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CO Reports: All in a CO's 'normal' work week...

Area Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - May 25, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 4 - Walker area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jacque Hughes (Longville) removed and released a snapping turtle that had fallen into an egress window. She also checked angling activity. Enforcement was taken for no license in possession and expired registration.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) primarily focused on angling and ATV enforcement. Cross worked with the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office on OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) enforcement. He also assisted the sheriff’s office with traffic violations. Anglers had fair success throughout the week with the walleye and crappie bites remaining steady. Enforcement action for the week included watercraft and angling violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and boaters. Walleye fishing was good this past week. A TIP call of a possible overlimit of crappies was investigated. ATV and AIS activity was also worked. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, fishing in a closed area, possessing fillets of fish on a special regulation lake, and an AIS violation.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time in the boat and on an ATV this week. Due to lack of rain in the area, the waters are low and the trails are dusty. Numerous bear-related complaints were received, and property owners are reminded to remove all attractants such as bird feeders and garbage to prevent damage. Enforcement action this week included no angling license, no PFD, failure to display lights in a watercraft when required, and numerous ATV-related violations. An investigation is ongoing into the illegal killing of a bear cub in western Cass County.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) checked anglers and ATV riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for failure to have an angling license in personal possession, taking fish without a license, taking illegal-length northern pike and operating an ATV on the highway. Kunst also assisted with a firearms safety class in Remer and took a call about an injured fawn.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) continued working angling activity on area lakes. Several anglers were in possession of illegal-length fish and enforcement action was taken. Sullivan fielded a call of a bear cub that was caught in a live trap. The bear cub was successfully released.


CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) monitored angling activity. A complaint of trespassing was fielded. Guida also completed training.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) reports high angling activity on area lakes, with some anglers having success. Anglers were observed keeping bass out of season and several out-of-state anglers were educated on AIS laws.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) spent time patrolling area lakes for angling and boating activity. Enforcement action was taken for an overlimit of walleyes, extra lines, and numerous boating violations.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked ATV users on the trails and roads. The trails were pretty dry, but were seeing high use. The lakes are warming quickly, and boaters are taking advantage of the nice weather. He took calls on trespassing, cranes damaging crops, and dogs chasing wildlife.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking anglers throughout the week and weekend. Some panfish and trout were seen. Many folks were out enjoying the weather. Patrol was done for illegal vehicle and ATV activity, and a nuisance-animal complaint was taken. The state recreation area was checked for vehicle permits and a litter complaint was addressed in the park. Area bike trails were busy with the nice weather and many kayakers were out enjoying the lakes in the SRA. Many outdoor law-related questions were fielded throughout the week and weekend. Enforcement action for the week included various SRA violations.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) spoke at two firearms safety classes this past week. Follow-up work continues on pending wildfire cases. Time was also spent checking anglers, ATV operators, and boaters.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) dealt with various animal-related issues. Gray advises people to not pick up baby animals or birds as they are often not abandoned.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. He worked boat and water shifts on Upper Red Lake.


CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) and K9 partner Storm attended training at Camp Ripley. The pair also assisted Beltrami County in searching multiple locations for possible evidence in an ongoing investigation. An AIS detail was worked in the area of Upper Red Lake and time was also spent on boat and water safety enforcement on the lake.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports concentrating on AIS and fishing activities this past week, with multiple boaters and anglers contacted. There was a very high compliance rate with AIS regulations. TIP calls of possible overlimits were taken. Vinton attended a firearms safety class in Vergas and presented the law enforcement part of the class. Enforcement action was taken on a couple of off-highway motorcycles operating on the road and for no angling licenses in possession.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week working sport fishing and commercial minnow-harvesting activity. Fishing pressure has remained steady since the opener and many anglers are having luck finding panfish. Swedberg and CO Landmark continue to investigate ongoing leeching activity in the Becker County area. Trappers are reminded to make sure all of their traps are tagged and all other regulations are followed. Other time was spent assisting local agencies with calls for service, including an ATV pursuit near White Earth and a rollover crash near Detroit Lakes.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked a possible migratory bird violation, handled calls of nuisance bears, and worked a turkey hunting complaint.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week monitoring angling, AIS, ATV/OHM, and commercial minnow-trapping activity. The panfish bite is heating up as fish are starting to spawn, but the walleye bite is still slow. Landmark and CO Swedberg worked commercial minnow trapping activity throughout the week. Violations for untagged traps and illegally set traps were discovered. Landmark also spoke about laws and ethics to approximately 50 students at the Moorhead ATV safety course. Enforcement action was taken for OHM violations, untagged minnow traps, and illegally set minnow traps.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports walleye action is starting to heat up on some area waters. Turkey activity also seemed to have increased with Toms still displaying and out in the open. Richards wants to remind folks to leave baby wildlife alone. It is also illegal to pick them up. Boaters and anglers were checked throughout the week. Numerous calls were taken about nuisance beavers and activation of goose-depredation shooting permits.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers, boaters, and personal watercraft operators. Additional time was focused on checking ATV operators and handling calls about orphaned wildlife. Baumbarger assisted a boater on Perkins Lake whose boat ran aground on a mud flat while trying to enter the Pomme de Terre River.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) worked angling and recreational vehicles throughout the previous week. Time was also spent on wildlife-related complaints and investigating a wildfire. A firearms safety field day was held in Osakis. Enforcement activity involved boating violations, fish overlimits, and angling license violations.


CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent the majority of the week on the water working angling and recreational boating activity. Walleye fishing continues getting off to a slow start, but panfish have really begun to bite. Multiple different cases worked resulted in several citations being issued for panfish overlimits. One group had just caught their limit but also had the previous day’s limit at their cabin. Another angler failed to count while on a hot bite and was over the limit by several fish. PWCs (Personal Water Craft) are hitting the lakes, with a few reports of late operation.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity and found a lack of licenses, boating safety equipment, and fish-measuring ability. A lot of maintenance was getting done on lake lots, prompting question and concerns regarding nuisance animals, insect hatches, and dock movement.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent most of the week working Mille Lacs Lake. Many anglers were successful. ATV activity was monitored in the area as well. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, illegal-length walleyes, and not having a wearable life jacket on board.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling for fishing, boating, and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, no angling license in possession, failure to have a fire extinguisher in the boat, failure to have a throwable PFD in the boat, youth operating an ATV without a helmet, expired ATV registration, failure to display valid ATV registration, failure to report the bill of sale for an ATV, and operating an ATV without lights.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) attended TEP panel site visits for two potential Wetland Conservation Act violations. She checked boaters for invasive species and handled nuisance-animal complaints. Speldrich followed up on ongoing cases and assisted the Moose Lake Police Department with a disturbance call.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked a busy opening week with many fish being harvested. ATV work was also completed with registration and speed issues addressed. Charges were filed from a WMA violation earlier this spring. Starr was walking in the woods after dark to greet some anglers who had just came to shore, only to have a large rock thrown in his direction. The anglers were very surprised to see a CO, instead of the bear that had been hanging around. Baby wild animals are appearing and should be left alone.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing, boating, ATV, and OHM enforcement this week. A call was taken regarding work being done along a lake. Enforcement action was taken for various violations, including two safety violations that can easily be prevented: Have a life jacket for every person onboard your boat and have helmets worn by all juveniles when on ATVs.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored ATV activity, talked at a youth ATV safety training class, and worked boating safety and fishing on area lakes. Vang responded to a report of a fawn that was rescued from a muddy road ditch. The fawn was retrieved from the private residence and released back into the wild in the area it was taken from. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display valid registration on watercrafts, angling without a license in personal possession, failure to display valid registration numbers/decal on an ATV, and operating an ATV without ATV safety training.


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked fishing, boating, bowfishing and AIS education and preventive work this week. Concerns about bowfishing continue to make up most of the calls he is receiving. VanderWeyst advised one group that a capacity plate on a boat is the most people and weight for the boat. They were intending to launch with five people on a steel platform mounted on the boat. They had no life jackets. The very next bowfishing group into the access, who were previously out on infested lake that night, attempted to launch without cleaning out their boat. They were encouraged to call it a night.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked angling, boating and aquatic invasive species enforcement. A work detail was worked on Upper Red Lake with CO Seifermann. Several enforcement contacts were made, including a 23-walleye overlimit, but most anglers checked were doing well with law compliance. Angling activity in the Albany area was slow during the week. Enforcement activity included illegal-length walleyes, walleye overlimit, expired boat registration and other boating equipment violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) worked angling, boating and aquatic invasive species enforcement. A work detail was worked on Upper Red Lake with CO Thesing. Several enforcement contacts were made, including a 23-walleye overlimit, but most anglers checked were doing well with law compliance. Activity included illegal-length walleyes, walleye overlimit, expired boat registration and other boating equipment violations.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the week working anglers and boaters. Several calls regarding nuisance beavers and bears were handled. Vacant stations were patrolled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking anglers. Anglers are reporting moderate success on area lakes with some anglers catching up to seven different species of fish in the same day. Krauel also worked a busy ATV weekend with numerous ATV enthusiasts out enjoying the trails and ditches. Krauel would like to remind ATV riders to stay on trails and out of wetlands while riding ATVs.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking anglers and boaters. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without licenses and no life jackets. Nuisance-bear calls were handled and an ATV safety class was presented to in Elk River.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) reports flying several creel survey flights in addition to his normal station duties.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew two wetland photos flights for Forest Assessment and attendant to maintenance on the airplane.


Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports flying three Lake Vermilion creel surveys. Holmes also reports coordinating with a contract pilot and canceling one creel survey due to poor weather conditions.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of flying creel surveys around the Duluth area. While conducting the surveys, a couple possible wetland and public water violations were documented and sent to local officers. Jensen also completed two helicopter training flights.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) flew a training flight with a pilot, and also flew a demonstration of helicopter abilities with an officer. He also attended a ceremony for pilot John Heineman, who received the FAA Master Aviator Award for 50 years of safe flying at the Minnesota Pilots Association annual gathering at the Buffalo airport. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed creel flights for Rainy Lake and Lake Vermilion. He spotted wildfires while on the creel survey and notified appropriate ground resources. He attended to aircraft maintenance and prepared for upcoming training courses.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working fishing enforcement and AIS compliance. An AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) work detail was attended over the weekend near Upper Red Lake. Time was spent working ATV activity. New and old public water and Wetland Conservation Act cases were worked on.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued to work on cases in his assigned area. Site inspections with the Pine County TEP was conducted and AIS enforcement was worked on area lakes. Assistance to the Aviation Unit was given with a TFO flight around the Duluth area and a kids fishing clinic was attended as a guest speaker on AIS.

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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 BrainerdDispatch.com website first went live on April 26, 1994.
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