Sarley: llinois Conservation Police preparing to hire trainees next year

I recently traveled to Brainerd, Minnesota, to attend a seminar organized by Al Lindner regarding teaching people how to make a living in the world of fishing. Lindner had many people give presentations on close to a dozen different areas of the industry that one might care to be employed in.

After the seminar ended, I was asked by a man and his son – who had traveled to Brainerd from the McHenry County area – what career I would recommend for the lad. Without hesitation, I quickly responded that I would advise him to look for a career in the conservation department. I told him that I felt the work was honorable, the pay was very good and the pension and other benefits made it a “no brainer.”

Working for the conservation department might not be as sexy as being a pro fisherman, but the paychecks are issued regularly, and you don’t have to worry about missing a mortgage payment if you lose a fish or two.

You all know what a huge fan I am of the Illinois Conservation Police. I think those folks do an exceptional job even though they are understaffed and have limited resources to rely on.

I get really irritated when I hear people refer to the Conservation Police in a derogatory manner, using names like “squirrel cops” and the like. These officers are trained the same way that the Illinois State Police are. These officers are even trained a little more thoroughly because they are sometimes loaned out to the FBI for special programs.

Our conservation officers have total police powers and run into dangerous situations on a daily basis. It is not a job for the weak of heart. These people really earn their salaries.

A few years ago, I was able to write about a day I spent out on patrol with the Conservation Police. We first encountered a hunter trespassing and without the proper apparel and permits. It was scary approaching someone with a loaded shotgun in their hands. What if the guy had been someone with an outstanding warrant? Might he have been thinking about firing at the police rather than going to jail? Who knows?

That same day, we also ran into someone holding a very sharp axe who was driving an illegal vehicle and out on parole. When he was arrested, he went a little insane. It was a very tense situation. Yes, the officers really earn their pay.

I recently received an email from Curtis D. Lewis, who is a Conservation Police Lieutenant in the Training Section for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He said, “The Illinois Conservation Police is extremely short-handed and were finally given the approval to start the testing process for Conservation Police Officer Trainees. ... We want to get the largest applicant pool we can for the potential 20 positions we hope to fill next summer. We really want to recruit from the Chicagoland area and get some quality applicants that want to start a career in the best law enforcement career around.”

I am so happy to hear this, and I am glad to be able to share this with all of you. Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested in an excellent opportunity to take part in an extremely interesting and worthwhile field of work.

“The Illinois Conservation Police will be starting the testing process for Conservation Police officer trainees in January. The written exam will be offered by CMS at their testing facilities on Jan. 22-25 and Jan. 29-Feb. 1. Everyone interested in taking the exam must complete the CMS-100 application and submit it to CMS prior to taking the exam.

“In order to be eligible to be hired as a Conservation Police officer trainee, an applicant must at the time of hire hold: a two-year associate's degree and have three consecutive years of experience as a police officer with the same law enforcement agency; or hold a four-year bachelor's degree.

“The above collegiate educational requirements are considered waived if one of the following conditions have been met: have been honorably discharged and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by the United States Armed Forces; or are active members of the Illinois National Guard or a reservist component of the Unites States Armed Forces and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal as a result of honorable service during deployment on active duty.

“For more information, persons interested may visit the following sites or contact Lt. Curt Lewis at or by phone at (217)-785-8407.”


Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Winter has arrived, and as much as I would like to ice fish, I miss the other three warmer seasons. Ice has come to the small ponds, channels and bays of lakes. The reports I am getting say that there are about 2 to 3 inches but making ice every day. Safety should be the priority and that includes safety for pets that can also fall through. Wax worms and spikes will work for the panfish. Use a medium or large golden roach minnow on your tip-ups. For info on northern Illinois fishing, call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.”


Whitetail deer hunting: During the three-day Muzzleloader Deer Season, December 8-10, Illinois deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 3,700 deer, compared to 3,308 in 2016. The harvest sex ratios were 55 percent does and 45 percent males. The top five counties were Pike (168), Adams (120), Jefferson (112), Randolph (103) and Fulton (102).

Here are some totals for a few selected northern Illinois counties. The first total is for the 2016 season and the number in parentheses is for the 2017 season – McHenry 10 (13), Winnebago 13 (13), Kane 1 (6), DeKalb 2 (3) and Boone 2 (0).

Through Sunday, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a total of 52,650 deer, compared to 48,228 for the same period in 2016. The total harvest to date has consisted of 44 percent does and 56 percent males. The top five counties were Pike (1,852), Fulton (1,474), Jefferson (1,236), Adams (1,155) and Williamson (1,040).

Here are some totals for a few selected northern Illinois counties. The first total is for the 2016 season and the number in parentheses is for the 2017 season – McHenry 433 (447), Lake 198 (282), Winnebago 413 (416), Kane 200 (259), DeKalb 151 (138), Boone 108 (114), Cook 78 (100) and DuPage 20 (33).

Brandon Road Lock and Dam: B.A.S.S. and other hunting, angling, conservation and outdoor industry organizations, have submitted public comments in support of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to prevent Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.

The Brandon Road Lock and Dam, near Joliet, and below the Chicago Area Waterway System has been designated a “chokepoint” to reduce the risk of invasive Asian carp swimming directly into Lake Michigan. The Corps' "Tentatively Selected Plan" (TSP) proposes a gauntlet of technologies including an electric barrier, water jets, complex sound and a flushing lock to reduce the risk of Asian carp getting through, while still allowing navigation through the lock.

"Asian carp pose one of the greatest threats to the Great Lakes and the world-class smallmouth bass fishery that anglers travel from all over the country to enjoy," said B.A.S.S. conservation director Gene Gilliland. "The Great Lakes are home to many invasive species. Some of those invaders have been worse than others, but just how many more can the system take before it reaches a tipping point and bad things start to happen? Bass fishermen sometimes don't recognize invasive species as such a bad thing, especially when you talk about the Great Lakes.

"Zebra mussels and gobies, while real problems for industry and shipping, have proved to be a boon to the bass population, but nothing good can come from an Asian carp invasion. These fish have incredibly high reproductive potential, and in short order, can make up the majority of the pounds of fish a body of water can support. They filter out the plankton that is the base of the food chain for everything else, there are few markets for them and no real way to control the population explosion."

While expressing support for the TSP, the groups in the letter also urge the Corps of Engineers to pursue full federal funding of the $275 million estimated cost, rather than require a local cost share, due to the national significance of the issue.

• Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called “WeFishASA.” You can find it at

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