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Conservation Officer (CO) Byron Parks and Corporal (Cpl.) Tom Peterson participated in the 14th annual MI-TRALE Fall Color Tour off-road vehicle (ORV) ride held at the Twin Lakes State Park. The event offers senior citizens an opportunity to take a free ride on the ORV trail from Twin Lakes State Park to the Greenland Fairgrounds to enjoy the fall colors.
CO Byron Parks attended a trapping clinic at the Portage Lake Sportsman’s Club hosted by UP Trappers. CO Parks went over trapping regulations and shared with the class his experiences out in the field as a conservation officer related to trapping.
CO Jenni Hanson received a call regarding someone who had dumped a pile of tires on county owned land in north Ironwood. The reporting party was able to get pictures of the suspect and his vehicle, who was later identified as an Ironwood resident. CO Hanson was able to track down the suspect and before she could conduct an interview, the suspect stated, “I know this is about the tires. I already went back there and cleaned them up. Just tell me how much the fine is.” The suspect was issued a citation for litter.
CO Alex VanWagner responded to a field in Iron County after a hunter fell from his elevated blind while crop damage hunting. The landowner discovered the subject, unconscious on the ground, and summoned emergency assistance. CO VanWagner assisted at the scene, along with Michigan State Police (MSP) troopers, Iron County sheriff’s deputies, emergency medical services, and the local fire department. The subject was transported to the hospital and treated for his injuries.
CO Anna Viau attended Community Heroes Night at a local Iron County school. The event was held to showcase local first responder agencies to the school’s preschoolers and their families. Other agencies attending were the Iron County Sheriff’s Department, Iron County Central Dispatch, and the West Iron County Fire Department. The kids had fun checking out CO Viau’s truck and the other vehicles and assisted the firefighters in spraying water.
COs Alex VanWagner and Jared Ferguson responded to a residence in Menominee County to assist other law enforcement agencies and locals with a search for a missing two year old girl who walked away from her house with two dogs. The COs utilized ORVs to search an extensive trail network near the residence. Fortunately, the girl was located near the dogs a few miles away from the home by a member of the search party. She was safely returned with no injuries.
While on patrol in Marquette County, COs Jackson Kelly and John Kamps saw a truck parked near the Yellow Dog River which was closed to fishing for the season. The COs saw someone fishing under the bridge and when contacted it was discovered that the angler did not have a fishing license. The COs remembered that they had written a citation to the same angler earlier in the year for fishing without a license. The COs issued a citation for fishing without a license and for fishing on a closed trout stream.
COs Brandon Maki and Andrea Dani presented at the Chatham Michigan State University Farm Agripalooza. Students were taught about a day in the life of a conservation officer in Michigan. The COs also showed the students various basic survival equipment that they should take on hunts and hikes to properly navigate and endure the elements should they need to use it.
CO Steve Butzin was on patrol in Garden Township when he encountered several hunters that he initially believed to be small game hunting. When contacted it was discovered that they were hunting whitetail deer during a closed season. The hunters read in the digest that early antlerless season was September 16th and 17th but failed to read the rest of the information pertaining to this hunt, that it only takes place in certain areas of the Lower Peninsula and on private lands. Further investigation found a total of six firearms that were either uncased or loaded while in their motor vehicle. Citations were issued for the possession of the loaded or uncased firearms in the motor vehicle and one hunter was arrested and lodged in the Delta County Jail for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.
COs Robert Freeborn and Michael Evink conducted a presentation to the local chapter of the Manistique Rotary. A wide-ranging number of topics were discussed.
CO Justin Vinson received a complaint that a hunter had accidentally shot two bears. CO Vinson responded to the area and met with the hunter. CO Vinson inspected both bears and quickly determined them to be very small cubs. When the suspect was questioned about shooting both bears, the suspect said he believed he missed the first one and then five minutes later another bear showed up and he shot that one as well. A report is being submitted to the Mackinac County Prosecutor's Office requesting charges for taking an over-limit of bear and taking cub bears.
Sgt. Calvin Smith met with five volunteers from AmeriCorp who are currently working on updating trails in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Sgt. Smith gave a small presentation on the job duties of a conservation officer and answered several questions on their day-to-day duties.
CO Paul Fox assisted Presque Isle County sheriff deputies with a highly intoxicated subject who was being disorderly in the city of Onaway. The subject was arrested for disorderly conduct and lodged in the Presque Isle County Jail.
CO Dan Liestenfeltz was patrolling in Montmorency County when he observed a set of tire tracks in a ditch that continued down into the tree line. CO Liestenfeltz turned around to see if there was a vehicle in the ditch and when he did, another passerby stopped and stated they saw a truck in the trees. CO Liestenfeltz contacted the driver and determined there were no injuries. The driver, who was the only occupant of the vehicle, stated they had swerved to miss a deer and lost control of the vehicle. CO Liestenfeltz observed signs of intoxication when speaking with the driver and standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) were administered. The driver failed all sobriety tests and blew three times the legal limit on the preliminary breath test (PBT). The subject was lodged and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI).
COs Jon Sheppard and Alex Bourgeois attended Hunter’s Roundup in Hubbard Lake. The COs spent several hours at the event speaking to hunters in the area and answering their questions.
COs William Kinney and Todd Bunce were patrolling the Platte River in Benzie County for salmon fishing activity. The COs observed an angler catch a salmon and place it on a stringer. Upon contact, the angler could not produce a fishing license. It was discovered the angler had not purchased a fishing license since 2018. It was also discovered the angler had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear. The warrant had originated from a fishing violation ticket issued by CO Kinney back in 2018. The angler was arrested on the warrant and issued a citation by CO Kinney for fishing without a license.
COs Breanna Garrett, James Garrett, Joseph Deppen, Andrew Monnich, Robert Freeborn, Scott MacNeill, Sam Koscinski, Josiah Killingbeck, Ryan Andrews, Kyle Publiski, Brian Brosky, and Sgt. Grant Emery conducted a group patrol. A total of 145 citations were issued for snagging, no fishing licenses, fishing closed waters, retaining foul hooked fish, trespassing, illegal fishing gear, expired motor vehicle registration, litter, ORV violations, and taking fish by use of a net. Over 300 additional warnings were given, with nearly $4,000 of restitution requested on top of the fines and costs for these citations.
While working salmon fishing activities on Bear Creek in Manistee County, Sgt. Grant Emery, and CO Joseph Deppen located an unattended campfire that was slowly burning in the peat moss near an illegal campsite. CO Deppen borrowed a cooler from some anglers along the creek to transport water over to the fire scene to extinguish it.
CO Ben Shively was requested to assist a Michigan State Police (MSP) trooper who was investigating the theft of numerous kayaks out of Newaygo County. CO Shively responded to the suspect’s residence and assisted with locating hull identification numbers on the five kayaks at the residence and the vehicle identification number on a snowmobile in a garage. The suspect had an outstanding felony warrant for felonious assault, so the officers took him into custody. The suspect was found to have brass knuckles in his back pocket while being searched and was in possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged at the Oceana County Jail. The investigation into the thefts is ongoing.
COs Brad Bellville and Kyle Bader attended the West Branch Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse/American Woodcock Society banquet in Ogemaw County. The COs answered questions, made contacts, and took a few complaints. Bird hunters cover a lot of ground and have an opportunity to happen across many violations.
COs Jon Warner, Tyler Sabuda, Jeff Panich, Jesse Grzechowski, Casey Pullum, Kyle Bader, and Sgt. Bobbi Lively held a hunter safety field day in Oscoda County. In attendance were 24 students who successfully passed the course.
COs Jon Warner, Tyler Sabuda, and Craig Neal assisted the Arenac County Sheriff's Department in a body recovery on Charity Island. A Department of Natural Resources (DNR) patrol boat was used to transport law enforcement, as well as medical staff, to the island to recover the victim and bring them back to shore for further investigation. The case was investigated by the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department.
While on patrol in Clare County, COs Ryan Weakman and Joshua Russell contacted a helmetless ORV rider that they had observed traveling down the center of a county road. The operator showed signs of intoxication and SFSTs were conducted. The operator was arrested for OWI and lodged in the Clare County Jail.
While on patrol in Clare County, CO Ryan Weakman observed a subject operating a side-by-side in a closed area. When contacted, the operator exhibited signs of intoxication which led to CO Weakman conducting SFSTs. The operator was arrested for OWI 2nd offense and transported to the Clare County Jail by sheriff’s deputies that were assisting on scene.
COs Adam Beuthin and Nick McNamee were checking waterfowl hunters on the Saginaw Bay when they contacted a group of hunters hunting near Nayanquing Point. When checking the hunters’ shotguns to see if they were properly plugged, CO Beuthin was able to put four shotgun shells into one of the hunter’s shotguns. Enforcement action was taken, and the individual was issued a citation for hunting waterfowl with a firearm capable of holding more than three rounds.
CO Jacob Robinson received an active complaint about subjects operating vehicles in a closed area of state land. The CO patrolled to the venue and found the vehicles about a mile back in from where they entered. One of the vehicles was stuck in the mud and unable to move. The CO addressed the violations and citations were issued to both subjects for operating in a closed area.
COs Adam Schiller and Michael Lator were contacted by Gratiot County Central Dispatch regarding a lost individual in the Maple River State Game Area (SGA). The individual’s wife called dispatch stating that she had not heard from him for a couple hours and the sun had set. The individual was going into the state game area to hang a tree strand for the upcoming deer season. The COs responded to the area, met with Gratiot Sheriff’s deputies and local fire/rescue, and devised a plan to begin searching. Within approximately 30 minutes, the COs located the individual at the base of a tree. He was not able to speak or respond to the COs, had labored breathing, a laceration to the head, and bruising/swelling. Once the COs evaluated the patient, it was determined that a medical helicopter would be needed, and the COs requested a helicopter through central dispatch. The COs were able to provide medical attention to the individual to keep him stable until other medical personnel arrived on scene. Once medical personnel took over treating the patient, the COs lit a path through the woods so incoming medical personnel could find the patient. The patient was loaded onto a rescue basket and the COs assisted in carrying the patient 300 yards out of the woods to the roadway where the patient was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a medical helicopter that had landed down the road in an open field.
COs Anna Cullen and Casey Varriale were patrolling at night on federal land near Oceana County when they observed two individuals walking along a forest road. COs Cullen and Varriale approached the individuals and quickly determined their vehicle was down an embankment, crashed into a tree. The COs determined the operator of the vehicle was intoxicated. A search warrant was obtained for the operator’s blood. Charges are being sought for OWI.
CO Anna Cullen was investigating a baiting complaint that was received earlier in the year. With the start of archery season, CO Cullen followed up on the complaint and observed a pop-up blind with a feeder next to it. CO Cullen contacted the homeowner who admitted the feeder was active and gave consent to investigate further. CO Cullen observed turkey feathers in the corn near the feeder. The hunter advised that a turkey was shot over the bait the previous evening. The bird was seized, and charges are being sought for taking a turkey over bait.
COs Mark Reffitt and Jeremy Beavers were working the coho salmon run on the Grand River in Ionia County when they noticed a boat with invalid registration decals anchored at a popular area dam. The COs set up surveillance on the three boat anglers who were attempting to catch salmon that had made it up into the spillway of the dam. The COs observed the individuals for nearly three hours and CO Reffitt noted the number of salmon that each of the anglers had caught and kept. One angler was having more success than the others and the COs watched him catch and keep more than the individual limit of five salmon and continue to catch and keep fish. After making contact, CO Reffitt asked this subject how many fish the group had. The subject stated, “a couple.” When the COs asked to see their catch for the day, another individual in the group pulled out a stringer with 11 coho salmon attached to it. CO Reffitt noted that this was more than “a couple” and CO Beavers pressed each angler on how many they caught and kept. One subject was truthful right away and stated he only caught one, while another gave several different answers ranging from two to five before eventually admitting to one as well. The remaining angler who had been observed catching nearly all the fish admitted to catching more than his legal limit and was cited for taking an over-limit of coho salmon. He also received warnings for improper boat registration decals and for failing to display a fishing license upon request of a peace officer.
CO Jason McCullough was following up on a timber theft investigation at a lumber mill when he observed a subject unloading some logs. After confirming with the mill owner who the subject was, CO McCullough recognized him as a subject that was charged with timber theft in Jackson County and did not have a valid license to drive. Further investigation revealed the subject’s truck was not registered and did not have insurance and the trailer had an improper plate and broken taillights. In addition, the subject could not provide paperwork proving the point of origin for the logs he was selling. The truck and trailer were impounded, and charges are pending with the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.
CO Marc Mankowski received a Report All Poaching complaint of a hunter who had several mineral blocks set out. The complainant notified CO Mankowski that the suspect’s vehicle was parked at the property. CO Mankowski located the suspect and called him by his name. The suspect asked, “How do you know my name?” CO Mankowski replied, “I wrote you a ticket one year ago today for shooting an illegal deer, so I thought I’d come see you on our anniversary.” The suspect then stated, “Well I’m all legit this year.” Moments later, three baiting sites were found on the property and a citation was issued for baiting.
COs Cullen Knoblauch and Thomas Jaakkola checked a baited tree stand in the Sharonville SGA on the archery opener. COs Knoblauch and Jaakkola located a hunter in the tree stand hunting over bait. The hunter was educated on the dates that tree stands can be placed on state land due to the stand being left on state land for the last year. The hunter was cited for baiting in a closed area.
COs Martin Lawrence, Danny Walzak, and Keven Luther all participated in the DNR’s annual “Hunters of Color” event. The event was hosted by the DNR’s Dr. Kathy Garland on Belle Isle Park. Thanks to the Department collaboration and participation of many interested future hunters, the event once again was a success.
CO Dave Schaumburger assisted the MSP with a driver who fled the scene of a roll-over crash and was seen carrying a long gun along the freeway. The CO assisted the units in locating the subject who was holed up in the woods nearby. A K-9 found the subject who was all bloodied up from the accident. A long gun was never recovered; however, a pistol was found in the car.
CO Cody Bourgeois was on patrol when he observed a vehicle from the prior week at a popular goose hunting pond. The prior week, the CO gave the hunter several warnings for hunting violations. The CO decided to sneak down to the edge of the water and wait for the hunter to make sure he learned from the week prior. The CO was able to observe the hunter, in a kayak paddling around looking for geese, with a shotgun across his lap. CO Bourgeois observed the hunter hunt after legal shooting hours by approximately 10 minutes. Then after an additional 10 minutes, the hunter paddled back to the launch. On contact, the CO asked for his gun knowing the hunter had yet to unload it. The CO asked the young hunter why it was still loaded, and the hunter had no answer. CO Bourgeois explained not only the safety issues behind the loaded firearm, but explained to the hunter that by having a loaded firearm after hours he was considered to be hunting after hunting hours ended. Furthermore, after a waterfowl check, the hunter did not have his federal duck stamp on his person when hunting. Additionally, he did not have a personal flotation device (PFD) in the kayak. The hunter was cited for hunting after hours and given warnings for the other violations that had occurred.
COs Joshua Salas and Cody Bourgeois were on foot patrol on some International Transmission Company (ITC) property when an individual contacted the COs to ask what they were up to. The COs informed the individual that they were going to be walking the power company property looking for trespassing activity. The individual stated, “Okay, well if you are going that way, I’m not going to lie to you guys I have a ton of corn out there.” The COs had the individual lead them to the area and the individual admitted that he had placed a few gallons of corn out to attract deer to the area prior to the opening of bow season. The individual was cited for the violation.
CO Joshua Salas was on patrol for waterfowl activity when he observed some individuals still out after hours. The CO could hear the individuals blowing calls approximately 10 minutes after hunting hours ended. The CO checked the individuals when they came in and discovered that one individual possessed a loaded firearm after hours, a loaded firearm on a motorboat under power, and the other individual possessed an unplugged shotgun. Both individuals were cited for their violations.
CO Luke Robare worked the archery deer opening day and checked a baited hunting site that he located before season. CO Robare was able to contact the hunter in the field. The hunter was hunting over bait, trespassing, and did not have his tags in his possession. CO Robare issued the hunter a citation.
While running radar on Belle Isle, CO Dave Schaumburger stopped a vehicle going 62 mph in a 25-mph zone. The driver begged the CO not to give him a ticket since he just cleared his record of all his previous tickets. The CO did indeed issue him a ticket for speeding and after handing the ticket over, the driver was visibly upset with the CO even though he gave him a huge break. The driver stated that the CO should have known that he can drive well since he could have fled from the CO with no problem.
CO Brandon Hartleben was working on Belle Isle and conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driving the wrong way on The Strand near the US Coast Guard Station. The vehicle had a Wisconsin registration, and both the operator and passenger were Palestinian Nationals with International Driver’s Licenses. While trying to determine if the vehicle had insurance, Sgt. Seth Rhodea arrived on-scene and advised that he had just passed a US Border Patrol (USBP) unit on the island. While Sgt. Rhodea followed-up with the USBP, it was determined that the vehicle did not have insurance. The USBP then arrived on-scene and determined that the operator was also overdue on his temporary visa by over a year. CO Hartleben issued the operator a citation for No Insurance and warned him for the wrong-way operation. CO Hartleben then turned over the subject to the USBP who took him into custody for further processing.
CO Nicholas Ingersoll and PCO Elliot Worel stopped a vehicle for traveling 62 mph in a 25 mph zone on Belle Isle. The 20 year-old driver provided the COs with a driver’s license from Indiana. After realizing this, the driver asked for it back stating he gave the wrong one. The COs obtained his valid Michigan driver's license and confirmed the Indiana driver’s license was a fake identification. The driver was issued a citation for speeding and his fake identification card was confiscated and his parents were notified of their son possessing the fake identification.
Environmental Investigation Section (EIS)
On 7/7/22, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) staff received a complaint of a diesel fuel spill at the Port Austin State Harbor. DNR CO Matt Neterer responded to the scene and began the initial investigation which revealed the following. A Huron County man docked his vessel at the fuel pier to refuel. He refused to allow the dockhands to come onto his vessel and said he would refuel himself. This led to approximately 30 gallons of diesel fuel being released to the water. CO Neterer contacted Detective Quincy Gowenlock with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Environmental Investigation Section (EIS) and requested that he take over the investigation. Detective Gowenlock contacted witnesses who told him they saw the vessel operator use an object and wedge it into the gas pump handle to keep it pumping without holding it. The vessel operator then walked away and tended to other things on his vessel while fuel was being dispensed. Soon after, the odor of diesel fuel could be smelled, and a large sheen was witnessed on the water. Due to the vessel owner’s failure to tend the pump, the vessel’s fuel tank became full and discharged approximately 30 gallons of diesel fuel into the harbor. A plea agreement was reached with the Huron County Prosecutor’s Office and the vessel’s owner. The owner plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation for discharging oil substance into the waters of this state. In return for his guilty plea, the prosecuting attorney agreed to dismiss a felony charge. The vessel’s owner was ordered by the court to pay $2,500 in restitution to the Fish and Game Fund.