2016-11-10 / Outdoors

Poachers beware: Peninsula adds second conservation officer

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


LEELANAU COUNTY Sheriff Mike Borkovich shakes hands with Colton Gelinas, a fully commissioned conservation officer who started in the county last week. Borkovich introduced Gelinas to the Enterprise last Thursday. LEELANAU COUNTY Sheriff Mike Borkovich shakes hands with Colton Gelinas, a fully commissioned conservation officer who started in the county last week. Borkovich introduced Gelinas to the Enterprise last Thursday. Colton Gelinas has heard nothing but good things about the Leelanau County fish and wildlife scene.

“It’s big buck country,” said Gelinas, who grew up hunting and fishing with his father in Kalkaska.

The 24-year-old conservation officer is about to learn a lot more about the county after the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assigned him to patrol the peninsula last week.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the addition is part of a years-long effort to put more conservation officers to work across the state.

“As a former conservation officer, I’m really happy to see the DNR send a second officer up here — and to have more help during general law enforcement as well as the ability to have two officers in the county,” Borkovich said. “Traditionally, it’s only been a one-officer county.”

Gelinas, who completed his 22-week DNR training in June, will join Conservation Officer Patrick McManus in enforcing fish and game laws locally.

And he’s prepared to do just that.

Gelinas spent about three years in law enforcement prior to becoming a conservation officer, completed his eight weeks of on-the-job training with various officers in Michigan and spent time on his own in Benzie Counties and Ogemaw Counties.

What inspired him to become a conservation officer?

“I want future families and generations to be able to hunt and fish just like I was brought up and my dad was brought up,” Gelinas said, “and I always wanted to be in law enforcement, so it’s perfect.”

Though he visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as a kid and played Suttons Bay in sports, Gelinas admitted last Thursday that he’s finding his way around the peninsula.

“I’m just trying to learn the roads,” he said.

As of Thursday, he said he hadn’t seen any deer in the county, though he was in Fishtown on Sunday when hunters returned from the North Manitou Island Deer Hunt.

Gelinas said he looks forward to getting to know locals and that he’s happy to be here.

“I’m just an outdoorsman and a people person,” he said. “I’m here for the people. If they have any (tips), don’t be afraid to call our poaching hotline with anything and I’ll be happy to talk with them. We’re here for the people.”

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