Richland County ODNR Officer Nathan Kaufmann Wins Waterfowl Award
Nathan Kaufmann had no idea his supervisor nominated him for a national award this spring.
“I received a copy when I received the award,” said Richland County’s Ohio Wildlife Officer.
He was honored last week with the Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year award by the Mississippi Flyway Council, an organization made up of 14 states and three Canadian provinces established in 1952 to coordinate the management of migratory birds. considered game in the Mississippi Flyway, which is a flyway route.
“The Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year Award is given to the law enforcement officer who demonstrates exceptional dedication and service to protect waterfowl populations from the waterfowl of Mississippi migration,” reads a press release from the ODNR. “This award highlights officers who go above and beyond protecting wetlands and waterfowl in their assigned areas, educating waterfowl, participating in waterfowl organizations, and promoting youth hunting activities.”
It’s a great honor for Kaufmann, who is continuing his career in his home country. He graduated from Shelby High School and then, in 2005, earned a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Hocking College. In 2008, he earned a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho.
He was posted by the ODNR to Huron County in 2015 and returned home in 2020 with a posting to Richland County.
“In 2019, Officer Kaufmann was selected to be a K-9 Officer Manager,” read the ODNR press release. “He and his K-9 partner, May, are often asked to assist in investigations to locate key evidence. The couple also hold demonstrations to promote and educate the public about Ohio wildlife.”
May was instrumental in helping Kaufmann win the Mississippi Flyway Council award, and he’s happy to pass the credit.
The duo regularly patrol outside of their home county — in fact, they’re the state’s boots in the field for the entire ODNR Second District.
“It’s roughly Richland County down to Lake Erie and down to Indiana,” Kaufmann explained.
It was during the last waterfowl season that he and May were patrolling the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Sanctuary, near the Marion and Wyandot counties border, when they observed a hunter shoot a wood duck out of season. illegally.
Later that year, he and May would patrol during the season for rails and snipes, which are types of migratory marsh game birds. They found a group of hunters who took down some interesting prey.
“I noticed what they fired was not rails or snipes,” Kaufmann said. “We got in touch with them and it turned out they were birds you can’t harvest.”
The hunters did not realize that they were shooting at non-game birds.
“We believe it was an honest mistake,” Kaufmann said. “But you have to be able to identify what you’re shooting at to be sure you know what it is.”
Over the past 12 months, the duo have also helped lawmakers keep game bird hunting legal at Clear Fork Reservoir in Lexington after proposed legislation almost accidentally prevented hunters from doing so.
“We met with the mayor and we attended a couple of city council meetings,” Kaufmann said. “We encouraged safe waterfowl hunting at Clear Fork Reservoir.”
It’s been a year to be recognized.
“Officer Kaufmann is dedicated to protecting waterfowl in Ohio,” the ODNR press release reads. “He frequently contacts the public to enforce wildlife regulations and educate them on the importance of waterfowl conservation. Kaufmann’s attention to detail and investigative skills help him successfully apprehend the poachers. He attends monthly meetings for local conservation clubs and participates in many special events each year.”
And recognition came as the officer worked one of his favorite seasons.
“Waterfowl are kind of unique,” Kaufmann said. “When hunters have the opportunity to shoot birds, it’s cool, but even if they don’t, it’s great to be with your friends and family.”