WWF Conservation Warden of the Year
The DNR Law Enforcement Management Team recommended Conservation Warden Steven Swiertz be nominated for this award because of his outstanding service, work ethic, and performance. Chief Warden Casey Krueger, Deputy Chief Jeremy Peery and LE Supervisor Michael Katzenberger are some of the professionals recognizing Warden Swiertz’s efforts.
As part of the Milwaukee-Ozaukee-Washington Law Enforcement Team in the Southeast Region, Warden Swiertz primarily serves Washington County and is based out of the Pike Lake Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. Warden Swiertz is a native of West Bend in Washington County and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at UW-Milwaukee.
Since graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy in the Conservation Warden Class of 2017, Swiertz has excelled at serving the public and the community while protecting Wisconsin’s Natural Resources. Swiertz began his career with WDNR as a credentialed Park Ranger in 2008. Then in 2017 he was hired as a Conservation Warden and assigned to Milwaukee County. Warden Swiertz transferred to Washington County in 2020, where he is currently assigned. Throughout his career Warden Swiertz has demonstrated exceptional leadership, teamwork, and a passion to serve the citizens of Washington County, and the State of Wisconsin.
While stationed in Milwaukee County, Warden Swiertz established many great relationships within this large metropolitan area. He worked closely with numerous organizations including Milwaukee Riverkeepers, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, Inner City Sportsmen Club, and Milwaukee Public Schools. He continually takes the initiative to mentor new wardens in how to navigate these challenges. Through Warden Swiertz’ s selfless acts he is instrumental in developing new wardens, which enables them to serve the public and protect the resources more productively.
In addition to his day-to-day duties, Warden Swiertz is tactical instructor for the DNR, field training officer, and a member of the Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (UROV) Mission Ready Team. Warden Swiertz takes time out of his normal duties to instruct at the DNR recruit police academy and has helped train numerous new conservation wardens through our field training program. Wardens Swiertz is an excellent trainer and respected throughout the state.
Warden Swiertz has embraced recreational property enforcement and works diligently every day to maintain positive relationships with the park staff at Pike Lake State Park in Washington County. Warden Swiertz also recognized the unique challenges metropolitan state properties pose in Milwaukee. In 2021 Warden Swiertz assisted the Milwaukee County wardens learn and patrol the state properties in this area (Lakeshore State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, and the Hank Aaron Trail). In addition, Warden Swiertz was the first to volunteer to assist Milwaukee County Wardens Adam Strehlow and Sam Haferkorn patrol the Milwaukee River during the Bucks Playoff/Championship run. It was a significant workload assisting the Milwaukee Police Department with public safety and crowd control on the Milwaukee River. Warden Swiertz had local knowledge of the area and assisted with this task outside his administrative area. In addition, Warden Swiertz proactively worked shifts at Lakeshore State Park during Summerfest in September 2021. Due to Warden Swiertz’s experience in the area he knew the workload this event entailed because of the volume of visitors through Lakeshore State Park. Warden Swiertz genuinely cared about the Milwaukee County wardens’ success and safety and took it upon himself to work shifts with them and helped them learn skilled and safe patrol strategies. Not only did his hard work provide safety to the park visitors, but it also demonstrated his willingness to work cooperatively alongside the park staff. Warden Swiertz is instrumental in providing a safe environment on our state properties for people to recreate, whether they are hiking, fishing, hunting, swimming, or enjoying a picnic. He helps create safe places for people to enjoy natural resources.
Warden Swiertz is active in all facets of fish and game/recreational vehicle enforcement throughout Washington County. During most of 2021 he was the only warden there and provided coverage for a vacant station. Warden Swiertz responded to 56 boating-related calls for service, which included OWI enforcement, registration, and safety related violations. He also responded to 47 calls for service involving fishing enforcement, which included bag limit violations, size limit violations, fishing by illegal means, and fishing license violations. Warden Swiertz responded to 69 hunting calls for service, which included weapons violations, registration violations, illegal baiting, and hunting harassment. From the start of 2021 through the present, he has responded to and investigated 533 calls for service. This is a very high call volume, and he has proven to be an exceptional investigator and interviewer. He maintains an excellent rapport with the District Attorney’s office to successfully prosecute wildlife cases/crimes.
In January 2021 Warden Swiertz received a complaint of a dead deer that had been shot with a crossbow at night and found hidden under a tree next to a business. He conducted several interviews with the reporting party to gather a timeline of the events, obtained a written statement, and collected evidence. He then located and interviewed the suspect and discovered the suspect shot the deer at 9:30 pm while standing in the parking lot of the business he is employed. The suspect then hid the dead deer under a pine tree with plans to return for it later. The suspect was later confronted by his supervisor and other employees, got scared and never returned for the deer. Through Warden Swiertz’s follow up and interview he held this person accountable for a criminal deer violation of hunting deer without a license and 20 plus civil forfeitures for illegally harvesting eight deer between 2019 and 2021. This is just one of many examples of how Warden Swiertz takes a “routine” complaint and through his extraordinary investigatory skills can uncover multiple violations/crimes and hold people accountable for their actions while protecting our natural resources.
For his service, we honor Steven Swiertz as WWF’s Conservation Warden of the Year.