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Views and opinions: Conservation officers kept running with injury reports

Conservation officers kept running with injury reports

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers had a busy February, to say the least.

First off, officers are investigating the death of a Rensselaer man who fell through the ice on Feb. 23 on a private pond in Jasper County. Timothy Powers, 48, of Rensselaer and Anthony Ballone, 31, of Jasonville were ice fishing when both men fell through the ice.

Ballone was able to reach the shore and call 911. He reportedly attempted to reach back out to Powers but was unable to do so. Powers was recovered from the water by the Rensselaer Fire Department and was transported to Franciscan Health Rensselaer where he was later pronounced dead. Ballone was treated and released from the hospital.

Neither individual was wearing safety equipment when the incident occurred.

Officers are also investigating a boating accident in Jackson County from the evening of Feb. 10. Jerry Cash, 59, of Seymour was rescued from swift water after capsizing his canoe in the White River.

At 7:42 p.m. Anthony Davis of Seymour contacted the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department about a man yelling for help near C.R. 300 North and the Shieldstown Covered Bridge. Shortly afterward, deputies J.L. McElfresh and Brad Barker arrived on scene and located Cash, entangled in the top of a downed tree in the channel of the river.

Cash was hanging on to a tree limb in 6-8 feet of swift water. The Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department backed a truck into the water and Barker attempted to reach Cash with a throw bag rope, but he was too far from the bank to be reached. Deputy Mitch Ray arrived on scene with the Sheriff’s Department boat, and Conservation Officer Cpl. Nathan Berry arrived with a DNR airboat.

Officers launched the county boat into White River to attempt rescue. Berry operated the boat while Barker and McElfresh accompanied to assist with the rescue. They were able to reach Cash and pull him from the frigid water.

Cash was out of the river at 8:15 p.m. He was transported by Jackson County EMS to Schneck Medical Center for evaluation. An investigation revealed he had made an attempt to retrieve a canoe from along the river’s edge on property he owned. While attempting to paddle down the east edge of the river, he capsized and became stranded in the river.

River conditions were extremely dangerous due to swift current and large amounts of debris as a result of recent flooding in the area. As with the two men from the Feb. 23 incident, Cash was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time of the accident.

Still other conservation officers are investigating an unintentional shooting on Feb. 16 in Southern Carroll County. At approximately 11 a.m. County Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a man had been shot while rabbit hunting.

Investigators determined three men had been hunting along an abandoned railroad bed north of Cutler. Michael Clendening, 27, was hunting with a 12-gauge shotgun when he took a shot at a running rabbit. He stated he did not see another hunter, Nathaniel Seele, 35, hunting the same area.

After Clendening fired, Seele fell to the ground and yelled he had been shot. It is estimated Seele was 10 yards away from Clendening when he was shot. Clendening and another hunter quickly rendered aid and, at Seele’s request, drove him home.

Once home, emergency services were called. Seele was flown to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with non-life-threatening injuries. Officer Jarred Coffing determined the three hunters were legally hunting and were wearing the required orange clothing.

Living with Canada geese – or not

February is the time of year when Canada geese begin to scout for prime nesting areas. Geese prefer to nest near ponds or other bodies of water surrounded by short, mowed grass providing them with a clear view of the surrounding area and access to fresh greens for grazing.

Fortunately, harassment techniques may be implemented prior to egg laying to prevent geese from nesting at your home or business. Harassment techniques are not intended to harm geese and do not require a permit.

Techniques include using noisemaking devices such as air horns and recorded distress calls, visual devices like scarecrows and eye-spot balloons and water spray devices, such as garden hoses or sprinklers. Harassment is more effective if multiple devices are used and if administered regularly for a minimum of two weeks.

Canada geese are intelligent and may become accustomed to harassment. To prevent acclimation, vary the length, time and duration of harassment. If necessary, nests may be removed at any time, without a permit, as long as no eggs are present within them.

Be aware: Your efforts to deter Canada geese will not be effective if food, such as bread or birdseed, is being provided.

Women’s Wilderness Weekend in April

Learn outdoor skills while meeting other women during Patoka Lake’s Women’s Wilderness Weekend April 26-28. The event is women-only for ages 16 and older.

The weekend will start at Patoka Lake Nature Center and include overnight camping Friday and Saturday nights. Events include depth archery lessons, kayaking, Dutch-oven cooking, survival, wild edibles and medicine, wilderness first aid, basic fishing, firearms safety, trap shooting, rifle, boat operations, self-defense, wildlife tracking, beginner birding and more.

Meals will be provided on Saturday and Sunday. Camping will take place in the modern electric campgrounds. Advance registration is required by April 10. The registration fee is $65 per participant.

For more information or to register, call the Patoka Lake Nature Center at 812-685-2447. The event is being sponsored by the Dubois County Shooting Sports Instructor Council.

DNR recreation and fishing guidebooks available

Your guide to Indiana's best values in outdoor recreation is now available online at and your guide to fishing is available at

The DNR’s 2019 Indiana Recreation Guide is the source for information on state parks, state forests, lakes, Fish & Wildlife Areas, nature preserves, state park inns and other DNR properties. Free printed copies of each will soon be available at local retail outlets, state parks, lakes and other properties.

Annual entrance passes for state park properties can be purchased in person at the gatehouse or offices of properties during business hours, and at the Indiana Government Center South in Indianapolis during business hours or online at

Indiana resident passes cost $50; for individuals 65 years or older, the price is $25. Annual passes for vehicles with out-of-state license plates are $70. Normal daily gate fees for residents at most properties are $7 per in-state vehicle. For more information on Indiana state park properties, visit

Fishing licenses can be purchased and printed at or at retailers, county clerks and most DNR properties throughout the state.

Monroe Lake’s ‘Salamander Sunday’

Fans of amphibians should mark their calendars for March 31, when Monroe Lake hosts “Salamander Sunday.” There are two programs open to everyone, and no registration is needed. The events include an 8 a.m. salamander survey at Stillwater Marsh and a 3 p.m. woodland salamander exploration at Paynetown State Recreation Area (SRA).

Two other programs require advance registration by March 27 – a 10:30 a.m. presentation on the salamanders of southern Indiana, which is limited to 25 people, and a 1 p.m. salamander craft session limited to 16 children. Both take place at Paynetown SRA.

Complete details on all four programs, including meeting locations and registration links for the two requiring advance signup, are at

Salamander Sunday programs are all free, and there is no fee to enter the property during the winter season. Questions should be emailed to Jill Vance, Monroe Lake interpretive naturalist, at

Firewood permits for Shakamak State Park

The public is invited to cut certain downed trees at Shakamak State Park for firewood. Trees eligible for firewood have fallen as a result of natural causes or have been dropped by property staff. They are along roadsides or in public areas such as campsites and picnic areas.

Permit sales are in progress and will end March 18. The cost of one pickup truckload is $10. All proceeds will be used for resource management and restoration efforts, including replacement of trees in campgrounds and other public areas.

A firewood permit must be obtained for each load at the park office between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ET, seven days a week, state holidays excluded. Park staff will provide permit buyers a map with areas where trees are down for cutting. Wood may be cut and removed between 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily. For more information, call Shakamak State Park at 812-665-2158.

Firewood cut at Shakamak State Park is for personal use only and may not be sold.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at or by writing to him in care of this publication.