Indiana Conservation Officer Lance LaBonte and his K-9 partner 'Major' have recently transferred from Huntington County to Morgan County. Officer LaBonte filled the vacancy left by the retirement of Officer David Reese. He will work with current Morgan County Officer Bryan Knoy. Officer LaBonte has been an officer since 2009 and now lives near Martinsville with his wife and new son. Officer LaBonte and Major showed what a great team they make with cases like the one they made today.
Officer LaBonte and Major were working in Morgan Monroe State Forest when they tracked a man that had parked off the road in the forest. Although they were targeting people who might be digging Ginseng before the season opens on September 15th, they instead found a squirrel hunter. Squirrel season opened August 15th. As it turned out Aaron Hemmick, 27 of Van Buren, was hunting squirrels without a valid hunting license. Mr. Hemmick was cited and released. It is good cases like the one made today, that show what a great asset the State of Indiana has in their Conservation Officer Resource K-9 handler teams.
Conservation Officers have a team of Resource K-9's working with them. There are six Resource K-9's across the state, with three of them working in Conservation Officer Operational District Six. K-9 Major joins the District Six team with K-9 Abby, working with Officer John Fennig in Johnson County, and K-9 Addi, working with Officer Ted Stine in Shelby County. The Resource K-9's are trained in man tracking, evidence and firearm location, and game animal detection. This combination of skills make the K-9's invaluable in locating lost hikers and hunters, locating firearms and other evidence crucial to cases, and finding game that violators may try to hide from officers.
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