Cold weather hindering fish runs, State Park use requires permit - MnDNR CO Reports

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - April 14, 2020

Bends in Stoney Brook after the Ridge Road bridge, before it flows out into Upper Gull Lake.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking shore anglers at open-water areas. Spring fish-run activity was monitored. A grass fire was investigated and some kayakers were contacted on a flooded river in the area. DNR office sites were are also checked.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked area lakes and streams for spring fish-run activity. He patrolled areas for ATV activity and assisted the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office with a search for a missing individual in a wooded area.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) spent time in the area state parks and on ATV trails. A complaint of trespassing and beaver dam-removal issues was taken. Assistance was given to the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office in searching for a missing female.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice conditions have become mostly unfishable as the ice has pulled from the shorelines and smaller lakes have begun to open. Vinton and RTO Greg Oldakowski attempted to rescue an eagle that had entangled itself in old slough grass. The eagle’s foot was wrapped so tightly that it took the assistance of a veterinarian tech with the Lakeland Animal Hospital in Perham nearly 20 minutes to cut it free. Unfortunately, once blood flow was returned to the eagle’s foot the bird died from its ordeal. The fish run is getting off to a slow start as temperatures swing.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking spring fish-run locations and ATV areas. With cool weather, rivers and streams haven’t warmed up enough to get the fish moving. Other time was spent assisting the county with calls for service.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) monitored WMAs and waterfowl production areas for activity. Areas were patrolled for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Fire activity was monitored. Warren assisted Clearwater County with a search for a possible lost person. Rivers and tributaries were worked for spring fish-run activity.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) continued to check angling activity. She also investigated a TIP regarding a trapping violation.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) worked ATV and trapping enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV without headlights and operating an ATV on a closed trail. An incidental otter in a beaver trap was also called in.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) saw a few anglers out during the week, but the ice is no longer safe. ATV- and OHM-related complaints were received and enforcement action was taken. Follow up was completed on a littering complaint, which resulted in a citation.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports ice has receded from shorelines and ice fishing has ended. State forest areas were monitored and enforcement action was taken for operating motor vehicles on closed forest roads. An aquatic plant removal case was investigated. A complaint of a dead swan was investigated. There were no signs that it was illegally taken. Work continues on Bear Committee items and some time was spent checking beaver traps.

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Temporary state forest road closures - See what's closed

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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) monitored ice-out and angling activity. Guida worked an assignment with another CO monitoring public water accesses and river activity. Guida worked with a local trapper and had an accidentally caught otter processed to donate to the MTA Fur Project. The proceeds from the sale of the fur will help educate and introduce new trappers to fur-taking and population control.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) spent time checking ice anglers and trappers throughout the past week. Local ice conditions are very poor and some small lakes are starting to open. He also spent time prepping station patrol watercraft for the upcoming open-water season.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) patrolled the Foot Hills State Forest area, which is closed to all motor vehicle traffic. Most area lakes have open water and spring angling activity is underway. He also investigated damage to property in the Backus area.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking area lakes for fishing activity, as there was more open water this past week. He picked up some incidental animals that were caught while trapping. Many outdoor law-related questions were answered. Fitzgerald patrolled the SRA for park passes and other park violations. Please remember you can purchase a park pass online on our DNR website. ATV activity was monitored and a call of a dead deer was investigated.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked trapping, fish run and ATV activity. A non-permitted fire was addressed along with a call of eagles hanging from a white pine with talons locked. Time was also spent on a riprap case and two wetland cases.


CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) spent most of the week on trapping, burning and road closure activity. Enforcement action was taken for burning during a ban and without permits, and for driving on closed roads and trails. An investigation was started for illegal use of state forest property and nuisance wildlife calls were handle.

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OHV Trail Closures - See what's closed

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District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) saw a lot of water open up this past week, creating good conditions for beaver trappers. Questions were fielded regarding the turkey season and accessibility of public land.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time maintaining equipment, working on office work, and following up on calls this past week. The calls she followed up on included questions about nuisance flying squirrels, wood permits, possible wolf depredation, complaints on trap tampering, and deer-possession permits.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled state parks and state forests. Very high numbers of ATV and OHM operators were out in the General Andrews State Forest. Parking lots were full. Several warnings for operating without headlights and failing to display registration were issued. A reminder that registration renewals can be purchased on the DNR website. Several citations were issued to ATV operators who were operating in the Nemadji State Forest, which is closed due to trail conditions. Speldrich also checked anglers at area rivers and took complaints of nuisance beavers and foxes.


CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) spent time following up on complaints and completing investigations this past week. There has been a noticeably higher amount of activity in state parks with the warmer weather. Enforcement action was taken for illegal juvenile ATV operation, failure to display ATV registration, no helmets on a juvenile ATV operator/passenger, and failure to obtain a burning permit.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the past week monitoring the spring fish run in the area. Many bowfishers were seen out on the water after dark. Some were having some success, but colder weather seemed to push the rough fish back out to deeper waters. A complaint of a cabin owner using a leaf blower to push a large amount of leaves into a lake was investigated, with enforcement action being taken. ATV issues were addressed throughout the week and an OHM operator was stopped for operating on public roadways.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked shore-fishing activity, which has been slow so far. He handled a lot of accidentally trapped otters and responded to complaints of nuisance beavers. Vehicle maintenance preparing for the summer season was also done this past week.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports an increase in fishing and ATV activity. Time was spent patrolling Charles Lindbergh State Park. Enforcement action was taken for several angling violations, including angling without a license, bowfishing in rivers/streams that are not open to the early season, discharging a firearm at a public access, expired watercraft registration and burning violations. He also assisted a local law enforcement agency.

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State Parks - Most open for day use only until May 4, 2020

Check for specific park information - Find State Park status'


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District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports enforcing ATV and OHM laws after many complaints were called in. He checked crappie and rough fish anglers in the area. Benkofske also handled animal-related calls, such as raccoons trapped in trees, deer stuck in fences, and muskrats stuck inside window wells.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers and ATV riders, and patrolled state lands and parks. Enforcement action was taken for illegal fire, fill within a public water, allowing illegal juvenile operation of an ATV, ATV destroying a wetland, and a CWD feeding ban violation.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) received complaints of illegal early bowfishing in local creeks. A dumping complaint was investigated. Animal-related calls were handled.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking anglers and patrolling for ATV activity. Area lakes are starting to warm and several anglers are finding moderate success. Krauel took several calls about social-distancing questions on area lakes. He also took several calls about deer and litter dumped in the area. Krauel would like to remind people who throw their old deer carcasses from last deer season that they give all hunters a bad name when other people have to see and smell these rotting carcasses.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew Rainy River for angling activity and training.


NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) had the skis removed and maintenance issues addressed for 605NR. Heineman also worked on pilot training through webinars and videos.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports assisting with flying fire detection routes for the Division of Forestry. Some possible wetland violations were found on fire routes and forwarded to local field officers for follow up. Jensen also ferried another aircraft for avionics inspection.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on administrative tasks and safety and maintenance items.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week checking state and federal lands for activity. Time was spent working on new and ongoing cases. Anglers were checked and wildlife-related calls were fielded. Lake service providers were talked to about the open-water season.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. Officers’ questions on the Wetlands Conservation Act were answered and direction given. Haberman also talked to beaver trappers around the area and helped an individual get unstuck on a minimum maintenance road.

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Prepared by Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement

I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with numerous job titles since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently as Digital Editor. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work these 30+ years. I was present and worked on the our web page when our original website first went live on April 26, 1994.
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