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Snowmobile trails in great condition - MnDNR CO Reports

Photo od snowmobilers from 2019 Crosslake WinterFest. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Feb. 7, 2019

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked snowmobile and angling enforcement throughout the week. McGowan worked the Crosslake area for Crosslake Winterfest. Hundreds of snowmobiles were observed throughout the day. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, snowmobile speed, careless operation of a snowmobile, and numerous snowmobile registration violations.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) worked anglers on Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake this past weekend. Sullivan contacted many anglers who reported fishing was slow, but they were still catching fish. Frequent violations observed were angling with extra lines, no angling license, possession of dressed fillets, illegal-length fish and no shelter license. Sullivan also encountered possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked on a background investigation. A snowmobile safety class was taught and a permit for a car-killed deer was issued.

CO Tim Collette (Brainerd) answered questions on snowmobile trail issues, handled a complaint of dogs chasing deer, checked anglers and worked the Crosslake area for the Winterfest, where nice weather brought out many snowmobilers.

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports that after coming out of the midweek deep freeze the weekend saw high outdoor recreational activity. Patrol was focused on snowmobile and ski trails, where numerous enforcement contacts were made for snowmobile speed, registration, transfer of ownership, and non-resident trail permit violations. The TIP Wall of Shame was presented to students in the wildlife forensic science program at Brainerd High School.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked snowmobile, angling and the associated drug activity that is at an all-time high in fish shelters. Training was attended and assistance was given to the sheriff’s office.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports working area lakes for fishing activity with some trout being caught during the week and weekend. Snowmobile activity was monitored throughout the week and weekend with many sleds coming out over the weekend with the warmer weather. Fitzgerald attended training at Camp Ripley during the week and answered many outdoor law-related questions. Calls regarding snowmobile permits and car-kill deer permits were fielded. Assistance was given to a local agency for a call for service and the park was patrolled for violations. Enforcement action for the week included various fishing and snowmobiling violations.

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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.

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District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) saw the cold snap slow down angler activity and success. Some people attempted to improve their odds with extra lines. The warmer weekend brought out the snowmobile and ATV traffic. The typical issues – lack of registration and juveniles not wearing helmets – were addressed.

CO Ben Karon (Isle) spent the week taking care of administrative tasks. Cold weather slowed outdoor activity. Time was still spent on the snowmobile and out checking anglers on Mille Lacs Lake.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) worked ice angling and snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, leaving fishing lines unattended, and ice shelter license violations. She assisted with a crash that involved two warrant arrests and led to many charges.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled area snowmobile trails. Trails are in ideal condition. Enforcement action was taken for failing to display registration correctly and not having a safety training card in possession. Ice anglers had some success and reminders were given to have licenses in possession and properly display identification on ice houses. Speldrich also followed up on a littering investigation. She also responded to a report of shining lasers into homes from ice houses. Juveniles were educated and parents were made aware of the issue.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked fishing activity and noticed the bite has slowed a great deal for most. Snowmobiles came out in full force after the cold snap. Violations for registration, safety training, and failing to transfer ownership were found. Coyote hound hunters are having success with the abundance of coyotes in the area. Starr also completed a background interview for the ongoing hiring process.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) reports patrolling snowmobile trails and continuing to check angling activity. She investigated a complaint of vehicles driving on closed forestry roads only open to snowmobilers. Hughes also took a call involving an injured grey fox.

