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Shikar-Safari honors 2021 Wildlife Officer of the Year

Media contact: Shannon Knowles; 850-617-9666, Release Date: 12-15-2021   All Articles Tags:

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Today, the Shikar-Safari Club International named Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Investigator Kevin Kleis its 2021 Wildlife Officer of the Year during the Commission meeting in Destin.

Shikar-Safari Club International is a conservation-based organization that presents awards annually to wildlife law enforcement officers in all states, provinces and territories in the United States and Canada. The annual award honors a state officer whose efforts show outstanding performance and achievement among sworn conservation law enforcement personnel.

“It is an honor to stand alongside Investigator Kleis today as he is recognized for his outstanding efforts in conservation with this prestigious award,” said Col. Roger Young, director of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement. “He is an asset to our division and exemplifies what it means to be an exceptional FWC officer.”

Originally from Miami-Dade County, Investigator Kleis now patrols Collier County where he shares his time and passion for outdoor activities with his community. He serves as a breath test operator, a general instructor, a field training officer, an academy vessel operations instructor and a defensive tactics instructor. Investigator Kleis has been a member of the region’s Special Operations Group for two years.

In his off time, Investigator Kleis continuously serves his community and coordinated a fishing tournament outreach event for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. He has participated in many other outreach events and enjoys giving back to the public by helping them become ambassadors of conservation. 

Over the past year, Investigator Kleis has made numerous cases, arrests, and citations and always has positive interactions with the public. In one case, he assisted in locating and recovering a stolen sailboat, returning it to its owner and arrested a suspect for grand theft. Investigator Kleis also assisted in identifying and arresting a suspect for the illegal taking of a Florida black bear. He obtained a confession and worked with the State Attorney’s Office to obtain an arrest warrant; Investigator Kleis subsequently made the arrest.

In 2020, Investigator Kleis was awarded the Lifesaving Award and the First Responder Award by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office when he assisted in the search for a 67-year-old missing kayaker who was lost in the Everglades National Park. Investigator Kleis took the lead, coordinating with the National Park Service and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, resulting in locating the severely hypothermic individual. Investigator Kleis rendered first aid and, because of his perseverance and training, saved the individual’s life. 

“I am honored to represent the FWC throughout the year. Each day, I strive to do my best to protect Florida’s natural resources and the public. This achievement is possible because of the support of my family, fellow officers, and my supervisors,” said Investigator Kleis.

To learn more about becoming an FWC officer, visit: and click on “Employment,” then “FWC Officers.”