A Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer from Clare County was honored on Jan. 18 by the Michigan chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) at its annual convention in Big Rapids. Conservation officer Jason McCullough was named the NWTF Michigan Officer of the Year and he will also be honored on Feb. 15 at the NWTF convention in Nashville, Tenn., as the Michigan NWTF Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

McCullough was nominated by his supervisor, Sgt. Jon Wood, for the award for his work on enforcing Michigan’s turkey hunting laws.

Two examples that were used in McCullough’s nomination included his work to investigate and track down two hunters who were illegally hunting turkeys from their vehicle, and in the process nearly shooting another turkey hunter in the field. After receiving the call for help, McCullough traveled from more than an hour away to assist the hunter who was nearly shot, and then tracked down the suspects using a vague description of the vehicle, tire tread impressions, a spent shotgun shell and some turkey feathers found at the scene. The poachers were eventually prosecuted for their violations.

A short time later, in the spring of 2013, an anonymous complainant called McCullough with information that he believed a subject on private property was killing turkeys over bait in Clare County. McCullough initiated a long-term investigation of the suspect and was able to gather evidence through surveillance, trail cameras and information from neighbors that illegal activity was indeed taking place, including hunting turkeys over bait and illegally killing at least two turkeys in 2013 and four in 2012.

“We are proud of CO McCullough’s exceptional work to protect Michigan’s wild turkey population and his ability to work different types of enforcement. His quick response and thorough capabilities to conduct a long-term complex investigation were vital in solving these cases,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Protecting the resource and ensuring a safe outdoor experience for Michigan residents and visitors are among our top duties, and this honor represents the hard work of Officer McCullough to do just that.”

For more information on Michigan’s conservation officers, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers. For more information on NWTF, go to www.nwtf.org.

Logo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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