Sgt. Ryan Aho and COs Mark Leadman and Marvin Gerlach assisted with marine security during the launch of the Navy’s newest Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Little Rock, at Marinette Marine in the Menominee River. The vessel is 378 feet long and weighs approximately 3,000 tons. A portion of the river needed to be temporarily closed during the launch for public safety and due to the large wave generated by the launch of the vessel. The launch was completed successfully and was enjoyed by approximately 2,000 spectators.
CO Jared Ferguson was patrolling a high ORV activity area when he came upon an older gentleman who had his ORV stuck in the ditch. The man stated that he was attempting to turn around and got sucked into a mud hole. CO Ferguson assisted the man in getting his ORV freed, and gave him water that was in the CO’s cooler. The man was grateful and happy to be away from the mosquitos and heat.
CO Brian Lasanen and CO Dave Miller conducted an investigation regarding an individual selling frozen smelt on a social media web page. Both officers witnessed the suspect selling fish to a third individual, with the fish and money being exchanged in a Hancock parking lot. Contact was made with the suspect, and after a brief interview enforcement action was taken.
CO Dave Painter and PCO Chad Baldwin patrolled the trout lakes in northern Iron County. A check of two subjects fishing from a canoe found they did not have PFDs. The subjects stated that they knew they had forgotten the PFDs, but decided to risk it. Enforcement action was taken.
While CO Jon Busken was preparing to launch his patrol vessel on a local lake he observed one vessel with three occupants, all of whom were fishing. The conservation officer contacted the anglers and found two of them were still fishing, but the third one had put down her fishing equipment and was hesitant to talk to the officer. CO Busken completed the vessel safety check and asked the third occupant if she was fishing, to which she replied, “No, I don’t fish.” CO Busken told her that he had seen her with a pole in her hand before he launched. An occupant replied, “Well, I did cast the pole for her a few times.” Enforcement action was taken.
CO Bobby Watson was on patrol in a local state forest campground when he observed one campsite with multiple tents, beer cans, and litter strewn throughout the campsite. CO Watson attempted to make contact by walking throughout the site and announcing his presence. Finally, CO Watson heard a voice inside one of the tents. After speaking with the individual, it was discovered that they had failed to pay for their campsites. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Brett Gustafson and PCO Ethan Gainforth assisted Wildlife Division employees with the collaring of a trapped wolf. The wolf was a male and was estimated to be around 5 years old and weighed 88 pounds. The data that was collected included sex, blood samples, weight, body measurements, and temperature of the animal. The data that is collected and the collaring of the animal are important to biologists because it allows them to track the pack of wolves in that area and have a better idea of the wolf population during the wolf census. Biologists also can learn much more about the behavior patterns and home territory of the pack by having radio-collared wolves.
While patrolling a local lake, COs Rob Freeborn and Michael Evink contacted local anglers trolling for walleyes. When asked if they had any luck, they replied they had a couple around 17 inches. Their mood changed when the officers looked in the anglers’ livewell, and CO Freeborn immediately discovered a third walleye floating on top of the water. When asked about the walleye, one angler stated that it had swallowed the hook and was just 15 inches. After measuring the walleye, it was determined that it was much shorter than 15 inches. A ticket was issued for the undersized walleye.
COs Rob Freeborn and Michael Evink received a complaint from an angler whose boat motor was entangled in a gill net in a local river. The COs quickly responded and met up with the complainant and were directed to the net’s location. The COs pulled 100 feet of unmarked gill net from the river. The net held several rotten fish. The investigation is ongoing.
While following up on a trespass complaint, CO Duane Budreau came upon the possible suspects operating ORVs. Numerous violations were found with the group, including a rider without a helmet, no ORV license, and riding double when not designed. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Andrea Erratt was working a marine patrol when she observed a large 47-foot vessel having difficulties docking. Officer Erratt assisted the operator with the docking of his vessel and in doing so noticed that there was not a registration decal on the vessel. In talking with the owner, it was learned the vessel was documented, but was never registered. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Steve Speigl is investigating a complaint about personal watercraft operators harassing wildlife on one of Antrim County’s chain of lakes. CO Speigl was presented with photographic evidence from the caller and is currently tracking down the offenders.
CO Paul Fox was on patrol when he contacted two anglers who had caught a couple largemouth bass. Upon checking the smaller fish, it was found to be one-eighth of an inch short. The fish was released alive, and CO Fox advised the anglers the correct method to measure fish. A warning also was issued for no throwable PFD.
CO Brian Brosky and PCO Ethan Mapes were on patrol on Lake Michigan when they approached and contacted an angler who was trolling as he was reeling up a line. The COs asked him how many lines he had out, and he stated that he was only fishing with four lines. The COs advised him that they had seen him pulling up a fifth line as they were approaching, and he sheepishly agreed, but again proudly stated that he only had four now. To his surprise, the COs informed him that the law only allowed him to use three lines, not four, and advised him that he was still in violation. Enforcement action was taken.
COs Brian Brosky and Kyle Publiski were on a Lake Michigan patrol when CO Publiski observed the same vessel that he had stopped two weeks earlier for operating without registration. Upon further investigation, the COs discovered that the boat was still being operated without valid registration visible. The COs again stopped the operator, who immediately displayed a ticket from them stating, “I already got a ticket.” CO Publiski advised that he was aware of the prior ticket and again asked him for registration. The owner told him that he had already paid his ticket for operating his 37-foot vessel unregistered and stated that he had not had time to get it registered. This time, the operator was given an appearance date to appear in court for the second offense of operating an unregistered vessel.
CO Jeff Ginn, of Newaygo County, and PCO Benjamin Weber responded to a call of angler harassment in progress at the Croton Dam, and contacted all the parties involved. It is alleged three men in a boat were harassing a female angler fishing from shore. One of the suspects in the boat was in possession of an undersized walleye. Enforcement action was taken for the walleye, and the harassment case will be reviewed by the Newaygo County Prosecutor’s Office.
CO Jeff Ginn, of Newaygo County, and PCO Benjamin Weber were contacted by a local deputy who responded to a complaint and observed a young deer standing in the doorway of a nearby residence. Upon arrival at this residence, the COs and the deputy located a fawn white-tailed deer in a small, fenced-in area next to the home. The landowner said the mother deer was struck by a vehicle and killed roughly four weeks earlier, so they decided to raise the fawn until it could be “released into the wild.” The landowner was ticketed for the violation, and the deer was immediately seized and turned over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
CO Troy Van Gelderen, of Oceana County, and PCO Matt Neterer checked an angler wading in a lake. The officers observed the subject release a fish from his basket before they contacted the angler. Upon making contact and interviewing the angler, it was determined the fish that was released was an undersized bass. The angler also did not have a license with him. Enforcement action was taken.
While talking with staff at the sheriff’s office, CO Kyle Bader looked out a window and observed a female inmate running across the parking lot. She had slipped out of restraints and was attempting to flee the area on foot. CO Bader immediately pursued her on foot. The inmate was attempting to remove her orange jumpsuit to avoid detection as CO Bader began to catch up. After drawing his TASER and issuing loud verbal commands, the inmate gave up. She was again taken into custody and turned over to sheriff’s office personnel.
CO Matt Liestenfeltz contacted two subjects cutting wood on state land. Neither subject had a firewood permit or identification. Further investigation revealed one suspect to be violating his circuit court probation, while the second suspect was driving with a suspended license. Both subjects were ticketed, and a referral made to Missaukee County.
CO Mike Hearn and PCO Justin Muehlhauser responded to the scene of a rollover accident. Upon dispatch, the officers were close enough to be first on the scene. The officers gathered evidence and determined that the inexperienced operator lost control while traveling at a high rate of speed on the gravel road. The vehicle then began fish-tailing and upon hitting the edge of the road, rolled over. The driver and pregnant passenger were taken to a Kalkaska hospital.
