On watch: Military veteran now serves as DNR officer

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Sgt. Troy Bahlau, area law supervisor, District 8, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Division, was the guest speaker at a November meeting of NALS of Jackson County.    

“Sometimes the public doesn’t realize that Conservation Officers are certified State Law Enforcement Officers who can enforce all laws in the State of Michigan. Many times the general public who doesn’t have a connection with hunting and fishing believe conservation officers are more like park rangers,” said Bahlau, adding that he finds the most enjoyable part of being a conservation officer is change in work duties depending on different seasons and weather.     

Bahlau’s presentation was a topical one about hunting.

“Big bucks are big business,” he explained. “Contests can win you big prizes and lots of cash, so there is more incentive to violate laws but now there are enhanced fines to counter this based on the points on the buck rack for violations of the hunting laws.”

A native of Vandercook Lake near Jackson, and a graduate of Vandercook Lake High School, Bahlau started boxing at the age  of 12 and continued to box until the age of 17 with the Jackson Area Boxing (JAB) Club. 

After enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1986 as an Infantry Marine, he was assigned to Marine Security Forces in Puerto Rico, then to the 2nd Marine Division as a Cold Weather Marine.

“I served as far as 200 miles above the Arctic Circle in Norway,” he said. “The Infantry life is hard enough, but add in six feet of snow and below zero temperatures and things get much worse.

“It was a great learning experience and you find with the right training and equipment, it’s quite easy to exist and function for long periods of time in that extreme environment.  Because of that training to this day I enjoy camping and canoeing in the winter.”

In 1990, Bahlau re-enlisted and was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm.  After returning, he completed the elite Amphibious Reconnaissance Course (ARC), and was assigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton in California.    

Honorably discharged from active duty in 1992, Bahlau returned to Michigan where he continued to serve as an Infantry Platoon Sgt. with the Marine Reserves, Charlie Co. 1/24 in Lansing.   

In 1994, Bahlau was hired by the State of Michigan, Department of Corrections as a Corrections Officer.

“I spent my first year with the MDOC assigned to the Adrian Corrections Facility and was directly involved in the prison riot there in June of 1995,” he said.

After completing his one-year probation period, he accepted a promotion as a Michigan Drill Instructor at SAI (Special Alternative Incarceration), Boot Camp for convicted felons, outside Chelsea.

In 1997, he was hired by the Michigan DNR Law Division and sent to the Northeastern Police Academy in Saginaw County, after which he was assigned as one of two Conservation Officers for Jackson County.
“There are some very beautiful areas in Jackson County – it would be hard to pick just one, but I would say my favorite time to enjoy them would be at sunrise or sunset when all is peaceful and the wildlife is moving,” he said. 

After the 9/11 attacks, Bahlau re-enlisted in the Army National Guard’s Special Operations unit, Company F, 425th Infantry Airborne LRS, (Long Range Surveillance) at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Assigned as a Team Leader of Team 1-6, he deployed to Iraq in December of 2003 and returned in February 2005.

“After 9/11, I was proud to know I was directly involved in fighting back, and I enjoyed the brotherhood and friendships that can only be forged in combat,” he said.

“My family has served and continues to serve this great country starting with my great-grandfather in World War I to both grandparents in World War II, my father in Vietnam, and me and my brothers and countless cousins who have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In early 2005, Bahlau resumed his duties as a Michigan Conservation Officer. In 2008 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and became an Area Law Supervisor, supervising Jackson, Ingham, Clinton, Livingston and Shiawassee Counties and eight Conservation Officers.

Bahlau makes his home in Horton with Amy, his wife of 19 years, a hair stylist and owner of Elements of Hair Design in Jackson. The couple’s three children, Jayden, 15, York, 13 and Cole, 11, attend Hanover Schools.

“They keep us busy with every sport you can think of,” Bahlau said.

In his leisure time, Bahlau enjoys hunting, fishing, classic cars, coaching youth sports, traveling, and collecting U.S. military memorabilia.
 

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