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DNR Warden World Spring and Summer, Part Two: Missing child, wayward waddlers, Parks & COPS camp

Warden Wire Section: Crime Stoppers published on September 6, 2017

By: Joanne M. Haas/DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement

Welcome to Part Two of Warden Wire's highlights of spring and summer work performed by your DNR Conservation Warden Service. No two days in any season are the same for your wardens, but they remain ready to respond and help when called.

We'll kick off Part Two with a feathery tale involving a watchful mom, an unforgiving fence, a pest control pro and an understanding conservation warden from Eau Claire.

Warden Scott helps steely-eyed momma move the little waddlers
Warden Scott Thiede helped these ducklings get out of a fenced area to rejoin their mom.

Warden Scott Thiede helped these ducklings get out of a fenced area to rejoin their mom.

Like the 1960 P.D. Eastman classic, Are You My Mother?, Conservation Warden Scott Thiede of Eau Claire donned his best hen imitation in May to help a local assisted care facility find a better home for some ducklings born outside - but in an enclosed courtyard.

As this real 2017 story goes, the Grace Edgewood Assisted Living Facility didn't call Warden Scott right away. Instead, facility staff first turned to their pest control person - making it clear the furry mallard waddlers were not pests in the classic sense, but still needed to be shown the door for their own good. The enclosed courtyard offered little more than mulch and concrete - not ideal for wildlife built for paddling.

"Ducklings are not the same as the typical attic invaders this pest expert would handle. He would know what to do with squirrels and raccoons," Warden Scott said. "So, he placed some box traps baited with corn. Fine idea for some wildlife - but little furry ducklings that travel in a sweeping, boisterous bunch? Not quite."

It soon became clear to the facility staff that the pest control guy had the right idea - just not quite the right idea. Who ya gonna call? Warden Scott Thiede!

"The mother hen to these ducklings must have nested under some raised planters in the courtyard of this facility," Warden Scott said. "The courtyard is bound by buildings so these little guys could not find a way out of the area. And once I was there, I did see mom mallard standing on the rooftop looking a bit concerned. You don't think of hens as having a steely stare - but this duck had it."

So, keeping mom in his mind's rear view mirror, Warden Scott moved one of the pest guy's box traps to a spot along the courtyard wall, and herded the ducklings into the trap as their tiny squawks sounded like "are you my mother?" over and over. With momma duck watching, he carried the box of webbed-footed babies inside the assisted care building and then outside into an area the hen could see. "She was on the rooftop."

Momma leads her waddling crew -- free of the fence, thanks to Warden Scott.

Momma leads her waddling crew -- free of the fence, thanks to Warden Scott.

Warden Scott carefully placed the box trap with the little loudmouths on the grass and stepped back. "She flew down near the cage," Warden Scott said. "Confident that she was very close, I tipped the open sided trap down and stepped back to watch the family reunion unfold."

The 12 little guys stumbled and pushed out the box and immediately fell in line to follow their real mom into the shelter of nearby underbrush but outside the confines of the assisted living facility.

Just like Eastman's book, this was a happy ending with mom and babes reunited. As for Warden Scott, he was all smiles, too. "It's all in a day's work for a conservation warden."

Smiling Warden Ryan a welcome sight for missing child & worried mom
Warden Ryan Caputo

Warden Ryan Caputo

It was Memorial Day weekend when Warden Ryan Caputo got the afternoon alert the Green County Sheriff's Office was looking for a child missing in the Albany area.

Not far from where he was, Warden Ryan headed his truck in the direction where the 4-year-old was last seen. At the same time, he was listening to information from dispatch about the child's clothing, locations of last seen and when.

All this was going on while the girl's family was worried the child had found her way to the Sugar River or the swamp area. Uh-oh.

So, Warden Ryan drove up the Sugar River Trail, and spotted a couple of walkers and three bicyclists. He alerted them to the missing child, and proceeded to meet the mom.

The child's mom led Warden Ryan to a favorite walking route for the girl. And with that, he took off.

"I noticed what appeared to be fresh vegetation that had been knocked over as if it had been stepped on," he said. He followed that path for about 100 yards. "That's when I heard a screaming noise about 50 yards to my east. I ran to the sound and found a female child screaming, and a male about 20 yards away from her."

The child had found her way into a large thicket of raspberry vines and was stuck. The male said he had heard the child and was trying to help her - a story that checked out later.

"As I was carrying her back to the roadway, I asked her what had happened," Warden Ryan said. "She said she had gone for a walk and had gotten lost."

It remains to be seen if she's lost her appetite for raspberries!

Training to serve: Always striving to improve
Wardens help teach water rescue training on Lake Michigan.

Wardens help teach water rescue training on Lake Michigan.

A big part of the warden’s missions is to provide the best service possible. That means training and testing skills, looking for ways to improve. In this photo, you'll see certified DNR instructors joining National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-certified instructors to train other wardens and Kenosha County Sheriff Office deputies in boat rescue and search techniques. This is good news to anyone who enjoys water fun – boaters, paddlers, swimmers and more. When there is an emergency, time is of the essence. Wardens continually assess their techniques, looking for ways to cut a second here or there and utilize equipment to the maximum. Training with other agencies provides the opportunities to share expertise and learn from each other’s experiences.

Serving up gratitude for volunteers from Brown, Kewaunee counties
Wardens serve a tasty meal to say thanks to valued volunteers.

Wardens serve a tasty meal to say thanks to valued volunteers.

Lt. George Protogere, Capt. Ben Treml and Marine Warden Darren Kuhn, left to right in photo, serve some well-deserving volunteers in the chow line at the annual Brown County and Kewaunee County Instructor Banquet. This dinner for about 62 took place at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in the early spring. The menu featured the traditionally coveted venison stew, served along with mashed potatoes, beans and two tables full of potluck desserts ranging from cookies to glazed apple pie. Prizes were donated from local businesses were raffled and drawn for including a wide variety of things ranging from paintings, shirts, hats, duck decoys and .22 ammunition.

DNR wardens, rangers on duty to help all this summer rec season
Wardens are helping in parks this year.

Wardens are helping in parks this year.

This year for the first time, wardens joined park and forest rangers to assist all outdoor enthusiasts enjoy fun and safe outings during the summer season. The patrol adjustments are part of law enforcement consolidation within the WDNR. The efforts this summer is a transition as the Bureau of Law Enforcement, Parks and Forestry work toward implementation. DNR Rangers will remain in the parks as non-credentialed officers will handle many of the same duties as they have for years – such as visitor incidents and coordinating emergency responses.

Warden Trevor Tracey helps a boater prepare for the ride.

Warden Trevor Tracey helps a boater prepare for the ride.

COPS Camp for Kids: Time for kids who have lost parents in line of duty

One of the favorite annual deployments of the DNR wardens is the national kids' camp sponsored by C.O.P.S. - Concerns of Police Survivors.

Warden Tony Young coordinates the canoe rides.

Warden Tony Young coordinates the canoe rides.

Chief Warden Todd Schaller helps tighten the all-important safety helmet.

Chief Warden Todd Schaller helps tighten the all-important safety helmet.

DNR wardens and their law enforcement partners from other agencies statewide and beyond travel to the national camp's Wisconsin base every August. Children from across the country whose law enforcement officer/parents have been killed while on duty are welcomed at the waterfront site.

This sign welcomed DNR wardens.

This sign welcomed DNR wardens.

Part One of this two-part round-up:


If you have information regarding natural resource violations, you may confidentially report by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay report information to conservation wardens.

Last Revised: Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Warden Wire