CO Reports: Ice fishing winding down as temps slowly warm

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 29, 2022

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.
We are part of The Trust Project.

District 4 - Walker area

CO (Conservation Officer) Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and ensured fish houses were removed from area lakes. The ice is melting fast and isn’t reliable. A litter complaint was worked where several dead deer carcasses were thrown into a river. Mathy also assisted Hubbard County with a disturbance call and investigated a complaint of shooting from the roadway. Time was also spent working on Bear Committee-related items.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling activity and reminds people to be cautious when traveling out on the ice. She also investigated complaints of people feeding deer.


CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking panfish anglers, conducting equipment maintenance and fielding several calls from the public.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling activity. He has noticed reduced angling activity with the varying ice conditions. Baum continues to investigate commercial licenses in the area. He reminds people to check the ice before venturing out.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) continued to check angling activity on area lakes. She also responded to a call about an injured animal.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for angling activity. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time during the week closing out ongoing cases and investigating deer-season violations. Litter was removed from a Stocking Lake, including bags of human excrement. Pick up after yourselves!

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. He also checked anglers on Leech Lake with CO McGowan.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking anglers and doing equipment maintenance. Fish seem to be biting on area lakes, but conditions were slushy and ice was starting to pull away from the shore. Other time was spent assisting the county with calls for service and working on old cases.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, and worked ice shelter removal enforcement and ongoing cases.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked late ice panfish fishing activity with the ice conditions still holding out fairly well. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and expired ATV registration. A timber theft case was also worked where birch trees were illegally cut down on private property in order to be sold as a decorative product.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked angling and recreational vehicle activity throughout the previous week. Time was also spent on wildlife-related complaints and following up on open cases. Holt attended training at Camp Ripley and monitored fish house removal from area lakes.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked angling, fish house removal, and ATV activities throughout the surrounding area. A trespass complaint was also fielded and the investigation is ongoing. Equipment maintenance and seasonal turnover activities were completed as well.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) noticed lower-than-normal outdoor activity levels due to another blast of cooler-than-average weather. Several nuisance-animal calls were handled. Enforcement action was taken for angling and ATV violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking anglers and ATV riders, and attending training at Camp Ripley throughout the week. Remember to check ice conditions often if venturing out on late ice.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) worked spring trapping activity and ongoing angling activity in the Aitkin area. She completed inventory work and vehicle maintenance.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled lakes for angling activity. Angling activity is picking up. Guida followed up on a wanton waste call where two deer were observed from the roadway hanging in a shed. The deer were determined to have been harvested and registered during last November’s deer season. The hunter interviewed assured that they were going to cut them up and make jerky out of them. Guida observed an increase in ATV traffic and wants to remind riders that trails are currently closed to avoid damage.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers on area lakes. Nuisance-animal calls were handled. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile registrations and burning violations.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity as ice is pulling away from shore and conditions are getting soft. He also attended training and assisted with snowmobile enforcement on the North Shore.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) checked areas where the snow has melted for litter concerns and looked for late-season pike anglers. A work detail on the North Shore found snowmobile traffic to be high. Violations for loud exhaust, no registration, no non-resident trail permit, speed, and lacking safety training were found. Starr is currently working on cub bear that is struggling to survive in the wild and has found a resort-type area to hang out.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing and fire enforcement this week. Time was spent completing equipment maintenance and meeting other station needs. Calls were taken regarding nuisance animals and incidentally taken animals.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) spent time checking anglers in the area. Time was also spent working ATV activity and litter cases at area landings. Westby also spent time fielding various questions.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked ice anglers, talked to youths at a firearms safety class, and conducted equipment maintenance.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) saw angling pressure become lower with the recent rains, but a few people were venturing back out with the cold weather over the weekend. He assisted neighboring officers with TIP calls and also addressed ATV registration issues.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and trappers. Nuisance-animal complaints were handled and ATVs were also checked.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) is continually checking anglers who are venturing onto the ice. Use extreme caution during this time of year and refrain from using ATVs to gain access to the ice. The ice is never 100 percent safe, especially now.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) checked anglers on area lakes. Ice conditions are declining rapidly, but anglers are still finding ways to get onto the ice. Krauel also attending training for armoring Division shotguns.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) finished required maintenance and completed low level flight training.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf pack survey flights and attending a funeral of a past chief DNR pilot. Files of current cases were updated as well.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued with helicopter maintenance preparations and worked on ground training for one of the pilots. He also taught classes at Forestview Elementary about moose, deer, and elk surveys. He also attended the funeral for former Chief Pilot Jerry Engelbrecht.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) provided low level training for unit pilot. He reviewed maintenance records and updated status sheets. Scott updated pilot training records.

Standby CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) flew over numerous lakes in districts 5 and 7 ensuring there were no shelters or other items left on the ice before it is too late to get them off. Locations of items of interest were sent to the local officers to investigate further.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) continued ground training for flight and her applicators license and tended to administrative tasks.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joe Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on updating and closing cases. Incident reports were updated and conversations about case status discussed with field officers and local government units. Meetings were attended.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) worked angling and ATV enforcement this week. Time was spent following up on ongoing wetland and waters cases. Local WMAs and state parks were patrolled.

--- --- ---


What to read next
Members Only
It’s difficult to overemphasize the importance of acorns to wildlife. Deer, black bears, squirrels, wood ducks and ruffed grouse all feast the offerings from oak trees.
Shaw writes, "Women in North Dakota are probably feeling safe because the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the only abortion clinic in the state, will move to neighboring Moorhead. That’s because abortion will remain legal in next door Minnesota. Sorry to say, things can change."
Hennen writes, "Nearly half of Americans believe Trump is not responsible for some dopes who busted their way into the Capitol. We are winning in the court of common sense."
"Overturning federal protections that provide access to health care, the right to marry, the right to live out one’s sexual orientation, the right to define one’s own gender may make us feel better because of our interpretation of scripture. But in reality, what it does is put lives in jeopardy, impoverish the already impoverished, reduce human dignity, further marginalize the marginalized, alienate those already upset with the church’s hypocrisy and continues to splinter the body of Christ."