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CO Reports: Anglers, early ice is sketchy

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Dec. 1, 2020

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO (Conservation Officer) Dan Starr (Onamia) observed ice anglers on very sketchy ice with open water not far away. The overall consensus among First Responders is that a fish is not worth risking human lives. Starr also saw a quiet end to the deer rifle season and a busy start to the muzzleloader season. He received a call late at night from an obviously intoxicated muzzleloader hunter who wanted him to settle a hunting party argument.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) investigated a possible violation of taking deer out of season and shooting from the roadway. She also spent time closing out deer-season investigations.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked big-game and sport-fishing enforcement this past week. Calls were fielded regarding hunting stands and dead deer.

District 11 - St. Cloud area


CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the past week working with COC Larson. Follow-up complaints from the firearms deer season were handled, including a deer-carcass-dumping complaint. A TIP complaint regarding the illegal taking of deer was investigated, with enforcement action taken.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked the last of the duck-hunting activity and trapping activity. He took reports of equipment left on WMAs and handled a request for a roadkill permit. He also worked on clearing out evidence and incidentally trapped animals from his inventory.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked on deer cases and checked anglers, muzzleloader and archery deer hunters. A few duck hunters were out for the close of the duck season. One deer-season investigation resulted in a citation for illegal party hunting, among other violations. After the case was done, the hunter went and got a photo album that had a photo of the suspect and Thesing posing with his first buck that he got five years ago when Thesing checked him. The illegal deer meat was donated to an area food shelf.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports taking phone calls about trespassing, injured animals, deer-possession permits and general hunting questions. He also reports continued investigations of ongoing deer cases. He attended a memorial service for Officer Tommy Decker (Cold Spring Police Department) and Officer Brian Klinefelter (St. Joseph Police Department), who were killed in the line of duty.

CO Leah Kampa (Annandale) spent the past week working muzzleloader, archery and small-game hunters. Calls of littering and injured animals were received and investigated. An incidental fisher was reported and a deer-possession permit was issued.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) continues to work on deer season follow up. A rifle that was seized as part of a deer case was found to be stolen from West Virginia. Trespass and dogs-chasing-deer calls were handled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking small-game and muzzleloader hunters in the local woods and fields. Assistance was given to other DNR divisions. Deer-carcass littering continues to be problematic, generating many calls from the public.


CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked hunters, followed up on deer-hunting cases, and conducted site visits for wetlands and public waters violations. Calls on trespassing and injured animals were also responded to.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and hunters. Violations were found for no blaze orange and possession of drug paraphernalia. Several animal-related complaints were handled.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week following up on deer investigations. Krauel also spent time on equipment maintenance. Time was also spent working the muzzleloader opener.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking ice anglers on area lakes. Time was also spent checking deer hunters during the muzzleloader opener. A bear-hunting case was investigated.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) followed up calls from the firearms deer season. He assisted the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Red Lake Police Department with a fatal hunting incident.

CO (Conservation Officer) Chris Vinton (Perham) and COC (Conservation officer Candidate) Vincent Brown spent time checking the area for early ice anglers. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with no license in possession. With anglers venturing out despite thin ice and large areas of open water, Vinton and Brown remind anglers to be cautious. It is recommended that you carry ice picks, wear approved flotation devices, and have safety plans in place.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week working on cases from the previous deer season. The first ice anglers of the year were seen on area lakes, with ice conditions being anywhere from open water to 4 inches. With windy and warm conditions over the weekend, ice conditions are not improving. Be sure to check ice conditions before venturing out and check regularly if you are on the ice.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked new cases of deer-carcass dumps and unregistered deer. He also continued with ongoing rifle deer season cases. Early ice anglers have started and some late grouse hunters were also checked.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked small-game and pheasant-hunting activity in area wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas. Angling activity was monitored, with ice conditions continuing to vary. She worked the muzzleloader deer opener and assisted the White Earth Police Department with a search.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week following up on deer-season cases. Some ice-fishing activity is occurring on a few area lakes, while others are open and anglers were catching walleyes in boats over the weekend. Anglers should use extreme caution as the warmer weather has made ice conditions unpredictable. Calls from the public included questions about state deer limits, party hunting, and ice conditions.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked fishing enforcement this past week. Ice and open-water anglers were out. Success is slow and, according to the anglers, the fish have not been very active. Muskie anglers were most numerous. He worked the muzzleloader deer opener as well. Hunters report mixed success. Some hunters had an insufficient amounts of blaze orange. He received a complaint of a person dumping a deer carcass in the Rock Lake campground and another of an abandoned camper.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) continued to check deer-hunting activity. She also worked on case follow up.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) worked on deer-season cases, checked traps, and saw a few ice anglers out. Venturing out on the ice is a risky choice at this point. Open water to 4 inches of ice has been seen in the area. Mathy responded to a report of a possible hunting violation in a game refuge.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) followed up on deer-season cases and checked small-game hunters. Calls were received in regards to ATV use during the muzzleloader deer season.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) followed up on big-game-related complaints, including several involving the illegal dumping of deer carcasses. Some ATV riders were seen out over the weekend with mild weather. Some of the area lakes are frozen over, but ice conditions are still questionable. Some anglers were checked over the weekend, but no fish is worth risking your life for.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) followed up on big-game cases and patrolled for bough-cutting activity.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked deer season complaints and follow up. Guida received calls regarding dumping of deer carcasses. Please check the regulations on where your deer carcass can be dumped. Guida completed department-mandated training. Ice anglers have been observed and cautioned about open water and thin ice.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) continued training with COC Brown. They saw a shortage of hunters out for the muzzleloader season opener, but saw an increase in car-killed deer due to icy road conditions. Enforcement actions this past week included illegal ATV operation, site validation violations and illegal dumping of deer carcasses.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked follow up on cases from rifle season, as well as the start of the muzzleloader season and trapping activity this past week. Enforcement action will be taken for no tags in possession, failure to validate, and failure to register.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked late-season waterfowl hunters and followed up on deer-hunting complaints. McGowan also worked open-water muskie anglers with the warm weather. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking muzzleloader deer hunters over the weekend. Even with the warmer weather, most people were reporting not having much luck. Fitzgerald also started seeing anglers on the early ice. Please remember ice conditions vary and with the warmer days the ice can be dangerous. Calls regarding car-killed deer permits, illegal ATV activity and a possibly poached deer were fielded. The state recreation area was patrolled for permits and illegal vehicle activity.


Aviation Section

Standby Pilot CO Tim Gray (Bemidji) looked for timber theft sites and had the plane prepared for winter flying.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew wolf telemetry and attended to administrative tasks.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on administrative tasks and attended another aviation webinar.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on Wetland Conservation Act, public water and aquatic plant management case status and updates. New cases were discussed with local government units, county attorneys and COs. Time was spent answering calls about the muzzleloader deer season and small game. Calls about injured and stranded animals were fielded. A trespass call was investigated.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on WCA, PW and APM cases and file updates. Calls for service were taken and small-game hunters were worked.

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