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MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Report - Feb. 13, 2018

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on deer surveys in Deer Permit Area 241. We use two helicopters in this area, which is very large and includes more than 250 plots to check. Conditions were very good and low temperatures helped with visibility by keeping snow in the fields. It’s been at least three winters since there was adequate snow to survey this permit area. Many deer were observed, including some still carrying antlers.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on more helicopter maintenance issues. He also worked on deer surveys in Deer Permit Area 241. We use two helicopters in this area, which is very large and includes more than 250 plots to check. Conditions were very good and low temperatures helped with visibility by keeping snow in the fields. It’s been at least three winters since there was adequate snow to survey this permit area. Many deer were observed, including some still carrying antlers.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of giving flight training to a pilot trainee. Jensen also flew wolf telemetry flights and inspected aeration systems. Assistance was given to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to search for a suspect vehicle.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew deer surveys in Deer Permit Area 241. Natural Resources Pilot Brad Maas also helped fly surveys since 241 is such a large permit area and it’s never clear how long the snow cover will last.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Chelsey Best (Remer) collected an incidental fisher this week. An investigation is also underway with regard to motor vehicles operating illegally on snowmobile trails. CO Best provided coverage for the vacant Park Rapids station. Enforcement action was taken this week for registration issues.

CO Duke Broughten (Longville) spent the week monitoring angling and snowmobile activity. Anglers report limited success. Snowmobile trails continue to be in poor shape due to the lack of snow. Enforcement action included no angling license in possession, fail to display snowmobile registration, and no fish house ID.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued to check anglers. Complaints of dogs chasing deer, littering, and an abandoned fish house were investigated. Enforcement action was taken for littering and angling violations

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd 2) worked sport fishing and miscellaneous nuisance wildlife complaints. An accidentally caught bobcat was turned in and processed for donation to the Minnesota Fur Project. Officer Guida prepared for an upcoming Law Enforcement Officers training in snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle enforcement. Numerous ice shelters were checked and violations were documented for shelter license, reflector, and shelter identification violations.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked ice fishing and snowmobile activity. The officer joined parents and grandparents in helping Rippleside Elementary students build fishing rods prior to an ice-fishing event. A farmer with deer depredation concerns was contacted.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) attended training at Camp Ripley this week for Field Training Officer certification.

CO Tim Collette (Crosslake) worked snowmobile and angling activity this week. Enforcement activity included angling without a valid license, angle with extra lines, no fish house shelter license, expired registrations and fail to transfer snowmobile ownership. While attempting to stop a pair of snowmobiles for no registration, the male took off, leaving his girlfriend behind. Later in the day the officer took a snowmobile trespass call where the snowmobile was abandoned after driving across someone’s septic system in their yard. Upon arrival, the officer recognized it as the same snowmobile that had taken off earlier. While the officer was there, the snowmobile operator got dropped off to pick up the snowmobile by his girlfriend. Charges were filed and the snowmobile was seized.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for angling and snowmobile activity. The lack of new snow has made snowmobiling difficult in some areas. CO McGowan also followed up on cases from this past deer season.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) worked area lakes and snowmobile trails this past week. Anglers were catching some sunfish and crappies on area lakes but walleye angling success continues to be limited. CO Sullivan also observed people using highway licensed vehicles and ATVs on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail. They were using the snowmobile trail to access a remote lake. Enforcement action was taken. CO Sullivan also worked litter violations on area lakes due to local tournament activities.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports working trout fishermen throughout the week and weekend with a few nice trout being seen. Area panfish lakes were also checked and that bite appeared to slow with the colder weather. A lot of outdoor law-related questions were answered and assistance was given to a local agency on a call for service. The officer checked area snowmobile trails for activity and the park was patrolled for SRA violations. Several complaints of unauthorized travel on the bike trail were taken and the officer assisted at two different elementary schools with building ice fishing rods for an upcoming fishing event. Enforcement action for the week included various fishing related violations.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) notes some anglers are taking their fish houses off the ice already. Pelts are primed up nicely this time of year and brought out some trappers. Just enough tracking snow motivated some beaglers to bring their dogs afield and chase rabbits. Verkuilen also assisted with the MnUSA snowmobile ride in the Onamia area.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled area lakes checking anglers. Panfish were seen with reports of a few northern being caught. She also conducted snowmobile patrol. The trails were in decent shape but very few snowmobilers were seen. Enforcement action was taken for failure to transfer ownership and failure to display valid registration. Speldrich also attended LEMA Honor Guard training.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked fishing and snowmobile activities. Some violations for expired registration on snowmobile were taken care of, along with violations for unattended fishing lines. Time was spent looking into a coyote hunting situation in which hunters had shot from the roadway, which is legal but not the safest. CO Starr assisted with the MnUSA snowmobile event where some novice snowmobile operators were coached on ways to safely unload their snowmobiles and dress for cold weather.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) provided traffic control for the MnUSA snowmobile ride at Izatys Resort. Time was also spent checking fishermen on Mille Lacs Lake. Most are reporting a slow bite, which is normal for this time of year.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) is continuing to investigate a dogs chasing deer complaint that first came in last fall but was unable to locate the owners. Multiple complaints have come in about the same dogs, include chasing deer and chasing cattle. A call of a brush pile filled with other items staged to burn was taken. The caller wanted to try to locate the landowner for education on what is legal to burn.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent the week training to become a Field Training Officer. Calls regarding road killed deer, injured owls and fishing questions were fielded.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the week training at Camp Ripley. He also checked a few fishermen.

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Caralee Bjerkness, MnDNR Division of Enforcement / Aviation & Wetland

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