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Conservation Officer Report
Weekly Conservation Officer Report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Enforcement
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

Joe Albert, Enforcement Division communications coordinator, 651-259-5060

Report Fish & Game Violations
Call T.I.P. at 1-800-652-9093 or Cell #TIP

 

Weekly Minnesota CONSERVATION OFFICER REPORT - 4-16-18

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Enforcement
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on the Rainy River and transferred evidence and paperwork to Lt. Pat Znajda. He also assisted in locating a radio-collared wolf in the Beltrami Island State Forest.

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked angling, aquatic invasive species, ATV and boat and water enforcement, and assisted with a snowmobile safety course at the Northwest Angle. The walleye/sauger season wrapped up nicely this past weekend on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River with many taking home their limits and pictures of some nice-sized walleyes. The sturgeon season remains open with catch-and-release-only fishing through April 23. The spring harvest season runs April 24 through May 7. Enforcement action was taken for failure to remove a fish house from the lake prior to the removal deadline and dogs chasing deer.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Baudette West) reports a busy end to the Minnesota/Canada walleye season. Many anglers were successful in catching limits of fish. Enforcement action was taken for transporting walleye fillets with no patch of skin, drain plug violations, angling without a license, and providing someone else’s name to a law enforcement officer.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) taught the law and ethics portions of firearms safety classes in Argyle and Karlstad. Woinarowicz has seen a pleasantly surprising influx of female youths taking the class. At one site, 11 of the 14 students were females; nine of the 12 at another site were females. Calls of houses left on public accesses, injured eagles, and unregulated fires were investigated. Enforcement action for the week included no burning permit, burning prohibited materials, and storing a shelter at a public access.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working AIS enforcement, and ATV and angling activity on special regulation lakes. Time was spent assisting instructors and giving the laws and regulations presentation at the Blackduck firearms safety classes and handling a call of a mink or fisher killing a person’s chickens.

CO Kyle Quittschreiber (Blackduck North) reports focusing on ATV, AIS, and angling enforcement. He spoke to a firearms safety class and checked anglers on the Rainy River. Enforcement actions included failure to remove a drain plug. A litter complaint was also investigated; several domestic turkeys were dumped on public property.

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) focused on angling and boat and water safety enforcement. Cold weather and long wait times for launching boats didn’t seem to prevent the diehard anglers from giving the walleye season one last shot on the Rainy River. Varying levels of success were seen for both sturgeon and walleyes. Mishler also attended two days of K9 training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action for the week included no angling license in possession, overlimit of walleyes, transporting fish with no skin patch, and no throwable PFD.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this week checking ice anglers and working a few open-water fishing areas around Polk and Red Lake counties. Time was also spent speaking at a safety camp held at the Crookston Sports Center about ATV operation and safety. Spring beaver trapping activity was monitored. A meeting was attended in Bagley with other District 2 officers.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) attended a district meeting, checked trout fishermen and talked to the Bagley High School law enforcement class.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked angling activity on area lakes. Ice conditions are good but some accesses are starting to deteriorate. The officer worked a detail on Leech Lake where anglers were catching perch. Complaints of dogs chasing deer were taken.  

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) assisted the sheriff’s office with a call about a person driving who may have been impaired. The driver was contacted by a deputy and no violations were discovered. Vinton patrolled area lakes and observed very few anglers. Two anglers were observed fishing from a boat in the only open water around. Even though it was windy and snowing they were taking advantage of the last day of the statewide catch-and-release sturgeon season. Vinton presented the law enforcement portion during a local firearms safety training class.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) handled wildlife and forestry calls and continued work with ongoing cases.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent giving a law and ethics presentation to a firearms safety class in Glyndon.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) checked area lakes for angling activity. Ice conditions vary and some areas are deteriorating. The law and ethics portion of a firearms safety class was taught in Mahnomen and a meeting was attended in Bagley. Warren took a lost puppy to a local shelter. ATV activity was monitored and questions answered about registration regulations. A report of muskies in Strawberry Lake was received.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring angling and ATV activity. Though people are still driving on lakes, anglers should start thinking about switching to another mode of transportation. A few turkey hunting questions were answered and the officer responded to a burglary alarm.

Detroit Lakes – vacant.

Fosston – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports minimal fishing in the area but predicted sun and 50-degree weather may bring some ice anglers back out. Turkeys appear to still be flocked up and may present some challenges for the upcoming first week of hunting. Time was spent attending a muskie-related meeting in Otter Tail County. 

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) scouted for turkeys in the area and found some birds out strutting. She also checked area fishermen and spoke to a firearms safety class in Parkers Prairie. ATV operators were checked and registration compliance was good.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked fishermen and ATV and OHM riders. A littering complaint was received and investigated. Firearms safety class speaking requests were received and prepared.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked what little ice fishing activity there is around. Multiple snow events and cold/windy conditions made it hard for anglers to get out. Planning continues for an upcoming firearms safety class and a meeting was attended regarding the upcoming CO Academy. 

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking fishermen and ATV and snowmobile operators. Additional time was spent checking commercial minnow trappers, taking calls about injured wildlife, and fielding questions about an upcoming firearms safety class. Ice conditions around the area vary with most accesses allowing ATV and foot traffic.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

Morris – vacant.

Wheaton – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Chelsey Best (Remer) worked fishing, ATV and trapping enforcement. Assistance was provided for a juvenile runaway call as well as a sick deer call in the Walker station. Enforcement action was taken for operating a motor vehicle on closed forest roads and fishing without a current license.

CO Randy Posner (Staples) reports checking a few anglers out trying their luck. The panfish bite has been slow and the spring thaw is making the ice more dangerous and unpredictable. A violation of no license in possession was observed. He worked on a complaint of deer feeding in a CWD zone. The landowner is an avid bird watcher and feeder. The suspect believes the deer come to eat the feed he puts out for the blue jays, black birds, crows and the spillage of the feed. Posner explained the rules and the man said he would be more careful regarding the spillage and only feed the birds out of his hanging feeders. Posner spent time in the Pillsbury State Forest and Rock Lake Campground. He found evidence of vehicles operating on closed roads and causing damage. He also discovered damage to an outhouse in the campground.  

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports anglers continue to have mixed success for panfish and perch on ice that has yet to weaken much. Anglers should, however, use caution moving forward as forecasted warmer weather will erode at a quick rate shorelines, shallow areas and areas near ridges and cracks. Some time was spent working ATVs and litter cases. Work also continues on Bear Committee items.

CO Colleen Adam (Park Rapids) spent time on commercial license and warrant issues and trespass and litter complaints. A check of public areas found one individual scouting for turkeys with a firearm in possession, illegal ATV use in a wildlife management area, driving after cancellation and illegal operation on a state highway. Trout stream anglers were greeted with cold and blustering winds. 

CO Duke Broughten (Longville) spent the week monitoring angling and trapping activity. Anglers continue to report limited success. Recent weather and current ice conditions have fishermen wondering if ice will be out by fishing opener.

Lake George – vacant.

Walker – vacant.

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the spring walleye season on the Rainy River ended with four very busy days. More than 400 boats used only two ramps. People were having to wait hours to put in and hours to come out of the water, but people overall were respectful and civil to one another. Other work activities included assisting at the DNR booth during the annual International Falls Outdoor Expo and handling a few complaints of nuisance animals. Enforcement action for week was taken for several walleye overlimits, illegal-length walleyes, license violations, boat registration issues, and invasive species violations. 

CO John Slatinski (Ray) reports fishing, boating, and invasive species activities were the focus this past week. Angling activity on the Rainy River was once again a popular activity. Those who fished until last light were unable to get off the water until after midnight due to congestion at the accesses. The next morning people wishing to get a close parking spot were reported to be hitting the access between 3 and 4 a.m. Although success reports were mixed most people were still happy to be out for their first open-water adventures of the year.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) monitored area forest roads, checked ice-fishing activity on area lakes and began work on season equipment transition.

CO John Velsvaag (Cook) checked anglers and took part in two work details. He also finished up several older cases, checked public accesses and fixed equipment.

CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) spent the week checking spring anglers and conducting ATV patrol. There was a complaint of wolves in a yard. The officer also has been fielding a number of calls about regulations concerning angling through the ice for the walleye opener.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked anglers, followed up on fish house violations and taught the law portion of a firearms safety class in Hibbing. Enforcement action was taken for littering and fish house violations.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spoke at a firearms safety class in Virginia and checked anglers on area lakes. Ice conditions continue to hold steady and very little if any ice has been lost. Most anglers believe there will be ice on most lakes by the time the fishing opener arrives. Area trails were patrolled. ATV riders are reminded that grant-in-aid snowmobile trails are not open to ATV traffic. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license.

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) was working on the Rainy River and smelled a strong odor of marijuana and saw an individual smoking. Fredin seized the marijuana and also cited the person for fishing without a license. Other enforcement action taken while working the Rainy was for angling with extra lines, expired boat registration, transporting walleyes without a skin patch and an overlimit of walleyes. A complaint of trespassing across private land to access a lake was taken care of and resulted in four individuals cited for trespass.

International Falls #2 – vacant.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports angling pressure in the area is slow but steady. Angler success has improved and so has the quality of fish seen. Williams also assisted officers on the Rainy River for the busy catch-and-release sturgeon season. Violations included DWI, angling without a license, and transporting fish without a skin patch.

CO Marty Stage (Ely #2) worked on getting winter equipment ready for storage and getting ready for spring activity. There is still a lot of snow in the woods, but river ice is deteriorating in many locations. Please be careful.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) checked lakes along the border. He dealt with equipment breakdowns and checked snowmobilers.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area lakes and rivers and checked border-lake walleye anglers. Manning also patrolled forest roads, where snow was quickly disappearing. Storms over the weekend brought winter back to the Northwoods for a few more days, although not as much snow fell in the Arrowhead as other parts of the state. Enforcement action was taken when the officer witnessed a car nearly sideswipe the median barrier and another car. The distracted driver was cited for careless operation.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked late-season crappie anglers, primarily in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Overall activity is low. Bermel also spent time on commercial activity. Enforcement action taken for fishing without a license and a traffic violation.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) reports there wasn’t much activity in the area. He also worked on Academy lesson plans.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) check anglers along the border and focused on ATV enforcement. Time was also spent working on issued equipment. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) answered questions from out of state anglers wishing to fish North Shore trout streams on the opener. The anglers were shocked to hear that area streams were frozen solid. Murray also checked spring beaver trappers and issued deer possession permits for vehicle killed deer.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked ATV activity and fishing and small game enforcement and answered miscellaneous wildlife calls. He checked area lakes and patrolled forest areas. A common call was about road kill deer near feeders. 

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended a K9 meeting and training and checked anglers and assisted the county with locating a missing vehicle. Fairbanks and his K9 partner also assisted the State Patrol with locating a suspect who fled into the woods on foot after a vehicle pursuit. Enforcement action was taken for license issues.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked angling activity. Ice thickness varies throughout the area but it’s generally still thick enough for ice fishing. Sutherland worked with CO Jimmy Van Asch to remove an ice shelter that was left on the ice after the removal date. Litter complaints were taken and are currently being worked.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused primarily on ATV and angling activity. Van Asch attended meetings with the Forestry Division and Academy instructors. Anglers reported an increase in success for panfish in the area before the weekend snowfalls. Enforcement action was taken for overlimit of panfish.

Hill City – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) checked anglers on Lake Superior but did not see a lot of success. Willis attended a meeting with local steelhead anglers and assisted local agencies with calls for service. Phone calls were fielded regarding upcoming safety classes and other miscellaneous questions.

 CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working shore angling activities along the North Shore. Some anglers were catching Kamloops rainbow trout and a few coho salmon. Schmidt followed up on dumping and ATV complaints. Injured animal and nuisance animal complaints were handled along with equipment maintenance. 

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent the majority of the week working along the North Shore of Lake Superior. An injured eagle was picked up and transported to a local rehab facility. Inland lakes are still providing ice-fishing opportunities.
 
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked angling and OHV enforcement throughout the week and fielded calls about nuisance animals. Patrols were conducted in area state parks and the Fond du Lac State Forest, where temporary road and trail closures are now in effect. Humphrey presented former Cloquet area firearms safety instructor Bernie Sundeen with a 30-year length of service award.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) reports little to no fishing activity in the area. He took care of several calls regarding deer hit by cars and spent two days training at Camp Ripley with the rest of the K9 unit. Extra patrols were conducted in area state parks with enforcement action taken for not having a vehicle permit.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked on Academy preparation issues and answered questions about upcoming open-water seasons. Prolonged winter weather has really delayed the steelhead run and anglers are getting antsy. High winds changed the layout of some river mouths over the weekend. A few northbound sea ducks found refuge from the waves in North Shore harbors. Enforcement action was taken for boating and angling violations.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd #2) worked sport fishing and recreational vehicle enforcement. He participated in a work detail on the Canadian border, checking anglers on the last day of the walleye and sauger season as part of Operation Stonegarden. Guida also assisted a snowmobile rider with a sled that broke down along the Arrowhead Trail.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) reports area lakes still have large amounts of ice and snow, which has contributed to the limited success anglers are experiencing. ATV violations included illegal youth operation and expired registration.

CO Tim Collette (Crosslake) monitored seasonally closed state forests, checked the few ice fishermen still venturing out, followed up on some shoreline modifications done over the winter, and did a presentation for a class of natural resource law enforcement students at Central Lakes College. Even though ice still covers the lakes, fish are starting to run in area creeks.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for angling and snowmobile activity throughout the week. He also attended meetings and prepared training materials for the upcoming CO Academy. Enforcement action was taken for expired snowmobile registration and no angling license. 

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked ice fishing activity. He also handled calls regarding a car killed eagle and an overly aggressive turkey.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking area lakes for panfishing activity. A few fishermen were out but were having a hard time getting around with the snow-covered ice. The officer spent time patrolling the state recreation area for illegal ATV and ORV activity and answered many outdoor law-related questions. Fitzgerald patrolled via ATV for ATV activity, but cold weather limited participation. He issued a permit for a car kill deer.

Brainerd #1 – vacant.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked anglers, some of whom still were driving three-quarter ton trucks on lakes. He also monitored ATV and snowmobile traffic. Snowmobilers planning to ride through the Fourth of July are reminded to renew their registration at the end of June. 

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked area lakes for anglers but found very few. State forest trail and road closures are in effect for the Pine County area. Please refer to the DNR website for more information. Speldrich assisted the State Patrol with personal injury and property damage accidents during the snowstorm that hit the area. 

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked panfishing activity but found very few people out. Snowmobile riders are still out and about and riders are reminded that grant-in-aid trails are closed. Assistance was given to the sheriff’s office on equipment ideas for the recreational and search/rescue deputy. Starr came upon a stopped vehicle in the travel lane of a state highway during severe winter weather. Upon approaching the vehicle with two occupants, Starr found two elderly women who were lost on their way to the casino and had stopped to read a map. He gave them a brief coaching session about stopping in traffic.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) dealt with a few complaints of illegal burning as homeowners tried to burn prohibited materials while they did their spring yard clean up. Very little ice fishing activity was found on the still frozen-over lakes. A few people had their summer fishing poles out and were searching for catfish and sturgeon on the larger rivers that were open and flowing.  Farmers continued to report problems with wolves harassing cows during spring calving season.

CO Eugene Wynn (Pine City) took calls regarding nuisance animals and fielded questions about upcoming safety classes. He assisted the Pine County Sheriff’s Office with a fight and the State Patrol with vehicle accidents during the snowstorm over the weekend. Wynn also monitored compliance with closures in local state forests.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) monitored wildlife management area and state forest roads for spring damage and also handled a complaint of ATV damage to a township road. The assistant area wildlife manager stated that while doing a sharp-tailed grouse survey, two wolves came out into a field and noticed him. He then started walking back to his truck and the wolves began to follow him until they noticed his vehicle.

Isle – vacant.

Malmo – vacant.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) assisted the Training Section with the upcoming Academy and investigated a call of a deer hanging in a front yard. It was found to be a legal road kill deer. Kuske spoke at the Royalton firearms safety class and handled calls about an injured owl, a dead eagle, deer feeding complaints, and questions about the upcoming turkey hunting seasons.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week following up on cases and monitoring angling activity. He also prepared for an upcoming firearms safety class and provided a law and ethics presentation to the Meire Grove youth firearms safety class. A call regarding a sick coyote was also fielded and handled.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) found a few anglers out this week but they were having little to no luck. The officer assisted neighboring officer with a deer case. Snow over the weekend slowed activity and left many people wondering what the fishing opener will be like.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked anglers, followed up on illegal burning complaints and worked on the upcoming Conservation Officer Academy. With the never-ending snow, more snowmobiles were out again. (Hopefully for the last time.) Enforcement action for the week included a citation to Mother Nature for leaving winter out past the deadline. 

CO Frank Rezac (St. Cloud) reports checking ice fishermen and snowmobile riders during the week. Calls about regulation questions were also returned and dates set to speak to area hunter education/firearms safety classes. Enforcement contacts were made for no snowmobile safety certificate and expired snowmobile registration.

Pierz – vacant.

Annandale – vacant.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers, closed snowmobile trails and trappers, and fielded calls about injured animals. She also scheduled many upcoming speaking events and prepared presentations.

CO Phil Mohs (Center City) focused on ATV and snowmobile activity. Snowmobile riders are reminded that grant-in-aid trails closed April 1. Enforcement action was taken for operating a snowmobile in the road right of way, snowmobiling on a closed trail, and operating an ATV without registration.
CO Mike Krauel (Milaca) spent the week checking anglers and patrolling for ATV activity. Panfish anglers are still finding some success on area lakes. Krauel also gave law talks to two firearms safety classes. At one class, Krauel also had the opportunity to present one of the instructors with his 40-year award. Over those 40 years, it is estimated he has taught more than 1,000 students. A big thank you to all of the dedicated safety instructors!
CO Brandon McGaw (Mora) checked some ice anglers during the week. Ice conditions remain fairly stable. Panfish have been hit and miss due to fluctuating weather. Turkeys are still grouped up but one lone Tom was seen walking across a snow-covered field.  
CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) spoke at a youth firearms safety class. Complaints about animals were handled and follow up was done on a big-game case. Musatov worked ATV complaint areas and followed up on property illegally left on WMAs.

CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on a possible wetland violation. He also gave two presentations at firearms safety classes in Monticello and Rockford.

CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) checked anglers and addressed various wildlife calls. He also worked a southeast Minnesota trout opener detail. Few trout anglers were observed braving the poor weather conditions. Anglers checked reported cold hands and moderate fishing success. Enforcement action for the week included fishing without a license and targeting smallmouth bass during the closed season. An injured Cooper’s hawk was rescued from a window well. The hawk was delivered to the Raptor Center by a dedicated volunteer.

District 13 - West Metro area

CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Mound) spent the week checking anglers and responding to wildlife complaints. The officer looked into a complaint of a business storing property at a public access and spent time patrolling for snowmobile activity over the snowy weekend. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license.

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week following up on calls and attending a district safety meeting. Grewe also went to Camp Ripley for division K9 training, which consisted of detection work, articles and obedience.  

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) spent a snowy weekend on the snowmobile. Many riders were out on the trails and ditches. Violations encountered included failure to register, failure to transfer ownership, failure to display valid registration, and operating at excessive speeds. Birdsall responded to a medical call in which an individual cut himself while working on a boat. Birdsall was first on the scene and applied a pressure bandage to the wound to stop the excessive bleeding. 

CO Tim Maass (Osseo) gave a law and ethics presentation to a firearms safety class in Rogers. Maass also investigated a complaint of two people fishing for walleyes during the closed season. Enforcement action was taken for angling for a species in a closed season. Time was also spent investigating a public waters and wetland violation.

CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked snowmobiling and fishing activities in the metro area. He attended training in his district and took calls about animal complaints. He also answered questions from the Asian community on camping and trout fishing regulations.

CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) assisted Fisheries with encroachment violations on the Eagle Creek Aquatic Management Area. More than 40 homeowners were contacted and advised of violations, which ranged from mowing state property to placing a concrete slab on state property. Fogarty also spoke to a firearms safety class in Jordan and collected abandoned tree stands from the Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area.

Bloomington – vacant.

Ft. Snelling – vacant.

District 14 - East Metro area

CO Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent the week working anglers in the area. The much-anticipated trout opener arrived with a blizzard but many people were still out braving the elements. The bite was very slow with few fish seen in the creel. Enforcement action for the week included licensing violations.

CO Chris Tetrault (Maplewood) attempted to assist neighboring officers with the trout opener. The large amount of snow made opener slow. However, some anglers ventured out. Snowmobile riders were out and about and enjoying our late snowfall.
CO Scott Arntzen (Forest Lake) reports teaching the laws and ethics portion to a firearms safety class in Forest Lake. He spent time checking anglers, patrolling WMAs and following up on open cases. Arntzen also handled nuisance animal calls and worked on getting equipment ready for the St. Croix River fishing opener.

CO Vuthy Pril (ELCOP) worked the Vermillion River trout opener weekend and checked fewer anglers this year due to the snowstorm. He patrolled state trails and parks. Pril also spent time on equipment maintenance and responded to calls about nuisance animals.

CO Chelsie Leuthardt (White Bear Lake) spent time following up on wildlife complaints. Leuthardt provided residents with information regarding coyote complaints and removal options. She also spent time checking snowmobilers after the recent April snowstorm. Despite the recent cool and snowy conditions, Leuthardt reminds people to exercise caution as many lakes and shorelines have open water.  

Ham Lake – vacant.

Metro Officer – vacant.

Eagan – vacant.

District 15 - Marshall area

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Madison) spent time working angling activity and following up on complaints of shining and shooting. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful shining activity. Gutzwiller taught the law and ethics portion of a firearms safety class at Montevideo High School. 

CO Craig Miska (Ortonville) monitored angling, OHV and snowmobiling activity during the week. Anglers who choose to venture onto Big Stone Lake next weekend should use caution since ice conditions change daily. Miska was the featured guest on the MinnDak Outdoors radio show on KDIO Radio in Ortonville. 

CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week working ATV riders and light goose hunters. Sleds are back out, running on the new snow from the latest blizzard. Turkey hunters and anglers are becoming anxious due to the unending winter. 

CO Andrew Dirks (Worthington) spent time conducting commercial inspections and answered questions on the upcoming turkey season as well as various ATV-related questions. Dirks also assisted the Rock County Sheriff’s Office with traffic control after straight line winds knocked down approximately 80 power poles throughout the area.

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) conducted a weekly radio interview with KLOH Radio in Pipestone. Blizzard conditions over the weekend brought outdoor activity to a halt. Most of the questions answered during the week dealt with the stream trout, border waters and turkey openers. Assistance was given to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks with a waterfowl investigation. Assistance was also given at firearms safety classes in Balaton and Redwood Falls.

Benson – vacant.

Lake Benton – vacant.

Montevideo – vacant.

Redwood Falls - vacant.

District 16 - New Ulm area

CO Mike Gruhlke (Jackson) checked activity related to fishing, small game and ATVs. Gruhlke completed his radio program and discussed topics including ice safety, the spring turkey season and stream trout opener. Gruhlke checked shore fishermen along the Des Moines River and also observed an ice angler on one of his area lakes, too.

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar) worked area trails for snowmobile activity. He also spent time on a complaint about shooting from a motor vehicle. Vernier answered calls including questions about AIS inspections, firearms safety and snowmobile safety classes.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) hosted a ride-along as part of a high school careers class. He worked mainly fishing and ATV enforcement. A few people ventured out in the snow storm to fish trout on the opener but found fishing difficult due to the high, turbid water and floating ice and snow.

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) taught the law and ethics portion of a firearms safety class in Windom. Miller began to monitor larger amounts of light geese migrating through the area. Because of poor weather, local trout stocking has been delayed. A large amount of snow fell over the weekend, which hampered recreational activity. Miller fielded numerous questions over the past week related to wildlife complaints, turkey hunting and WMAs.

