Michigan Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – March 26, 2021

DISTRICT 1

Conservation Officer (CO) Brian Lasanen was patrolling a closed multi-use state trail when he contacted the operator of a snow bike and a group of other snowmobiles operating on the closed trail. CO Lasanen noticed the bike and another snowmobile did not have a valid trail permit showing. When questioned about this, one of the riders stated he had not bought a trail sticker in the past 10 years and just took his chances that he would not run into an officer. Both the riders were issued tickets.

COs Jenni Hanson and Zach Painter patrolled Lake Gogebic during an ice fishing tournament. Upon checking one group, CO Hanson noticed numerous jig rods through the ice, but only two people. A total of nine lines were counted. At first the subject claimed his friend was at the bar and would be right back. Then his story changed, admitting he thought you were allowed three jig rods and two tip-ups per person. The subject was cited for having too many lines in the water.

DISTRICT 2

COs Andrea Dani and Mark Zitnik were invited to a Northern Michigan University Zoom class. The COs explained to the students the hiring process, why they chose their occupation, and how each day and season dictates the focus of enforcement for each shift. The COs ended the class with a question-and-answer session discussing how COs work with biologists and many other environmental organizations and law enforcement agencies to be successful.

CO Andrea Dani was at the Shingleton Field Office when she heard a “be on the lookout” for a vehicle traveling in her direction just a few miles west of her location on Highway M 28. CO Dani observed the suspect vehicle slow down and activate a turn signal then disregard the turn and continue past her patrol truck. The driver turned his head around to stare at the patrol truck. CO Dani followed the vehicle and observed it slowly weaving throughout the lane. CO Dani conducted a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled into a convenience store. The driver exited his vehicle, gripping and leaning on the side of his truck as he walked around it. He then stated with a slurred speech that he did not see the patrol truck or know it was behind him. CO Dani observed a white powdery substance covering the driver’s tongue and lips. CO Dani relayed this information to dispatch, at which time the driver tried to quickly drink a large amount of apple juice to wash it away. The driver handed CO Dani a debit card instead of a driver’s license and then stated the powder must be toothpaste. A closer look indicated the same substance on and around the driver’s nose. The driver then stated the powder must be snot from snow blowing earlier. Alger County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant (Sgt.) Sam Grahovac then arrived on scene and performed Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). The driver failed the SFSTs. He was arrested and transported by Sgt. Grahovac to the local hospital for a blood draw and lodged in the Alger County Jail for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) by Drugs.

CO Steve Butzin investigated a Delta County resident as he was suspected to have shot a deer during the past rifle season without a license. An interview was conducted, and evidence was found, which proved that this individual shot a 6-point buck without a license. A report is being submitted for taking a deer without a license to the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office.

DISTRICT 3

CO Andrea Erratt checked an angler, who had caught a few pike and a perch, coming off Beals Lake at dusk. The angler said he did not have a fishing license and knew he could have purchased one where he bought his minnows but he was waiting to get next season’s license. The angler admitted he had been fishing the last two weekends. He stated he knew better, and his wife had told him to buy a fishing license, so he felt like an idiot because he is always pushing the limits “which bites him in the keister” every time. CO Erratt issued the man a ticket for fishing without a license and allowed him to keep the fish he had caught to feed his kids.

CO Adam LeClerc worked an ongoing snowmobile trespass issue in northern Emmet County. A group of snowmobilers could be heard in the distance, then appeared in a private property field posted closed to snowmobiles. CO LeClerc made a traffic stop on the snowmobiles when they came out from the field. Once the snowmobile stopped another 15-plus snowmobiles could be seen following the leader through the closed field. CO LeClerc explained the ongoing trespass issues to the operator who was very understanding. CO LeClerc issued a ticket for recreational trespass and the other operators in the group received verbal warnings for recreational trespass.

