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Conservation Officer (CO) Zach Painter was on patrol in Gogebic County when he was dispatched to a report of a snowmobile that had gone through the ice on Lake Gogebic with two people in the water. Before responding officers arrived on scene, both subjects had gotten out of the water and onto shore. Both subjects were treated and released by emergency medical services. It was determined that the subjects had gotten turned around and drove up the river towards the dam on the north end of the lake where there was open water. CO Painter assisted a tow company the following day to locate the snowmobile. The snowmobile was located and removed from the lake.

CO Alex VanWagner was working a stationary patrol for snowmobiles in Caspian when a vehicle with no plate was observed. A traffic stop was initiated as the vehicle pulled into a residence. The driver had an open alcoholic beverage in the vehicle as well. The CO ran the subject through standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) and administered a preliminary breath test (PBT) sample. The driver was well under the legal limit but was found to have a felony fraud warrant out of Iron County. The subject had his daughter with him and contacted his girlfriend to come watch her as he would be going to jail. The girlfriend was also found to have a truancy warrant out of Iron County. The male subject was arrested and lodged at the Iron County Jail. The female subject was issued an appearance date and remained at the residence to watch the daughter.

CO Jeremy Sergey received a complaint that an individual was cutting live trees down on state land in Marquette County. CO Sergey had a vehicle description and patrolled toward the complaint area. While enroute, CO Sergey observed a vehicle matching the description and contacted CO Jackson Kelly to assist. After following the vehicle for a short distance, the vehicle pulled over. After a short interview, the subject admitted to cutting down several cedar trees for firewood. The subject brought the COs back to the site where he dumped the wood in an attempt to hide it.  They also brought the COs to the site where the trees had been cut down. A citation was issued for cutting live trees on state land.

COs Jackson Kelly and Jeremy Sergey received multiple complaints of deer stranded on Deer Lake and Witch Lake due to the ice conditions. The lake surface was so slippery, the deer could not walk off the lake on their own. The COs, along with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Division biologist Brian Roell, responded to the lakes and found the deer which were exhausted from trying to escape. The deer were restrained and removed from the ice to a safe location. Both deer walked off unharmed.

CO Jackson Kelly received a complaint that someone had cut multiple standing trees on state land and on private property. The CO interviewed the suspect at his residence. During the interview, the suspect admitted to cutting multiple trees on state land. CO Kelly issued a citation for cutting and removing trees on state land.


COs Steve Butzin and Rob Freeborn were on patrol in Garden Township following up on a snowmobile trespass complaint. They stopped at a local gas station to fuel their patrol truck and observed several individuals acting suspiciously as their vehicles were pulled side by side and they were moving items from one vehicle to another. These individuals were recognized by the COs from prior encounters involving various criminal activities including illegal drugs. The individuals watched the COs for some time, it appeared they were waiting for the COs to leave the gas station. CO Butzin ran the license plate on one of the vehicles and discovered it to not be insured and the driver to have a felony warrant for dangerous drugs. The COs waited up the road for the vehicle to leave the gas station. As the vehicle pulled out of the parking lot and onto the county road, the COs began to drive their patrol truck towards the vehicle to conduct a traffic stop. Once the individuals in the vehicle saw the COs coming towards them, they immediately pulled back into the gas station parking lot. The COs pulled into the parking lot and contacted the driver and passenger of the vehicle. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that along with the felony warrant for dangerous drugs the driver was on probation, in possession of 0.3 grams of methamphetamine, and possessed several hypodermic needles. The driver was arrested for the warrant and possession of illegal drugs then lodged in the Delta County Jail.

CO Chris Lynch was starting his patrol day when a call came out for a snowmobile accident that occurred on the trail. CO Lynch obtained his department issued snowmobile and proceeded to the scene. CO Lynch joined multiple first responders in the effort to render aid to the snowmobiler and getting him off the trail to an ambulance.

COs Chris Lynch and Rob Freeborn were on patrol when they checked a pair of ice anglers. The anglers had seven lines out between the two of them. After it was determined who was fishing more than three lines, that angler was issued a citation for the violation.

