Kipp Duncan named Minnesota conservation officer of the year

Duncan patrols the woods and waters around Duluth.

Minnesota conservation officers Leah Kampa and Kipp Duncan
Minnesota Conservation Officer Kipp Duncan, right, on patrol during the 2018 trapping season near Duluth. Duncan was training rookie officer Leah Kampa. Duncan has been named Minnesota Conservation Officer of The Year by the DNR.
Steve Kuchera / file photo / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — From solving the case of a headless bear found dumped near a parking lot in Duluth to wrestling a wild deer out the basement of a local home, Kipp Duncan has lots of stories to tell about his 21 years as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer.

Now Duncan can tell the story about that time in 2022 when he was named Minnesota Conservation Officer of the Year.

Duncan took the top honors among the 180 men and women who enforce Minnesota’s natural resource laws for the award presented annually for “outstanding overall career performance.”

Duncan patrols the woods and waters around Duluth, generally east of County Highway 4, but can be found all over the region when and where needed. He started his career in Two Harbors in 2001 and transferred to the DNR’s Duluth East station in 2007.

Duncan is a familiar face to anglers, hunters, boaters, snowmobilers and others who spend time outdoors in the area. He frequently speaks at community events and safety education classes, and maintains high visibility as he works to protect the North Shore’s natural resources and the people who use them.


In addition to his regular duties, Duncan also works with new conservation officers in his role as a field training officer.

“The people of Minnesota are lucky to have a conservation officer like Kipp working for them, and I can’t think of a better example for our newest officers,” Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division, said in announcing the award. “Kipp reflects the values and mission of the Enforcement Division and sets the bar for the high expectations we have of our conservation officers.”

Duncan also received The Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s Law Enforcement Award and was named 2021 Minnesota Wildlife Officer of the Year by Safari Club International.

The call came over their patrol truck radio just before 4 p.m. There was a deer in a house. In a basement, to be exact, and the owners were panicking over what to do. "We sort of laughed at first. Then we started getting other officers coming on ...

Duncan lives in Hermantown with his wife and two children. He’s a legacy game warden: Kipp’s dad, Dave, was a South Dakota conservation officer for 11 years and then spent 25 years as a special agent warden for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stationed in Duluth.

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Aaron Alan Horn was given probation and ordered to pay $540.

Other conservation officers honored this year include Mike Kraule, Mora, winning the Boat and Water Safety Achievement award and Turn In Poachers award; Tony Salzer of Ham Lake won the Waterfowl Enforcement Achievement Award; Nick Klehr, Litchfield, won the Willard Munger Wetlands Achievement Award; and Todd VanderWeyst, Paynesville, won the Enforcement Education Achievement Award.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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