St. Paul When it comes to working in the Minnesota DNR, Mike
Hamm has been around the block. He began his career working for the
divisions of Parks and Wildlife during the 1970s. On March 16,
1977, he was sworn in as a state conservation officer. Since then,
he has worked in many positions within the Enforcement Division all
the way to the top.
On Wednesday, he became the director of the DNR Division of
Enforcement, taking the reins from acting director Mark Johanson.
Hamm is bringing to the post a quarter-century of experience.
“My career has been well-rounded,” he says.
Hamm, 49, served as a conservation officer first in Worthington
and then in St. Cloud. In 1988, he became regional training officer
for the southwest, stationed in New Ulm. He moved to St. Paul in
1989 and became the education training program coordinator.
From there, he work as district supervisor for east-central
Minnesota for about one year. He returned to St. Paul to a
captain’s position as the internal strategic manager. He was
responsible for the division’s budget and testified before the
Legislature on budget and policy issues. He also served as the
liaison to other DNR divisions at the central office. Hamm next
accepted a regional supervisor position. He most recently was the
west-metro district supervisor.
As he becomes director, Hamm says he will be accessible to the
people who work for the Division of Enforcement. He is proud of the
state’s cadre of conservation officers.
“We’re a division made up of self-starters,” he says. “It is
important to have self-starters with the work that we do.”
A big issue facing the division is whether conservation officers
have the right to inspect anglers’ livewells or other storage
places while in the field. The Minnesota Supreme Court is presently
considering a case where a lower court ruling found that livewell
inspections were a violation of constitutional rights.
“We need to let the Supreme Court do its work,” Hamm says. “When
the decision comes down, we will work within its parameters.”
Another issue is filling the ranks of conservation officers,
which have been thinned by retirement. About two dozen field
stations are vacant statewide. The test for new conservation
officer applicants is scheduled for July 12.
“Fortunately, the commissioner’s office views conservation
officers as extremely important,” Hamm says. “We will be hiring new
Hamm is married and has two children.