Aug. 20, 2019
Michigan DNR conservation officers with poached Canada geese, in the back of a pickup truckEight men from Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties recently were arraigned in the 42nd District Court in New Baltimore on poaching charges stemming from Michigan’s 2018 waterfowl season. The group collectively was ordered to pay fines of more than $18,500 in reimbursement for species protection and other court costs. Those arraigned were:
The men pleaded guilty to taking an over limit of geese and failure to retrieve game. Each was ordered to pay $2,312.50 in reimbursement for the illegally harvested birds, in addition to court costs and fines.
In early October, Conservation Officer Joseph Deppen – named as the Mississippi Flyway Council’s 2019 Michigan Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year – received an anonymous complaint about significant waterfowl dumping into a private pond near Chesterfield.
“Hunting waterfowl is a challenging sport,” said the DNR’s Lt. Todd Szyska. “Hunters know their stuff. A lot of skillful hunters look at migration patterns and waterfowl activity. This tipster knew it wasn’t normal for geese to be piling in day after day to this location, and suspected illegal baiting.”
Working Macomb County, Deppen has a large area to patrol, much of it favorable waterfowl habitat. He began investigating the area near where the complaint originated and found large amounts of illegal bait spread on the south side of the pond.
Deppen coordinated with local conservation officers, including Szyska, Kris Kiel and Brad Silorey, initiating surveillance Oct. 11 and eventually observing eight hunters setting up decoys and entering a box blind facing the pond. The hunters illegally harvested multiple geese and mallards. They also did not retrieve all of their shot game in the field, which is illegal.
After the hunters had taken approximately 20 geese, Deppen and Silorey observed two hunters carrying geese and placing them in the bed of a nearby pickup truck, then returning to the box blind to continue to hunt. After a few hours, officers approached the hunters and conducted regulatory checks. When asked about any additional geese, the hunters denied shooting more than what was in their possession.
During individual interviews, the hunters confessed to taking a total of 33 Canada geese – 21 lying on the ground near the blind and 12 hidden in the back of a pickup truck. The daily limit at the time was three Canada geese per person, meaning the hunters were nine over limit. Conservation officers confiscated the game and firearms from the hunters and ticketed them for illegally taking waterfowl.
“This was an important case that required a lot of follow-up in court,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Southeast Michigan is an important waterfowl resource to the state and region. I commend the anonymous tipster who reported this complaint. Because of good citizens like this, our officers can help preserve game for deserving, fair hunters.”
Lt. Szyska described Deppen as a passionate and hard worker who covers as much ground as possible during his shifts.
“Deppen has been known to split his shifts to patrol waterfowl game areas in the morning and in the evening,” Szyska said. “He has been with the division for three years and has worked hard, taking extra initiative to perfect his waterfowl enforcement skills early in his career while also taking care of his family. Every day, Deppen goes to work with a plan to make the most of his patrol hours.”
The 2019 waterfowl season begins Sept. 1. Reserved hunt applications for the waterfowl period will be accepted through Aug. 28. Refer to the 2019 Waterfowl Digest for particular species and zone season details.
If you witness or suspect a natural resource violation, call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline, available 24/7, at 800-292-7800. Learn more about Michigan’s conservation officers at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.
Kiel-Deppen-Silorey-Szyska-October 2018: (Left to right): Michigan DNR conservation officers Kris Kiel, Joseph Deppen, Brad Silorey and Todd Szyska observed eight hunters illegally take 33 Canada geese – nine over the daily limit.
Deppen-Burton-award-August 2019: Chief Steve Burton, assistant chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, presents Conservation Officer Joseph Deppen as the 2019 Michigan Waterfowl Officer of the Year