CO Mike Hearn and PCO Justin Muehlhauser received a complaint about a watercraft accident on a small lake in Kalkaska County. Upon investigation, it was determined that the PWC had exploded with the operator on board. The vessel then caught fire and was a total loss. The operator was uninjured.
Several complaints were received regarding a boat illegally moored at an access site on Starvation Lake in Kalkaska County. CO Mike Hearn and PCO Justin Muehlhauser responded, and upon investigation, discovered that the registration number did not come back to any vessel in LEIN. The hull number on the vessel was ground down.
COs Joel Lundberg and Dan Lee and PCO Tyler Cole were conducting a marine patrol on Saginaw Bay. Multiple anglers were contacted on their way back into the river. One angler was in possession of an undersized walleye and channel catfish. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Joshua Wright and PCO Joshua Jackson were checking vessels on Murphy Lake when they encountered a vessel at night without its navigation lights on. Further checking of the vessel revealed that there was only one PFD on board for four people. The inspection of the vessel led to more marine violations, along with finding a smallmouth bass that was too short to keep. Several tickets were issued.
COs Quincy Gowenlock and Dan Lee were patrolling Saginaw Bay when they approached a lone boat with four lines being trolled for walleyes. The single occupant of the vessel paid no mind to the approaching patrol boat until he saw that it was law enforcement. At that time, he attempted to reel in one of his lines. The angler attempted several excuses, including that he was unaware of the line limit and that he had just put one line out and was going to reel the extra one in. When he realized the COs had been watching him for 20 minutes, he told the truth. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Will Brickel and Sgt. Ron Kimmerly worked a turtle trapping patrol on the Bad, Shiawassee, and Flint rivers. The COs were targeting tagging violations, too many traps set, and traps that were underwater, which would not allow the turtles to surface for air. The COs found a number of traps, and all were in compliance with the law.
CO Seth Rhodea responded to a complaint about deer that had been shot in Tuscola County. Upon meeting with the complainant and locating the deer, the CO was able to make contact with a man who had been shooting at deer under a crop damage permit. Several violations of the crop damage permit were discovered, and a report is being sent to the Tuscola County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
CO Paul Higashi and Sgt. Kevin Hackworth were patrolling Kalamazoo County waterways and access locations when they encountered two subjects sharing a bucket containing two undersized bass. One person stated that he couldn’t see well and thought the bass he had kept was a bluegill. The other person stated that his partner had kept the other bass because he had vision problems. After a short discussion, it was determined that the smallest bass was being kept for catfish bait, and the other short bass was kept because they thought it was “close enough.” Enforcement action was taken.
CO Chris Holmes and PCO Michael Haas received information from a local deputy that a subject had been arrested for a home invasion and resisting arrest and may have killed a turkey during the closed season. CO Holmes and PCO Haas followed up with the information and ultimately recovered a turkey from a freezer at the suspect’s parents’ residence. The officers interviewed the suspect in jail and obtained a confession. The turkey was killed under a bird feeder with a .22-caliber rifle. A warrant request will be forwarded to the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office for killing the turkey during the closed season.
CO Chris Holmes reports a disposition was obtained for an “enhanced restitution” case relating to an illegally taken 7-point buck killed in Kalamazoo County last fall. The subject had killed the deer after making a false statement to obtain a hunting license. She paid $2,000 in restitution and lost her hunting privileges for 2015, plus an additional five years.
CO Jeff Robinette obtained a four-count warrant for an Indiana resident who had been buying resident hunting and fishing licenses in Michigan. Almost $600 in restitution is being sought for the difference in the license costs.
PCO Andrew Monnich and CO Greg Patten followed up on a complaint from employees at the Muskegon SGA. They found a treestand that had been up since last fall. The treestand owner said he was sick last fall and didn’t check on it this spring because he thought that it had probably been stolen. Enforcement action was taken.
Sgt. Dan Bigger worked with PCO Hugh McMath on a marine patrol in Livingston County. While on patrol, several checks were made and many questions answered regarding both marine and fishing rules and regulations. Several warnings were issued while educating individuals on how to come into compliance. One angler had not purchased a fishing license and had panfish in a bucket. A marine safety check was conducted and the subject also had no PFD in his canoe. The subject was thankful that he was informed of these issues and then became upset when he learned enforcement action was being taken. It wasn’t until then that he stated he had been issued a ticket on the same lake a few years back by a conservation officer and was still mad about it. The subject did not recognize that it was Sgt. Bigger who had issued the ticket.
CO Jeff Goss responded to a complaint about a skunk left to die in a live trap. The caller advised that the neighbor had trapped a skunk and it had been left in the live trap for two days in the extreme heat. Upon contacting the neighbor, the caller was told that his intentions were to leave it in the trap until it died. CO Goss made contact with the subject, who admitted that he intended to leave the animal in the trap to die. After successfully relocating the skunk without getting sprayed, CO Goss returned the trap to the subject, along with a ticket for the violation.
CO Jeff Goss investigated a complaint about trespass and a stolen trail camera. Armed with a photo of a subject taken by a camera that he didn’t see, CO Goss went door to door in the neighborhood to try to identify the subject. After the third stop, CO Goss was surprised to hear a woman say, “That’s my son!” After explaining the nature of his visit, CO Goss asked to speak with the son. The women assured him that her son didn’t steal the trail camera. Upon speaking with the12-year-old subject, it was apparent that he had something to do with the disappearance of the camera. The boy explained that he saw the camera and got scared; he said he knew he wasn’t supposed to be on the property so he removed the camera and threw it in the swamp. After hearing this, the mother demanded that he pay for the camera. The complainant agreed to come to the house so they could settle up. When he arrived, the boy was forced to apologize and pay the man for the missing camera, using money he had earned selling animals at the fair. Due to the age of the boy, the complainant did not want to press charges.
CO Mark Ennett responded to a RAP complaint about overlimits of catfish at the Edison fishing pier. The anglers were still at the pier as reported, and between them had too many fish, as well as numerous short ones. When asked, they both stated that they were told that the creel limit on catfish was 20. When CO Ennett asked why one angler had 29, and one had 23, the only response was a shoulder shrug. CO Ennett ticketed both anglers for the overlimit of catfish, one for 19 over, and his partner for 13 over. The short fish were included with the overlimit, and a warning was given.
CO Kris Kiel and PCO Will Kinney wrapped up a three-week investigation of a suspect who intentionally ran over seven Canada geese in a marina parking lot. A witness stated that a male subject swerved his minivan to hit a flock of Canada geese and proceeded to turn around and run over additional birds. The COs obtained surveillance footage of the hit-and-run subject and his actions from the nearby marina surveillance cameras.
While working the “Quake on the Lake” event, Sgt. Jason Smith was pulling into the parking lot when he observed a vehicle pull out in front of him. The vehicle began to burn out with its tires and accelerate quickly, causing the vehicle to fish-tail. Recognizing the immediate danger to other people, especially young kids who were running around, Sgt. Smith conducted a traffic stop and educated the driver on safe driving. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Kris Kiel and PCO Will Kinney are currently investigating a complaint about a 20-foot boat that had been dumped in the Macomb County 25 Mile SGA. With information left on the vessel, the COs were able to contact the registered owner. The registered owner stated that he sold the boat last summer and was unaware that it had been dumped. The investigation continues, as the officers continue to follow up on leads they’ve received.
While patrolling the Port Huron SGA, CO Ken Kovach located two ORVers operating inside the closed area. Upon making contact with the subjects, CO Kovach advised them that ORV activity was closed in the game area. When checking the subjects through LEIN, it was determined that one of the subjects was currently on probation. Enforcement action was taken.