Ohio Department of Wildlife Investigator Receives Prestigious National Award

Image credit: Wildlife Department

COLOMBUS — Ohio wildlife investigator Kandi Klosterman received the 2022 Jay Bradley Award during the Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference on Wednesday, May 11, according to the Ohio Department of Wildlife (ODNR).

The Jay Bradley Award is awarded to one government official annually whose career demonstrates an outstanding lifelong contribution to wildlife law enforcement, wildlife forensics or investigative techniques. This national award honors the memory of the first game ranger to die in the line of duty while protecting our nation’s wildlife resources. Detective Klosterman is the first to receive the Jay Bradley Award from Ohio State.

“We are all thrilled to see Kandy receive this prestigious national honor representing the profession of wildlife law enforcement,” said Kendra Wicker, Chief of Wildlife Service. “Her passion for protecting Ohio’s natural resources as well as supporting and promoting women’s participation in wildlife conservation roles is unparalleled.”

“I am incredibly honored to receive such an important award and endorsement,” Klostermann said. “To continue the remarkable work in natural resources and wildlife conservation, we must guide those who follow in our footsteps, respect and draw on each other’s strengths, and value the diversity within each individual.”

Detective Klosterman, of Selina, has served in the Ohio Department of Wildlife and Citizens for 28 years. She began her career at Wolf Creek and Killback Wildlife Areas, where she helped reintroduce wild turkeys, river otters, and trumpet pelicans. In 1998, she was accepted into the Wildlife Officers Academy along with 14 of her male counterparts. She was promoted to Ohio’s first female wildlife researcher in 2001. During her career as an investigator, she has worked on several high profile cases, including:

  • Illegal buying and selling of sport fish in restaurants: A lengthy investigation has uncovered the illegal sale of sport-caught fish. Three restaurants were identified as buying fish, and five suspects were convicted on 17 counts of buying and selling eye fish and white bass. This resulted in $16,434 in fines and damages, 960 days in prison, and 16 years of probation.
  • poaching guide service: Someone was guiding out-of-state fishermen on property without permission. The suspects were indicted on 21 felonies and 14 misdemeanours, and received a total of $10,582 in fines, 15 years of probation, and the revocation of a 15-year fishing license. The main suspect was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
  • Illegal transport of live white-tailed deer: Detective Klosterman assisted in a case that resulted in the largest individual fines for a crime against wildlife in United States history. Working closely with federal agencies, the convictions resulted in $1.67 million in fines. The case involved transporting a live deer without documentation or health checks.
  • Illegal venison sale: Detective Klostermann led a research team in the largest deer investigation in the Department of Wildlife Agency’s history of the alleged poaching of 44 deer and the sale of more than 3,000 pounds of venison in two years. During the search, more than 80 deer, 200 pounds of venison, a truck and hunting gear were seized. The investigation resulted in 14 criminal and 17 misdemeanor convictions, resulting in $86,000 recoveries, $2,276 in fines, $5,089 in court costs, and 30 years of license revocation.

Detective Klostermann is also an active leader and mentor to other officers, championing their mental and physical health as well as technical expertise. It has expanded its role to include outreach and collaboration efforts, especially for women, advocating for greater diversity within the agency and engagement with these organizations:

  • Ohio Women’s Outdoor AdventuresThis program introduces women of all ages to new outdoor skills such as fishing, hunting, shooting, birding, and more. Researcher Klostermann teaches classes, offers recipes, and shows how to catch, clean and cook fish.
  • Judging our experiences (ROX): Founded in Columbus, ROX operates programs in more than 350 schools and community organizations across the United States. The group’s mission is to create generations of confident girls. The program focuses on equipping girls with the skills to face and overcome challenges.
  • It is a force of nature: This interactive webinar series has highlighted the various occupations held by women in ODNR. Detective Klosterman gave a presentation on her career as well as her duties as a wildlife investigator.

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