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CO Reports: Heavy snows and downed trees on trails - use caution.

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 20, 2022

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tony Flerlage (Crosby) continued a background investigation of a potential new employee. There’s enough snow on the trails to draw out snowmobile riders. The area snowmobile clubs had a lot of work in clearing the trails, just to have more trees block them due to the heavy snow. Use caution because many trails are still not clear. The lakes are harder to access due to slush. Trapping activity was low for the opener of the bobcat, fisher, and marten season.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled the station for angling activity, snowmobile operational contacts, and verification of cross-country ski passes as required. Heavy and wet snow has occurred, causing trees to become hazards along local public use trail systems. Guida continues to work with a conservation officer candidate within the field training program. The officers made numerous contacts with anglers and have addressed numerous violations.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) and COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Ryan Christenson spent time checking ice anglers, ATV riders and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Snowmobile trails were in tough shape after the heavy snow, and volunteer trail crews were busy trying to get them back open. Enforcement action included trout fishing during a closed season and recreational vehicle registration violations.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week checking trappers, anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and investigations were begun for trapping 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 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) continued field training with COC Andrew Ladzinski. Time was spent patrolling local lakes on snowmobile. Multiple shelter violations were observed and owners were notified. Patrols were also conducted on Upper Red Lake. The winter storm that passed through seemed to slow down the fish bite a considerable amount. Enforcement action was taken for an unregistered deer.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking snowmobilers and ice anglers. Ice conditions changed for the worse during the week, as the area received between 15 and 20 inches of snow. Area lakes are full of slush and water, and several inlets/outlets have opened back up, creating dangerous conditions. Area snowmobile riders also report somewhat challenging conditions on area trails as heavy snow/ice has damaged trees and made some trails impossible to go through. Area clubs are asking for assistance in knocking off snow and ice from branches as you go down the trails and report any hazards that you find to their respective social media pages.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) performed a necropsy on a possible illegal deer kill, followed up with ongoing cases and worked snowmobile enforcement.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked on an applicant background investigation. Some time was spent checking anglers. Slush has developed in many areas of the lakes after the latest heavy snowfall, creating difficult traveling conditions in spots. Four to12 inches of ice was seen or reported. A hunter-harassment call was also received. Enforcement action was taken for angling and spearing violations.


CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) continued training a conservation officer candidate for the final phase of field training. The officers worked Cass, Beltrami, and Hubbard county lakes and trails. The recent snow has impacted travel on many area lakes. Enforcement action for the week included possession of drug paraphernalia, angling with extra lines, no shelter tag, no angling license, and numerous ATV- and snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. She also followed up on ongoing cases.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports following up on big-game-related concerns, checking anglers and conducting snowmobile enforcement. Several calls were returned.

CO Corey Sura (Remer) continued investigation of a deer-hunting related complaint. Ice anglers were checked. They were finding moderate success. Several groups of snowmobile riders were out enjoying the first big snow of the year. The trails have plenty of snow and just as many fallen trees due to the amount of wet, heavy snowfall received in the area.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) saw limited fishing activity with the winter storm keeping people and shelters off the ice. Approximately 12 to 16 inches of wet, heavy snow were received locally causing obstructions to the trails. Enforcement action for week included shelter license/ID violations, operating a vehicle on a WMA and snowmobile safety/registration violations

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked the late-season CWD hunt, conducted snowmobile patrol, and checked traps as the annual bobcat and fisher season opened. Limited success was seen with the CWD hunt with the recent snowfall and colder weather. Additionally, Cross conducted local area taxidermy inspections. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession and failure to register deer as required. Fishing pressure remained low in the area, due to the great amount of slush on the lakes with the two recent snowfalls.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked early ice angling in the area with many anglers venturing out. With ice conditions very spotty, a snowmobile and an ATV were reported to have fallen through the ice. Occupants were able to climb out and get to safety. With all the added snow insulating the ice, it is imperative individuals are well informed about ice conditions before venturing out. Sutherland also worked on finishing past cases from the deer season and conducting ongoing investigations.


CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked anglers and trapping activity during the previous week. Time was also spent checking snowmobile riders and responding to complaints involving illegal and careless snowmobile operation. Enforcement action was taken for various snowmobiling violations. Holt began working on a background investigation on an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked one of the quietest fisher/marten/bobcat openers in recent history. Significant snowfall hampered both trappers and anglers alike, making forest roads impassable and lakes difficult to access. Several people were out enjoying the snow-filled ditches on their snowmobiles.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity where a heavy layer of snow was piled on top of a marginal ice sheet. The heavy snow made for slushy conditions. Snowmobiling activity was also monitored as conditions improved dramatically.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent time checking snowmobile activity on area trails. The snowstorm made a mess out of the local trails. Local snowmobile clubs put in many hours to improve trail conditions. Time was also spent checking ice anglers on local lakes. Success was seen among anglers, and, in some cases, too much success, resulting in a sunfish overlimit. Griffith would like to remind anglers to check each lake for special regulations that may differ from statewide regulations.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked ice fishing, ATV riding, and snowmobiling activities. Enforcement action was taken for lack of ATV registration, lack of shelter license, taking protected-sized northern pike, and trespass. Slush has made some areas on the lakes very unsafe.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) maintained equipment and checked ice anglers in the area. The winter storm made many lakes slushy and snowmobile trails had many downed trees. If you plan to ice fish or snowmobile, please use caution.

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Turn in Poachers (TIP) in Minnesota - Report a violation in progress:

To report a violation: call 800-652-9093 24 hours a day, or key in #TIP on your cell phone.

To report a violation that isn't time sensitive: Use the form at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/enforcement/tipreportingform.html

Don't let poachers spoil your future hunting or fishing enjoyment - or success.

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District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked on required training, prepared equipment for winter use and received several phone calls from people with snowmobile-related questions. Please stay on the designated trails while operating and slow down if you don’t know where the trail is, as most trails are not groomed in the area.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) assisted with training at Camp Ripley, monitored snowmobile activity and checked ice anglers. Ice angling has slowed as the recent snowfall has made it a challenge to get out onto the lakes, but snowmobiling has started to ramp up.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked the snowmobile activity in the area with the new snow. Snowmobile owners are reminded to check the sled for required registration and transfer ownership. Fishing activity in the area has slowed with the heavy snowfalls making conditions wet and slushy.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing license, no shelter ID, no snowmobile registration and no snowmobile safety training. Area lakes are very slushy.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) took to the trails after the big snowstorm. Many trails had downed trees and were very rough as the heavy, wet snow followed by freezing temperatures were not ideal. Be cautious on the lakes. There was a report of a spear shelter that went through the ice on Green Lake.

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