Camp Ripley, Minn. – Earlier this year, the DNR had a nearly
full complement of conservation officers. Retirements thinned the
ranks, but officials say a plan to hire as many as 18 officers next
year should mean an officer in nearly every station in the
That’s a “tremendous benefit for the state,” according to Maj.
Roger Tietz, operations support manager for the DNR Division of
Enforcement, because COs, in addition to enforcing laws, are
ambassadors for the agency.
“If people think of the DNR, and I say this respectfully, nine
out of 10 times, they are thinking of a CO,” he said.
The DNR posted CO openings in September, and 224 people tested
for the job. In October, 99 of the original group completed an oral
exam, and officers now are in the process of conducting background
examinations of 54 candidates.
The agency is planning to hold a Conservation Officer Academy at
Camp Ripley starting next spring – April 30 to July 22 – and hopes
to include up to 18 new officers. Tietz said the DNR receives
“pretty good” interest in its conservation officer openings,
especially compared to other law enforcement agencies.
“It seems most of them are having a hard time getting applicants
to apply,” he said. “We’ve been pleased with what we’re getting,
and we’ve been real pleased with the overall quality of the
candidates we are getting.”
Once the academy is done, the field training period is from June
23 through Nov. 11. Officers will be positioned at their new
stations on Nov. 12 of next year.
While retirements continue to affect the CO workforce, agency
officials and other state leaders have made it a priority to keep
staffing at a high level, Tietz said.
“If we carry vacancies Š we start to lose our effectiveness,” he
said. “The local communities don’t have a go-to person.
Since 1997, 131 officers have graduated from the academy,
according to the DNR. In recent years, the agency has been hiring
high numbers of new officers to replace those who retire. As the
workforce becomes younger, that rate of turnover should slow dow,
Within a couple of years, the agency likely will be hiring five
or six new officers a year, he said.