Gov. Whitmer Declares Conservation Officer Appreciation Day


Conservation Officer Richard Cardenas talks to a group of hunters in Barry County as he checks their hunting licenses. Courtesy MDNR.

To recognize the hard work and dedication of the 250 conservation officers who patrol all 83 counties in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared March 15 as Conservation Officer Appreciation Day.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers and receive specialized training to safeguard natural resources and ensure the safety of people who use them. Their duties include enforcing laws related to hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor activities. These officers also play a critical role in protecting endangered species and preserving the state's biodiversity. They are integral to the state's law enforcement services, maintaining the delicate balance between preserving natural resources and allowing people to enjoy them responsibly.

Conservation Officer Anna Cullen presents a fur kit to group of Girl Scouts in Muskegon County. Courtesy MDNR.

“Michigan’s conservation officers are in the field every day, working hard to protect our state’s natural resources – our fish, wildlife, parks and forests – and the visitors who enjoy them,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Conservation Officer Appreciation Day is an opportunity to recognize these men and women for their service, bravery and commitment to safe, positive outdoor recreation experiences and sustainable natural resources. It also might inspire a new generation to explore careers in DNR law enforcement.”

The proclamation, in part, reads:

The State of Michigan considers the protection of its citizens, environment and cultural and natural resources to be among its highest priorities.

Our state is fortunate to have the leadership and protection of conservation officers in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division in these noble pursuits.

Conservation officers continuously adapt to successfully meet emerging challenges, accept new missions and deliver premier customer service.

Conservation officers are motivated, highly trained and fully commissioned law enforcement officers, working every day to protect our cultural and natural resources, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

The men and women who serve as conservation officers can be found in every county of our state, serving with bravery, honor and distinction in locations ranging from urban communities to the deep woods and the Great Lakes.

Founded in 1887, the DNR Law Enforcement Division is Michigan’s oldest law enforcement agency. In 2022, DNR conservation officers contacted nearly 440,000 people. Contacts can be unpredictable—responding to off-road vehicle trespassing, hunting and firearms violations, search and rescue, checking game licenses, traffic stops, responding to vehicle crashes, celebrating a young angler’s first catch, visiting classrooms, investigations, and a myriad of other calls. Their shift might begin at 3 a.m., gearing up in green with hunter orange and silently leaving home before anyone else is awake to be in the woods for the first shots of opening day.

Conservation Officer Tim Rosochacki was a guest reader at the Topinabee Public Library in Indian River. Courtesy MDNR.

The DNR's mission is at the heart of their work, “committed to the conservation, protection, management, use, and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.”

Conservation Officers are also called “Game Wardens.” Etymology online defines a “warden” as “one who guards.” As front-line protectors of Michigan’s lakes, rivers and streams, fish and wildlife, and historical resources, they help ensure that outdoor recreation enthusiasts can safely enjoy their pursuits and that the land will be preserved for the next generation.

“Our Michigan conservation officers do it all, and with tremendous pride and dedication to the people and resources they protect,” said DNR Acting Director Shannon Lott. “To the men and women who patrol in green, and then transition to coaching their child’s sports team, caring for a sick parent or spouse, serving the military on their days off, or selflessly embracing life’s other daily demands – thank you. You are appreciated.”

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