Sgt. Bill Webster was patrolling through East Jordan when a medical call came out. Fortunately, Sgt. Webster was passing the address at the time the call was being dispatched. Sgt. Webster secured the scene and checked vitals of the victim. The victim was having heart pain and sweating. After some questions, it was determined that the man had taken twice the amount of medication as prescribed. He was taken to the hospital in Charlevoix.

CO Tom Oberg was ending his shift when central dispatch advised of a chimney fire at a house a couple of houses down from CO Oberg’s residence. CO Oberg arrived first on scene and made sure everyone was out of the residence. CO Oberg used his department-issued fire extinguisher to put out the flames inside the fireplace.

DISTRICT 4

COs William Kinney and Amanda McCurdy participated in ice rescue training hosted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The COs trained alongside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park rangers, as well as firefighters from numerous departments around Benzie County. All participants utilized dry suits to practice rescue and recovery methods both in and out of the water in Loon Lake. The trainees gained familiarity with operating in freezing water temperatures and practiced the best techniques to retrieve victims who had fallen through the ice.

CO Brian Brosky responded to a call of a traffic crash in Mason County in which at least one person was not responsive. As he arrived at the scene, first responders were at the location and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started on the victims of the crash. CO Brosky and other responders were also notified that one of the drivers had allegedly fled the area on foot. As the victims were being attended to by medical personnel, CO Brosky was approached by a witness at the scene who said that the driver who left the scene was bleeding and they began tracking blood drops though a parking lot of a local business. A Mason County sheriff’s deputy arrived at CO Brosky’s location and they were able to track blood and footprints in the snow though the woods that led to a road, where the suspect continued walking down the road in a southerly direction. CO Brosky noticed a vehicle braking about one half mile south of his location and he could see the vehicle swerve around a subject on the side of the road. At that point, a passerby asked CO Brosky and the deputy if they were looking for someone acting erratic that was bleeding from his face and then agreed to give them a lift to the subject’s location. As they approached, the officers observed the subject unsuccessfully try to stop and catch a ride in another passing vehicle. When the officers arrived, the suspect ran to their vehicle and asked for a ride. Much to his surprise CO Brosky and the deputy exited the vehicle and took him into custody. The suspect was transported back to the scene, with the assistance of an MSP trooper, and treated by medical personnel.

CO Josiah Killingbeck responded with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to a report of an assault in progress that turned into a possible abduction. CO Killingbeck and deputies arrived at a residence where another call was received about the same subject being dragged into a house and assaulted. As CO Killingbeck and a deputy arrived, a vehicle was leaving. This vehicle was stopped, and the subjects detained. One subject was someone that CO Killingbeck had arrested several months ago for possession of methamphetamine and a loaded gun. Several more subjects inside the residence were detained and the victim was located running from the residence screaming for help. The subject had been assaulted badly and required an ambulance. CO Killingbeck assisted with interviews and determined that the subject had been taken against his will, forced into a vehicle, and assaulted in the vehicle with a handgun. The subject had been driven to the residence where he was told he was going to be killed and had been assaulted numerous times. The victim was very thankful to CO Killingbeck and deputies for arriving when they did. Numerous subjects were arrested and lodged in the Lake County Jail on felony charges.

DISTRICT 5

COs Matt Zultak and Chuck McPherson were patrolling Higgins Lake in Roscommon County when they located numerous tip-ups. One of the tip-ups had a flag up and no one was around to tend the tip-ups. The COs waited over an hour before anglers returned. A citation was issued for not having lines under immediate control.

CO Ethan Gainforth was checking perch anglers on Saginaw Bay when he contacted a group of four anglers walking off the ice. The two adult anglers in the group seemed extremely nervous. The subjects had two large pails full of perch. A quick count revealed the subjects had 84 perch, well within their four-person limit of 25 each. However, heads dropped when CO Gainforth discovered a hidden bass underneath all the other fish. The subject who kept the bass said that he did not check to see if it was in season and kept it because his dad enjoys eating them. The subject was issued a citation for keeping a bass during the closed season.

