The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Justice/Division of Criminal Investigation remind outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious if they come across illegal drug-growing operations in remote areas of Wisconsin.

While several large grows have been found and removed recently, including one in late August in Oconto County, there still may be more marijuana-growing operations on remote public and private lands, with some growers potentially armed and ready to protect their product.

“Even though local, state and federal law enforcement authorities have successfully teamed up and addressed several large grows on public and private lands, it’s important people continue to be vigilant,” Wisconsin Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark said. “There still could be illegal drug operations on the landscape that may pose a threat to safety. These grows leave a costly mess to clean up, deprive the public of the intended use of their lands, and potentially put the public in physical danger. With the large number of outdoor enthusiasts in the woods this time of year and the current harvesting of these grows taking place, the public needs to exercise some caution. Wisconsin is blessed with beautiful public lands and waters. We are grateful that law-abiding citizens care enough about their public lands to report problems.”

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen agreed. “These kinds of grows present a significant public safety and environmental hazard,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to prevent these grows from ever taking hold and the drugs from winding up on the street, but we need the public’s help in reporting what they see if something that strikes them as suspicious.”

Officials say people should be aware of the following:

  • Signs of activity or items that suggest someone is living in an area. This includes huts, tents, irrigation hoses, watering jugs and chemical containers; and,
  • Signs of disturbed vegetation, such as abnormal cuttings or the clearing of small areas.

If suspicious activity is found, notify local law enforcement. The WDNR also operates a confidential tip line staffed round-the-clock for reporting suspected or observed illegal activity. The number is 1-800-TIP-WDNR(1-800-847-9367 or cell #367). You also can call the DCI toll-free at 1-800-NAB-DRUG (1-800-622-3784)

“Don’t put yourself in danger or try to investigate the site yourself. Back out of the area the way you entered, and if possible, record anything you observe such as vehicle descriptions, license or registration numbers from vehicles, and GPS coordinates,” Stark said. “We want everyone to be safe and enjoy Wisconsin’s outdoors and traditions. Let’s work together to ensure our public lands are used for their intended purpose.”

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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