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Conservation Officers (COs) Phil Helminen and Jared Ferguson located an illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) trail on public lands that went around a berm. The COs located the owner of the ORV hunting in a ground blind, and he was using a crossbow during the late archery season in the Upper Peninsula when crossbows are not permitted. The COs discovered the hunter also had several bait piles of corn that exceeded the two-gallon limit. Enforcement action was taken.
In Menominee County, CO Steve Sajtar responded to assist local law enforcement with a domestic assault in progress. Menominee Central Dispatch reported that the suspect was attempting to run over his girlfriend with a truck after striking her vehicle several times. Dispatch advised that the suspect was highly intoxicated and had fled the scene in a vehicle. CO Sajtar intercepted the suspect vehicle and stopped the suspect. When asked about the domestic assault, the suspect denied having any sort of argument with anyone. CO Sajtar could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the suspect and asked the suspect how much alcohol he consumed that day. The suspect stated, “I’ve had about eight beers.” CO Sajtar ran the suspect through Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and administered a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). The suspect was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) and possession of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle. A report was submitted to the prosecutor seeking additional charges related to the original complaint.
COs John Kamps and Jackson Kelly were on patrol when they came across a freshly dumped doe carcass. The carcass was freshly processed and dumped in the middle of a gravel pit. The COs followed the tracks from the dump site to a local camp. The COs were unable to contact anyone at the camp, so they went to the owner’s residence. At the residence, the COs observed an ORV with matching tire tread from the dump site and blood on the tailgate. After a brief interview with the suspect, the COs received a full confession for taking the doe with a rifle out of season and outside of one of the Deer Management Units that allow doe hunting. Additionally, the COs determined that the suspect had shot a 6-point and a 7-point prior in the deer season. Both combo tags were unvalidated and still in the suspect’s wallet. Evidence was seized from the individual and a citation was issued for the multiple violations.
While on patrol, CO Robert Freeborn observed a subject driving past him who had several outstanding warrants from citations issued by CO Steve Butzin and him over the past summer. CO Freeborn conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, which still had the same expired plate from the past spring. After confirming the multi-county warrants, the subject was placed under arrest for seven misdemeanor warrants for Schoolcraft and Delta Counties and was transported to the local jail.
CO Michael Evink assisted the Michigan State Police (MSP) with a search for an individual who had fled on foot through a farm field into a wooded area. CO Evink used his patrol truck to access areas other patrol vehicles could not access. Unfortunately, the individual was not located.
COs Steve Butzin and Jackson Kelly investigated an individual who had taken an antlerless deer without a license in Delta County. Through the investigation, it was discovered that this individual had also loaned a deer license to a family member to tag an 8-point buck. It was later discovered that the individual who shot this buck had also taken a 5-point buck without a license. A report has been submitted to the Menominee County Prosecutor’s Office.
CO Brandon Maki was invited to attend a trappers education course at the Escanaba Field Office. CO Maki attended the course and gave a presentation covering trapping/ furbearing regulations and assisted approximately 20 students who were eager to learn about trapping and hit the field.
CO Cole VanOosten and Corporal (Cpl.) Todd Sumbera received a guilty plea in a recent case involving an illegally harvested 10-point buck from Mackinac County that was shot during late archery season with a crossbow. The subject pled guilty and received $6,000 in restitution in addition to court fees and lost his hunting privileges for the remainder of 2023 and the next three calendar years.
CO Cole VanOosten was the only law enforcement officer on duty in Luce County during the early morning hours when an in progress domestic assault was reported at approximately 4:00 AM. CO VanOosten responded to the area and investigated the complaint. The victim displayed physical injuries from the assault. The suspect was arrested for domestic violence and on another warrant. They were lodged in the Luce County Jail and held on a $5,000 bond.
CO Cole VanOosten received a complaint of stolen trail cameras in Luce County. The suspect had stolen two cameras but had missed two others which were able to take his picture as he left. CO VanOosten recognized the man and contacted him regarding the theft. The man admitted to stealing the cameras because he knew he was trespassing and that the cameras had pictures of him. The cameras were recovered and returned to their owner.
CO Justin Vinson was on patrol when he came across an individual who had set a 220 conibear trap on dry ground. The trap was set inside a container that was baited and did not meet the required minimum openings of being set on dry ground. The trap also did not have the required trapper’s identification attached. A citation was issued for the violations.
COs Tom Oberg, Kyle Cherry, and PCO Jason Ruth responded to a complaint after an elk hunter called to self-report that he shot a bull elk while only having a cow elk kill tag. The COs arrived at the location to conduct their investigation. They recovered a spike bull elk. The hunter stated he fired two shots at the elk. After the second shot, the hunter stated he observed the elk move its head and noticed the two spike antlers on the elk. The elk was seized and donated to those in need. A report was compiled and submitted to the Cheboygan County Prosecutor’s Office referencing the charges of an illegally taken elk.
CO Alex Bourgeois was patrolling western Montmorency County during the December elk hunt period when the elk hunt dispatch advised law enforcement units that a spike bull was killed on a cow tag. CO Bourgeois headed to the scene. CO Bourgeois met with the hunter who shot the spike bull and interviewed him. The hunter stated that he saw three elk walking through the trees and then shot one of them. The hunter stated that he was too excited and did not check for antlers when making the shot. CO Bourgeois seized the elk and was able to donate it. Law enforcement action is being taken regarding the violation.
COs Jon Sheppard and Alex Bourgeois responded to a report in Alpena County of a suspect taking a deer on public land with a rifle during the late antlerless deer season. The late antlerless season allows for hunting antlerless deer with a rifle on private land only. The COs responded to the suspect’s home and interviewed him. He admitted to hunting and killing the deer on public land with his rifle. The deer was seized, donated, and a report will be submitted to the Alpena County Prosecutor’s Office seeking charges.
CO Sidney LaLonde assisted the Montmorency County deputies with a young subject that had overdosed on prescription pills. The subject was transported by emergency medical services (EMS) to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
CO Amanda Weaver followed up on a suspicious deer that was located during a deer processor inspection. CO Weaver conducted a preliminary investigation into the situation and deemed it likely that an individual shot a deer and purchased his hunting license after the fact. CO Weaver, along with CO William Kinney, interviewed the subject and discovered that the deer was shot by the subject’s son and the license was purchased after the deer was shot. Charges are being requested for both subjects in this incident for lending and using a kill tag of another.
CO William Haskin was patrolling Wexford County and received a complaint of an individual on state land who was baiting deer in multiple locations and cutting trees down for shooting lanes. CO Haskin located the area and found the baited stands, shooting lanes, and a tree stand with no name on it. CO Haskin returned that evening and located the individual hunting after hours. CO Haskin cited the individual as well as giving warnings for multiple violations.
CO Josiah Killingbeck and PCO Josh Jobin reviewed deer processer records and located a suspicious entry. The COs contacted the hunter who said he shot the deer in the northeast side of the state. The subject’s stories changed several times, and the subject was adamant he had a kill tag when he shot the deer. The COs asked the hunter if they could see the antlers and the subject said that he would grab them. The subject grabbed a set of antlers without a tag and hid them under a bag and grabbed a different set of antlers that were tagged. The subject was then asked to retrieve the antlers that he had hid. Upon bringing the untagged antlers out, the subject told the COs, “You got me.” The subject admitted to shooting two 8-point bucks without a license and buying a license after the fact. The subject admitted that he had not tagged one of the 8-points because he was hoping to shoot a third buck. The antlers and firearm were seized; a report is being sent to the prosecutor for charges.
CO Josiah Killingbeck and PCO Josh Jobin followed up with a hunter regarding a deer that was suspected to have been shot without a license. The hunter told the COs that he had purchased a license, walked to his blind, shot a deer, and had it to the processor within an hour’s time. The subject was adamant he shot the deer after buying a license. The subject’s father walked up and PCO Jobin spoke with the father while CO Killingbeck continued speaking with the hunter. The father told PCO Jobin the subject shot the deer without license. The father told his son, “Just tell the truth.” The hunter then confessed to shooting the buck without a license. While looking at the antlers, CO Killingbeck observed it did not meet the county’s antler point restrictions. The hunter said he thought it was legal when he shot. When asked why he had not called to report his mistake like other hunters, the subject said he was not sure what to do and decided to keep the deer and take his chances. The subject’s firearm and antlers were seized, and a report is being sent to the prosecutor for review.
CO Jacob Hamilton was patrolling in Kalkaska County during the late archery deer season when he observed fresh blood in the roadway. CO Hamilton began investigating the scene and located an area approximately 40 yards off the road, on state land, where a deer had been shot. At the kill site, the CO located deer hair, blood, and a bullet scar on a pine tree. Multiple sets of fresh footprints in the snow led to the blood termination point, and fresh footprints, drag marks, and blood led back to the road. CO Hamilton began patrolling the area, looking for road hunting activity. Near the kill site, CO Hamilton located a single set of fresh vehicle tracks, along with drops of blood, going down a dead-end road on state land, so he followed the tracks and was met by a pickup driving out of the dead-end road. Contact was made with the operator and passengers of the vehicle, and the driver admitted to road hunting and shooting the doe with a rifle. Upon further investigation, CO Hamilton found an uncased firearm between the passenger seat and the center console, open intoxicants in the vehicle, and a doe with a bullet hole in it in the bed of the pickup. CO Hamilton began interviewing the driver of the pickup, who eventually admitted to shooting the deer out of the truck window. During the interview process, CO Hamilton detected the odor of intoxicants on the driver’s breath and asked the driver to perform a series of SFSTs. The operator was subsequently arrested for OWI and was lodged in the Kalkaska County Jail. Charges are being submitted to the Kalkaska County Prosecutor's Office.
CO Jeff Panich and PCO Ryan Jager checked several duck hunters during the Middle Zone waterfowl split in Iosco County. CO Panich and PCO Jager contacted four hunters, none of whom had federal waterfowl stamps. The COs educated the hunters that having a physical federal waterfowl stamp is required. CO Panich and PCO Jager cited two hunters when it was discovered that the vessel did not have adequate personal floatation devices (PFD) on board, and one hunter did not have a plug in his shotgun.
CO Tyler Sabuda conducted a processor inspection one afternoon in Iosco County. CO Sabuda located two deer that had been recently dropped off by an individual with whom the CO has handled tagging issues before. CO Sabuda’s experience and training determined the deer had been dead for a while. The tags on the deer had been purchased within a couple of hours of CO Sabuda checking the deer. The individual was interviewed and eventually admitted to the violations. Charges are being sought through the Iosco County Prosecutor’s Office.
COs Ryan Weakman and Craig Neal participated in “Shop-With-A-Cop” in Gladwin County. The COs partnered with young students from Beaverton schools and took them shopping for gifts for their respective family members.
CO Thomas Jaakkola received a Report All Poaching (RAP) complaint about a deer feeder going off at 4:00 PM every day at a residence in Jackson County. COs Jaakkola and Cullen Knoblauch went to the residence and observed multiple baited hunting blinds. The homeowner admitted to buying the feeders and placing bait out to see more deer. She also admitted to tagging her husband’s antlered deer with one of her kill tags. Charges for loan/borrow a hunting license and baiting in a closed area are being pursued.
CO Wes Butler received a RAP complaint in Clinton County of three individuals walking into the woods at Sleepy Hollow State Park right before dark. Two of the men were carrying rifles and one was carrying a crossbow. CO Butler located one suspect who was carrying a cocked crossbow and asked what he was doing. The suspect stated, “I’m hunting deer with my crossbow.” At this point, it was an hour after legal shooting hours. When asked about the other subjects, the suspect admitted that he and his friends were night hunting for deer. He had told his friends to hide in the woods and hide the guns until CO Butler left the scene. The suspect led CO Butler to the other hunters with the rifles. CO Butler seized the rifles and will be seeking charges against the suspects for hunting deer after legal shooting hours.
Sgt. Jason J. Smith and COs Marc Mankowski, John Byars, and Wes Butler participated in the “Santa’s First Responders Law Enforcement Parade” at Sparrow’s main hospital in downtown Lansing. The large-scale event benefits children that are in the hospital over the holidays. The event features Lansing area fire departments, ambulance providers, and other first responders along with personnel from a variety of law enforcement agencies.
CO Marc Mankowski assisted a local charity with a toy and food giveaway in Lansing on December 16th. Over 200 families attended the event with over $20,000 worth of presents, as well as over 500 pounds of venison and elk meat distributed.
CO Luke Robare checked some anglers at the Kearsley Lake Dam in Flint. There were several anglers who were close to their limits of panfish. CO Robare checked one angler whose bucket was full of crappie. CO Robare asked the angler how many fish he had in the bucket, and he responded by saying that he had at least 25 crappies in the bucket. CO Robare counted the fish and the angler had 37 crappies. CO Robare issued the angler a citation for taking an over-limit.
COs Joseph Deppen and Kris Kiel were working a trespassing complaint when they noticed two hunters trespassing on Consumers Energy property. The COs drove in behind the two hunters and found them as daylight was fading. Each hunter was issued a citation for recreational trespass.
CO Sydney Griffor was following up with a litter complaint at St. John’s Marsh when she observed a pheasant hunter walking towards the parking lot. CO Griffor asked the hunter if he had any luck and he showed her a rooster he shot. She asked to see his hunting license and he attempted to show it on his phone but was unable to find it. CO Griffor double checked the licensing system for his 2023 pheasant license and concluded he did not purchase one. She asked to see his firearm and ammunition. The hunter showed CO Griffor his shotgun but was hesitant to show her the shotgun shells he was using. After asking for the third time, the hunter pulled 20-gauge lead shotgun shells from his hunting vest, which are illegal to use in St. John’s Marsh. CO Griffor advised the hunter of the laws regarding lead in the marsh then pointed towards the sign next to the hunter’s parked vehicle that states non-toxic shot only. The pheasant was seized, and a citation was issued for the license and possessing toxic shot.
CO Jaime Salisbury was patrolling back from a Belle Isle shift. CO Salisbury was stopped at a red light on his way home and “Be on the Lookout” came out for a driver weaving in the road and road raging with other drivers. The vehicle described pulled up next to CO Salisbury at the stoplight. CO Salisbury followed the vehicle and paced it at 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. He also observed the vehicle nearly collide with another vehicle due to leaving their lane of travel. A traffic stop was conducted, and it was discovered that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. The subject was arrested and lodged at the Lapeer County Jail.
CO Mike Drexler checked several anglers at Ford Dam in Ypsilanti. When he reached the last angler on the dam, CO Drexler asked how many fish he had. The angler insisted he did not have 25. When the CO advised that he was going to count them out the angler again insisted there was no way there were 25 crappies in his cooler. CO Drexler counted out 29 crappies, making the angler four fish over his limit. A citation was issued for the overlimit of crappie.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll received a complaint that individuals were using a cast net in Plum Creek near the DTE Power Plant fishing piers. CO Ingersoll was able to watch the individuals for several minutes and observed them throw the cast net into the creek. CO Ingersoll contacted the three anglers who were picking fish out of their cast net when he pulled up. CO Ingersoll checked all the coolers and located five largemouth bass, four of which were undersized, several carp, and gizzard shad that the anglers stated they caught with the cast net. CO Ingersoll cited all three anglers for undersized largemouth bass and warned them for taking fish illegally.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll was patrolling around the area where he received a complaint of individuals harassing other hunters during the evening hours. CO Ingersoll immediately noticed a vehicle slow rolling around the property in question and watched the vehicle stop twice for an extended period before leaving again. CO Ingersoll was able to stop the vehicle after it did not stop at a stop sign and failed to utilize its turn signal. The driver was honest and said he was revoked and was out looking for deer. He said he had a loaded 350 legend in the case in the backseat and had his hunting licenses. He advised he knew all the hunters in the area and was looking at the deer. CO Ingersoll issued the driver a citation for loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and warned him for the traffic infractions.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll assisted CO Les Bleil with an illegal harvested deer hunter interview. The COs spoke with the hunter who had shot a deer with the aid of bait. The COs spoke with the hunter and were able to determine that he had not only shot a 6-point over a bait pile, but he had also shot two does over the bait pile as well. After speaking with the hunter, it was determined that he had never purchased a hunting license, did not wear hunter orange, has never taken hunter safety, and shot the deer after the close of hunting hours. The COs were able to gain a full confession from the hunter and the charges will be sought through the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
Sgt. Shane Webster responded to assist the Blissfield Township police with a call of hunters shooting multiple rounds near homes within the city. The hunters were found to be outside of the safety zones but did have two fully field dressed antlerless deer in their possession that were not tagged. A citation was issued for failure to immediately attach and validate kill tag.