District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports completing Phase 3 of field training with COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Corey Sura. Sura gave a presentation via ZOOM to the Principles of Wildlife Management class at Bemidji State University. The officers handled several complaints on area wildlife management areas, as well as a deer-carcass litter complaint. Some violations encountered over the firearms deer season opening weekend include hunting with the aid of bait, transporting loaded firearms in motor vehicles, and taking big game from the roadway.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) responded to the usual deer-season opener complaints. He also found a young girl fishing with her dad from a public access dock in shorts and flip flops, which is a firearms deer season first for him.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy opening weekend of the firearms deer season. Complaints of individuals shooting from the road, hunting over bait, hunter harassment, and taking deer with a rifle in the game refuge were received.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) responded to a call of a small white-tailed buck that knocked a young boy down and roughed him up a little bit while he and his older brother were playing and chopping wood in their backyard. The older brother attempted to scare the buck off, but when it wouldn’t leave he ran and notified their father. His dad attempted to scare the buck off as well, but when it appeared it was going to attack again the man shot at it with his pistol. Vinton and Regional Training Officer Greg Oldakowski tracked the buck the next morning for nearly a half-mile without success. Vinton assured the boy it was a crazy thing that will never happen again and that he’ll have a really cool story to tell his grandchildren. Vinton assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office with an assault and order-for-protection violation that led to Vinton engaging in a foot pursuit of the suspect through the woods and toward waiting officers. The suspect was taken into custody and a second suspect wanted on a state warrant was also apprehended. Deer opening weekend brought mild weather and a few deer. Enforcement action was taken for no blaze orange, failure to tag deer and transporting a loaded rifle in a combine.

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CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week preparing for the firearms deer season and checking deer hunters. Several calls were taken regarding trespass complaints in the Becker County area. Swedberg also assisted CO Landmark on several calls in the Ottertail area. Other time was spent assisting Becker County with missing hunters. Time was also spent following up on ongoing cases.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked deer baiting, trespass and early shooting violations during the firearms deer season opener. Multiple firearms were seized and charges are pending. Peterson also assisted on search warrants on pending cases.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the past week working pheasant-hunting, trapping and deer-hunting enforcement. The firearms deer opener started off well. Unfortunately, wind and unseasonably warm weather on Sunday seemed to reduce hunting activity.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked small-game and migratory-waterfowl-hunting activity. WMAs were monitored for illegal activity. Complaints of trespass were received and investigated. Area lakes were checked for anglers, with a few out enjoying warmer weather. Warren worked the opening weekend of firearms deer season. Many hunters were out but warm weather and high winds made the hunt difficult. Assistance was provided to the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, White Earth Tribal Police and White Earth Conservation with the search for a possible lost hunter.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week monitoring deer hunting, duck hunting, and angling activity in the Pelican Rapids station. Diehard anglers are finding a decent crappie bite on area lakes while duck hunters are still having some success on diver ducks. Deer hunters reported good success despite the unseasonably warm weather. Baiting continues to be a prevalent violation and some hunters who were expecting to see a nice buck visiting their bait piles instead were met by officers and issued citations for their illegal activity. Calls from the public included trespass complaints, reports of deer-carcass dumping, stolen deer blinds, and questions about deer limits and permit areas. Assistance was also provided to the Becker County Sheriff’s Office with a lost hunter and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for a deer drive that resulted in a house being shot. Enforcement action was taken for shooting deer from a motor vehicle, hunting deer over bait, trespass, illegal-length crappies, and a handful of various ATV-related violations.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked on fishing enforcement this past week. The nice weather brought out a fair number of anglers, but success was low. According to the anglers, the water temperature is cold and the fish are less active. Muskie anglers on Lake Alexander report fair success, with one catching a 48-inch fish and having two other follows. A violation for no fishing license in possession was observed. He worked the firearms deer opener. Hunters report mixed success. Some hunters report lots of deer activity and others not much. He received a complaint of a person dumping a deer carcass in the Pillsbury State Forest.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) focused primarily on big-game enforcement during the week in both Wadena and Park Rapids stations. A lot of hunters were seen out on opening day, but the warm weather slowed things down on Sunday. Violations encountered over the weekend included taking deer with the aid of bait, failure to validate license, failure to register, trespass, erecting structures on state forest lands and ATV violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked deer- and duck-hunting activity. Deer hunters had limited success over opening weekend. She received many calls regarding trespass, dogs chasing deer, stand tampering, and carcass dumping along the roadway.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent her week preparing for the firearms deer season opener. On opening weekend, violations found included hunting deer over bait, failure to validate site tag, untagged big game and feeding/using attractants in a CWD feeding ban zone.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked activities related to the deer-hunting season. One call resulted in a person who was found to have shot two deer before the season opened. Trespass, deer feeding, and a netting call were also received and investigated. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, failure to register deer, loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and deer feeding ban violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked big-game and recreational vehicle enforcement this past week. A field training assignment continued with Conservation Officer Candidate Stephen Westby. Westby and Guida investigated a deer baiting complaint and also confirmed a hunter did not trespass during a lawful deer harvest. Some hunters were addressed who were transporting loaded firearms. Area deer harvest numbers appear to be down, probably due to the unseasonably warm weather.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked firearms, archery deer hunting and trapping activity. Trespass complaints and illegal ATV use issues were also addressed. Time was also spent on the local radio station covering deer hunting topics and questions.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) worked big-game hunting activity this past week. Hunters reported seeing fewer deer due to warm and windy conditions. Sullivan encountered a wide variety of violations including taking big game with the aid of bait, untagged big game, failure to validate a site tag and transporting loaded firearms. Trespass violations and property line disputes were also reported.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked a busy firearms deer hunting opener. McGowan also assisted with a capsized canoe with occupants on the Whitefish Chain. Enforcement action was taken for numerous deer hunting violations and driving after suspension.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) worked the warm deer opener. Hunters said it was comfortable sitting because it was so warm, but did not see many deer moving. Another complaint of hunters was about other hunters too close to each other or not hunting the way they like. Most, though, were enjoying the tradition of deer season with family and friends.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports working the firearms deer season. Quite a few hunters were out and a few deer were seen taken even with the warmer weather. Time was spent before the season checking for baited stands and illegal deer stands in the state recreation area. The Officer also assisted a neighboring officer with a deer-hunting related call and many outdoor law-related questions were answered throughout the week and weekend. Fitzgerald also checked for people riding on the closed trails and for state park permits on vehicles. Enforcement action for the week included various SRA violations.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked deer hunters and found issues such as bait, lack of blaze orange, and illegal stands. The warm fall weather also brought out angling activity, including keeping illegal fish. Verkuilen also checked trapping activity and responded to ATV-related complaints.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) issued citations and seized deer and firearms for hunting over bait, illegally transporting big-game animals, and failing to tag and validate deer. Several trespassing complaints were handled, along with calls regarding hunting laws and licensing issues. Speldrich also issued an RPN for a potential WCA violation.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked a busy week of answering questions, marking baited stands, and issuing permits for various animals. Trespass issues continue to be an increasing problem, as does rudely target practicing near deer hunters that are trying to have a peaceful hunt. A shining case with loaded guns continues to be investigated with interpretive services needed.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked a detail with neighboring officers on area shining complaint areas. He completed seasonal vehicle maintenance and needed repairs to his patrol truck. He also focused most of his time on deer season activities.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports a good start to the firearms deer season. Many hunters who were checked were successful in taking a deer. He reports responding to numerous TIP reports and answering calls from the general public.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) worked a busy deer opener with COC Curtis Simonson. One hunter shot two bucks, which apparently wasn’t enough, because he tagged them with tags belonging to people who do not hunt. Another group of five hunters were found transporting five loaded guns in a motor vehicle. Many shooting from the road, trespass, and late-shooting calls were also handled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO ate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking deer hunters over opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for untagged deer, trespass, and transporting loaded firearms in motor vehicles. Deer-hunter success was lower than normal with the warmer weather, but many brand new hunters of varying ages were checked in the field, which was great to see.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent a busy opening weekend checking deer hunters. Hunters were finding some success even with the wind and the warm weather keeping the deer from moving. Enforcement action was taken for transporting a loaded firearm, deer hunting without a license, hunting over bait, and several other tagging violations.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) worked the firearms deer-hunting opener, checked anglers, and responded to numerous trespassing complaints. Enforcement action was taken against five individuals who were caught hunting over bait on opening morning. One hunter stated, “If you knew this bait was here why didn’t you come find me and tell me that before opener.” Londgren also worked with other divisions on wetland violations and an easement trespass violation.

Aviation Section

Standby Conservation Officer Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew several bait flights for officers across northern Minnesota. He took photos of a bridge obstructing a public waterway and the likely cabin of the bridge-builders as requested by a local officer. He looked for an arsonist starting fires from the road for Becker County.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of enforcement flights to find illegal baited deer stands and night-shining activity. Jensen also found some wetland violations and checked anglers from the seaplane. A bear telemetry flight at Camp Ripley was also flown.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) flew the annual two-day trout stream beaver dam assessments for Duluth and Hinckley Fisheries offices. They cover about 80 miles of streams for Duluth and about 50 miles for Hinckley. Active dams and blockages are marked with GPS and a federal trapper will come in to remove the dams and the beavers at every location. The dams slow the water and allow it to warm up, which is detrimental to trout survival. He also worked on some helicopter maintenance items.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working waters and WCA cases. The firearms deer season was worked in Big Stone County. Success was good and several violations were detected.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked the firearms deer season around area counties. Success was slow with high temperatures and high winds. TFO duties were conducted in support of ground operations for the firearms deer season. WCA and public waters cases were worked and AIS enforcement was monitored.