PRATT (KSNT) – Kansas game wardens serve as law enforcement in state parks and wildlife areas and are charged with ensuring the safety of Kansans and the Sunflower State’s visitors. The job they do is demanding and tough and recently several game wardens were publicly recognized for going above and beyond their sworn duty both on and off the field last year.
Wardens Hal Kaina and Greg Salisbury both received the award of merit; Kaina for his investigation that led to the arrest of a person stealing copper wire from agricultural irrigation systems. Fellow warden Salisbury was honored for his actions at a house fire in rural Ottawa County.
The work of two wardens over the course of several years resulted in the arrests of four people from Mississippi. The group was charges with multiple counts of taking deer, some classified as trophy animals without the individuals having licenses or permits. Wardens Matt Hanvey and Jason Harrold received the Richard Harrold Memorial Award for Investigations for their tireless work in this multi-year case.
Now going into summer we are more aware than the rest of the year that water safety is of utmost importance at Kansas State Parks. Warden Kurt Hudson was honored as the Boating Officer of the Year for his work to educate the public across Kansas and also to better educate himself with advanced training.
The Life Saving Award went to Josh DeHoux, Jeff Goeckler, Lance Hockett, and Jesse Gehrt for 2014. After witnessing a car accident on I-35 in the Kansas City area, DeHoux stopped and helped perform CPR on one of the victims. Although the person did not survive, the warden was recognized for his heroic efforts to save their life. In another incident Goeckler, Hockett, and Gehrt arrived on the scene of a hunter who had been shot with a 20 gauge shotgun. Their efforts combined with those of EMS saved the hunter’s life.
In a remarkable show of strength and sense of duty, a wounded warden managed to help others injured in a serious accident. While on patrol, Owen Johnson was involved in a vehicle accident that left with him with a triple fracture to his fifth neck vertebrae, a fractured eye socket, broken nose, three fractured ribs, and multiple contusions of the head. Still, the warden managed to call for help and gave aid to the other victims of the accident until emergency responders arrived. He was presented the Award of Valor for 2014.
The Director’s Award was presented to nine individuals and a canine team for their investigation and prosecution of 8 people ultimately charged with 48 crimes. Lt. Bob Funke, Brad Hageman, Jeff Cakin, Lynn Koch, Jon Entwhistle, Mike Hopper, Scott Leamon, Ben Womelsdorf and K-9 Libby, and Investigator Jason Hawman’s work resulted in charges including four counts of felony commercialization of wildlife as well as possession of stolen property. Federal agencies and the Osage County Sheriff’s Office were also involved in the complex investigation.
Lastly, the Officer of the Year Award went to Dave Adams. Warden Adams was recognized for his “dedication to the mission of conservation law enforcement”. In addition to his enforcement duties, the warden is also involved in hunter education, boating safety, and the Archery in the Schools program.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a game warden in the state of Kansas, you can visit www.ksoutdoors.com/Services/Law-Enforcement