CO Andrea Dani patrolled a snowmobile trail/county road intersection in Alger County popular for stop sign violations. CO Dani observed a group of riders fail to stop at the county road stop sign. Enforcement action was taken.

COs Robert Freeborn and Christopher Lynch patrolled Little Bay De Noc on a busy Saturday. The COs contacted hundreds of anglers enjoying the nice weather and low snow conditions on the ice. When contacting one angler during the patrol, it was immediately determined he was fishing with too many lines. The angler stated he thought it wasn’t a big deal because it was the free fishing weekend. The COs advised the weekend was for allowing people to fish without a license and didn’t waive all fishing regulations for the weekend. A citation was issued for the violation. 

CO Todd Sumbera was conducting a snowmobile patrol in an area of high complaints. CO Sumbera observed an individual blow through a stop sign at a high rate of speed. After making a stop on the subject, CO Sumbera asked the rider if he had even seen the stop signs. The rider admitted that he knew that they were there but stated that he was trying to catch up with his friends. A citation was issued for careless operation. Three other citations were issued in the same area for careless operation.

CO Mike Olesen received a report of an individual attempting to register a bobcat at the Sault Ste. Marie Customer Service Center that he had caught in a snare he set for coyotes. CO Olesen interviewed the man who showed him his snares that he had set for coyotes. The snares did not have the required relaxing lock on them and did not have a stop on them to prevent the restraint from closing to a diameter less than 4 ¼ inches, a citation was issued.

CO Justin Vinson received a call at 1:30 AM from central dispatch indicating that two men approximately 65 years of age had been snowmobiling, were out of gas, and had no idea where they were, or where they had left their vehicle. Central dispatch indicated that the men, soaked through their suits due to the rain had sought shelter in the Holland Lake Campground outhouse. CO Vinson responded to the area, locating the extremely cold men at approximately 2:45 AM on his department issued snowmobile. After providing the two men with some gas and working through some minor mechanical issues caused by the rain, CO Vinson escorted the men to the nearest park and ride, where the sleds could be left over night. CO Vinson then transported the very appreciative men back to their vehicle north of Shingleton.

COs Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict followed up on a suspicious otter registration. Contact was made and it was determined that the otter had been caught in a previous season by another trapper. Additionally, it was determined that the man failed to register a pine marten before the registration date. A report was generated requesting charges against the two men for loaning and borrowing an otter tag, fail to register otter, and fail to register pine marten. The report was submitted to the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office.

After numerous snowmobile fatalities this season, CO Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict patrolled the Trout Lake area and issued six tickets for snowmobilers running stop signs at a high rate of speed. An additional four citations were issued the following day for careless operation of a snowmobile.

COs Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict patrolled the relic ride in Delta County and issued four citations to snowmobilers who ran through stop signs at intersections. One warning was issued for a snowmobiler who operated his snowmobile against the flow of traffic.

CO Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict were patrolling South Manistique Lake when they encountered an angler fishing after dark. The COs followed the man’s tracks a short distance where three additional tip-ups were located. The man admitted to fishing additional lines. A citation was issued for fishing more than three lines.

COs Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict went to Brimley High School to talk with local area students about the job of being a conservation officer.

COs Cole VanOosten and PCO Brandon Benedict went to Newberry High School and gave a presentation about the job of a conservation officer and to educate the class on who Michigan conservations officers are and what they do.

CO Cole VanOosten responded with the Michigan State Police (MSP) to a snowmobile fatality in northern Luce County. CO VanOosten provided transport to the remote location with his department issued snowmobile and assisted the MSP with the crash investigation. The snowmobiler lost control on a curve and exited the trail before hitting a tree. The crash is still under investigation.

COs Todd Sumbera, Mike Olesen, Justin Vinson, Sergeant (Sgt.) Calvin Smith, and Luce County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Maskus conducted a group snowmobile patrol near Big Manistique Lake. A complaint had been received of an unregistered event that was going to involve drag racing of snowmobiles on the ice. The event organizer was contacted earlier in the day by CO Vinson who educated the man on the required permit and that drag racing of snowmobiles on a public lake is illegal. The organizer canceled the event and invited the COs to stop by and meet the group which the COs gladly did.


