Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Jan. 14, 2019

District 9 - Brainerd area

Conservation Officer (CO) Scott Fitzgerald (Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, CCSRA) reports working a busy trout opener in the CCSRA. Many anglers came out to try their luck at catching some trout and many went home with some nice-sized rainbows. Time was spent patrolling the SRA where some illegal snowmobile activity was found and enforcement action was taken. Area trails were monitored for snowmobile traffic but the trails were fairly rough and in need of some new snow. He attended the annual awards and winter training at Camp Ripley during the week and many outdoor law-related questions were answered throughout the week and weekend. A call of a vehicle trespass was fielded and assistance was given to a local agency on a traffic stop. Enforcement action for the week included various snowmobiling, SRA, and fishing-related violations.

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports activity this past week of focusing on the winter trout season opener on area mine pit lakes. Good weather brought out the highest numbers of winter trout anglers ever seen on an opening day. Anglers were having mixed success on rainbow, brown, and lake trout. An opening weekend work detail with other officers resulted in numerous checks and contacts for violations including extra/unattended lines, fishing license issues, an over limit of trout, and snowmobile registration and operation. Other activity included attending Division training and checking area GIA ski trails for ski pass compliance.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) focused the majority of the past week working on a background investigation and attending training. Sullivan also investigated snowmobile trail violations and ATVs operating in restricted areas, and checked area anglers and snowmobilers.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) spent time enforcing laws for ice fishing and snowmobiling this past week. Enforcement action was taken for license and registration issues as well as for no helmets on minors, water skipping, unattended lines, and litter.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) completed field training with a conservation officer candidate (COC). McGowan also attended training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action for the week included snowmobile and angling violations.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling and snowmobile activity. Assistance was given to Wildlife with fur tagging and the sheriff’s office with a snowmobile accident. Training was also attended.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) worked angler activity along with the sleds and ATVs they were riding. Area snowmobile trails are in rough condition and iced over. Verkuilen also attended training, consulted with an area business regarding fishing contests, and assisted with the recovery of some found equipment.

CO Ben Karon (Isle) spent time at Camp Ripley for training. Time was spent on Mille Lacs Lake checking ice anglers and recreational vehicle users. Complaints of loud party-goers were taken. Remember to be respectful of others around you. A call was also taken about an individual cleaning up his area by shoving garbage and his pants down one of his ice holes and pushing it beneath the ice. The person then proceeded to walk around in his underwear. The incident occurred on the north end of Mille Lacs Lake. Make sure to pack out your garbage.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) worked ice angling on Mille Lacs Lake. Anglers had some success. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, unattended lines, ice shelter violations, and transporting/possessing fish without a patch of skin. She also trained snowmobilers on snowmobile safety and laws.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked anglers. Enforcement action was taken for expired ATV registration and no license in possession. Speldrich also attended awards day and training at Camp Ripley.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) continued to work ice anglers and found more folks leaving unattended lines. Training days were attended. Road disputes on Mille Lacs were heard, with arguments and disagreements over resorts plowing/blocking each other’s roads.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) checked trout anglers during one of the busiest trout openers of the past few years. Hundreds of anglers came out to try their luck on a local stocked lake and caught good numbers of rainbow, brown and lake trout. One first-time trout angler attempted to hide a couple small rainbow trout inside his jacket pocket because he thought he was over the limit. When asked why his pocket was wet and dripping water, he had to give up the hidden fish. Fortunately for the angler, but adding some embarrassment, he didn’t know what the fish limit was and ended up not being in violation.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) patrolled area lakes and Mille Lacs Lake, where fishing remains steady. Ice road conditions are improving slowly. The latest weather phenomenon has created an ice slick everywhere, which will help some animals and hurt others. Time was also spent attending training.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. People enjoyed the nice weather over the weekend and the trails were busy. Most trails are in good condition, but deteriorating with the lack of new snowfall. Area cross-country ski trails were patrolled. Skiers are reminded to purchase a ski pass before enjoying GIA ski trails. Work continued on a background investigation of an individual and training was attended at Camp Ripley.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continues to primarily check anglers. Fishing was slow the past week. Training was attended at Camp Ripley. Complaints of ATVs in closed areas and deer feeding in the CWD feeding ban zone were investigated, with enforcement action taken for both. Enforcement action was also taken for angling with extra lines, northern pike within the protected slot, and no fish house license.

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked on fishing enforcement this past week. The ice anglers out seemed to have a little better luck on panfish. Violations he observed were no shelter license and no fishing license. The ice conditions are poor – pressure ridges continue to grow and more slushy areas have developed. Posner worked snowmobile enforcement and observed expired registration, trespassing, and speeding. He received a TIP complaint of unattended traps and untagged traps. He checked numerous aeration permits on area lakes and found no violations.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) checked a large wood/brush pile that was burning and found it contained a considerable amount of garbage mixed in with the wood. The pile was not burning properly and just smoldering. The homeowner was cited for burning garbage, told to put out the fire and warned to not let it smolder. Kuske found the pile still smoldering four days later and issued another citation. The homeowner was surprised at how hard it was to put out the fire. Kuske checked spear houses during the week and assisted two snowmobilers with a broken trailer.

CO Annette Kyllo (Pierz) assisted area officers on Mille Lacs Lake. The number of anglers was high, but the number of fish caught was low. Common violations seen were angling with extra lines, unattended lines, failure to have identification on a permanent ice shelter and no license in possession. Enforcement action was taken. Kyllo also attended training and awards day at Camp Ripley and taught the law and ethics portion of a snowmobile safety class at the Pierz High School.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) attended Division training this past week at Camp Ripley, where he assisted with Honor Guard duties. Time was also spent following up on a TIP complaint regarding multiple smallmouth bass being possessed during the catch-and-release season. It was reported that several anglers had caused some stir on social media when they posted a photograph of the multiple trophy-sized smallmouth bass. The investigation concluded with enforcement action being taken. A big-game investigation was also worked and time was spent working on an assigned background investigation.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) attended training this past week. He followed up on phone calls concerning regulations pertaining to fishing. He also received a call concerning trapping and road-killed deer.

CO Frank Rezac (St. Cloud) checked ice anglers and attending training and awards at Camp Ripley. A call reporting an over limit of crappies was also investigated. Anglers are reporting about 12 Inches of ice on most area lakes.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) assisted with a work crew on Mille Lacs Lake over the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for possession of marijuana, extra lines, illegal-length walleyes, no shelter license, and no snowmobile registration. Another deer investigation was also started.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) attended training at Camp Ripley and spoke at a snowmobile safety class. Londgren focused on checking anglers on local lakes and followed up on complaints of litter and dogs chasing deer. Enforcement action was taken for minors in possession of alcohol, possession of drugs, litter, registration violations on ATVs, failure to display shelter ID/licenses, and angling license violations.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) focused enforcement activity on angling enforcement. Krauel also attended Division training. Enforcement action for the week was taken for angling with extra line, illegal-length walleyes, and possession of marijuana.

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports working snowmobilers and ice anglers over the past week. Enforcement action was taken for expired registration on snowmobiles and ATVs, fishing without a license, unattended and extra lines, illegal-length fish, no fish house shelter license, and possession of marijuana. Time was also spent attending a Division awards ceremony at Camp Ripley.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) followed up on a deer investigation. Several animal-related complaints were handled. Ice anglers were checked.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued working on the northeast moose survey. Snow conditions are very good in the moose range but unusually warm winter weather made it difficult to fly full days. Some fog and mist postponed some of the flights. Many of the bulls observed have not dropped their antlers yet.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew moose surveys and attended a day of the Enforcement Division awards presentations and training at Camp Ripley

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on a background, checking anglers, attending a training and awards ceremony at Camp Ripley, and working on and closing out ongoing cases.

WREO Mike Scott (NE) attended training at Camp Ripley. Several WCA cases and one PW case were closed out. Scott assisted CO Velsvaag checking trout anglers on lakes in Lake County for the trout opener. Many anglers were out with the nice weather and fishing was productive. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, no trout stamp, using live bait on a designated trout lake, and several snowmobile issues.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) attended training at Camp Ripley. Haberman also returned calls and worked on case reports.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement