October 5, 2010
FORT MCCOY - Ten new Wisconsin conservation wardens are one step closer to starting their mission to protect Wisconsin's natural resources and public safety.
They have completed the classroom portion of their training and are moving into field assignments for more than 20 weeks of extensive hands-on training under veteran wardens. The 10 will be assigned their permanent stations in July 2011, providing much needed help to a warden service rapidly losing officers to retirement.
"These 10 graduates will be the first new wardens stationed in three years and we are very excited about getting them out into the field," says Chief Warden Randy Stark. "They are highly qualified and they are receiving top-notch training."
The ten wardens emerged from a field of about 750 candidates who submitted online applications. They completed several written examinations relating to law enforcement, plant and animals species and recreational equipment, as well as multiple interviews, background checks, psychological and fitness testing, says Ron Cork, DNR recruit warden supervisor at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy.
Thirteen recruits graduated from DNR's law enforcement academy late last month, 10 of them DNR conservation wardens, two Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission conservation wardens, and one DNR forestry ranger. The graduates are listed from left to right. Aaron Young, DNR Forestry Ranger; Alan (Al) Erickson, Thomas (Tom) Dickson, Ryan Propson, Shaun Tyznik, Christopher (Chris) Shea, Jessica (Jessie) Gokey, GLIFWC Conservation Warden; Kirk Konichek; Brad Kacizak, GLIFWC Conservation Warden; Kyle Dilley, Benjamin (Ben) Mott, MacKenzie (Mac) Hannon, Shaun Deeney
"We were looking for people who are ethical, trustworthy, and hard working and who have good judgment," Cork says.
The 10 finalists were offered positions as recruit wardens and began their training in June 2010. During the following 13 weeks, the warden recruits learned natural resources laws, emergency response, investigative techniques, professional communications, community collaboration, and maintaining their firearms and other equipment. The new wardens also met and heard from representatives from conservation, agricultural, environmental, and ethnic groups about how they can work with wardens to address poaching and other natural resources problems.
The graduates are Tom Dickson, Alan Ericson, Ryan Propson, Shaun Tyznik, Christopher (Chris) Shea, Kirk Konichek, Kyle Dilley, Ben Mott, Mac Hannon, and Shaun Deeney.
Since graduating from the training academy in late September, the new wardens have been assigned to work with veteran wardens, or field training officers, for 20 weeks of on-the-job training. They also receive eight more weeks of specialized training before being assigned permanent posts in July 2011.
Wardens are responsible for enforcing state laws relating to wildlife, fish, boating, snowmobiling, all terrain vehicles, air and water pollution, invasive species, water laws, and forestry. Wardens also play a role in the statewide emergency response community, having unique experience, training and equipment for performing emergency response in rural areas.
While wardens' efforts are primarily focused on enforcement in the field, they also provide education to the public about regulations and safety issues, and introduce new people to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities, Stark says.
When fully staffed, Wisconsin has 206 warden positions. The 2010 class and future classes are critically important to public safety and nature resource protection given the current demographics in the warden service, Stark says. There are currently 27 vacancies and about 40 more wardens are eligible to retire by the end of 2013, he says.
Two wardens from the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission completed the same training as the new DNR wardens, the first time for such an arrangement.
"We are very pleased with how this partnership turned out," says Wisconsin Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark. "It's cost effective and efficient for both agencies, and it develops great partnerships and working relationships."
The Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) is an agency committed to the implementation of off-reservation treaty rights on behalf of its tribes. GLIFWC's mission is to help ensure off-reservation harvests while protecting the resources for generations to come.
A DNR forest ranger also completed the law enforcement training offered by DNR's warden service.
Stark said that DNR and GLIFWC wardens, and the DNR forest ranger, will settle into their field assignments with a headstart on one vital aspect of their jobs: building partnerships and working relationships with other law enforcement officers.
The GLIFWC officers who completed the academy training are Jessica (Jessie) Gokey and Brad Kacizak. Aaron Young is the DNR forest ranger who completed the academy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark (608) 266-115; Darrel Waldera (608) 266-2425