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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 - 3-19-18

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked angling activity on Lake of the Woods. Most pike anglers reported a slow bite. Walleye fishing has been spotty. Violations encountered during the week included anglers found in possession of illegal smelt and herring, angling with extra lines, possessing illegal length walleyes, renting out a fishing shelter without a commercial shelter license, angling with a quick-strike rig with a hook spread greater than 9 inches, and several people operating trucks on the grant-in-aid snowmobile trails. 

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked angling, aquatic invasive species, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile enforcement. Do not operate vehicles other than snowmobiles on the posted grant-in-aid snowmobile trails on the lake, as doing so causes various hazards to snowmobilers. Feel free to parallel or cross the trails but do not travel on them unless you are operating a snowmobile. Enforcement action for the week included angling with extra lines, fishing license violations, snowmobile registration violations, and operating vehicles other than snowmobiles on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Baudette West) reports an increase in fishing activity on Lake of the Woods and the surrounding tributaries. Northern pike fishing has picked up dramatically and a few lucky anglers have seen some trophy pike. Angling and snowmobile enforcement were worked.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) answered a call of dogs chasing deer and monitored ice shelter removal and late-season snowmobiling activity. A detail on Lake of the Woods was worked with COs Huener and Benjamin. The officers remind anglers that only snowmobiles are allowed on the groomed grant-in-aid trails. Enforcement action included fishing with an extra line, possessing illegal length fish on a special regulation water, no ice shelter license, possessing dressed fillets on a special regulation water, ATV and snowmobile registration violations, and multiple violations of operating a vehicle other than a snowmobile on designated trail.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working angling and snowmobiling activity throughout the week. The snowmobile season appears to be over as a result of rapid deterioration of trail conditions. Anglers reported varying success on bluegills, crappies and perch on area lakes. Regas investigated a report of a pickup truck that was stuck and blocking a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail. The driver of became stuck while using the trail to access private land. Enforcement action was taken for operating a motor vehicle on the grant-in-aid snowmobile trail.  Time was spent assisting the northwest regional training officer certifying a group of new ATV and snowmobile safety instructors. Enforcement action for the week included angling license and shelter license violations. 

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) checked anglers and snowmobile riders. Assistance was given to the county with various calls for service. Mishler also participated in an active shooter drill/tabletop exercise at a local school.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time working on cases from the 2017 deer season. Time was also spent assisting a North Dakota game warden with a deer hunting investigation. Anglers were also checked on area lakes and rivers.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked anglers and ice shelters. He also prepared for upcoming divisional training.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked panfish anglers on area lakes. Vollbrecht also responded to a wolf depredation complaint, worked a detail on Lake of the Woods with other officers, and patrolled snowmobile trails early in the week. Most trails are not rideable due to the melting snow. 

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports checking late ice anglers. Some area ice is starting to restrict travel to ATVs and snowmobiles as slush is becoming an issue under the snow. Fishing has been spotty. Vinton had two fish houses left well past the removal deadline. One house eventually was seized after the owner was cited for the second year in a row and failed to remove it. The second angler was able to remove the shelter. Both were cited for failing to remove them by the deadline. A couple anglers were also reminded that 2017 angling licenses had expired. Without any additional snow, area trails may be done for the season.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working ice fishing and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent responding to miscellaneous wildlife complaints.

CO Angie Warren (Detroit Lakes) worked angling activity and monitored fish house removals. Public accesses were inspected and the public is reminded that fish houses cannot be left at accesses and all litter must be removed. Snowmobile activity was worked and recent warm weather has caused many trails to deteriorate. Aeration permit inspections were performed. 

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring angling and snowmobiling activity. A few snowmobile riders were out enjoying the last few days of riding, but due to the warm weather snowmobiling is officially done in the area. Panfish anglers are starting to find a few more fish in areas. The officer also issued wildlife possession permits and followed up on reports of suspicious angling activity.

Fosston – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports panfish angling has picked up due to warmer weather.  However, it doesn’t appear the bite is overly strong. Tullibee action has been picking up in the area. Vehicles and wheel houses are still being seen on weekends. Caution should be exercised as late-season ice can change rapidly. Shoreline ice is starting to change and getting on or off may be difficult on some lakes. 

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) checked area anglers throughout the week. Fishing is a bit slow but some people were finding a limit of sunfish here and there. Plautz gave a laws and ethics talk at a firearms safety class in Battle Lake. Fish houses on the ice were checked and ensured they were occupied overnight.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked fishermen and ATVs. A fish overlimit complaint was investigated during the week. Maintenance was performed on station equipment.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) reports heavy ice fishing activity on the traditional late-ice panfish spots. Most of the snow has melted off the area lakes, and ATV activity is primary now. Citations were issued for no fishing license and expired registration violations. An FAS class was completed and Lawler also responded to calls from the public regarding injured animals.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) worked angling and ATV activity during the week. Time was also spent monitoring coyote hunting and trapping. The officer worked with county attorneys on preparing for upcoming court case related to the 2017 deer season. Plans were finalized for an upcoming firearms safety class.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking fishermen and ATV operators. Additional time was spent investigating complaints of shed hunters trespassing.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

Morris – vacant.

Wheaton – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continues to primarily check panfish and perch anglers. Several areas on snowmobile trails are in poor shape as a result of the warmer weather this past week. A Bear Committee meeting was attended. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Colleen Adam (Park Rapids) reports snowmobile trails are bare on south aspects and open areas. Some area lakes are seeing pressure from anglers seeking crappies and sunfish. Enforcement action was taken for no license, shelter out beyond deadline, and youth not wearing a helmet on an ATV. Adam also issued roadkill possession tags.

CO Chelsey Best (Remer) worked on fish house issues, taking enforcement action for those left out after the deadline and those left at public accesses. Trail conditions have deteriorated over the last week with the warm weather. It’s worth mentioning that most local trails remain closed to ATVs through at least April 1, and some later depending on spring conditions.

CO Duke Broughten (Longville) spent the week monitoring fishing activity. Anglers reported limited success. Warm weather and lack of new snow has shut down snowmobile activity. Broughten followed up with fish houses left after the legal deadline and investigated public waters violations. 

Lake George – vacant.

Walker – vacant.

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO John Slatinski (International Falls #2) reports fishing and snowmobiling were again the primary activities in the area this past week. Shelters were documented ahead of the northern inland waters removal deadline. Follow-up on a previous case from the fall was worked on. A few trappers were contacted trying to outsmart the wily coyote. It was noted several projects in the area have begun involving or near waterways. Make sure you have appropriate permits prior to starting work. Several questions were fielded in regards to the new northern pike regulations. 

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes for activity. Work in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area resulted in multiple documented angling and BWCA violations. Area forest roads and public access sites continue to be monitored.

CO John Velsvaag (Cook) checked anglers and a few snowmobilers. He also assisted on a work detail and answered questions on the new pike regulations. Trail conditions are tough and quickly deteriorating.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) attended a DNR Bear Committee meeting in Grand Rapids and assisted with a call of a student threatening to get a gun and return to shoot another at a local high school. No guns were involved.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spent a majority of his time tracking the removal of ice shelters from Virginia area lakes. For the most part shelter removal has gone smoothly and shelter owners picked up around them. But numerous people left behind the wooden blocks upon which shelters sat. The blocks are now frozen in. Those shelter owners were contacted and warned to remove everything when they remove their house from the lake. Other activity included assisting sheriff’s deputies in searching for a bank robbery suspect in Orr and a barricaded suspect.  

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) has received complaint about bobcats going after chickens and rabbits and being around towns. One got in scuffle with a couple dogs. Most fish houses are off area lakes. A few fishermen are out but travel across lakes is difficult due to deep, slushy slow.

Ray – vacant.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports he and other area law enforcement officers responded to Orr to assist with the search for a suspect after a bank robbery attempt. Two bank employees were sprayed by pepper spray and a suspect was taken into custody near town. Violations for the week included taking deer without a license.

CO Marty Stage (Ely) worked the lakes in the Ely area – both in and outside the BWCA – to check trout and crappie fishermen. There is still 1 to 3 feet of snow in the woods. Recent cold nights have frozen the slush on lakes, making conditions very good for winter travel, but exercise caution with late-season ice. Remember that new fishing licenses are required. 

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports a high volume of snowmobile traffic over the weekend. The vast majority of the sleds had registration numbers and year of expiration decals properly displayed. Remote designated trout lakes were also checked.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) attended instructor training and planning meetings at Camp Ripley. Along with U.S. Forest Service Officer Belmore, Manning assisted Cook County with a search for a motorist stranded on a snowmobile trail. Manning also worked with CO Willis and St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputies on a snowmobile water-skipping detail.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily in the BWCA checking anglers with CO Stage. Violations for the week included fishing without a license, cans in the BWCA, operating vehicles on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail, and no license in possession.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) inspected a turkey complaint area. It was unknown if the turkey was wild or illegally released. Without many formal sightings it is hard to tell. Schottenbauer encourages Lake and Cook county sightings of turkeys to be reported to the area wildlife office.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile activity during the week. Most ice shelters were already removed ahead of the removal deadline and area snowmobile trails were in poor shape after the warm weather over the weekend. Area streams are beginning to open. Ice conditions are beginning to deteriorate and caution should be taken with late-season ice.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Randy Patten (Northome) checked anglers, documented fish houses that might not make the removal deadline, helped with removing a vehicle that partially went through the ice, and assisted the sheriff’s office with an attempted felony warrant pickup.

CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked snowmobile and ATV activity, as well as fishing and small game enforcement. He also answered miscellaneous wildlife-related calls. Hansen checked lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Violations for ATV equipment and operation were encountered.   

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked late-season ice anglers and found the success rate to be on the rise. Anglers should use caution when venturing out. The main ice sheets on the lakes are still well over 2 feet thick, but recent warmth has opened up some springs and holes around the lakes. Sutherland also worked the Wall of Shame at the Grand Rapids Area Home and Sport Show.

Hill City – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) checked anglers and snowmobilers. A complaint about a spearing shelter left on the ice on a remote lake was also addressed. The owners were able to chip it out of the ice and remove it prior to Willis’ arrival. Additionally, Willis spoke with students at a high school career fair at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working angling activity and monitoring ice house removal prior to removal date. Shore anglers are out in force and beginning to have some luck. Snowmobile trails in the area are in very tough shape and bare spots are getting larger. Nuisance animal calls were also handled.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) checked fishermen along the North Shore of Lake Superior. He also checked inland lakes for any remaining ice shelters.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) worked snowmobile and ATV activity in the area. A special detail was also worked on Lake Vermilion near Tower. Enforcement action was taken for failing to transfer ownership, no safety certification, and registration violations. A career fair was attended at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College where several high school students were educated on the job of a conservation officer. Possession permits were issued for car killed animals in the area. Time was spent patrolling area state parks. A complaint of a careless driver in Jay Cooke State Park was received and is being investigated.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports the warmer weather over the course of the week took a toll on area snowmobile trails. Area lakes are still rideable. Olson checked crappie anglers north of Duluth, where a few nice fish were observed but nothing in numbers. The Kamloops anglers have been hitting the Duluth end of the North Shore in good numbers. Pack ice is still present on the big lake. He assisted the Two Harbors officer with a report of a homemade Viking ship being launched at McQuade Small Craft Harbor without life jackets aboard the boat. The Vikings had departed the water prior to the officers arriving.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked on training items and patrolled the upper Gunflint Trail. Boaters are starting to take to the open waters of Lake Superior, mostly accessing across beaches. A few coho salmon and Kamloops are being caught, but the bite is pretty slow. Snowmobile trails are still mostly covered but conditions are fading fast. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) checked area lakes for anglers and completed previous case reports. Snowmobile trails deteriorated rapidly due to warm weather. Sullivan also fielded questions about aquatic plant management permits. 

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports confiscating and removing illegally abandoned fish houses from area lakes that were left out after the statutory deadline. The owners of the fish houses face multiple charges and restitution for removal costs. Other activity included checking grant-in-aid cross-country ski trails, winter trout fishing activity, and surveillance of panfish bites. Numerous enforcement contacts were made for violations including overlimits of crappies, no trout stamp, illegal burning of garbage and prohibited materials, and licenses and trout stamps not in possession.   

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) reports a busy week on the lakes with the nice weather. She completed a couple of cases in which fish houses were left on the ice past the deadline. She also investigated two separate cases in which anglers were fishing with a combination license under fraudulent information. Only a legally married couple can angle with a combination license. Ladd also attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for snowmobile and angling activity throughout the week. Snowmobile riders are finding poor trail conditions as the snow starts to melt. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile registration issues, angling with extra lines, angling without a license, and fish overlimit.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking trout fishermen during the week and weekend. A few trout were seen and a few folks were also out trying for panfish. Fitzgerald patrolled the recreation area for park violations and also for damage and dumping. ATV activity was monitored and a few sleds were out on the trails. Enforcement action for the week included various fishing and SRA law violations. 

Brainerd #1 – vacant.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Chris Tetrault (Isle) answered questions regarding Mille Lacs Lake and the northern pike season. Equipment maintenance was conducted. The officer also assisted with a snowmobile accident in Redtop.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) received complaints about ATVs operating on state forest snowmobile trails and rutting them up. ATVs are allowed on groomed trails within the state forest only. Grant-in-aid snowmobile trails are off-limits. Other trails must be signed open to ATVs for you to operate on them. DNR Parks and Trails recommends that you only operate ATVs on groomed trails at temperatures of 30 degrees and colder to protect the trail and make riding enjoyable for all. Speldrich investigated a TIP call of hunting out of season in the Chengwatana State Forest. She also took enforcement action for leaving property at a public access.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked panfishing, ATV, and some snowmobiling activities. Migrating birds have appeared back in the northland, with cranes being the most vocal. A wolf sighting was investigated in Sherburne County, along with an injured eagle that got a ride from concerned citizens to the Raptor Center. Starr checked a group of crappie fishermen and found one of them was possibly going into labor, but she could not ride the ATV back to the landing. She indicated it was past her due date but that she wanted to catch some crappies before the baby arrived.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) found some anglers out catching a few sunfish and crappies.  Lakes still had good, thick ice conditions but melting snow had anglers dealing with a lot of slush in some areas. A few snowmobilers were still out riding the trails but by the end of the week trails had melted down to bare ground, making some of them impassable. Time was also spent assisting farmers who had wolves hanging around the cattle and calves. One wolf depredation investigation confirmed a site where multiple calves had been killed by wolves.  Commercial inspections of minnow retailers were also completed.

CO Eugene Wynn (Pine City) checked anglers and state forest areas during the week. He spent time following up on commercial enforcement, worked ATV complaint areas, and monitored the deteriorating snowmobile trail conditions. Trails are no longer rideable in the Pine City area. Wynn also assisted the Pine County Sheriff’s Office with rounding up loose cattle, a psychological issue, and catching an individual who fled from deputies on foot.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) investigated a wanton waste complaint and patrolled area lakes. A few fishermen were out looking for northern pike and perch on Mille Lacs Lake and having some luck while others were chasing sunfish and crappies on smaller lakes. Most forest roads are starting to see the spring thaw and it is expected that closures will be happening soon.

Malmo – vacant.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) reports a call of an injured owl with a broken wing was taken, but Kuske, unfortunately, was unable to locate the owl where it was last seen at the residence. Kuske issued car kill deer permits, spoke at the Pierz firearm safety class and continued an investigation of dogs chasing deer. The dog owners were found to leave the dogs loose and home alone all day while they are gone to work. Kuske worked snowmobile enforcement and found the common violation was no registration numbers on the snowmobile.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week monitoring angling and ATV activity in the station. In-service training was completed and a use of force meeting was attended. Ice conditions in the station are starting to deteriorate near the shores, making some lakes hazardous for vehicle traffic. A warm weekend brought out anglers and a modest panfish bite was seen on several area lakes. A possible wetland violation was investigated and an injured red-tailed hawk was also rescued after being hit by a motor vehicle. Violations for the week included no fishing license, allowing illegal operation of an ATV, an ATV passenger under 18 without a helmet, failure to display ATV registration, and an ATV tow bar violation.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked on administrative tasks this week and assisted the State Patrol with a traffic stop. The officer also got called out for an injured deer he had to dispatch.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked fishing and ATV activity, addressed complaints about nuisance animals, and issued road kill animal permits. He also gave the law talk to a firearms safety class and handled administrative tasks in St. Paul.

CO Frank Rezac (St. Cloud) reports checking ice fishermen, following up on litter-on-ice issues, and investigating a dogs-chasing-deer complaint. A fish overlimit case was also investigated.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent time working a coyote-hunting complaint area. For the second time this winter Bertram cited this particular group for transporting loaded guns. A few fishermen were found without their new license. Please remember to pick up your 2018 angling license before you head to the lake.

Pierz – vacant.

Annandale – vacant.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) gave a presentation for a career day at Princeton High School and spent time on patrol vehicle maintenance. Londgren also checked anglers and took complaints about injured animals and ice shelters being unattended overnight.

CO Brandon McGaw (Mora) checked some anglers during the week. Some lakes had a better bite then others. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley assisting with planning of future divisional training and in-service. 
CO Mike Krauel (Milaca) spent time following up on a big-game case. Krauel also attended a TIP banquet and met with local outdoor enthusiasts to discuss the various aspects of the TIP program. Krauel would like to say a big thank you to all of the TIP volunteers for their incredible work and dedication!
CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave presentations to a snowmobile class at the Hasty-Silver Creek Sportsmen’s Club and a firearms safety class in Hanover. Anglers in the Wright County area were also checked. An injured trumpeter swan was captured and taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Enforcement action was taken for leaving a fish house at a public access, angling without a license and angling with extra lines.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) spoke at a youth firearms safety class. Anglers were checked and animal complaints were handled. Musatov also worked ATV complaint areas.

CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) spent the week checking anglers, patrolling for ATVs, and responding to miscellaneous wildlife complaints. Enforcement action was taken for targeting smallmouth bass during the closed season, allowing a juvenile to operate an ATV without a helmet, and failing to display ATV registration. Seamans would like to remind anglers that the Mississippi River near Monticello is currently closed to smallmouth fishing, which includes targeting smallmouth for catch-and-release.

CO Phil Mohs (Center City) worked on deer cases and followed up on several TIP calls. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV on snowmobile trails and trapping violations.

District 13 - West Metro area

CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) assisted the Scott County Sheriff’s Office on Prior Lake with an ATV through the ice. The driver was able to exit the water after his machine sank to the bottom. The driver felt lucky to be alive as he was completely submerged and could have easily been trapped under the ice. A local tow agency located the ATV and removed it from the water. Fogarty would like to remind late-season ice anglers to use caution. Ice near shorelines and structures can become unsafe for human travel long before the ice at the center of the lake thins. Fogarty also inspected aeration permits on Scott County lakes. One aerator had no warning signs advising of thin ice. The permittee stated he took the signs down because he was afraid to lose them when the ice melted. Fogarty advised him to place the signs back on the ice and attach some type of float to the sign. Fogarty received a TIP complaint of wanton waste of deer. A deer that was harvested in November 2017 was located in the backyard of the suspect address. It was clearly past the point of human consumption. Fogarty was also called to assist the St. Paul Police Department with what was believed to be a trailer full of deer carcasses. Fogarty arrived to find the trailer had contained slaughtered Large White breed pigs. Fogarty talked to the people butchering the hogs; no deer were located. Other enforcement action was taken for failure to register a big game animal and no parking permit within a state park.

CO Tim Maass (Osseo) investigated several complaints of sand being dumped on the ice in front of several properties on area lakes. Property owners were contacted and public waters violations were addressed. Maass continued to check ice anglers on area lakes.

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) reports ice fishing trickling off as temperatures rise. Most anglers reported they had a great season thanks to cooler weather this year. A presentation was given to students at a firearms safety class and assistance was given to another officer on a TIP call involving deer from the previous season. 

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking fishermen and following up on complaints. Grewe continued training with K9 Shelby and did some equipment maintenance.  Violations for the week included license issues.    

Mound – vacant.

Bloomington – vacant.

Ft. Snelling – vacant.

District 14 - East Metro area

CO Vuthy Pril (ELCOP) spoke at a firearms safety class in Rosemount. He also investigated a complaint of possible small game violations, worked ice anglers on area lakes, and responded to miscellaneous calls during the week.

CO Scott Arntzen (Forest Lake) spent the week checking anglers, patrolling wildlife management areas and doing recreational vehicle enforcement. He spoke to a firearms safety class in Hugo, responded to TIP calls and handled nuisance animal complaints. Arntzen also did equipment maintenance, scheduled firearms safety classes and worked on open cases.

CO Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent the week monitoring anglers in the area. He investigated a complaint of a swan being shot and with help from a neighboring officer charges are pending. Enforcement action for the week included license violations, taking protected birds, and wanton waste.

Ham Lake – vacant.

Maplewood – vacant.

Metro Officer – vacant.

Eagan – vacant.

District 15 - Marshall area

CO Craig Miska (Ortonville) checked angling, ATV and snowmobiling activity during the week. Commercial minnow activity was also monitored and minnow transportation permits were issued.

CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week working snowmobiles and coyote hunters. Snow is wet and muddy but sleds are still using the ditches. Canada geese are stopping at area lakes but very few snow geese have been seen.

CO Andrew Dirks (Worthington) received a complaint about illegal snow goose hunting. After completing the investigation, enforcement action was taken for a license violation. The spring waterfowl migration has arrived with a good variety of waterfowl species observed throughout the area.

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) conducted a weekly radio interview with KLOH Radio in Pipestone. Most of the week was spent working coyote hunting, ice fishing, ATV, and snowmobile enforcement. Commercial licensing issues were also worked on. The law and ethics portion of a firearm safety class was taught in Cottonwood.

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Madison) spent time working angling activity on area lakes. Many anglers were out enjoying the warm weather and a decent crappie bite on Lac qui Parle Lake. Enforcement action was taken for license issues, extra lines and intentionally angling for fish in the closed season. The laws and ethics portion of a firearms safety class was taught in Dawson.

CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Benson) checked anglers and worked recreational vehicle activity. The officer spoke at a firearms safety class and checked lakes to make sure houses were removed. The officer observed a moderate-to-good bite in the area on Friday and Saturday.

Lake Benton – vacant.

Redwood Falls – vacant.

District 16 - New Ulm area

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar-West) spoke at a firearms safety class and followed up on commercial enforcement. Time was spent checking anglers and ATV operators. 

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar-East) spent time working area lakes for angling activity. He also worked trapping and continued with commercial inspections. Vernier took calls including an incidental fisher, possible public waters violation, and a dog pursuing deer complaint.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking anglers and following up with trappers. Klehr also had a high school student with on a ride-along during the week to explore career opportunities. Other time was spent at a firearms safety class and giving a presentation to a 4-H group about what it is like to be a conservation officer and what opportunities are available for them in the outdoors.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) gave a career presentation at a local high school and received a complaint of fishing for walleyes during the closed season. He worked primarily fishing and ATV safety activities

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) checked panfishing activity throughout the week, along with light goose hunting activity. Miller worked the Wall of Shame at a TIP event near Foley and presented on the success of the TIP program and the Division of Enforcement. Aeration inspections were completed throughout the week. Area lakes still have 16 to 20 inches of ice. A moderate number of Canada geese and numerous species of ducks were seen in the Talcot Lake Wildlife Management Area.

CO Mike Gruhlke (Jackson) checked activity relating to fishing and small game. He completed his radio program with KKOJ discussing topics including angling licenses expiring and other area activity. Gruhlke took a complaint of coyote hunters using dogs and possible trespass. He noted several species of waterfowl returning to the area.

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) reports ice thickness is still good. Many anglers are still driving out with large vehicles and ATVs. Aeration systems were inspected and public accesses were patrolled. Litter complaints are coming in with snow melt, but overall litter on lakes remains low.

Hutchinson East – vacant.

Hutchinson West – vacant.

District 17 - Mankato area

CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) worked angling enforcement and responded to trespass complaints. Numerous anglers where contacted this week with no angling license. Enforcement action was taken. Investigations are ongoing regarding people who go mudding on public lands. Henke reminds everyone that motor vehicle operation is not permitted on wildlife management and waterfowl production areas. Henke assisted local law enforcement with several emergency situations and spoke at a firearms safety class in Adams.

CO Jamie VanThuyne (Mankato #1) focused on fishing and ATV enforcement. VanThuyne also followed up on a trapping violation and spoke to area sophomores at a career fair.

CO Chad Davis (Owatonna) checked anglers, trappers, and predator hunters during the week. Numerous ice anglers were out with the warmer weather. The officer checked ATV operators and also attended the Minnesota Pheasants of Steele County corn giveaway.

CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato #2) continued to check ice conditions and accesses for ice shelters. Anglers continue to take advantage of the ice conditions with several lakes producing panfish. Coyote hunters were checked and continue to use what snow is left to their advantage. He also patrolled for ATV activity.

CO Brent Ihnen (Waseca) spent the week patrolling for fishing and ATV activity. Additional time was spent patrolling area lakes and public water accesses for litter violations. Ihnen also gave a law and ethics presentation to a local firearms safety class.

CO Chris Howe (St. Peter) checked angling, snowmobile, and ATV activity this week. Snowmobile activity is basically over due to warm weather. There are still folks out pursuing panfish on area lakes, though there is a fair amount of slush and water. Some folks have begun fishing from shore on area rivers as they open.

Faribault – vacant.

Spring Valley – vacant.

District 18 - Rochester area

CO Tom Hemker (Winona) reports many boats in the area with some days of good walleye and perch fishing. He followed up on illegal deer hunting information from previous years. Hemker also had two people from a local college do a ride-along.

CO Kylan Hill (Zumbrota) reports contacting multiple cross-country skiers utilizing the Cannon Valley Trail one last time before putting the skis away for the year. Only one skier without a ski pass was contacted. Hill encountered multiple people in possession of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. He was watching late-season ice anglers on a remote road when a couple pulled up to him on an ATV. As he was conversing with them about the warm weather and fishing activity, it was apparent the driver of the ATV had been consuming alcoholic beverages. After field sobriety testing, the driver was placed under arrest for DUI. Sometimes officers are just in the right place at the right time.

CO Mitch Boyum (Rushford) reports checking trout anglers. Warmer weather has anglers active. Success was limited to mornings as by the afternoons the creeks turned muddy. Time was spent investigating deer cases from the fall. Boyum attended meetings about the deer-collaring program.

Co Kevin Prodzinski (Wabasha) Reports working on more open investigations regarding final case preparation and handling calls and complaints. He also worked backwaters of the Mississippi River along with some open-water activity. Fishing has been slow in spots and better in others. Enforcement action this week included unattended lines, fishing with too many lines, no licenses, and registration issues.

CO Joel Heyn (Plainview) worked mainly anglers during the week. Lots of people were out fishing through the ice and from boats. Heyn also handled other calls and complaints and worked on cases. 

CO Brittany Hauser (Red Wing) spent the week checking area fishermen on the Mississippi River near Lock and Dam 3. Many anglers were contacted but few fish were seen in livewells. Many anglers were also contacted while fishing in the fish refuge below the roller gates and within the restricted zone. All anglers contacted were reminded that for the months of March and April, no fishing is allowed within 300 feet downstream of the roller gates. They were also reminded that the restricted zone, which is the area within 150 feet downstream of the roller gates, is closed to boating year-round as it is a safety concern. Enforcement action for the week included no fishing license, no license in possession, angling with unlawful tackle, no sound producing device, no legal fire extinguisher, failure to display valid registration on watercraft, failure to display license number, operating a watercraft within a closed area, and taking fish within a seasonally closed area.

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

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf telemetry and deer-collaring project flights. Jensen also gave flight instruction to a pilot trainee and attended an Operation Stonegarden training class. Aeration systems were inspected via aircraft and some photos of various violations were forwarded to local officers.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance items and administrative tasks. He also worked on wolf telemetry near Grand Rapids, Baudette, and Red Lake with a helicopter. It was necessary to get a more accurate count of pack numbers this time of year. The helicopter is an excellent tool to use to get the wolves to come out into the open. Snow conditions for visibility were still very good across the area.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew two wolf telemetry flights.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) continued training with a CO pilot out of Ely and Hibbing.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NE) spent the week assisting with lake service provider trainings. Time was spent at Camp Ripley for training and in-service planning. Equipment was maintained for the season.

WREO Mike Scott (NE) checked snowmobile riders over the weekend on area trails in Tower. Trails are rapidly deteriorating but plenty of people are still out. Anglers on the North Shore were checked. They’re catching coho salmon and Kamloops. Warm weather has been good for the anglers. Work on this year’s Law Enforcement Memorial Association event for May 15 is under way with contacts for family members of fallen officers being made as well as research.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on duties related to water resources. Haberman also checked anglers on local lakes and patrolled Cross Lake for ATVs and snowmobiles.

WREO Leah Weyandt (Central) served a restoration order for a wetland violation that needed to be corrected. Several technical meetings were attended to assess possible violations. A conference was attended where Weyandt spoke to marina owners about Sophia’s Law and how it will impact their customers.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) worked angling, ATV, and coyote hunting activity. The officer followed up on wetland and waters cases and responded to calls for service.

WREO Julie Siems (SE) worked on setting up aquatic invasive species enforcement classes for area agencies. Many boaters and anglers were checked on the river. Violations included no license in possession and no registration numbers on watercraft.

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.


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:


NW RTO Greg Oldakowski reports some ice angling activity in the area, though ice conditions are variable. A volunteer instructor clinic for ATV and snowmobile safety was provided, as well as a youth firearms safety class. A depredation case on livestock was investigated and the culprits were identified as coyotes. 

North Metro RTO Brett Oberg (Acting) attended use of force training and qualifications at Camp Ripley. Planning was also done for upcoming Academy and in-service training. Oberg also visited local ranges to check on the viability of hosting field days. ATV and trapping enforcement was also worked.

Southern RTO Jen Mueller (Acting) spent two days a Camp Riley for training and meetings. She spent the rest of the week working and planning for upcoming range and field days. She also answered questions on the upcoming spring turkey season.

South Metro RTO Phil George (Acting) spoke at a couple of firearms safety classes, taught a firearms safety instructor clinic, and reviewed backgrounds on a prior firearms safety clinic. He also answered phone calls and emails and checked a few ice anglers in the area.

RTO                                                                                       E-MAIL:
NE RTO Mike Lee                                                                 mike.lee@state.mn.us
NW RTO Greg Oldakowski                                                   gregory.oldakowski@state.mn.us
North Metro RTO Brett Oberg                                               brett.oberg@state.mn.us
Southern 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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