CO Randy Posner (Staples) reports that he worked on fishing enforcement this past week. The ice anglers are out but many anglers are removing permanent houses because of difficult conditions and a slow bite. Complaints of garbage and wood blocks left behind were reported. Some violations observed were no license and unattended lines. Ice pressure ridges continue to be a problem for anglers and snowmobilers. Posner worked on complaints of careless snowmobile operators. Violations observed were speed and expired registration. He worked with neighboring officers on Gull Lake during the Jaycees fishing contest.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and snowmobiles. Snowmobile trails are in great condition while those traveling on lakes are having a difficult time without a plow or snowmobile. Fish house owners are encouraged to make a plan to get their fish house off the lake. Snow is piling up on area lakes and more is forecasted. Work continues on deer-season cases. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line, northern pike in the protected slot, no fish house license, and unregistered snowmobiles.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) checked area lakes for anglers and litter around fish houses. Anglers have been doing a good job of picking up after themselves when removing their houses. Kuske worked snowmobile trail enforcement and on the Soo Line Trail. Registration and snowmobile safety training compliance was 100 percent, but snowmobilers are reminded that studded tracks are not allowed on the paved portion of the Soo Line west of Highway 10. Kuske also fielded calls about what to do when the ink on your fish house shelter license fades to unreadable.

CO Annette Kyllo (Pierz) reports monitoring ice anglers and snowmobiles. The extreme cold weather kept many people indoors midweek, and by the weekend people were anxious to be outside. Violations included no license in possession, failure to display registration on both snowmobiles and ATVs, and riding without the necessary safety certificate.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week working ice angling and snowmobile activity and continued work on an assigned background investigation. Silgjord patrolled area trails and found many snowmobilers out enjoying the warmer weather. Several registration violations were addressed along the way. Ice anglers on an area lake were found to have very limited success with only one walleye being seen after checking a large number of anglers on a busy Saturday evening. A TIP complaint regarding motorized vehicles being used in an area WMA was investigated and resulted in enforcement action for two operators. Silgjord assisted with water survival training that was provided to the current State Patrol Academy class. Silgjord also assisted CO Brian Holt with a youth snowmobile safety class in Osakis.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling, trapping and recreational vehicle activity this past week. A large number of people were enjoying the lakes with the warm-up over the weekend. An investigation continues regarding a TIP complaint.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports people came out in full force after the cold broke. Enforcement action was taken for no registration, extra lines, unattended lines, and license violations. Training was also attended at Camp Ripley.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Anglers have been finding a slower bite with the extreme cold weather. Krauel also spent time at training at Camp Ripley. He also participated in a work detail on Lake of the Woods.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) monitored local trails for snowmobiles, checked anglers, and monitored a project on the Rum River. Calls were taken on trespassing and carcass dumping.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked ice anglers and snowmobilers. A litter case was investigated. Follow up was done on a wanton waste case.

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports working anglers and snowmobilers this past week. The warm weather brought out crowds of people after the polar vortex. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, illegal-length northern pike, unregistered snowmobile, no dark house shelter license, and drug paraphernalia. Benkofske also pulled over a truck on the ice with his snowmobile. The truck was doing high-speed donuts and an individual was cited for careless driving.

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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.

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Aviation Section

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) finished the four deer survey permit areas south and east of New Ulm. Some flights were postponed due to extremely cold weather. Deer numbers observed were still very good. Other administrative tasks were completed as well.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew deer surveys near New Ulm last Sunday but left due to a winter storm and very cold weather for the middle of the week. Heineman also worked on administrative tasks.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports completing two creel surveys for Brainerd fisheries and attending to maintenance issues on the aircraft.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying a rotary training flight and standing by for emergency flights during the cold weather warning period.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Mike Scott (NE) attended training at Camp Ripley for armor recertification, worked on older PW/WCA cases, and closed several older cases. Emails and case work were sent to officers to monitor the status and close old cases if possible. Scott worked snowmobile trails in the Grand Marais area with other officers checking snowmobilers and anglers on area lakes. Great weather and good trails had lots of folks out. Anglers were catching a few fish and spirts were good.

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on a background and attending computer training. Snowmobiles were checked in problem areas. Open cases were worked on.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on WCA cases and RMS files. Haberman also checked snowmobilers enjoying the warmer weather. Haberman also attending training at Camp Ripley.

WREO Leah Weyandt (Central) spent time finishing up a background investigation for a potential candidate for the May 2019 DNR Enforcement Academy. Enforcement action was taken for an individual who failed to register his deer during the 48-hour window. Also, it was discovered that an individual hunted last waterfowl season without a federal waterfowl stamp. Enforcement action was taken.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement