Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Dec. 25, 2018

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week patrolling area lakes checking ice anglers. There have been some hot lakes in the area for both panfish and walleyes. Swedberg worked multiple litter cases on area lakes and wants to remind anglers to respect the lake and clean up after yourself. Enforcement action for the week included angling without a license, using extra lines, and a small amount of marijuana.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Ice conditions continue to slowly improve. Vollbrecht assisted Beltrami County with a search for a missing individual on Upper Red Lake. A background investigation was started on an employee applying for a position. Time was spent checking individuals for cross-country ski passes.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked anglers/shelters, followed up on pending cases and prepared for a case for court.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked on fishing enforcement this past week. Ice anglers are out in full force and report the walleye bite is fair. The ice conditions are unpredictable and treacherous with pressure ridges forming and creating open water. He worked on trapping issues and reports of accidentally caught fisher. The report from archery deer hunters was poor but they continue to enjoy winter hunting.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Pat McGowan (Pine River) worked ice anglers on local lakes. Time was also spent investigating a poached deer. Follow up was also conducted on an unpermitted aerator. Enforcement action for the week included angling with extra lines, illegal-length fish, and narcotics possession.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling, trapping and associated ATV activity.

CO Tim Collette (Brainerd) monitored anglers on area lakes with the most common violations seen included angling or spearing without licenses, extra lines and expired ATV registrations. Calls of dumped deer and other animal carcasses were looked into and a call of burning prohibited materials was investigated.

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) worked ice fishing and snowmobile trail enforcement, put down a sick deer for disease testing, and removed portable stands illegally left unattended in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Numerous enforcement contacts were made for trucks and ATVs illegally driving on GIA snowmobile trails, fish house, ATV, and snowmobile licensing violations, litter, and fishing without a license.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked fishing enforcement this past week. A trespassing/illegal posting violation on state forest land was investigated in a neighboring station. Guida fielded a complaint of an angling shelter set up too close to another one. The complainant indicated the house was 11 feet away.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) reports ice conditions in Walker Bay on Leech Lake continue to be extremely unsafe due to the abnormal warming and cooling pattern. Sullivan started a background investigation for employment and focused on checking area anglers. Enforcement action was taken for no shelter license, extra lines, no license in possession and failure to display current ATV registration.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity as nearly all the local ice is supporting ATV traffic. Some vehicles were also observed. Some trappers were checked making use of the clear ice as pelts are priming up. Grouse hunters were also in the field as the season winds down.

CO Ben Karon (Isle) spent the week checking ice anglers and learning new areas of the Isle station. There are many spots on the ice where shelters have been and left behind is a sea of cigarette butts and other garbage. Remember to pick up after yourself. Citations will be issued for these offenses.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) worked ice angling, ATV, and snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without an angling license, failure to register a snowmobile, a small amount of marijuana, and driving while intoxicated on an ATV. She met with the new Conservation Officer Prep candidates to answer questions on the training process.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) assisted with the release of a wolf that was caught in a snare. She also received information from a small-game hunter that his hunting dog was caught in a snare on public property. He was able to release the dog without injury. Anglers were catching panfish on area lakes and enforcement action was taken for angling without a license. Anglers are reminded to clean up after themselves when leaving the lake. Last year’s ice fishing season was the worst for litter left on the ice in Speldrich’s 15 years on the job. Let’s hope this season is better. Speldrich investigated a complaint of a doe taken out of season.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked ice-fishing activity, trapping, and pheasant hunters. Some roosters are being harvested for those willing to put on some miles. The walleye bite remains good on Mille Lacs Lake, but ice conditions vary. Night work revealed two individuals checking doors on fish houses and acting suspiciously.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Annette Kyllo (Pierz) reports the fish bite in the area has been slow, reducing the number of ice anglers out trying their luck. Time was spent on equipment maintenance and ATV enforcement. The highlight of Kyllo’s week was participating with other local law enforcement and first responders in the Shop-With-A-Cop program. Kyllo and her assigned student shopper spent a very enjoyable hour picking out just the right gifts for those important people on the student’s shopping list.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week checking anglers on area lakes. Ice conditions remain questionable on many area lakes and anglers should use caution when venturing out. Silgjord investigated a littering complaint after receiving a report that anglers had left many items on an area lake including plastic bottles, food containers, wantonly wasted fish, fish carcasses and plastic bags containing excrement. The investigation resulted in enforcement action for unlawful deposit of garbage, wanton waste of game fish and ice shelter violations. Silgjord assisted the Todd County Sheriff’s Office with a serious crash that resulted in the driver being airlifted from the scene. A background investigation was also started for the upcoming spring Academy.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) working angling activity on area lakes. He answered calls concerning ATV usage on public waters and northern pike limits. He also handled administrative tasks.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and working calls. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, no ATV registration, and angling license violations. A trespass case involving a raccoon hunter and his dogs that entered posted property was also completed.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports working small-game hunters and anglers this past week. The local lakes are beginning to see some car and truck traffic. Enforcement action was taken for no ATV registration, no spearing license, and possession of marijuana. Time was also spent assisting CO Karon and the Mille Lacs Sheriff’s Office with a medical call on Mille Lacs Lake. Benkofske wishes everyone safe and happy holidays.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Anglers were finding moderate success with a wide variety of fish being caught. Krauel also worked on equipment maintenance.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter preparations for the upcoming moose survey in northeastern Minnesota. He also attended a wilderness first aid course refresher, which is valuable training for winter flight operations.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of shelter creel counts. Jensen also completed a fixed wing night currency flight and worked on an upcoming project that’s in the planning stage.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on a background for the upcoming Academy. Time was spent working on equipment. He also checked anglers and bowhunters and worked on open cases.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) attended a TEP meeting in Aitkin County and a meeting in St. Paul. RMS files were worked on and ice anglers checked around Mille Lacs Lake and Leech Lake.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) checked anglers and small-game hunters. Ice conditions have deteriorated with the recent warm weather and anglers are advised to use extreme caution. Belgard spent time working on a background investigation for a potential officer candidate.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement