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CO Reports: Late season ice fishing hot and cold

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 29, 2023

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District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) checked area lakes and rivers for angling and snowmobile activities. Warmer weather has melted many of the snowmobile trails in the area. Most are still usable but are degrading quickly. Local ice is in rough shape with heavy amounts of slush. Now is the time to start looking over your boating equipment and refreshing your memory about what all is required while operating on the water. Please continue to use caution on the ice as it is changing quickly. Several complaints of coyote hunters trespassing with dogs and shooting into private property were handled and investigations into them are continuing.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) talked about laws and ethics with youths and parents at a firearms safety training class in Buckman, conducted equipment maintenance, and attended training at Camp Ripley.


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked snowmobile activity for possibly the last week for the season. The officer trail conditions go from good to very poor in just two days. The officer continues to monitor lakes during the melt looking for litter left behind. Online training was also worked on this week.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) attended duck school in Southern Minnesota. Focus was also given to angling enforcement, handling wildlife related calls, and presenting at a firearms safety course in the Hasty-Silver Creek area. The warmer temperatures were welcomed by many anglers chasing late season panfish. Enforcement action for the week included various ATV related violations.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) checked fishermen, snowmobilers, and a trapper. Enforcement action was taken for expired registration and dogs chasing deer. More deer depredation complaints were taken this week.

District 9 - Brainerd area


CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) found fishing activity in the area continues to be slow due to difficult travel conditions. Snow is starting to melt on area lakes and is creating slushy areas that are impassable. Snowmobile activity is also decreasing as trail conditions are deteriorating.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) took enforcement action this week for speed and license/registration issues. Trails are deteriorating and slush is making travel difficult on many area lakes.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) followed up on injured animal complaints received from wildlife. Officer Guida completed an evidence transfer and discussed charges on a big game shining case with the local prosecutor. Officer Guida completed Use of Force Instructor training at Camp Ripley in preparation to an upcoming annual in-service use of force training.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time working snowmobiling activity, attending training, and conducting investigations throughout the week.

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) patrolled area lakes and trails for angling and snowmobiling activity. He attended waterfowl training at Whitewater State Park in southeast Minnesota. Follow up contacts were made on the previous weeks shelter violations.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) had honor guard duties at the funeral of Detention Officer Ben Held. There are still a few anglers getting out. Most of the work for the week was spent on snowmobiling enforcement.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Time was spent removing fish houses from the lakes.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports angling activity has picked up as the temperatures warm and the snow on area lakes is settling. Vinton is receiving calls, nearly daily, about weak and dying deer. Several deer needed to be dispatched that were too weak or a traffic hazard. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a current license, unmarked shelters and leaving a shelter unattended after the removal deadline. Vinton also attended a local firearm safety class.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) patrolled area snowmobile trails and lakes, attended a career fair at MSTATE in Moorhead, and attended training related to cold water rescues and hypothermia this week. Snowmobilers continue to enjoy area trails, as the trails are still in excellent condition going into the last week of the season. Many riders were seen and several were stopped for trespassing, registration, and speed violations. CO Swedberg also checked area lakes for fishing activity, but slushy conditions have made it hard on many fishermen to get far out on the lake without a snowmobile or other tracked equipment. At the career fair, CO Swedberg was able to speak with many students about what it takes to be a conservation officer and different aspects of our hiring process; in all, about 50 students were present for the career fair.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) attended duck school in Southern MN. Training was conducted on waterfowl identification and waterfowl hunting laws, in preparation for fall waterfowl season.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, worked ongoing cases, and assisted with a search warrant.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports attending training in Saint Paul.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. She seized an overlimit of crappies. Enforcement action was taken on multiple expired snowmobile registration, fail to display registration, and no license in possession.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) checked anglers, snowmobile trails, and checked for compliance with fish house removal deadlines. Two fish houses remained on the ice after the deadline and arrangements were being made to remove them. The snowmobile trails were still in good shape, but some spots were starting to get bare where the sun shines. Anglers continue to report the catching was slow. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass Co lakes and snowmobile trails for activity. Lake conditions are in poor shape with heavy snow and slush in spots, which has reduced the amount of angling pressure. Snowmobile trails remain in good shape. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.


CO Corey Sura (Remer) patrolled area snowmobile trails where enforcement action was taken for illegal exhaust and allowing unlawful youth operations. Sura assisted at waterfowl training held in southeast MN for the newest CO’s.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity and fish house removal issues. CO Sutherland took enforcement action on one individual who left his angling house out past the removal date and then decided to burn the structure to make it disappear. Remnants of the house were still left on the ice including the vinyl siding. The individual was cited for multiple violations. CO Sutherland also gave a safety talk to a local corporation about boating and ice safety.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) patrolled snowmobile trails and checked anglers during the previous week. Time was also spent trying to locate owners of ice houses left on the ice past the deadline. Enforcement action involved snowmobiling violations and leaving an ice shelter on the ice after the deadline.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to patrol area snowmobile trails. The snow base is still above average for this time of year and snowmobilers are still out enjoying the trails. The panfish bite is picking up and trout anglers are getting out before the close of the winter season. Several wildlife related calls were responded to.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) worked angler activity including the removal of an icehouse from public waters. Snowmobile use was high for the time of year as sledders made use of very good trail conditions. Furbearers and migratory birds were making use of open water as areas started to slowly open.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored snowmobiling and angling activity. Trail conditions were good but started to deteriorate towards the end of the weekend. Time was spent doing commercial inspections and following up on complaints.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and worked speed enforcement on the snowmobile trails. Trout lakes in the area were patrolled. CO Benkofske also followed up on shoreline violations.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) made DNR safety class plans to cover vacant station needs and completed other required training. Late season pike fishing was monitored, along with some pan fishing activity. Snowmobile trails were still in good shape, with loud exhaust still being a problem.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobiling activity. The officer found the owner of an unmarked fish house that was left out after the deadline. The owner also had violations with litter and enforcement action was taken.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Blong Lor (Center City) spent the week checking ice anglers. CO Lor also spent time responding to misc. wildlife calls. Time was also spent teaching waterfowl ID at Whitewater State Park for the most recent CO Academy class.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) conducted follow up on miscellaneous tips about bear hunting and deer hunting violations from the past season. CO Hanna checked a few ice shelters that were on the lakes after midnight to ensure they were still occupied. CO Hanna assisted a local agency with a coyote hunting complaint.

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) spent the week at waterfowl enforcement training.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) attended K9 training.

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