Soderlund’s job varied as area conservation officer for Clay, Union counties

Soderlund's job varied as area conservation officer for Clay, Union counties by M. Jill Karolevitz It isn�t often that jobs lead people to work at more than one specialty, especially if they are career choices that the person truly enjoys.

But Don Soderlund, conservation officer for Clay and Union counties, is embarking on a career that involves the best of what he wanted to do with his life � law enforcement and wildlife.

�I grew up in Minnesota and lived on a lake where I�d go hunting,� he said. �Now and then I would see other hunters doing something wrong and I couldn�t do anything about it.�

As he grew older, Soderlund realized that becoming a conservation officer was one way he could help enforce the laws he saw violated while he hunted on that lake as a youngster.

�We�d also go hunting in the Webster, SD, area,� he remembered. �One time I talked to a conservation officer there about the job and that�s when I knew it was something I wanted to do. This has become a dream come true for me.�

Soderlund began his new duties here Oct. 15. He was previously a member of the Capitol Police Department in Pierre, where he became a certified law enforcement officer, before starting with the S.D. Game, Fish & Parks in July.

Graduating from South Dakota State University in May of 1998, Soderlund earned a bachelor of science degree in wildlife and fisheries science, with a criminal justice minor. He and his wife, Diane, who works in North Sioux City, live in the Spink area.

Soderlund�s duties are varied, ranging from enforcing hunting, fishing, trapping and boating laws and regulations, to working with the management of state-owned lands, helping farmers establish walk-in areas and food plots, teaching hunter safety, giving classroom presentations, rescue operations on waterways and working with fisheries.

�Conservation officers also help determine how many tags are issued for deer and turkey hunting by noting their numbers in the region,� Soderlund said. �We give our information to our supervisor in Sioux Falls, who then takes it to state Game, Fish & Parks officials in Pierre.�

Answering questions about wildlife species in the area and responding to reports of potentially diseased wild animals out in the country are also part of Soderlund�s job.

�We�ll also answer calls about car-deer accidents if a deer is hit and severely injured,� he said. �If it needs to be put down, we�ll take care of that.�

Soderlund also works closely with the Clay County Sheriff�s Department.

�We back each other up,� he said. �The officers here are great to work with. If I�m not available, they can be called out and they�ll cover for me.�

Soderlund can also do the same for other conservation officers in the state. Although he is based in Clay and Union counties, his jurisdiction is statewide. As an officer for the S.D. Game, Fish & Parks, he can be called to help if he�s needed elsewhere in South Dakota.

In the Clay and Union county area, Soderlund expects to see more activity as the weather improves, especially dealing with recreation on the Missouri River.

�Summer time should be the peak time for this station,� he said.

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