Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Feb. 11, 2019

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) fielded calls about age for spearing licenses (18 to 89), size for northern pike you can keep in central Minnesota zone and buying lifetime licenses. Kuske worked angling and snowmobile enforcement on area lakes. Many fish houses were still found to not be displaying shelter licenses and not having proper identification on the house. Two fish houses that were found without identification had previously been warned last winter for the offense are now wishing they would have gotten ID on their houses.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week working on an assigned background investigation. An Honor Guard meeting was attended and a new Division-issued squad computer was secured. An AIS violation was addressed and contact was made with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding road right-of-way issues near a waterfowl production area.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling and snowmobile activity in the area. A big-game investigation continues. He addressed questions concerning snowmobile mufflers and ATV registration.

CO Frank Rezac (St. Cloud) reports checking snowmobilers and ice anglers. Training at Camp Ripley and in Sauk Rapids was also attended. Enforcement contacts during the week were made for snowmobile registration violations and angling without an angling license.

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Shelter licenses:

  • All non-portable ice shelters must be licensed.
  • Wheeled fish houses are not considered portable and must be licensed.
  • An annual shelter license costs $15 for residents and $37 for non-residents, not including issuing fees that may be charged.
  • A shelter license is valid from March 1 through April 30 of the following year.
  • A shelter license is not required on border waters between Minnesota or Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

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District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) reports continued patrolling of anglers and snowmobilers. She responded to a call of an injured grey fox and did a commercial inspection of a game farm. She also assisted with multiple vehicles in the ditch, one of which was pushed out with the help of a group of snowmobilers. Enforcement action for the week included failure to have a license in possession, driving while revoked, and speeding.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued to check anglers and snowmobile riders. Snow depth on the lakes continues to challenge anglers from accessing areas on lakes. Slush is becoming a common problem. Fish house owners should plan to remove fish houses before it becomes extremely difficult to get the houses off the lakes. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, fish house without a license, and unattended lines.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) finalized a background summary. An injured eagle was picked up and transported to the animal hospital.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) assisted with the MnUSA Winter Rendezvous hosted by the Crow Wing County Snowmobile Trails Association. The snowmobile trails during the ride were exceptional. Sullivan focused enforcement activities around snowmobiling and angling activity.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for snowmobile activity throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for numerous snowmobile violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports monitoring snowmobile traffic on area trails. With the recent snow the trails are in good condition and many riders were out enjoying them. Area lakes were checked for fishing activity and a few anglers were out even in the cold weather. Time was spent patrolling the SRA for park violations and illegal motor vehicle traffic. Fitzgerald assisted with the annual MnUSA snowmobile ride in the and many outdoor law-related questions were answered. Assistance was given to the State Patrol during the recent storm with several vehicles that had gone off the road. Enforcement action for the week included various snowmobile and fishing-related violations.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked snowmobile activity and filed reports on active cases.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) spent the week enforcing fishing and snowmobiling activities. Wildlife permits were issued and numerous groups were encountered on sleds enjoying the recent snowfall.


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Portable shelter definition:

  • A shelter that collapses, folds or is disassembled for transportation.
  • Portable shelters only need licenses and identification when left unattended, which is defined as all occupants being more than 200 feet away.

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District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity, which appears set in the middle slow part of winter. Some houses are starting to come off the ice while the deadline is still three weeks out. Snowmobile traffic was also monitored with this past week’s snowfall putting trails in very good condition. Violations were addressed regarding registration and helmets.

CO Ben Karon (Isle) spent the week checking anglers on area lakes in Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties. Time was also spent patrolling for unsafe snowmobile operation. A presentation to a local snowmobile safety class was also given.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) reports good trail conditions near Mille Lacs Lake. She worked ice angling and snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length walleye, fishing with extra lines, drug possession, drug paraphernalia, ice shelter license violations, and operating a snowmobile at excessive speed.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled area snowmobile trails and lakes. She also attended a LEMA Honor Guard meeting. Speldrich issued permits for car-killed animals and answered questions regarding youth snowmobile operation.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) monitored ice fishing activities and found a spotty success rate, with some night walleye action keeping angler’s interest. Snowmobiles were out, with some registration issues needing to be addressed. Starr worked with CO Karon and found a careless operator of an ATV, no safety training, and possessing marijuana. The tandem also encountered anglers without licenses in possession. Starr also assisted county deputies with two separate domestic situations, in which a combative subject needed to be arrested.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) worked with neighboring officers checking snowmobilers out on the trail. Conditions are very good with more snow predicted for the upcoming week. A few riders were contacted going well over the speed limit along with not having registration on properly. Anglers checked are concerned about fish house removal with snow continuing to pile up and areas compacted making it hard to plow.

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Shelter identification requirements:

  • The fish house license tag must be readily visible from the exterior of the shelter.
  • ONE of the following must be displayed on the outside of the shelter with characters at least 2 inches high:
  • Owner's name and address
  • Owner's drivers license number
  • Owner's Minnesota DNR identification number.
  • If a shelter is left out overnight, it must have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side.

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Aviation Section

CO Pilot Christopher Lofstuen (Grand Rapids) reports poor flying weather dominated the week. Time was spent on training and snow removal as well as a wolf telemetry flight.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance items and administrative tasks. Difficult weather patterns, snow and icing postponed more deer survey flights.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying bear den and wolf telemetry location flights. Jensen also inspected aeration systems from the air, flew a shelter count flight and supported ice angler enforcement efforts. Jensen then spoke to a natural resource enforcement course at Central Lakes College and an aviation high school class for Brainerd schools.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew bear and wolf telemetry. Cold and lack of snow in southeast Minnesota prevented the start of CWD deer surveys but snow has arrived and surveys will be starting.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on a background. Time was spent working anglers and snowmobile activity. Open cases were worked and equipment was maintained. Assistance was given to the Becker County Sheriff’s Office on a couple of calls. ATV and ORV complaints were fielded.

WREO Mike Scott (NE) attended an Honor Guard meeting at Camp Ripley. Final touches are being made for an Honor Guard trip to Washington, D.C. for Police Week. WCA and PW cases were visited with local government units and hydrologists, several older cases were closed and preparation for court on a current WCA case was conducted. Snowmobilers and area anglers were checked.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases and updates RMS files. Haberman also checked snowmobilers on trails. He also conducted TFO duties with the Aviation Unit.

WREO Leah Weyandt (Central) assisted the Carver County Sheriff’s Office with an ATV that went through the ice on Lake Susan. The juvenile rider was OK and had not asked permission from his parents to take the ATV on the ice. Enforcement action was not taken, but information was given to both the rider and the parent on registering the ATV, making sure the juvenile has a helmet that fits and also having the juvenile go through the ATV safety course. Patrol was conducted of snowmobiles on the Luce Line State Trail.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement