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CO Reports: Beaver trappers battle freezing temperatures, fluctuating water levels

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - April 19, 2022

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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked spring beaver trappers now that the water is flowing again. The turkey season started slowly due to the cold. He monitored closed forest roads and attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time monitoring spring beaver trapping activity and motor vehicle use on closed forest roads. Ice conditions are deteriorating rapidly throughout the area.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked fishing, trapping and recreational vehicle activity this week. Enforcement action was taken for trapping violations and operating a motor vehicle on a closed state forest road.


CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers, trappers, and turkey hunters. A law and safety talk was given to an area ATV safety class. Benkofske also attended department training.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports the 2022 turkey hunting season is off to a slow start with poor weather conditions. Turkey hunters reported very little success in the first part of the season. Ice angling activity is decreasing rapidly as ice conditions are starting to become poor.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked turkey hunting activity and patrolled for illegal fires and prohibited all-terrain vehicle operations. Guida and a Crow Wing County Deputy addressed two juveniles and their parents for illegally operating off-highway motorcycles in the public road right-of-way. Guida also trained at Camp Ripley this week and completed equipment maintenance and inspections.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week assisting the county with calls for service and catching up on paperwork from ongoing cases. Swedberg also attended training.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training and worked ongoing cases.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) monitored forest trails for activity. ATV and off-road vehicle patrol was conducted. Wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas were patrolled. Lakes and rivers were checked for angling and the spring fish run.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) attended training at Camp Ripley and spent time taking various calls.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) attended training and checked turkey hunters.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling and ATV activity. Baum patrolled the woods for the beginning of the turkey season, but found very few hunters out with the snow and cold. Baum took enforcement action for various ATV violations. Baum received an anonymous TIP complaint that resulted in enforcement action for various angling violations. Baum reminds people that with the changing weather, they must check the ice frequently if they plan to head out.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) investigated an off-highway motorcycle and dog-chasing-deer complaint. She also assisted the county on a theft case.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) completed normal seasonal duties.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for angling activity throughout the week. He also completed follow up from TIP calls and attended training at Camp Ripley.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports that beaver trappers continue to fight an uphill battle with freezing temperatures and fluctuating water levels. The first week of the spring turkey hunting season is very quiet with few people willing to sit in the cold.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked late-season ice angling with ice conditions deteriorating quickly. One individual fell through the edge of the ice up to their waist right in front of Sutherland – a reminder that caution needs to be used. Sutherland also worked littering cases where garbage was dumped at public landings.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked trapping and turkey hunting during the previous week. Time was also spent monitoring closed roads and trails for recreational vehicle use. Holt followed up on commercial inspections and checked angling activity. Ice conditions continue to deteriorate throughout the area.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on angling and ATV activities. Several turkey hunters were contacted throughout the area as well. Van Asch also attended training held at Camp Ripley.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) monitored the turkey harvest, checked ATV traffic, and attended training.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) attended training at Camp Ripley. ATV and trapping activity was monitored. Time was also spent checking for local turkey hunters.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked ATV, trapping, and fishing activities. Sucker anglers are not finding many fish on the move. Trap theft continues to be an ongoing issue. Enforcement action was taking for ATV registration and no helmets on youth. Turkey hunters are finding some success despite cold weather.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked turkey hunting, trapping, sport fishing, and ATV enforcement this week. Time was also spent following up on complaints and completing spring equipment maintenance.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) took several calls from people with questions about turkey hunting. Westby worked with another DNR conservation officer’s K9 to assist with a complaint involving shooting from the road. Angling activity in the area was slow with poor ice on all lakes. Please stay off of the ice.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) attended training at Camp Ripley and conducted equipment maintenance.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) attended training this week. He took calls concerning bowfishing and turkey hunting. Annual equipment maintenance was also competed this week.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled his area for turkey hunting. Hanna educated hunters on how to register their turkey and what zones to register them in. The beginning of the season was a little rough with the nasty weather.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week attending Division training. Krauel also took calls regarding dead birds in the area and patrolled for ATV activity.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) continued with training and flew northwestern Minnesota for water levels, waterfowl numbers and other enforcement interests.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying the last wolf pack count flight of the year. Jensen also flew a station flight for a field officer and a prep flight for fire detection.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on fuel trailer maintenance for fire-season use. He also worked on administrative tasks and completed fire training online. Poor weather continued to postpone training flights.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) scheduled upcoming aircraft maintenance. He continued updating unit manuals. Some spring hangar cleaning was completed.

Stand-by CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) continued to conduct training flights. Aviation Unit paperwork was completed and maintenance tasks were attended to.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) continued to help prepare equipment for the upcoming season.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on lake service provider compliance and permitting. Time was spent on updating open cases, checking turkey hunters and anglers, and checking trails and public land for ATV activity.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. Time was spent on lake service provider permitting and Academy prep for WREO training.

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