DISTRICT 6

During a patrol through the Flat River State Game Area, CO Mike Haas witnessed a Jeep operating off the roadway through a large field that was used as a food plot for wildlife. The driver of the vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed, revving the engine, and fishtailing through the area. CO Haas contacted the occupants of the Jeep as they returned to the road. The driver stated he had recently bought the Jeep and wanted to test its capabilities and was also curious to where the field led. He then admitted that he knew that he should not have been driving through it. CO Haas warned the driver for failing to wear his seatbelt and issued a citation for operating in a closed area.

CO Dan Robinson was working state game area sections in Montcalm County when he came across two vehicles parked on the wrong side of the road. CO Robinson pulled up behind the vehicles and noticed the occupants drop the chainsaws they were holding. The pair were cutting wood in the game area, in a closed area, and without a permit. The pair had several trees down and a large load of wood in the truck already. A citation was issued for destroy/damage vegetation on state lands.

DISTRICT 7

CO Travis Dragomer received a call that a homeowner located multiple illegal cable restraints on their property. CO Dragomer observed one dead coyote and five other set cable restraints that did not have any of the trapper information. None of the traps were equipped with the required stopper which would prevent the cable restraint from being used as a kill-trap. The CO was able to develop a suspect after speaking with neighbors and had the suspect meet him at the location of the set traps. CO Dragomer issued one citation for using untagged traps and another citation for using cable restraints without the required stopper. Multiple warnings were given.

CO James Nason deployed trail cameras in areas of increased trash dumping in the Gourdneck SGA. After retrieving camera photographs and additional information from the trash piles, numerous suspects have been identified. Citations have been written and further investigations are on-going.

CO James Nason received a call from a past contact about ORVs driving by her house at high rates of speed. The neighborhood area has been plagued by reckless ORV activities for the past year. COs Nason and Chris Holmes were able to respond within minutes and located one subject operating a homebuilt ORV down a residential road, wearing no helmet. Multiple ORV and motor vehicle code violations were found during the stop and a citation was issued for the safety violations.

For the last month, CO James Nason has been working in conjunction with Arizona Fish and Game officers investigating a Kalamazoo area man for taking a large 6×6 elk illegally in Arizona. The suspect had allegedly fled the State of Michigan due to multiple warrants out for his arrest, including a warrant for resisting and obstructing a DNR Parks officer in 2017. The elk in Arizona was allegedly shot with a rifle during bow season in an area closed to elk hunting. The man also used his girlfriend’s license to tag the animal. They also had evidence of a 6-point mule deer which was suspected to have been taken illegally. After a lengthy investigation, Arizona Fish and Game officers executed a search warrant at the man’s residence in Arizona but were unsuccessful in finding either the elk or mule deer head. Thinking the trophy racks were brought back to Michigan, CO Nason visited multiple residences in the Kalamazoo area that he had reason to believe were in relation to the suspect. After numerous knock-and-talk visits to many residences, CO Nason located grandparents to the suspect who admitted to having the racks in their house. The two trophy racks were seized as evidence and the man now faces multiple charges in both Arizona and Michigan.

DISTRICT 8

CO Pete Purdy responded to a 911 call of a family dispute. The caller advised that her family was not allowing her to back out of the driveway to go to work. CO Purdy arrived on scene and separated the parties. The individual was able to leave without incident.

CO Pete Purdy assisted the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department with a 911 call of an abandoned building being broken into. The building was searched, and nobody was located inside the building.

CO Pete Purdy was on westbound I 96 when he observed a vehicle pass another vehicle from the left shoulder. CO Purdy then saw the vehicle follow another vehicle at an unsafe distance until it moved into the next lane. A traffic stop was conducted. The driver advised that he was in a hurry to get home because his dog was left alone all day. The driver was issued a citation for careless driving.

While on patrol, CO Ed Rice received a call from dispatch about an in progress domestic situation. While en route, dispatch advised the male subject, who left on foot had an outstanding felony warrant. CO Rice arrived at the residence and spoke with the complainant. CO Rice did not observe any visible physical injuries at first glance. CO Rice asked about the male’s whereabouts. The complainant stated, she did not know and did not want to pursue charges. CO Rice walked around the residence and located fresh foot tracks leading into the woods. CO Rice followed the tracks and located the male subject. The man was arrested and lodged at the Hillsdale County jail.

