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CO Reports: ATVS not allowed on snowmobile trails until after April 1

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Feb. 24, 2023

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) encountered an individual operating a Class II ATV in the ditch of a state highway on a designated snowmobile trail. The operator believed they should be able to operate there due to the snow conditions. A reminder that Dec. 1 to April 1, in any year, no use of a motorized vehicle other than a snowmobile, unless authorized by permit, lease, or easement, shall be permitted on a trail designated for use by snowmobiles. Griffith worked snowmobiling and angling activity. Mille Lacs Lake was busy, with angling success being low. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, shelter license violations, expired snowmobile registration, and driving after suspension. Assistance was given on a warrant arrest.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers, snowmobilers, and ATV riders in the area. Enforcement was taken for snowmobile off-trail and riding in prohibited areas, expired registration, angling without licenses, and possession of controlled substances. Benkofske would like to remind people that ATVs cannot operate on snowmobile trails. This violation was seen numerous times in the past week as snow depths were compacting from the warm weather.


CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice angling activity, including a local fishing contest. Several fish houses were being removed from the lakes due to the snow forecast and the season winding down. A lot of snowmobile riders were out despite icy conditions.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) continued to check Mille Lacs Lake for litter and fish house debris. Rain hampered snowmobile trail riding, but new snow was helping to improve the conditions. Concerns were heard about the harsh winter conditions and its effect on the deer population.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobiling activity. She also spent time patrolling Mille Lacs Lake. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, shelter on the ice without a license, failure to display a shelter license, failure to display shelter identification, no license in possession, operating an ATV without lights, failure to renew ATV registration, and driving after suspension.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Snowmobile and cross-country ski trails were patrolled.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent time patrolling area snowmobile trails and lakes this week. Trails were beginning to get rough in some areas before the snowfall over the weekend. Other time was spent attending training put on by the local county attorney’s office and doing annual training online.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week focusing on snowmobile and ice angling enforcement. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked snowmobile, angling and shelter enforcement. The trails have degraded in the last two weeks, but some trails in the forest areas are still in decent shape. The angling bite was mostly slow.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers. Anglers fishing for perch found a good bite for the first time in a while. Mathy took a complaint of a person driving carelessly on the ice of Leech Lake. Enforcement action was taken for many angling violations, including angling with unattended lines, extra lines, and license violations.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked snowmobiling and ice fishing, and followed up on deer-season cases. He also worked a detail involving snowmobile and angling enforcement in the Voyageurs National Park area. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile, ATV, and angling violations.


CO Corey Sura (Remer) spent time patrolling area trails and lakes. Trails are in very tough condition due lack of fresh snow, recent warm weather and rain, and heavy riding pressure. Anglers on a few area panfish lakes did well over the weekend; not many walleyes or individuals targeting them were checked. A complaint of dogs trespassing and chasing deer was fielded. Violations handled the past week included fishing without a license, fishing with extra lines, expired snowmobile registration, and no shelter license.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) attended training in St. Paul.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked Leech Lake and Cass County snowmobile trails during the week. Snowmobile trail conditions are starting to diminish with the lack of snow and warm weather. Enforcement action was taken for numerous fishing violations on Leech Lake.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) worked angling and snowmobile activity on station lakes as well as Park Rapids station lakes and trails. Snowmobile trails are sparse in spots, but many people were seen out over the weekend riding. Enforcement action over the week consisted of numerous shelter ID and license violations, and a variety of snowmobile and angling related violations.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activities over the past week. Ice fishing is beginning to heat up with the local panfish bite doing well. Snowmobile trails took a bit of a hit with the warm weather, but with the new layer of snow should be back in working order in coming days. Multiple road-killed deer tags were given out the past week with the deer on the move.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored angling and snowmobiling activity throughout the previous week. Time was also spent on a trespassing complaint and checking designated trout lakes. Holt followed up on a complaint involving wanton waste and littering.


District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) patrolled area lakes for snowmobiling and angling activity. Follow-up investigations were conducted for invalid licenses during this past deer season. He patrolled with other officers in Voyageurs National Park during the busy holiday weekend. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile-registration and angling violations.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports recent rain has deteriorated area snowmobile trails and travel on area lakes has improved due to the decrease in snow cover. Sullivan completed an investigation that included a person shooting a trophy buck without a license. Enforcement action on the lakes and snowmobile trails included angling without a license, no shelter license, no snowmobile trail pass and expired registration.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Investigations are ongoing.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display snowmobile registration and taking an overlimit of sunfish.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) spent time checking anglers on area lakes. Ice conditions have been good for travel and many lakes are seeing the most pressure now for the whole season. Snowmobile trails are usable, but could use some more snow, with dirt starting to show in places.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd #2) worked sport fishing and snowmobile trail enforcement this week. Trail conditions continue to diminish with warming weather and bright sunshine. Most fish shelters have been removed prior to the forecasted heavy snowfall. Equipment maintenance and inspections were performed. A district meeting was attended where officers reviewed Division safety protocols. Guida answered questions from a concerned landowner about coyote hunters hunting on property without permission.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and rivers for angling and snowmobile activities. Most trails in the area are very rough but with large amounts of snow coming most trails should be in good shape again soon. Westby has been working with the Little Falls Police Department and the city of Little Falls on a dumping complaint. Time was spent finishing online trailing and preparing for upcoming in-service training.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) conducted equipment maintenance, monitored angling and snowmobiling activities, and fielded snowmobile-trespass and dumping complaints. He responded to a report of dog chasing deer. Enforcement action was taken on the owner of the dog.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) focused on deer-hunting investigations from the previous year and angling enforcement. Area activity has increased with the warmer weather and reduced snow depths on area lakes. Enforcement action taken for the week included angling without a license, deer hunting with an invalid license, fishing with extra lines, illegal-length fish in possession, and expired ATV registration.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and coyote hunters. Enforcement action was taken for license and registration violations. Time was also spent on equipment maintenance.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) spent the week working fishing enforcement. He assisted a neighboring officer with an investigation into the illegal taking of a bobcat. Equipment maintenance was also performed. Enforcement action for the week included small-game violations.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled area lakes for anglers and ATV riders. With the recent rain, the trails are anything but good. Hanna checked a couple of juveniles who didn’t know the northern pike regulations. They were educated and, thankfully, the pike they had was legal.

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