COs Duane Budreau, Adam LeClerc, and Chad Baldwin attended an annual father/son weekend at Camp Daggett in Charlevoix County. The COs gave presentations on wilderness and winter survival as well as taking the fathers and sons through the investigation process of a backcountry snowmobile accident with a missing rider. The COs created a scene as close as they could to a real-life event. With the help of the father/son partners, the COs completed the investigation and gave the groups insight on what to look for while tracking an individual through rough terrain and what to do when they encounter the lost rider. The COs also taught the kids how to build fires with very little fire-starting material while utilizing flint and steel fire starters. Over 60 father and sons attended the camp and were very appreciative of the training and knowledge the COs gave them.

CO Ryan Cox conducted angler checks during the Central Lake Ice Fishing Tournament during the free fishing weekend on Intermediate Lake in Antrim County. While checking a group of anglers, CO Cox had to check over 15 tip-ups to make sure that everyone had three lines out. One of the anglers however, appeared to have more than the legal number of lines allowed. After questioning the angler about this, he finally admitted to CO Cox that he had more than four lines out. When asked why, he told CO Cox he was trying to better his odds in winning the tournament this year. This angler also had a prior conviction for fishing with more than the legal amount of lines years ago. A ticket was issued for fishing with more than three lines.

CO Ryan Cox was on patrol in Antrim County when he saw a pickup truck parked on the side of the road. While investigating the truck, CO Cox saw a young male exiting the woods and contacted him. The young male was eventually discovered to be a juvenile and was just out checking some traps he had set on state land. The trapper was relatively new to the sport but very enthusiastic about it. After clearing contact with the trapper, CO Cox decided to go and check his traps. While checking the traps, a few violations were found. CO Cox returned to his patrol to truck to try and call the trapper. While doing so, CO Cox noticed the trapper drive past him and waved him down. CO Cox explained to the trapper that he had some violations with his sets but instead of writing a ticket for the violations, CO Cox would go with the trapper and educate him on the violations he had. The trapper then led the way into the woods to his traps and the violations were corrected.

CO Tim Rosochacki responded to assist the Mackinaw City Police Department and the Cheboygan County Sheriff's Department in the search for an individual who fled from a vehicle after leading both agencies on a lengthy pursuit in a stolen truck. CO Rosochacki located footprints leading away from the vehicle and embedded with the sheriff's K-9 unit to track the lone subject. After tracking in the dark and dense wetland for over 1.5 miles, the female was located approximately 20 feet up a large pine tree. She was taken into custody without issue and turned over to the Mackinaw City Police Department to be lodged on several felonies.

CO Tom Oberg attended the 2023 Northland Sportsman's Club Kid's Fishing Derby at Otsego Lake State Park. Volunteers from the club augured holes in the ice and supplied fishing poles and bait to the children who did not have their own. Despite the cold and windy conditions, the children were able to get out and enjoy fishing on Otsego Lake. It was a good turnout, with fish being registered throughout the day. Prizes and awards were given out afterwards to the children.

CO Tom Oberg received a call from Otsego County Central Dispatch regarding a call about a vehicle possibly stuck in snow on a rural road. CO Oberg responded and located a subject who drove up from downstate and was attempting to get to his brother-in-law to bring him downstate. He stated his brother-in-law had been in an accident the day prior and no longer had a vehicle. The snow was too deep for his vehicle, and there was no cellphone service to reach him. CO Oberg transported the subject to his brother-in-law's residence through the deep unplowed snow. CO Oberg then transported them back to the main road, where they returned to the vehicle. Both were very thankful for CO Oberg's assistance.

CO Tom Oberg was on patrol when he encountered a 26-foot box truck stuck in the snow off a rural road in Otsego County. The driver got lost and attempted to turn around but got stuck in the snow. CO Oberg radioed Otsego County Central Dispatch and requested a tow company to the location to pull the truck out. Gaylord Towing responded and was able to remove the vehicle without incident.

