For retiring Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer (CO) Brad Johnson of Maplewood the most enjoyable or rewarding part of the job was serving the public.
“I had a lot of calls from the public on animal and bird issues during my tenure,” said Johnson, who retires March 8. “If I write a book, it will be titled something like, ‘The critters that bit me.’ I still have the scar from a beaver bite.”
Johnson, who grew up in Osseo and Brooklyn Park, started his law enforcement career as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1987, moved to the Minneapolis Police Department in 1991, and became a Minnesota DNR conservation officer in 1994.
“My goal when becoming a CO was to get out of the city and into the woods,” Johnson said.
His DNR career led to field stations in Lino Lakes, Silver Bay, Ham Lake, and Maplewood.
“Silver Bay was my favorite on the North Shore of Lake Superior, into the Superior National Forest, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness,” he said.
He also served as a K-9 handler with one of the DNR’s first German Shepard dogs from 1999-2006, served on the Waterfowl Task Force, taught falconry at the Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley, and served as a field training officer for new CO recruits.
“I was the DNR Enforcement Division’s unofficial falconry and wildlife rehabilitation expert.”
Reflecting on his time with DNR, Johnson likes to think that he helped protect Minnesota’s natural resources.
“’I’ll miss the officers and staff that I worked with.”
In retirement, Johnson said he may work as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service or as summer seasonal staff with the Minnesota DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.