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Reports of good to fair amount of ducks on opener - MnDNR CO Reports

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Sept. 24, 2018

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) reports working fishing enforcement this past week. Anglers are out and the fall bite continues to improve. Waterfowl opener went well. There were good numbers of hunters and a fair amount of ducks. The most common duck in the bag was wood ducks and teal were a close second. Violations for no HIP certification and no state or federal stamps were found. Posner checked grouse hunters and the report was poor. Hunters explained there are still too many leaves on trees to see all of the birds they flushed. Archery hunters report deer are becoming more active with the cooler weather. AIS violations included duck hunters not cleaning vegetation and pulling the plugs in their duck boats.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) checked a mix of hunters, anglers, and recreational vehicle riders. Most duck hunters had decent opening-weekend success. A background investigation was completed of a CO applicant. An injured loon call was received. A law talk was given at a firearms safety class. Enforcement action was taken for recreational vehicle and AIS violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tim Collette (Brainerd) worked the waterfowl season opener and saw good numbers of hunters and a fair number of ducks. The majority of the bags consisted of wood ducks and teal, with a few mallards added in. Most hunters reported seeing good numbers of ducks first thing in the mornings but not much later in the day. A few grouse hunters were out and Collette received reports of a few bears still being taken. Anglers checked reported the fall bite is in ramping up.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling, watercraft, AIS, archery deer and waterfowl activity. Enforcement contacts included northern pike in the 22- to 26-inch protected slot.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked ATV, small game and waterfowl enforcement throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for equipment violations, lack of PFDs and license violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked a busy waterfowl opening weekend. Numerous hunters were out and some had decent success. Enforcement action was taken for numerous waterfowl-hunting violations.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked migratory waterfowl opener over the weekend. Guida checked bag limits and license/stamp requirements. A complaint of use of a motorized decoy was fielded. Guida fielded a complaint of dogs chasing deer, which turned out to be dogs at-large. Assistance was also given to a motorist who broke an axle and was stranded on the highway.

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) worked the waterfowl opener and responding to issues of injured wildlife, illegal lake service provider activity, suspicious hunting, trespassing, and hunter harassment. Waterfowl hunter numbers appeared to be down from past years, and hunter success ranged from no birds in the bag to limits of ducks and geese. Enforcement contacts were made for unplugged shotguns and failure to obtain small game licenses and HIP certification while hunting waterfowl.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) and COC Annette Kyllo focused on the waterfowl hunting opener over this past weekend. A number of hunting groups were contacted, some of whom were camping on islands and on state forest lands. Campers reported that breakfast was much better than hunting. One hunter was educated about the proper method for inserting a plug in his shotgun. Enforcement action was taken for license violations, illegal taking methods and boating equipment violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) assisted with the ATVAM ride event in the Red Top and Solana Loops area. Lots of ATVs were seen out enjoying the nice weather. A few small-game hunters were checked and most reported not seeing many birds with the heavy leaf cover yet. Assistance was given to the State Patrol on a call for service and many outdoor law-related questions were answered throughout the week and weekend. Calls regarding litter and a lake service provider not having a permit were investigated. Time was spent following up on a recreation area violation case, and a call of a collared deer was fielded. Fitzgerald also issued an ATV permit for the upcoming firearms deer season. Area waterfowl hunters were checked with a few having some luck at getting birds.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity where boats and docks are coming off fast but remaining anglers are doing well. Duck opener went as expected as local ducks quickly became educated. Verkuilen also assisted with an ATVAM event at the Solana State Forest.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) worked on a background investigation. She also instructed honor guards at Camp Ripley for the annual LEMA Honor Guard Camp. Questions about nuisance beavers, minnow transportation, bear baiting, and waterfowl hunting were answered. Very few waterfowl hunters were seen on the opener.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked waterfowl opener and found good success. Some limits were seen, with compliance found to be good other than an accidentally loaded shotgun. Bear hunters are reporting that baits are starting to get hit well with cooler weather. Starr helped an elderly couple with a harvested bear when it was found the husband did not know how to field-dress or skin his wife’s first bear. Starr also assisted two local sheriff’s offices with a search warrant and suspect search of a multi-felony violent crime.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) checked waterfowl and small-game hunters over the weekend. Hunting success was fair for waterfowl with a variety of duck species seen. Grouse hunters are still struggling to find birds. A number of car kill permits were issued and a public waters investigation was finalized.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) spoke at the Kinship firearms safety class, investigated complaints of camping on a wildlife management area, an unlawful easement, and a waterfowl hunter complaint. Three juvenile hunters were found shooting too early and sky-busting at birds while shooting in the direction of houses where their shot rained down onto the structures. The juveniles were contacted and educated about the legal and ethical ways to duck hunt. The next group of youth duck hunters that Kuske checked also had to be educated on why it’s illegal to use lead shot while waterfowl hunting.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) continue training with COC Kampa. Time was spent during the week investigating a possible wetlands violation and a littering complaint. Kampa and Silgjord worked the busy duck opener in the station. They checked multiple groups and found that hunting success was fairly good. Most groups had a few birds and others neared a limit. Violations included an unplugged shotgun, unsigned federal duck stamp, no small game license, no state waterfowl stamp and an unattended stand in a waterfowl production area.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling and waterfowl activity and equipment maintenance. Neighboring officers were assisted with vacant stations and waterfowl work.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports finding two waterfowl hunters who shot three geese over their limit. The case became more interesting when Bertram discovered that one of the hunters had no licenses and an unplugged gun. Citations were issued along with the geese and a shotgun being seized.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) responded to a call where three duck hunters had their boat capsize and they were yelling for help. Private citizens located the duck hunters and got them to shore. Their small boat was overloaded and the boat took on water when it was hit by a wave. Luckily, all three were wearing life jackets. After being in the water for over 20 minutes they were able to walk away and treated for mild hypothermia.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking waterfowl hunters and small-game hunters. Krauel also checked several bowhunters and took several calls about a large buck that was shot multiple times with a handgun and left near the road. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the TIP line.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked hunters and anglers. Violations were found for no licenses/stamps, overlimit of waterfowl, and no PFDs. A complaint was investigated for hunting in a closed WMA and follow up was done on a deer case.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports attending stall/spin training. Jensen also flew in support of the waterfowl opener for enforcement efforts. Included in these flights were locating potential environmental crimes and illegal waterfowl blinds. Jensen attended the open house of the new Grand Marais arrival/departure building to show support of this airport and its importance to many DNR projects. Jensen then met with MnDOT Aviation to give input about seaplane operations in the state for the annual Minnesota airport directory that is distributed to pilots in Minnesota.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on planning for upcoming fall flights and administrative tasks. He also worked on the aerial fish stocking tank.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked the duck opener in the Arrowhead region. Many hunters reported seeing few ducks. Haberman also worked the Longville area on the duck opener and checked several hunters. AIS activity was worked for aquatic vegetation on watercraft. Haberman also spent time on cases and RMS updates.

WREO Leah Weyandt (Central) attended several site visits where there were active public water and wetland violations. Voluntary compliance letters as well as restoration orders were issued. Waterfowl hunters were worked for the opener weekend. Hunters were successful in the west metro.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement