced a loaded 9mm pistol. It was determined the subject was not the original wanted person but was a convicted felon who was possessing the weapon illegally. The subject was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, 4th habitual offender.

CO Nick Thornton was patrolling Branch County and noticed a group of men in camouflage standing near the bed of a truck. CO Thornton stopped and noted an antlerless deer in the bed of the truck. A hunter admitted he shot the deer in Indiana and transported the animal across the state line. CO Thornton will be requesting charges through the prosecutor’s office for transporting a cervid across state lines without being properly processed.


COs Dave Schaumburger and Kris Kiel conducted a marine/fish patrol from the south end of Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, checking over 30 vessels during the last 70-degree day of the year. During one check, the COs contacted three anglers on a vessel fishing for yellow perch in Lake St. Clair. While pulling up to the vessel, CO Kiel asked about their success. One subject stated that they had caught “about 70.” After checking marine safety equipment and fishing licenses, CO Kiel started counting their perch. While CO Kiel was counting, one subject told CO Schaumburger that they had run out of bait, were about done fishing, and possibly had a few too many. The total was 94, 19 over the limit. When asked why they had not counted, one subject simply said that they were catching them so fast, they did not have time. All three anglers received a citation for take/possess an over-limit of yellow perch and reimbursement will be sought for the 19 perch over the limit.

During a vessel contact in the Detroit River, COs Dave Schaumburger and Kris Kiel asked the two walleye anglers about their luck. The angler in the front of the vessel flexed his muscles and exclaimed, “Eight to zero!” Questioning the subjects further, they each said one had caught eight and the other had caught nothing. A check of the live-well confirmed eight walleyes. The subject claiming the eight walleye was written a citation for take/possess an over-limit of walleye and reimbursement will be sought for the two walleyes over the limit.

COs Kris Kiel and Brad Silorey checked a waterfowl hunter in a marsh. At first, the subject stated that he had no luck, but then admitted he had a “bird” in his backpack. As he pulled it out, the subject stated that he thought that he had shot a coot. The COs immediately observed that the subject had taken a pie-billed grebe. A citation was written for taking a protected species.

COs Nicholas Ingersoll and Brandon Vacek received a complaint of two individuals who were trespassing on US SIilica property, and each shot an 8-point while trespassing. The COs spoke with the property managers who wanted to press charges on the two hunters. The COs interviewed both suspects who admitted to trespassing on the property. They both stated that it was their first time out this year. They advised these were the first two bucks that walked into range, and they shot both. Both suspects confessed to the violations, and they will be charged with taking a deer while trespassing. Charges will be submitted to the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office, and if charged, the hunters could be looking at up to $12,000 in reimbursement for the two 8-points that were taken illegally.

CO Dave Schaumburger stopped a vehicle on Belle Isle traveling at 68 mph in a 25-mph zone. When the CO stepped up to the vehicle, the passenger handed him a citation that he got for driving approximately four hours ago. He said the last officer gave him a break and told him to go home. He did not go home, instead, he switched seats and had his passenger drive up to Belle Isle where they were currently stopped. A law enforcement information network check discovered the driver was suspended and had eight prior offenses for such. The driver was given a citation for no insurance, driving while license suspended, and for traveling 68 mph in a 25-mph zone. To the displeasure of the occupants, the vehicle was towed since there were no valid drivers in the vehicle.

Working a Belle Isle shift, CO Dan Walzak caught a glimpse of a subject running in the Belle Isle Zoo. The zoo is posted closed to the public and reinforced with chained and locked gates. CO Walzak went to investigate and contacted Sgt. Damon Owens. A total of five subjects were contacted trespassing in the closed zoo. All the subjects admitted to knowing that the zoo is closed, and entry is prohibited. All five subjects were issued citations for unlawful entry into the zoo.


Corporal (Cpl.) Mike Hammill responded to a rollover accident with occupants still trapped inside the vehicle.  By the time Cpl. Hammill arrived on scene, bystanders had helped several uninjured occupants out of the vehicle. However, one individual remained trapped inside.  The jaws of life were able to cut open the side of the vehicle and extract the woman inside who was complaining of back pain.

Cpl. Mike Hammill was driving down a two-track road when he witnessed the vehicle in front of him stop and a short time later fire a shot from the driver’s side window.  The driver had killed a grouse next to the road. When contacted by Cpl. Hammill, several open beers were discovered as well. Enforcement action was taken.

Cpl. Mike Hammill was driving in a remote area of southern Delta County.  He encountered a coyote trapper on the way out of the woods from checking his traps.  Cpl. Hammill checked all the firearms and traps the individual had in possession.  A loaded .22 was discovered in the back seat of the truck, and enforcement action was taken.

Cpl. Jon Busken met with a delinquent wholesaler. The wholesaler was standoffish during the contact and made it clear he did not want to speak with the officer. While exiting the property Cpl. Busken observed a large bait pile from the driveway. Cpl. Busken forwarded the information to CO Anna Cullen, who contacted the property owner. Enforcement action was taken on the bait violation.

Cpl. Jon Busken was inspecting a Kent County pet store when an employee mentioned they would be receiving a “white lobster” from their supplier tomorrow.  A “lobster” in the pet trade often refers to red swamp crayfish. Further investigation was completed, and a call was made to the regional manager for the chain who confirmed this species was not coming into their store. Still, Cpl. Busken conducted multiple pet store inspections in the area over the next few days. The pet store chain also decided to stop selling all relatives of red swamp crayfish.