Skip to main content

Game Warden Stories: 2-Year-Old Found, Lifetime Ban, Strangled Goose

Here's a look at recent cases conservation officers faced in the field all across the nation.

Game Warden Stories: 2-Year-Old Found, Lifetime Ban, Strangled Goose

Lt. Brandon Kieft with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources holds Gabriella Vitale in the search and rescue command center while waiting for her family to arrive. Kieft fed Gabriella food and water until EMS arrived and evaluated her. Kieft was the first law enforcement agent to arrive on scene Tuesday morning, when a retreat group reported that they believed Gabriella Vitale was on their porch. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.)

Wildlife officers — or game wardens — face a myriad of incidents when in the field.

These game warden stories range from the serious to the ridiculous.

Compiled from staff and agency reports.

Conservation Officer Greets Missing 2-Year-Old

(From Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources) Lt. Brandon Kieft, a conservation officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, was the first law enforcement agent to arrive at the scene when a group of people reported that they believed they had found a 2-year-old girl who went missing Monday morning, July 15, and touched off a frantic search for her in the north Michigan woods.


More than 20 DNR conservation officers were working the search-and-rescue operation to find Gabriella Vitale, 2, with several other law enforcement agencies, including the Oscoda County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police. Kieft was at the search and rescue command center when the call was received Tuesday morning from the group of people who believed they found the girl.


Kieft headed to the area and arrived at the cabin where the girl was reported to be located, which is about one mile west of M-33 in Oscoda. There, he was able to positively identify the young girl around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“I asked her if she wanted to go see mommy and she lit up – she came right to me and gave me a big hug,” Kieft said.

The girl was wearing half her T-shirt at the time and was missing her pants and shoes. Other than some scrapes and minor bruises, she was in good condition for being on her own in the woods for over 24 hours.

“It was great how many people came together to help. Gabriella’s family was there, also helping,” Kieft said. “There were several law enforcement agencies involved, we all put in hard work and were very lucky.”


Read more about this story 

Colo. Man Gets Lifetime Ban

A previously convicted wildlife violator in Colorado has had his hunting, trapping and fishing privileges suspended for the rest of his life after an investigation by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife led to 22 charges, a felony conviction and jail time. The suspension includes 48 other states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the suspension last month for Jeff Bodnar, 46, of Hartsel, Colo., the agency reported, Bodnar pleaded guilty in May to possession of a weapon by a previous offender, a class 6 felony, and unlawful possession of two black bears and a mountain lion. Bodnar, who had had his privileges revoked twice before, was fined $4,593.50 and sentenced to 10 days in jail.


“Mr. Bodnar appears to possess a complete disregard for Colorado's hunting laws and a total indifference for wildlife," said wildlife officer Ian Petkash in a news release. "We take these investigations seriously because of the toll someone like this can take on local wildlife populations.”

Bednar had been investigated for years, the agency said. In 2008, he was convicted in federal court and spent 27 months in federal prison for violating the Lacey Act for attempting to sell illegally killed bobcats across state lines. In 2014 Bodnar was suspected of resuming hunting and trapping while under his suspension. Wildlife officers initiated a multi-year investigation that led to his arrest.

Read more here

Strangled Goose at Gas Station

A New York conservation officer investigated a July 4th case involving a Canada goose that had been lured, grabbed and killed by a customer at a gas station In Onondaga County.

According to the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation, employees of the gas station called police to report a customer had lured several geese nearby with crackers, then “grabbed one of the geese, strangled it, tossed it into his van, and quickly drove away.”

The suspect was found several hours later and the man reportedly didn’t deny the alleged offense, but claimed he was attacked by the goose. He later admitted to the whole thing when it was clear his actions were probably on security camera footage.

Charged with taking waterfowl out of season and illegally taking protected wildlife, he faces a $250 fine and 15 days in jail for each charge.

Read more NYDEC police highlights

What Do You Have to Hide?

Montgomery County, Texas, game wardens noticed an unoccupied vehicle with a door open at a camping area in the Sam Houston National Forest, so they investigated. But as they did, a young male approached and told the officers they weren’t entitled to search the vehicle.

The suspect appeared intoxicated and in possession of alcohol, both Class C misdemeanors in a wildlife management area. So, you guessed it; they continued to investigate.

The young man refused to give his name and date of birth, another Class C misdemeanor. Further searching found a vape pen with a waxy substance that tested positive for THC, presumably hash oil. That’s a felony.

Read more Texas Game Wardens Field Notes

Missouri Increases Poaching Penalties

The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri legislature and governor have taken actions to increase penalties for poaching game animals and other native wildlife species in the state.

Missouri Governor Michael Parson signed HB260 into law July 11. Called the Poaching Bill, it significantly raises fines for those convicted of poaching. HB260 was sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor and Senator Mike Bernskoetter.

New fine amounts include $10,000-$15,000 for each elk or black bear killed illegally, $1,000-$5,000 for each white-tailed buck, $500-$1,000 for each wild turkey, and $500-$1,000 for each paddlefish.

Learn more here

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters.The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation & Politics

The firearm industry wants to have a brave conversation. It's not comfortable, but it's a life-saving discussion.Mental Health and Firearm Ownership Conservation & Politics

Mental Health and Firearm Ownership

Joe Bartozzi - October 07, 2020

The firearm industry wants to have a brave conversation. It's not comfortable, but it's a...

Former Vice President Joe Biden's gun control agenda includes plans to get rid of the Tiahrt Amendment. What does this mean?Biden's Dangerous Gun Control Plans: Repealing Tiahrt Conservation & Politics

Biden's Dangerous Gun Control Plans: Repealing Tiahrt

Larry Keane - October 14, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden's gun control agenda includes plans to get rid of the Tiahrt...

See More Conservation & Politics

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now