Indiana Conservation Officer Jeff Milner has received national recognition for his work as the chief handler for the Indiana DNR Resource Protection K-9 program.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) presented Milner with its 2012 Conservation Law Enforcement Award at the organization’s recent annual conference in Hilton Head, S.C.
Originally formed in 1902, AFWA supports North America’s fish and wildlife agencies in advancing sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.
“Even though I was the recipient of the award, our K-9 program would not be successful without all the outstanding work of the entire K-9 team,” Milner said. “Part of Indiana’s success has also been passed on to other states.”
Milner has conducted four K-9 academies (2000, 2003, 2008 and 2011) that have trained resource protection officers and dogs from Indiana, as well as Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia.
“All the states that have come to Indiana for training have continued their program, and in most cases have grown and expanded,” Milner said.
DNR Law Enforcement director Scotty Wilson nominated Milner for the award, noting Milner’s role as one of the founding officers for Indiana DNR’s K-9 program.
“He traveled to Florida in 1997 to train with the Florida Game and Fish commission’s K-9 program,” Wilson said. “He returned to Indiana and proved beyond a doubt the value of these types of working dogs in our profession.
“His attention to duty and his efforts to train officers nationwide has not gone un-noticed by his peers and supervisors. He has set a very positive example for our organization. He has dedicated countless hours of his personal time to this calling and the training of new handlers and dogs.”
Milner currently partners with Fury, who was featured on the front cover of the March/April issue of DNR’s Outdoor Indiana magazine. His first partner, Journey, set the gold standard for achievements. Before retiring in 2008, Journey and Milner had almost half of the 800 arrests recorded by the DNR K-9 program.
“He has made many successful tracking cases in the commission of wildlife crimes and search and rescue,” Wilson said. “Jeff also has been called upon by different agencies throughout the state, including the FBI, to locate evidence used in various crimes during his tenure as a K-9 handler.”
The DNR K-9 program has averaged eight units during its 15-year history.
“We’re currently at six units with expectations of expanding in the near future,” Milner said.