DISTRICT 9

CO David Schaumburger checked a group of six ice anglers on Belleville Lake fishing for bluegill. The CO approached five of them fishing in a group and they said they were putting them all in a one bucket and did not know how many fish they caught. The CO approximated they had 70 bluegills between five of them. The CO educated them on why they needed to keep them separate and know how many fish they caught. The CO then went to the sixth angler approximately 50 yards away sitting all alone. The angler said that one of the anglers gave him approximately five fish and he had caught about 20 fish. The CO counted his bluegills and found him to be sitting on 37 bluegills. A citation was issued for possessing an over-limit of bluegill.

Area COs responded to Pointe Mouillee SGA on a report that a subject had fallen through the ice. The male subject had been ice fishing out on the barrier reef and was walking across the Humphries Unit when he broke through. As officers and other emergency responders were arriving, it was found that the subject was able to self-rescue and make his way off the ice to solid ground.

CO Luke Robare was patrolling the Holloway Dam in Genesee County and checked an angler who had a walleye on his stringer. CO Robare noticed the fish looked undersized and asked the angler if he had measured it. The angler said that he didn’t measure the walleye but he was sure it was legal. CO Robare measured the walleye, and it was an inch undersized. The angler was issued a citation for retaining an undersized walleye.

CO Raymond Gardner was stationary in his patrol truck at the Lapeer SGA when a vehicle passed him, and a beer can was thrown out of the window. CO Gardner conducted a traffic stop and found that the driver also had a suspended driver’s license. CO Gardner asked the driver why he threw the beer out of the window and the driver told him it was his brother’s vehicle, and he found the can and wanted to get rid of it. CO Gardner then conducted the SFSTs and had the driver submit to a PBT, both of which the driver passed. A ticket was written to the driver for operating with a suspended driver’s license and littering. A warning was issued for the open intoxicant.

CO Brad Silorey was working when he received a call regarding a possible angler who had fallen through the ice. The caller stated that a shanty on the ice had flipped over and they located an angler’s gear with lines still in the water and items at the bottom of the lake. The caller stated that there were many empty beer cans and no one around. After inspecting the area for several minutes, several snowmobile riders approached the location and claimed that it was their equipment and they had left it out overnight. CO Silorey explained the situation and advised them that they were no longer allowed to leave shanties on the ice of lake St. Clair due to being past the removal date. A citation was issued for operating a snowmobile without a helmet, and a verbal warning for unattended lines.

CO Joseph Deppen was checking anglers in a local marina. CO Deppen noticed three lines in the water, away from an angler. Even though the angler had his back to CO Deppen, small arm movements could be seen. CO Deppen approached the angler and he attempted to pull in a fourth line and pole he was using in his jacket. CO Deppen asked how many lines he was allowed, and the angler responded, “three lines.” CO Deppen asked why he was fishing with four and the angler said he forgot about his other lines. A citation was issued for fishing with more than three lines.

GREAT LAKES ENFORCEMENT UNIT

Cpl. Brett DeLonge conducted an AIS inspection at PetSmart in Marquette after learning of the possible zebra mussel contamination in aquarium moss balls. Cpl. DeLonge met with store manager and after inspecting several containers of Marimo Moss Ball Plants found multiple containers with zebra mussels. The manager was notified, and the containers were seized. 

Lt. Mike Feagan and Cpl. Nick Torsky attended the monthly AIS Core Team meeting. Various members and committees of the team gave updates, and a joint invasive plant research project was discussed.

Cpl. Nick Torsky inspected several businesses in Gaylord and Petoskey in response to shipments of “moss balls” containing live zebra and quagga mussels to pet stores across the country. One business was contacted that did have questionable specimens. They had already been contacted by their corporate headquarters and had quarantined the specimens.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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