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CO Reports: CO's assist in search for fleeing fugitive

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - August 9, 2022

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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jim Guida (Brainerd East), CO Vang, and CO Verkuilen assisted the local sheriff’s office in a search for a fleeing fugitive. The individual, who had a history with weapons, had numerous criminal warrants and fled during the warrant service. A drone and K9 were utilized in the search. Numerous law enforcement officers conducted the foot search along shore in the aquatic vegetation in waist-deep water. They located the felon laying in the water near shore mostly concealed in water and by the dense vegetation.

CO Guida also patrolled the station for ATV activity and followed up on aquatic plant management violations.


CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) assisted at the Academy this week, training the new COCs. Enforcement action was also taken for boating and fishing violations. A big-game case was also wrapped up that included discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle and attempting to take deer out of season.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking anglers, recreational watercraft, and investigating litter complaints throughout the week. Enforcement action included angling on designated trout lakes without a trout stamp and insufficient PFDs onboard watercraft.

CO Calie Kunst (Crosslake) continued checking anglers and boaters throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken on various violations. Calls were also received on personal watercraft and aquatic plant complaints.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) attended the Minnesota Trappers Association state convention in Wadena this past week. It was great to talk with people who are passionate about trapping. He assisted the State Patrol with a fatal traffic crash and worked ATV trails and high-use areas.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) spent the majority of the week conducting a background investigation. Other time was spent monitoring angling and recreational boat traffic. Enforcement action was taken for personal watercraft violations and watercraft registration.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked angling, boating, and AIS enforcement. Calls were received about an injured loon and injured goose. A special beaver permit was issued. Enforcement action was taken for boating, angling, and AIS violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking anglers, boaters and ATV operators. Some enforcement action consisted of no legal fire extinguisher, insufficient life jackets and no licenses in possession. He also reports spending time on a pre-employment background investigation and assisting at Camp Ripley with the ongoing Academy.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV with juveniles without helmets and for a vehicle passing on the shoulder.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County for boating and ATV activity. Assistance was also give at the CO Academy at Camp Ripley.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area


CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked angling and recreational vehicle activity. Time was also spent following up on open cases. Holt took several complaints involving public waters, small-game and boating violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATV and angling activities this past week, with fishing slowing down on area lakes as usual for the month of August. Sutherland again took multiple bear-related complaints in the area, with many bears looking for a bird feeder snack.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) fielded several calls on nuisance and injured animals. Time was spent assisting with the Officer Water Survival training for the conservation officer candidates in Staples. ATV and angling activity was also monitored. Violations included children under 18 on an ATV not wearing a helmet and registration issues.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area


CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked local lakes where warm water had recreational activity and invasive species violations keeping things busy. He also assisted with an injured hawk and helped establish a perimeter as a warrant was being served. Bear-related issues were still coming in at a faster rate than previous years.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked a detail in Two Harbors for the Tall Ships event. Time was also spent working on Mille Lacs Lake and the Soo Line Trail. Enforcement action was taken on multiple ATV and boating violations. Griffith would like to remind riders that operators and passengers under age 18 are required to wear a helmet on both Class 1 and Class 2 machines.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and boaters in the area. Enforcement action was taken for shoreline violations, fishing without licenses, and juveniles without ATV helmets. Benkofske also attended a gathering for Jacobson’s National Night Out event.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) took calls of nuisance bears, nuisance beavers, and a dead muskie that was found on shore. A state park conflict was addressed and firearms safety training plans and other fall work plans were also made.


District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) conducted a deer farm inspection, conducted equipment maintenance, and assisted local law enforcement on various calls. Instruction was given at the DNR Conservation Officer Academy on Officer Water Survival training for new conservation officer candidates. Miscellaneous nuisance-animal complaints continue to come in. One case was investigated where a black bear had gotten into a livestock enclosure and killed a young goat. More information regarding nuisance animals can be found on the DNR website under “Living with Wildlife.”

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity. He took a call concerning a bear and a fisher. He discussed an upcoming firearms safety class with the Paynesville Sportsmen’s Club.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and boaters. A prohibited materials fire was investigated and the responsible person was cited. Bertram also gave a laws/ethics talk at the Browerville firearms safety class.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) fielded calls ranging from bear complaints to fire complaints. Hanna assisted other officers at a local state park for a noise complaint and for someone driving an ATV in a state park. The situation was addressed and peace was restored.

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