MADISON (WKOW) -- DNR wardens are hoping stepped up efforts to find illegal marijuana operations prevent new operations from popping up.
DNR pilots received special training to look for marijuana operations in remote areas as they fly.
David Wood, a conservation warden with the Department of Natural Resources, says, "The past few years, we've been finding more and more illegal marijuana operations on state lands."
What better way to see these operations than from a bird's eye view.
DNR pilots like Luke Wuest are in the air all the time: looking for wildfires, wildlife, and always looking for suspicious or illegal activity.
Now more than ever, they're looking for illegal pot operations.
Wuest says, "As we cruise along the route, we keep an eye out for things."
Wood adds, "This would be about the time when plants are put in the ground, so we look for any signs of cut vegetation, trees, trails."
Pilots look for water access, anyone setting up what looks like a camp, tents, or tarps.
Wuest points out an area that he'd look at: "You can see the water coming through there, with trees covering it from the road, they'd never be seen from the road."
Dane County deputies rely on pilots to see activity they can't.
Sgt. Gordon Disch with the Dane County Sheriff's Department says, "These are big-time operations... They can be very dangerous for civilians as well as law enforcement, to come upon or attempt to disrupt."
Once aware of suspicious behavior, deputies go in on foot, dismantling the operations.
Last year, officials found thousands of marijuana plants growing in Shawano county. Officials hope as DNR wardens get special training to look for operations, more will be found.
Citizens are also an important part of shutting down these operations. If you see anything suspicious.. back out the way you came.. and call law enforcement.