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) attended registration day for the Fairmont spring firearms safety class. Approximately 50 young adults were registered. Ice is still thick on lakes but it is honeycombed and anglers venturing out are reminded to exercise caution. 

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar West) spoke at a firearms safety field day and followed up on investigations. 

Hutchinson East – vacant.

Hutchinson West – vacant.

District 17 - Mankato area

CO Jamie VanThuyne (Mankato #1) focused on snowmobile and ATV activity this week. VanThuyne also assisted local agencies on calls and responded to complaints about animals.

CO Brent Ihnen (Waseca) spent the week checking anglers as well as ATV and snowmobile operators. Ihnen also spent time patrolling WMAs, waterfowl production areas and public water accesses. Additional time was spent addressing burning and litter complaints.

CO Chad Davis (Owatonna) checked anglers, trappers, and ATV operators during the week. The officer completed a taxidermy inspection and patrolled WMAs and WPAs. Davis also investigated a Turn in Poachers trapping complaint.

CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) continued to check a few anglers and monitored ice conditions on local lakes. Shorelines have really started to pull away and most lakes are not safe for fishing. Henke assisted local law enforcement agencies with emergency situations.

Faribault – vacant.

Spring Valley – vacant.

District 18 - Rochester area

CO Tom Hemker (Winona) reports a notably poor spring trout opener. The creeks were in poor shape and the weather was poor, which resulted in very few people out and very few fish caught. Hemker assisted Winona County with locating a fisherman who had lost his truck keys and was struggling to get back to his truck. His phone went dead in mid-conversation with his wife. His wife was able to direct the officers to the area the phone had last worked.

CO Kevin Prodzinski (Wabasha) reports working a busy week of fishing enforcement on the backwaters and protected areas of the Mississippi River. Post-spawn perch are being found in some areas along with some crappies and sunfish. The trout opener was tough because of the weather but several folks were still found with limits. Past cases were also resolved in court with some convictions.

CO Joel Heyn (Plainview) worked the trout opener over the weekend. Overall it was a very slow opener with the muddy streams and all the snow keeping anglers away. Limits of trout were seen taken where anglers found clearer water. Heyn also attended meetings and worked on cases.  

CO Kylan Hill (Zumbrota) reports working a blustery trout opener throughout southeastern Minnesota. Very few anglers were contacted, and those who were checked did not have any fish. However, one trout angler defied all odds. The angler was found to be in possession of a limit of trout while in the field. The angler and Hill walked back to the man’s vehicle and he pulled out another limit of fish from a bucket hidden in his car. When asked why he kept fishing, the angler told Hill, “Well, the fish in the bucket were my limit of fish, the fish in my pocket were my wife’s limit of fish, and I was working on catching my son’s limit of fish.” Hill cited the angler and explained to him the correct meaning of “party fishing.” Other enforcement action for the week included driving on a closed forest road and taking fish without a license.

CO Brittany Hauser (Red Wing) spent the week patrolling for shore anglers and following up on multiple complaints. A ride-along was given to a local high school student and a law and ethics talk was given at the Goodhue firearms safety class. Assistance was also give to local agencies for various calls. Enforcement action was taken for public nuisance and operating at greater than no-wake speed.

CO Mitch Boyum (Rushford) reports a poor trout opener. The weather made fishing extremely difficult and uncomfortable. The smaller spring creeks were fishable and anglers who found those streams seemed to catch a few trout. Violations encountered were no license in possession, no trout stamp and an overlimit of trout. Boyum also prepared for an upcoming youth turkey hunt and answered questions about the turkey season.

Rochester #1 – vacant.

Rochester #2 – vacant.

LaCrescent – vacant.

Training Section

Planning is ongoing for this year’s training activities, including ordering equipment and supplies and reserving training areas at Camp Ripley.

Aviation Section

No report available.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on old public waters and Wetland Conservation Act cases. Time was spent patrolling the Becker County area for fish run activity and handling miscellaneous wildlife calls. Stattelman attended lake service provider AIS training and started review and planning for the upcoming CO Academy. He followed up with local government units and field COs regarding ongoing cases and case status. He also checked fishermen.

