MDNR Enforcement Report, April 3 – 17

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Photo: Michigan Conservation Officer Assoc. Facebook

By Doug Marrin

Region 1

CO Jared Ferguson received a call of a kayaker stuck on float ice on an inland lake in Dickinson County. CO Ferguson responded to the call and found the kayaker had broken free of the ice but was unable to paddle back to his vehicle's location. CO Jared Ferguson loaded his kayak in the back of his patrol truck and transported the kayaker back across the lake to his vehicle. The gentleman was very shaken and stated he could not have gone back out due to his nerves and fatigue.

CO Jeffrey Dell checked a boat and kayak coming into a launch along a local river. No personal flotation devices (PFDs) were in either the boat or the kayak for the three subjects aboard. Upon further inspection CO Dell observed two beaver traps in the front of the boat that were tagged with another's name. When asked, the operator of the boat claimed he believed beaver trapping to have ended and had taken the traps to turn in to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). CO Dell informed him that the season was still open and that he was not permitted to take the traps even if the season was closed. A citation for failure to provide enough PFDs was issued. The owner of the traps elected not to press charges for theft and trapper harassment.

Region 2

CO Todd Sumbera and Sergeant (Sgt.) Calvin Smith worked a remote stream in Chippewa County that walleye spawn in. Not long after the COs arrived, they observed two individuals approach the stream and start spearing walleye. The COs contacted both individuals and after a brief investigation the duo confessed to making multiple trips to the stream to spear the spawning walleye. An additional sack that was hidden in the woods contained 16 walleye that the pair had speared earlier. In total the pair had speared 26 walleyes. A report has been submitted to the prosecuting attorney requesting charges for illegal take of walleye, take walleye out of season, possess more than five walleyes, fish in a closed stream, and possess spear on a designated trout stream. All 26 walleyes, two spears, and one landing net were seized.

CO Mike Olesen was on patrol when a call from Chippewa Central Dispatch came out of a grass fire that was out of control. CO Olesen responded and upon his arrival volunteer fire departments from both Dafter and Soo Township, along with staff from the Michigan DNR Fire Division had the 12 acre fire contained. CO Olesen interviewed the homeowner who started the fire to burn some yard debris when the strong wind quickly spread the fire. A report has been submitted to the Chippewa County prosecutor requesting charges for burning without a permit and for failing to prevent the spread of a fire.

CO Mark Zitnik contacted a man at his camp in Schoolcraft County who had an arrest warrant for poaching a bear in June of 2020. The arrest warrant is from an investigation led by CO Andrea Dani back in September of 2020's bear season. CO Dani received a complaint that a subject was up at his camp and had shot a bear out of season. CO Dani followed up and located evidence of the crime and had COs from the home area of the suspect conduct an interview. A full confession was received that the hunter shot the bear in June and put his 2016 bear seal on the animal and brought it to a local taxidermist. The warrant was served, and a $500 bond was posted.

CO Andrea Dani received a report of a car versus moose accident on M-28 near Deerton. The driver was not injured in the crash, and a report was completed by Michigan State Police. CO Dani collected the moose, which was killed in the crash, for Wildlife Division biologists to conduct a necropsy and collect data.

Region 3

CO Tom Oberg responded with the MSP and Otsego County Sheriff's Department to a call of an intoxicated armed subject threatening his girlfriend. The girlfriend was able to get away from him and make her way to a nearby road to call 911. Once on scene, a deputy was able to locate the subject driving in the middle of a farm field and was able to get him stopped and detained. CO Oberg and an MSP trooper interviewed the girlfriend who only had minor injuries. The suspect was taken into custody for driving under the influence along with other pending charges.

CO Tom Oberg was sitting stationary patrol off a closed trail to ORVs. Shortly after getting set up, CO Oberg noticed a dirt bike approaching him on the closed trail. CO Oberg made a traffic stop on the dirt bike. He explained to the rider he had just drove past a sign that stated, "No ORVs" after making contact. Upon checking the subject through Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), CO Oberg found the subject to have a felony warrant for dangerous drugs out of Otsego County. CO Oberg placed the subject in custody and transported him to the Otsego County jail.

While on patrol in Alpena County, COs Jon Sheppard and Jessica Curtis responded to a 911 hang up and possible domestic violence situation. Central dispatch gave a suspect description and advised officers and the COs that he had left the scene. Acting on a tip, COs Sheppard and Curtis responded to a hunting camp in the area. The COs located the suspect at the camp and detained him for questioning. He was turned over to MSP for further investigation.

CO Sidney Collins reports an illegal bobcat case that resulted in a guilty verdict. The bobcat was taken out of season in Montmorency County. The subject caught the bobcat in a foothold trap while targeting coyote. The subject admitted to killing the bobcat before season after the bobcat was found in the subject's freezer. The subject paid $500 in restitution and lost their hunting privileges for one year.

CO Sidney Collins responded to assist Montmorency County deputies with a suicidal subject. The older gentleman was having some health issues and wanted to scare his daughter after an argument by putting knives up to his neck. CO Collins and deputies were able to calm the gentleman and get him in for a mental evaluation at a local hospital.

CO Sidney Collins was just ending her shift in Montmorency County when she saw a person pop up in the bed of a pickup truck on a 65 miles per hour (mph) highway. CO Collins made a traffic stop on the vehicle. Once the vehicle was stopped, a woman and small child popped their heads up from the pickup truck bed. CO Collins asked the driver why the person and small child were not in the vehicle with seat belts on. The driver replied that they "were on two tracks just going for a ride". CO Collins explained the importance of seatbelts, especially with a child on a fast-moving highway. CO Collins told the driver anything could happen, a deer jumping in the way, a vehicle hitting them, etc. The driver was issued a ticket for failing to provide a seatbelt for a child.

Region 4

CO Josiah Killingbeck, while on patrol, observed a subject fishing on a trout stream that is closed to fishing. CO Killingbeck contacted the subject who said he knew the stream was closed to possessing fish, but he thought he could still fish there if he released the fish he caught. The subject complained that every river and stream access points should have signs saying they are closed or open. CO Killingbeck explained how to look at trout maps and when trout season opens. A citation was issued for Fishing in a Closed Stream.

On Sunday morning, April 11, CO Scott MacNeill responded to a medical emergency of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound at a shooting range on U.S. Forest Service land in Manistee County. MacNeill was the first responder on scene and located a man with a single .40 caliber wound to his thigh. The man had plugged the hole with his finger in an attempt to stop the bleeding. As CO MacNeill examined the wound, he realized that due to amount of blood that was pooled up in his leg, the bullet had struck an artery and the bullet had not exited. CO MacNeill immediately knew the wound was life threatening and quickly used a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. The man was transported to an emergency trauma unit for further emergency procedures.

Region 5

CO Tyler Sabuda was patrolling after dark in Iosco County when he came across an individual trespassing while fishing. CO Sabuda conducted surveillance on the angler and saw him keep and hide two fish, which he could identify as walleye due to the fisherman's headlamp. CO Sabuda and Oscoda Township Officer Heath made a traffic stop on the suspect as he drove away. The individual immediately stated he had no walleye before CO Sabuda asked any questions. Officer Heath dealt with the driver being suspended while CO Sabuda located the fish stashed by the suspect. The individual was issued a citation for recreational trespass and taking walleye during the closed season. The assisting officer charged the individual for operating on a suspended license.

CO Tyler Sabuda was patrolling after dark in Iosco County when he observed some anglers fishing an area where walleye had been spawning. CO Sabuda observed the anglers for multiple hours when one of them finally landed a walleye. The individual quickly hid the fish while his friend went and checked if anyone else was around. The friend came back saying, "You're good, no one's here." The individual that caught the walleye grabbed a knife and went to the river and immediately started cleaning the fish. CO Sabuda went to contact the angler before they could throw the carcass in the river. CO Sabuda was very close to the angler before identifying himself. The angler thought it was his buddy messing with him and looked away laughing before going back to cleaning the fish. CO Sabuda identified himself again and the angler was extremely startled by the CO's presence next to him. The angler was cited for taking a walleye during the closed season.

Region 6

Sgt. Robert Hobkirk responded to a RAP complaint of individuals fishing in the closed section of the Tittabawassee River near the Sanford Dam in Midland County. Two anglers were located under a bridge fishing the closed area of the river. A citation was issued to each angler for the violation. On the same day, Sgt. Hobkirk contacted an angler in Bay County who was in possession of a Northern pike. When contact was made, the angler stated that he had just caught a pike and was not sure if he could keep it or not. The angler was keeping the pike in the bed of his pick-up in a cooler with no ice or water. The angler was issued a citation for possession of the Northern pike during the closed season.

Region 7

The day before turkey season opened, COs BJ Goulette and Robert Slick received a call from the Report All Poaching hotline that a subject had just shot a turkey. They responded to the area, but the suspect had left the area when they arrived. The property owner identified a couple different people he had given permission to hunt on his property. The COs identified the hunter and contacted him. He admitted to killing the turkey and claimed he thought the season opened on April 15th. The subject claimed that he thought about calling to turn himself in when he saw the date on his tag said April 17th, the COs explained that it would be easier to believe his story if they had gotten a call from him instead of a witness.

CO BJ Goulette was almost at the end of his shift when he heard a dispatch from the county 911 regarding an erratic driver on a busy divided roadway. The driver had swerved, hit vehicles, and left the roadway into the median before stopping in a turnaround and losing consciousness. The subject was unresponsive when CO Goulette was the first to arrive on scene. The subject was slumped over with his foot on the brake of the vehicle still running and in drive. After failing to wake the subject up, CO Goulette feared that the subject's foot may come off the brake at any time and the vehicle would enter a very busy roadway. CO Goulette broke a window out of the locked vehicle in order to put the vehicle in park. After gaining entry and safely turning the vehicle off, the driver regained consciousness, but it was obvious he had experienced either a medical emergency or drug overdose. The subject was taken by EMS to a local hospital for testing and evaluation.

When CO BJ Goulette signed into service on the opening morning of turkey season, he noticed an unusual amount of 911 radio traffic. Nearby county deputies were attempting to locate suspects at-large from an attempted gun store break-in from the night before. CO Goulette responded and assisted with securing the area and locating the last of the six suspects involved with the break-ins.

Region 8

CO John Byars received a RAP complaint about someone trapping squirrels in Lansing. The suspects had trapped a squirrel and it had made its way into the backyard of the complainant. CO Byars contacted the complainant and was given a trapped squirrel and the trap. CO Byars contacted the suspects at their residence, and they stated it was an incidental catch while targeting red squirrels and ground hogs due to property damage. The suspect had a valid hunting license and CO Byars educated him on alternate methods. The suspect decided to change to live traps in case of future incidental catches.

CO Pete Purdy was first on scene to a 911 call of a subject walking in the roadway blocking traffic. CO Purdy arrived on scene and used his patrol vehicle with emergency lights to block the road and prevent the subject and himself from being struck. The subject was incoherent and would not speak to CO Purdy. The individual was turned over to Brighton City Police Department and Livingston County EMS.

CO Larn R. Strawn received an anonymous RAP complaint of subjects killing a goose out of season. CO Strawn investigated and located fresh foot tracks leading to a hunting blind in a field. CO Strawn confirmed that indeed an animal seemed to have been shot in the area and developed the possible suspects by matching complaint information, location data from OnX Hunt, and county land records. CO Strawn interviewed three subjects who ultimately admitted to shooting a goose with a .22 caliber rifle and tossing it into a swamp. CO Strawn located and recovered the dead goose, the firearm, and additional evidence. CO Strawn is seeking a warrant for the offense.

CO Larn R. Strawn received a complaint of two deer carcasses, with their heads cut off, that were dumped in the middle of a field. CO Strawn responded and located the deer and discovered drag marks, hair, and foot tracks leading to the back yard of a nearby residence. In the backyard, CO Strawn discovered deer heads and signs that the deer had been there for quite some time. CO Strawn interviewed the homeowner and determined the deer were shot lawfully during the previous hunting season. The deer carcasses were dragged into the field because of the overwhelming smell. The homeowner was issued a warning for littering and collected the carcasses and returned them to his yard.

CO Nick Wellman had a location in Branch County he had been observing since October of 2020 for baiting activity based on complaints from a local resident. Just prior to turkey season, CO Wellman was able to locate two baited tower blinds on the property. On opening morning, COs Wellman and Jason McCullough headed south to contact the hunters hunting the baited blinds. Upon arrival, a truck was found parked at the entrance to the property. CO Wellman went into the property where he was able to contact the hunters. One was hunting over bait but otherwise legal. CO Wellman located the second hunter as he was climbing down from his tower blind. CO Wellman found a large male turkey buried in leaves near the blind, still untagged even though the bird was killed over an hour earlier. In addition, the man killed the turkey as it was standing in a pile of cracked corn and was still hunting with a loaded firearm in his blind as CO Wellman approached. The man admitted to baiting this property and hunting turkeys over it for several years prior. The man also admitted that he was going to shoot a second turkey over the bait if the opportunity presented itself. The first man was charged with hunting turkey over bait, and the second man was charged with taking a turkey over bait, failing to immediately validate/attach a kill tag, and will be charged for the illegal turkey. The turkey was seized and donated to a local, less fortunate family.

CO Nick Wellman was just finishing an interview for a background investigation when he was sent to a car versus pedestrian accident nearby. CO Wellman arrived with MSP troopers along with fire and EMS personnel. A vehicle traveling southbound struck a female bicyclist traveling in the same direction. The female bicyclist was pronounced deceased upon arrival of all personnel. CO Wellman assisted the MSP with securing the scene, evidence collection, accident reconstruction/photography, and helping Branch County Victim Services with speaking to several family members of the deceased female who arrived on scene. The accident is currently under investigation.

Region 9

CO Danielle Zubek received a complaint for people fishing in the Huron River during the closure. Upon arrival, CO Zubek witnessed four anglers fishing in the river and catching several trout. CO Zubek contacted the anglers, explained the closure on the river, and issued citations for attempting to take trout out of season.

CO Joseph Deppen was headed home and was slowing down to a red light. A vehicle passed CO Deppen in the bicycle lane and blew through two red lights at high speed. A traffic stop was conducted. The driver was written a citation for driving while license suspended. The passenger, a licensed driver switched places and the vehicle cleared the scene.

CO Joseph Deppen was finishing patrol and headed home on I 94. He was passed by a vehicle on the right shoulder at a high rate of speed. The driver was clocked at 105 mph. A traffic stop was conducted. The driver admitted to speeding all the time and that he would just pay it. When CO Deppen issued the citation for 105 mph in a 70-mph zone, the driver demanded to know the price. CO Deppen told him it was up to the court and to contact them within ten days. The driver became upset and said, "All the real cops can tell me how much the ticket is, I am going to fight this. There is no price on it!" The driver was released, and CO Deppen cleared the scene.

CO Joseph Deppen was working a marine patrol and saw a vessel far out on Lake St. Clair. CO Deppen approached and noticed it was a small inflatable dingy occupied by two anglers. The boat was unregistered, and one occupant did not have a PFD. A verbal warning was given for the unregistered vessel, but the angler was cited for fail to provide enough PFDs for everyone aboard.

CO Joseph Deppen was working Marine/Aquatic Invasive Species patrol in Macomb County. CO Deppen watched two anglers using invasive species as bait. CO Deppen approached the anglers and one angler saw CO Deppen coming. He signaled to the other angler, and he cut his fishing line. CO Deppen asked why he cut the fishing line and the angler said it accidentally broke. CO Deppen grabbed the anglers other rod and using a lure, CO Deppen snagged the cut line as it was drifting away. CO Deppen pulled in the line, bobber, and live goby that was hooked through the bottom lip, still very alive. CO Deppen had both anglers reel in all their lines. There were live gobies on two of the five lines left in the water. CO Deppen issued citations for use/possess live aquatic invasive species and issued the second angler a citation for littering for cutting his line.

CO Ben Lasher contacted four people in the Port Huron Game Area after hearing them talking about rolling a "blunt" marijuana cigarette. As CO Lasher approached the group, he used his flashlight to get a better look at the subject trying to roll the cigarette on top of a hard sided gun case. The subject also had a holstered handgun and another handgun laying on a log next to him. An unloaded shotgun was in the gun case. The cups they had used as targets were still hanging in branches, no back stop, and no brass was collected until CO Lasher asked to see what they had picked up. A warrant is being sought for violations of the suspect CPL license, use of marijuana in public and warnings given for the littering, failing to pick up targets, and brass.

CO Jaime Salisbury was patrolling for ORV activity when he noticed a vehicle pulling a trailer drive through a red light. CO Salisbury conducted a traffic stop and was told by the driver "I knew the light was red, but I'm having car trouble, so I didn't want to stop." CO Salisbury told the driver if they were having trouble, they shouldn't be driving and putting others at risk. A citation for running the red light was issued.

CO Mike Drexler was patrolling in Dexter Township when the vehicle in front of him passed another vehicle in a double yellow, no passing zone. CO Drexler conducted a traffic stop and learned the driver had a suspended license. The driver also had several outstanding warrants. A citation was issued for the traffic violations and the subject was advised and released on his warrants.

CO Andrew Monnich was checking anglers on Loch Erin when he came across a group of anglers who claimed to have not caught any fish due to the weather. While checking one of the anglers, CO Monnich noticed a bucket sitting on the opposite shoreline, when asked the fisherman stated that they had a bass in the bucket but planned to let it go. CO Monnich checked the bucket and located an undersized bass that had been gilled to keep. The angler stated they were going to let it go but forgot. A ticket was issued for keeping a bass out of season and warnings were given for undersized and not having a fishing license on person while fishing.

While checking vessels at Sterling State Park CO Nicholas Ingersoll witnessed a vessel complete two circles near one of the docks at slow no wake and then collided with the dock with the side of his vessel. CO Ingersoll contacted the single occupant in the boat and observed him stumbling around his boat, having a hard time getting his boat secured to the dock. CO Ingersoll spoke with the driver who had slurred speech, and CO Ingersoll could smell the odor of intoxicants coming from his breath. CO Ingersoll asked the driver if he had had anything to drink, and the driver stated that he had. He insisted though that he was good to drive and was going to go sleep in the campground for the night. CO Ingersoll conducted field sobriety tests on the driver at the launch, and the driver failed his sobriety tests (SFSTs). CO Ingersoll arrested the driver for boating under the influence. The driver refused to take a preliminary breath test and was cited. The driver of the vessel also refused his chemical test rights and thought since he refused those test that he would not go to jail. CO Ingersoll educated the driver and advised him he was still going to jail, and CO Ingersoll was going to obtain a search warrant for his blood. After a search warrant was obtained and the driver's blood was drawn, the driver was lodged in the Monroe County jail to sober up for the night.

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