Next month will mark the second year of Conservation Warden Mike Rader’s service to the Merrill area.
Rader’s pursuit of a career in conservation dates back to 1991 when he was accepted to Auburn University in Auburn, AL as a Wildlife Science major, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1995. After a four year break to serve in the US Marine Corps as in Infantry Officer, Rader returned to school at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he obtained his Masters Degree in Environmental Studies and later pursued a Ph.D in Wildlife Science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Following graduation with his doctorate in 2006, Rader was involved in a research project in Kingsville, Texas; studying the impact of predators on nesting habits of Bobwhite Quail when he came across a job posting with the Wisconsin DNR.
“I had heard Wisconsin had a strong reputation for conservation and natural resources management so the job posting drew my interest right away,” the 43-year-old married father of two explains. “Possibly living in the northern US interested me as well. The changing seasons and recreational opportunities was another appealing aspect for me, so I decided to apply.”
In December of 2006, Rader accepted a position as a DNR Conservation Warden and relocated to Fort McCoy, where he attended the DNR Law Enforcement Academy and received his first assignment near the city of Neenah in January of 2008.
“I really loved the job!” Rader adds. “It’s exactly what I thought it would be. I found myself in the field a lot and interacting with people which I really enjoy. There is a lot of recreation in the Neenah area focused around Lake Winnebago such as fishing, ice fishing and snowmobiling. It was a very good experience.”
In 2009 however, Rader decided to pursue his desire to live further north and transferred to Wausau, where he and his family resided until September of 2013, when a position opened up after former warden Rick Peters transferred.
Rader’s administrative area spans the southern two-thirds of Lincoln County, while warden Ron Nerva serves the Tomahawk area and the northern portion of the county as well as southern Oneida County.
“Merrill is the opposite of Neenah, but exactly what I was looking for,” Rader adds with a grin. “I have come to realize how involved Lincoln County residents are with conservation and the outdoors. Whether it’s hunting, fishing, producing maple syrup or snowmobiling and ATVing, so many people seem to have some type of interest and that’s great to see! Another aspect of this area I have come to appreciate is how supportive local residents have been of the DNR and what we are trying to accomplish up here.”
When asked of any particular trends in his field of expertise since relocating to the Merrill area, Rader is quick to point to an increase in ATV and UTV traffic.
“I would attribute a big part of that trend to the legalization of these vehicles on roadways,” Rader explains. “But I see it as a definite plus for the area in terms of recreation and a good thing for the local economy.”
Warden Rader would like to thank the recreation and outdoor enthusiasts he mentioned earlier for their efforts in maintaining a strong tradition in Lincoln County as well as their assistance and support for the DNR.
“I am here for the residents of the state of Wisconsin and Lincoln County,” he said. “To fulfill our mission requires relationships with local residents and I am very thankful for the assistance and support I have received. Many of the cases I have worked have been successful due to those relationships and assistance from local residents. As a warden I am focused on conservation and ensuring public safety as well as assisting residents in keeping such a strong tradition of outdoors and conservation alive and well.”
Warden Rader welcomes any questions or concerns and can be contacted via telephone at 715-495-3742 or e-mail at Michael.Rader@Wisconsin.gov.