WREO Mike Scott (NE) spent time in Brainerd collecting older WCA/PW cases to be input into RMS system for tracking. Scott handled administrative work on casework and worked with Ecological and Water Resources staff in preparation for an upcoming meeting regarding bloody red shrimp.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on case file records and digital transformation. He also planned training and attended meetings. Ice fishing activity is still going and individuals are still driving on the lakes.

WREO Leah Weyandt (Central) spent the week uploading old cases into the new electronic filing system. Time was spent updating and confirming current deed restrictions that are in place. A TEP meeting was attended in Isanti County where an after-the-fact application was filled out for a wetland violation.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) worked angling and ATV enforcement. Time was spent following up with ongoing wetland and waters cases. A few trout anglers managed to make it out on opening morning before the storm on Saturday. Success was limited.

WREO Julie Siems (SE) worked a very blustery trout opener. Time was also spent working the Mississippi River and addressing a wake zone violation. Court was attended and traffic assistance was given at a motor vehicle crash. 

Enforcement Education

Please check the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Education Courses and instructor training sessions.
 
If you missed a fall class and are over 18, check online for the online course information. (It’s also at www.mndnr.gov.)

Please check the DNR website www.mndnr.gov for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Youth and Adult Snowmobile Safety Courses and instructor training sessions.

Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.

Reminder: Anyone born after December 31, 1979 cannot purchase a license to hunt in Minnesota without first taking a DNR Safety Training Course and receiving a certificate. In addition, many states have even more stringent mandatory Hunter Education requirements. Check before you go!

Reminder: Any resident born after December 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota must possess a snowmobile certificate. Two options are available to complete certification. Ages 11 and older can take the online course and hands-on day or attend the traditional youth course. Those 16 or older can take the online course.

Reminder: Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands and waters in Minnesota must successfully complete the ATV Safety Training online course. People under age 16 must complete the ATV online course and riding component before riding on public lands. Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.

SCHEDULED INSTRUCTOR TRAINING SESSIONS

If you are 18 or older and would like to become an instructor for Snowmobile Safety, ATV Safety, Firearms Safety, Trail Ambassador or one of the Advanced Hunter programs, contact your local conservation officer or regional safety training officer. Instructor clinics are scheduled throughout the state and are listed on the DNR website.

See Also:

STAFF NOTES:

RTO Brett Oberg (Southwest Metro RTO) checked streams and rivers for beaver trapping activity in the area. Oberg reports seeing a lot more waterfowl back this week. Ring necks, common goldeneyes, common mergansers, hooded mergansers, wood ducks and mallards were observed. Oberg also prepared for upcoming instructor clinics.

RTO Jen Mueller (Southwest RTO) spent the week working on lesson plans for the upcoming Academy, including the water confidence course and use of force. Due to bad weather, an instructor clinic and firearms safety class she was to attend were cancelled. Mueller continued taking registrations and working out logistics for upcoming youth firearms safety field days.

RTO Greg Oldakowski (NW RTO – Acting) reports working angling activity in the area and receiving a call about an injured owl. Potential new instructors were taught at an ATV and snowmobile safety instructor clinic and backgrounds were performed on prior instructor clinics.

Recreational Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence conducted ATV and snowmobile safety instructor training at the General Andrews wildfire training center in Willow River. Lawrence also assisted CO Phil George with a firearms safety instructor training session at the Bald Eagle Sportsmen’s Association. Lawrence conducted trail ambassador training in Rochester over the weekend. Lawrence has been receiving questions about where and when people can operate ATVs and when the trails in state forests will be open for riding. 

RTO                                                                                       E-MAIL:
NE RTO Mike Lee                                                                 mike.lee@state.mn.us
NW RTO Greg Oldakowski                                                   gregory.oldakowski@state.mn.us
Southwest Metro RTO Brett Oberg                                       brett.oberg@state.mn.us
Southwest RTO Jennifer Mueller                                           jennifer.mueller@state.mn.us
South Metro RTO Phil George                                               philip.george@state.mn.us                 
Rec Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence                             bruce.lawrence@state.mn.us

Curriculum Specialist:  Vacant

Education Specialist:  Vacant

Curriculum Coordinator:  Vacant

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