LANSING – The Conservation Officer of the year award is the highest state honor for conservation officers. Cpl. Mike Hearn, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer from Kalkaska County, was recognized as the 2021 Shikar Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year. The award was presented at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting at the Lansing Community College West Campus in Lansing.
“As a true fish and game warden, it’s my privilege to celebrate Cpl. Hearn as the 2021 Conservation Officer of the Year,” said Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Hearn has a consistent, impressive case record in all natural resource topics, including recreational safety, community relationships and general criminal activity. His positive, organized, teamwork philosophy makes him a valuable asset to the DNR Law Enforcement family. We look forward to the many more career accomplishments he surely has ahead of him.”
A 2004 graduate of the DNR’s Conservation Officer Recruit School No. 3, Hearn patrolled Oscoda County for four years before transferring to Kalkaska County, where he patrolled for 13 years. Hearn gained valuable experience, serving as the only conservation officer for the two counties for several years. His ability to create excellent relationships with constituent groups, the court, landowners, and local law enforcement agencies made him an essential community asset.
Early in his career, Hearn was successful in investigating a case where two hounds were killed during the 2008 Youth Hunt, which resulted in $20,000 restitution to the owner of the dogs.
During 2020, Hearn received a hunter harassment complaint and was able to connect the patterns to an individual he encountered in 2013 for illegal hunting. The 2013 case resulted in revocation of the suspect’s hunting license and more than $16,000 restitution to the state. For the recent case, Hearn collected evidence at four remote hunting locations that belonged to the same person. Based on the amount of evidence collected, Hearn obtained an 11-count warrant for the individual’s arrest.
In 2018, Hearn safely located two teens and took into custody their armed kidnapper, when the juveniles were reported missing after not returning home from school.
In 2021, Hearn was promoted to his current position as a corporal with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement section. His strong resume of recreational education and enforcement initiatives as a field officer made him a qualified candidate to oversee the DNR’s snowmobile and off-road vehicle programs.
Hearn’s knowledge has been instrumental in training new officers, and for collaborating with other officers on speed radar programs to analyze snowmobile and ORV crash patterns to plan advanced patrols.