Conservation Officers Honored

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department recently honored New Hampshire 2011 Conservation Officers of the Year and an OHRV Program Coordinator for outstanding service.

The Law Enforcement recipients were Conservation Officer Mark W. Ober Jr. of Franconia and Sergeant Scott LaCrosse of Loudon. Retired Major Tim Acerno, now a regional Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle Program Coordinator, was recognized as the 2011 OHRV Safety Education Instructor of the Year. The awards were presented at the N.H. Fish and Game Commission meeting on May 16, 2012, in Concord.

CONSERVATION OFFICER MARK W. OBER JR. of Franconia was selected as the New Hampshire 2011 Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year. A 7-year veteran of Fish and Game, Ober patrols in northern New Hampshire, covering Berlin, Gorham, Success, Randolph, Shelburne and various grants and purchases surrounding Mount Washington.

Since his patrol area includes Mount Washington and the Presidential Mountain Range, it is a center not only for traditional Fish and Game Law Enforcement, but frequent search and rescue activity. Ober constantly responds to hikers in distress; in 2011, he participated in over 20 missions as an active member of Fish and Game’s Advanced Search and Rescue Team. He is also a member of Fish and Game Dive Team; several of his recent missions involved evidence recovery from high-profile violent crimes. Ober is a Firearms Instructor and Armorer, a Field Training Officer and has commanded Fish and Game’s Honor Guard.

“Ober has shown a tremendous tenacity in the performance of his duties,” said Col. Martin Garabedian, Chief of Fish and Game Law Enforcement. He cited Ober’s consistent work on OHRV enforcement, as well as fish and game criminal investigations. During the past year, Ober’s efforts resulted in the successful prosecution of several deer poaching cases and a large-scale baiting operation in Coos County. He also helped the New Hampshire State Police apprehend an armed man.

“Mark is always an effective ambassador for Fish and Game,” added Garabedian. “Through his hard work and dedication, he has earned the respect of his law enforcement peers and the general public.”

The Shikar-Safari Club International is a worldwide organization dedicated to the protection, enhancement and preservation of wildlife, with emphasis on endangered and threatened species and promoting the enforcement of conservation laws and regulations.

SERGEANT SCOTT F. LACROSSE of Loudon was honored as the New Hampshire 2011 Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association Conservation Officer of the Year.

LaCrosse is a 23-year veteran of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and serves as a first-line supervisor for a unit of Conservation Officers assigned to the District Five Patrol area, which serves populous south-central New Hampshire.

During the past year, LaCrosse has been responsible for overseeing Fish and Game’s response to several critical incidents, including multiple searches, two hunting-related shootings, a drowning, and a trail bike accident that resulted in serious injury. He has fostered a strong relationship with the members of the Army Air National Guard Blackhawk Helicopter and is often called upon to assist the helicopter crew with air searches during complicated search and rescue missions.

LaCrosse has taken on many additional duties as a Conservation Officer. He is a Field Training Officer and a valued member of the Advanced Search and Rescue Team and the Conservation Officer’s Oral Interview Board. He instructs other officers in defensive tactics, map/compass and GPS land navigation skills, and use of expandable batons and handcuffs.

“This Division has come to rely on the consistent reliability we see from Sergeant LaCrosse on a daily basis. Scott is our go-to guy, if you will — he can get any job done right,” observed Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Martin Garabedian in presenting the award.

The Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association represents chiefs and command staff of law enforcement organizations throughout the northeastern U.S. and Canada. Its purpose is to encourage enhanced law enforcement cooperation among the member states and provinces, to study and exchange fish and wildlife law enforcement techniques and perspectives, and to promote cooperation and understanding among allied agencies in wildlife conservation and management.

TIMOTHY J. ACERNO of Raymond, was honored as the 2011 OHRV Safety Education Instructor of the Year. This award was created in 2003 in memory of Bud Wool and Jack Willey, who were pioneers in setting the standards of safety education for snowmobiles and OHRVs. Acerno retired from Fish and Game last year, where he had earned the rank of Major; he had coordinated OHRV safety education and enforcement since 1992. Since his retirement, Acerno has volunteered as an OHRV instructor and is now a regional coordinator.

“Tim’s recommendations to safety training programs, campaigns, and Fish and Game initiatives are exceptional and have helped shape the outstanding safety and education programs that students and parents enjoy today,” said Captain John Wimsatt, the current OHRV Safety Education and Enforcement Coordinator. “On behalf of the N.H. Fish and Game Department and the entire OHRV and snowmobile community, it is my distinct pleasure to present the 2011 OHRV Safety Instructor of the Year Award to Timothy J. Acerno.”