State's top warden to retire badge in fallSuperior native retires after 30 years with DNR, serving the last 10+ as the state's top warden.
By: By Joanne M. Haas/Bureau of Law Enforcement, Superior Telegram
The man who has led the state’s conservation warden service for more than a decade says he will retire his badge this fall, capping nearly 30 years of public service with the Department of Natural Resources’ Bureau of Law Enforcement.
Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark says he will leave his position around October when he reaches retirement age. Stark joined the warden service in 1984 and became chief in 2002.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says Stark has led the warden service through challenging times -- including two economic downturns, constant technology changes and the arrival of invasive species and wildlife diseases. “Under Randy’s leadership for the last decade, the Bureau of Law Enforcement has effectively responded to these and many other challenges,” Stepp said. “These accomplishments have positioned the warden service for continued success in the future.”
Stepp says a national search for Stark’s replacement will be done later this year. “The warden service provides vital public service, and it is imperative to find the best candidates possible -– both internal and external.”
The chief warden leads and manages the warden service which enforces laws dealing with hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational vehicle, aquatic invasive species, outdoor recreation and environmental protection, as well as providing assistance to other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies when needed.
“The work wardens do is important to both current and future generations. Everything ultimately is a subsidiary of our natural resources – our quality of life, our economy, our health and our outdoor recreational opportunities,” Stark said. “Wardens are ambassadors for conservation who are entrusted by the public to work for them, and with them, to conserve and to protect these natural resources and to pass on the conservation ethic to future generations of Wisconsinites.”
A Wisconsin native who grew up in Superior and graduated from Superior Senior High School in 1979 with a passion for the outdoors, Stark says he has been “fortunate to have had a career working with outstanding, competent and extremely dedicated wardens and other DNR colleagues who have always kept their focus on the mission to protect the natural resources and the people who enjoy them.”
Stark credited the people of Wisconsin with the success of the warden service over its 134-year history. “We could not be successful in doing our job without the public’s support and involvement. Wisconsin is blessed with citizens who care deeply about our natural resources. It’s been an honor to serve in this capacity.”
Stark also has worked on conservation law enforcement at the national level. He is the president of the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs -- a valuable collaboration of chief wardens across the country. “Natural resource protection crosses borders, and citizens of every state benefit from the efficiencies and effectiveness of a strong national conservation law enforcement network where officers readily work together,” Stark said.
Meanwhile, Stark says 2013 has plenty of work to do before he calls it a three-decade career. “I expect to work as hard on my last day as I did on my first.”