COs Alex Bourgeois and Dan Liestenfeltz were patrolling Montmorency County. While patrolling the area surrounding the SnoDrift Rally Races, COs Bourgeois and Liestenfeltz observed a vehicle operating carelessly. CO Liestenfeltz conducted a traffic stop and it was discovered that the driver was intoxicated. He was subsequently arrested for operating while intoxicated (OWI).

CO Alex Bourgeois had received complaints of an individual snagging steelhead at the 9th Street Dam in the city of Alpena. CO Bourgeois watched numerous anglers at the dam fishing for steelhead. CO Bourgeois identified the suspect and proceeded to watch him for over an hour attempting to snag the steelhead. Although the suspect did not catch a steelhead during that time, CO Bourgeois contacted the man and issued a ticket for attempt to snag fish. The angler’s fishing equipment was also seized.

CO Dan Liestenfeltz received a complaint about a coyote hunter who had gotten very upset at a group of snowmobiles as they were driving by. He was belligerently yelling at the snowmobiles and then pointed a shotgun at two of the riders. CO Liestenfeltz was able to locate the individual and conduct an interview. The firearm was seized, and felonious assault charges are being requested with the Montmorency County Prosecutor’s Office.

CO Paul Fox checked several anglers on Grand Lake. CO Fox gave verbal warnings for failing to display ORV license and snow sticker. CO Fox also followed up with a subject who accidentally sunk his ORV and ice shanty in the lake. Both were removed.

CO Sidney LaLonde followed up with elk season incident reports. Three warrants were authorized in Otsego and Montmorency Counties for subjects who shot elk illegally in the December elk season. Two of the warrants were for subjects who killed two elk on one tag. The other warrant was for a subject who shot a spike bull on an antlerless elk tag.

CO Sidney LaLonde responded to a trapping complaint in Montmorency County. The complainant stated that they could see a live trap in a residential driveway that was not being checked every 24 hours. CO LaLonde investigated the area and found the trap as mentioned. The driveway to the residence and sidewalk was not plowed and was clear there were no tracks around the trap in the snow checking it. There was no animal in the trap at the time. CO LaLonde walked around the residence and found another live trap with a dead opossum in it. The opossum clearly had died from dehydration and starvation. CO LaLonde contacted the landowner who was in Florida at the time. The landowner stated he set the traps to catch skunks. CO LaLonde found that the owner set the traps over a month ago and did not check any of the traps. When asked what the subject planned to do if he caught something, his response was, “I did not think that far ahead.”  CO LaLonde is submitting a report to the prosecutor’s office for several charges including no name and address on trap, failure to check live traps within 24 hours, and animal cruelty.


CO Josiah Killingbeck and PCO Joseph Closser talked to a subject who wanted an incidental seal for a bobcat that was trapped out of season. The COs interviewed the subject and found out he was trapping on public land and using an illegal conibear trap that was set on dry ground. A report was sent to the Newaygo County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

CO Josiah Killingbeck and PCO Joseph Closser assisted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office with a fatal accident. The COs assisted with the resuscitation efforts, but the victim ended up succumbing to their injuries despite life saving measures being taken.

CO Josiah Killingbeck and PCO Joseph Closser observed an ORV operating on the roadway with a defective headlight and ORV licenses in a plastic bag affixed to the rear of the ORV. Contact was made and the COs determined the subject’s license was suspended. The subject stated his friends told him you did not need a valid driver’s license to operate an ORV. The COs educated and cited the subject for the violations.

CO Tim Barboza participated in an escort for an MSP trooper who had just returned home after a year-long deployment with the Army. The MSP, Newaygo County Sherriff’s Department, Fremont, Grant, and White Cloud Police Departments assisted escorting Trooper Stuart the last few miles home.

CO Josh Reed and PCO Jacob Robinson were conducting a patrol in Mecosta County when CO Reed received a complaint of a subject bragging about having over a hundred rabbits in the back of his truck that he had shot. PCO Robinson and CO Reed patrolled toward the last known location and while in route, the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline contacted CO Reed about a second caller with the same information. PCO Robinson observed a vehicle matching the suspect truck exiting a parking lot in the area the suspect’s vehicle was last reported. A traffic stop was initiated by PCO Robinson and upon approaching the truck, observed several rabbit feet sticking out from under a blanket in the bed area. The COs followed the suspect to his residence where several more rabbits would be located. Over a hundred cottontail rabbits were counted from the suspect’s truck and 37 more from the residence. The total number of rabbits in possession from the suspect totaled 151. The rabbits had been collected by the suspect from a rabbit hunting tournament in Ionia County. Charges are being sought from the Mecosta County Prosecutor’s Office for over-possession of rabbit. 


CO Jacob Hamilton was patrolling along Manistee Lake in Kalkaska County when he noticed a single tip-up about 100 yards out on the ice. He walked out to where the tip-up was but was not able to locate anyone fishing in the area and there was no identifying information on the tip-up. After fifteen minutes of waiting, he followed fresh tracks to a nearby residence where contact was made with a subject who claimed ownership of the tip-up. The angler had set the tip-up and went back to his house to watch a game on the television. CO Hamilton discussed the violations regarding lines not in immediate control and having no identification on tip-ups. Law enforcement action was taken.

CO Jeff Goss was on snowmobile patrol in Gladwin County when he stopped to take a break for a few minutes. With his snowmobile shut off, he could hear ORVs in the distance and it sounded like they were operating in an area that was closed to ORVs. CO Goss knew the area well and attempted to reach the ORVs with his snowmobile. Due to several blown down trees, he was unable to reach the ORV operators. He turned around and made a mile and a half loop a different way and was able to cut the ORV tracks and follow them. When CO Goss caught up to them, the five individuals were located at an illegal river crossing in the same closed area in which they were heard earlier. Violations included operating ORVs in a closed area, creating erosive conditions, and operating ORVs in a river/stream. Citations were issued for the violations.

CO Ryan Weakman was patrolling Clare County when he overheard radio traffic from sheriff deputies who were dispatched to a suicidal female who was possibly armed with a gun. CO Weakman met with deputies on scene. The officers were able to see the female through a window who appeared to be unconscious laying on a couch with a firearm in her hand. After formulating a plan, CO Weakman and the deputies made entry into the house while utilizing a ballistic shield and were able to safely disarm the female who regained consciousness. The female was transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.


COs Dan Robinson and Mike Haas were called to a possible trespassing complaint involving coyote hunters. The caller reported his field was damaged and there were shotgun shells on the roadway and in the field. The COs arrived shortly after the call was received and interviewed the coyote hunters who denied being involved. However, they told the COs they witnessed a vehicle being towed out of the ditch. After further investigation with the towing company, the COs were able to get an address as to where the unreported damaged vehicle was towed to after the crash. The investigation led to an interview with the driver admitting that he crashed the truck the night before and that the shotgun shells were his which dumped out of the truck when it was rolled back onto its wheels. Several warnings were issued, and a report written regarding the crash.


CO Rob Slick was on patrol when he received a complaint of an individual shooting squirrels and songbirds on a feeder from a window. CO Slick responded to the address to contact the suspect. As CO Slick knocked on the door, he heard the window open and looked around the corner of the house. He could see the barrel of a pellet rifle sticking out and then the suspect shot. CO Slick knocked louder, and the suspect came to the door. CO Slick obtained his identification and asked if he had a hunting license. The individual stated that he did not. CO Slick returned to the vehicle and ran him through law enforcement information network (LEIN). CO Slick issued a citation for the not having a hunting license and warned him for no hunter orange and violation of the safety zone requirements.


CO Olivia Moeller assisted the Coldwater Police Department, MSP, and the Branch County Sheriff’s Department with a bomb threat at Walmart. The threat is believed to be part of the swatting calls that have been occurring lately. There was no bomb. Other agencies are handling the report.

Sgt. Rich Nickols reports that a suspect in Clinton County that he obtained a warrant for last fall for an over-limit of bucks has pleaded guilty to the charge. Total reimbursement of $12,500 was assessed.

CO Lisa Taube responded to a RAP complaint of a captive bobcat at a residence in Livingston County. It was determined the three year old bobcat was purchased out of state, through a breeder, prior to moving to Michigan. With the help of the Department’s permit specialist, CO Taube assisted the owner in completing an application to be permitted to keep the bobcat in captivity while living in Michigan. Once approved, a site visit and inspection will be completed.

CO John Byars responded to an active shooter at Okemos High School in Okemos Michigan. The call reported an in progress active shooter. CO Byars assisted other police agencies with clearing and securing the school. CO Byars remained on scene for several hours while other specialty teams conducted a thorough sweep and search of the school once all students and faculty were evacuated. The event was later determined to have been a swatting hoax.

CO Marc Mankowski responded to the active shooter incident at Michigan State University. CO Mankowski was part of a team consisting of the MSP, Livingston County Sheriff’s deputies, and a St. Johns police officer who responded to multiple calls and building checks around campus throughout the night.


After receiving a tip from CO Ed Rice, COs Ariel Young, Dan Walzak, and Martin Lawrence followed up and interviewed a subject who was under suspicion for purchasing licenses after harvesting two deer. During the interview, the subject unknowingly uncovered a third illegal deer from a different subject. The remaining meat from all three deer were seized after gaining confessions and donated to a local VFW. Charges are being sought through the prosecutor’s office.

CO Sydney Griffor found a suspiciously harvested 9-point buck during a game processor inspection. It appears the hunter shot the buck, then purchased his deer hunting license after the fact. COs Griffor and Bobby Watson interviewed the hunter. At first, the hunter denied buying his hunting license after the fact. The hunter stuck to his story of getting out late hunting on opening day of the firearm season then shooting the buck within 15 minutes of getting out to his blind. After further investigation, the hunter finally admitted to shooting the buck thinking it was a doe then bought his buck tag after the fact. The rack was seized as evidence. A report will be submitted to the prosecutor.

CO Brandon Hartleben observed a group of waterfowl hunters in a cut corn field along the Huron River during the late-late goose season while patrolling Washtenaw County. A check of the licenses and equipment of the large group of hunters revealed a subject hunting without a Federal Migratory Bird Stamp and another individual hunting without a state waterfowl license. Both subjects were issued citations for the violations.

CO Eric Smither assisted the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office on a possible suicidal subject known to frequent Lake Hudson Recreation Area. CO Smither located the subject’s vehicle parked in the recreation area and advised Lenawee Central Dispatch of the location. CO Smither assisted the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office and Morenci Police Department on a short search of the surrounding area before the subject was located safely near the boat launch by deputies. The subject was transported to the hospital by family.

While working Belle Isle, CO Dan Walzak was passed by a car travelling at upwards of 70 miles per hour. Immediately after passing the patrol vehicle, the car passed another two vehicles – without using turn signals – at close to the same speed and weaving in and out of traffic. CO Walzak activated his emergency lights and was able to bring the car to a stop. Upon contacting the driver, CO Walzak advised him of the reason why he was stopped and asked the driver if he knew what the speed limit was on the island. The driver stated that he knew that the speed limit was 25 miles per hour, but he liked to drive fast and knew that Belle Isle was sometimes used as a racecourse (Grand Prix). CO Walzak collected the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, and returned to his patrol vehicle. There, he ran the driver through the LEIN system and found that the driver had a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest for failing to appear on a charge of retail fraud. The issuing agency requested that CO Walzak advise and release the driver. CO Walzak advised the driver of the warrant and released him with a citation for careless driving.


Cpl. Troy Van Gelderen assisted USFWS agents in Jackson with an interview of a subject who had illegally purchased a giant snakehead fish from out of state.

Cpls. Troy Van Gelderen and Justin Vanderlinde conducted numerous bait shop inspections throughout Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, and Montcalm Counties.  One bait shop was found to have numerous game fish in their minnow tanks. A warning was issued, and the fish were seized.