If you’ve got a concern about wildlife, Evan Huegel is here to help.

Huegel 31, is Stark County’s new state wildlife officer, recently assigned to the post by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Florida native grew up on a 10,000-acre wildlife preserve and “spent pretty much every day of my childhood in the woods playing around.”

He’s passionate about the outdoors. “I know I don’t know a lot about a lot of things, but I know a lot about hunting and fishing and trapping, and I can relate to those types of people a lot.”

After being stopped by a game warden, he realized his future dream job.

“It just seemed like that was like, probably the coolest job to do in the world,” he said.

Huegel joined the U.S. Navy. He actively serves as a search and rescue swimmer and is a leading petty officer for the United Forces Japan Det 105 in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

After eight years of service, he began pursing a career in wildlife. He earned a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science from Oregon State University.

Huegel and his wife, Briana, moved to Ohio about five years ago to be closer to family. They have two children.

He was previously a natural resource officer with the Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft at Mohican State Park.

Stark County was his first choice after completing Division of Wildlife training as the county has a good mix of rural and urban areas.

“It will definitely keep me busy,” he said.

GateHouse Media Ohio asked him a few questions:

What does a state wildlife officer do?

It depends on the season, really.

After hunting season, we do a lot of interviews with wildlife investigations, hunting investigations, that happened in the prior season.

Then it turns into fishing. Right now, we’re mainly focused on walleye. And then spring turkey season’s about right around the corner, too.

Mainly in the summer months, we like to do a lot of events and education on pretty much anything wildlife related.

And then in fall, we’re mainly focused on duck hunting, deer hunting, pretty much anything of that nature. There’s a lot of traffic and traffic enforcement that we do.

Also, ginseng (a root used in traditional medicine) is a big thing that’s rising that we focus on. Because it’s worth a lot of money and people like to go out and trespass on properties and take it. You’re not allowed to take it from state property.

What’s a typical day right now?

Right now there’s a lot of goose complaints. Especially in downtown Canton, a lot of businesses have geese that are laying nests in flower beds and then the males get really aggressive, they try to protect the females, so they attack people ...

We try to educate people on dealing with that by fencing around the nest and protecting the female, therefore the male won’t get too aggressive. Once the female feels like she’s secluded in the area and protected, the male doesn’t really bother (anyone).

But sometimes we do give permits. If they can’t seem to deal with the issue, there are permits that we give out to either take the nest or euthanize the bird. However, that’s kind of like a last resort. Because they are federally protected along with any migratory bird.

What part of your job would surprise people?

I feel like a lot of people think that we just do hunting and fishing checks. But we do a lot of education. We like to go out to youth events, we go to schools. We can teach about anything wildlife related.

About 30 percent of our job is police work, law enforcement work. ... A lot of it is reaching out to the public. Stark County has the most conservation clubs in the whole state. We like to get out to those clubs and go with updates on what the Division of Wildlife is doing. Really building relationships with the public.

Have you come across anything unusual or interesting?

Just the other day we were just doing some routine patrol on fishing, and a guy exploded a mailbox driving down the road. And we assisted the local (police) with that OVI. We were kind of the main ones that stopped that.

It could range from pretty much anything; you think you’re doing fishing patrol and then the next thing you know, you’re stopping a car for drunk driving and having a weapon, or they have a gun in the seat they weren’t allowed to have. It could turn pretty much into anything when you’re wearing a badge ...

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I love talking to people. I love gaining new relationships. And this job is so cool in that I’m the one and only within the county, so a lot of people will have questions regarding wildlife. And I love being that one person that people can call and people can talk to about pretty much anything.

I’m really excited to meet a number of people within the county. There’s so many different contacts that you can have, whether it be government agencies, there’s rehab centers for wildlife, there’s Stark Parks ... just the public in general. I think it’s pretty cool that I can stop anywhere and someone has a question about something and I get to be the one to answer that.

 

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or jessica.holbrook@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.