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CO Reports: Be on the lookout ...

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 9, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Scott Fitzgerald Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (CCSRA) received a call to respond to a local DNR office where some damage had been reported. Fitzgerald met with the local agency and was told the culprit had broken out a lower window in the building but could not gain entry. The culprit then went to the entrance doors by jumping up two layers of landscaping and broke another window but could not get into the building. The culprit then tried another window and, with no luck there either, jumped off the steps on to a lower roof and fled the scene. The witnesses only description of the culprit was that it had four legs, hooves, brown fur and a fluffy white tail. DNR staff were contacted to secure the windows and the culprit is still running free. Why it wanted to get inside the building is a mystery.

Other enforcement action for the week included various SRA, ATV and fishing violations. Fitzgerald reports checking anglers in the recreation area. A few were having some luck catching trout and panfish, but most were just happy to be outside with the warm weather. Park staff were assisted with a park issue and park permits were checked throughout the week and weekend.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked anglers and ice shelter removal issues.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked anglers who were hoping for some panfish in the warm weather. Several area lakes have new panfish regulations and most anglers were aware and in support of the change. Anglers were reminded to clean up their trash and assist in removing any they see out on the ice as the snow melts. Most area lakes are looking clean!

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) joined Pequot Lakes Middle School on Sibley Lake for their respective field trips. Youth anglers’ experience ranged from zero to kids who brought their own electronics and fishing equipment. All anglers enjoyed the experience and several fish were caught. Sullivan also worked area shelter removal and litter issues.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) checked ice anglers on station lakes. New angling licenses were verified. Lake stewards were observed picking up garbage left behind by lake users. A large amount of construction materials were illegally staged on a public water access for an area residential construction project without a conditional use permit. Enforcement action was taken against the contractor.


CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing counties for angling activity. He wrapped up field training with a conservation officer candidate. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling violations.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) responded to fires out of control. Burning permits are required in most areas and it’s looking to be a long, dry spring so use caution when burning. Enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, no fishing license, and expired ATV registration.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) completed Division training. Many lakes in the station have new regulations that started March 1. He encourages everyone to review the new limits before heading out to the lake.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports responding to a TIP call related to deer hunting. Time was also spent checking anglers and ATV operators. Various angling related violations were encountered this past week.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) finished Divisional training, took care of seasonal maintenance requirements and checked a few anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. The eelpout bite continues to improve and anglers are having good luck finding jumbo perch. He worked a detail on Leech Lake with CO McGowan. Two individuals were cited for an overlimit of perch after it was determined they were 26 over the legal limit. Vollbrecht took time to mark shelters and look for garbage left behind.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) checked snowmobilers attending the Snodeo races in Naytahwaush. Despite quickly deterioration conditions, a few riders attended the event. Training was also attended in St. Cloud and Division projects were worked on. Assistance was also given with a car-killed fisher and a wolf-depredation claim.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice conditions remain OK with lots of water on the ice, though many of the accesses are beginning to break up. Travel was mostly by ATV. Angling success was spotty. Vinton received a TIP one night of a group of anglers that had been out all day on one of the new quality sunfish lakes. The caller was concerned they may be over the new reduced limit. Vinton contacted the anglers as they came off the lake and were not found to be in violation. Enforcement action was taken for leaving a shelter on a public access and not acquiring a new angling license.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers and following up on cases from the deer season. Ice conditions are quickly deteriorating in the area, especially along the shorelines. Swedberg reminds anglers to check for new regulations, as several area lakes have new sunfish regulations.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked Upper Red Lake and Lake of the Woods for angling enforcement. The fish bite was slow to moderate, with extra lines and no license being the most common violations. Peterson also worked local cases and attended training.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week checking angling activity on area lakes. Anglers are finding a good panfish bite on almost all lakes, but conditions are deteriorating rapidly with the warm weather. Anglers are urged to use extreme caution on lakes, as one vehicle fell through the ice on South Lida Lake over the weekend. Fortunately, the angler was able to make it out safely. Anglers are reminded to purchase new fishing licenses and read the regulations book as numerous lakes in the area have new sunfish regulations. While working new special regulations lakes with CO Swedberg, one angler was found to have misread the regulations and possessed an overlimit of sunfish. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling without a license in possession, sunfish overlimit, illegal-length crappie, failure to renew ATV registration, juveniles on ATVs without helmets, and other ATV-related violations.

Turn in Poachers (TIP) line 800-652-9093, 24/7, or #TIP - MnDNR CO Reports

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports shelter removal compliance was good overall. Richards checked recreational vehicle riders and panfish anglers, who were enjoying good ice conditions and great weather. Conversations with anglers usually consist of talking about fishing technology and the perceived need to reduce limits on certain species.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the past week focused on checking anglers and ATV operators, and monitoring fish house removal. Additional time was spent following up on deer-feeding complaints, and inspecting aeration permits.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) monitored panfishing activity on station lakes as the hard-water season is hitting the home stretch. Quite a few anglers were having success with sunfish, and a few crappies were observed. A few ice shelter owners were issued citations for leaving their shacks on the ice several days past the removal deadline. A detail was worked on Lake of the Woods with several other COs. Lots of good contacts were made and numerous citations were issued for fishing and drug-related violations.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) monitored angling activity and fish house removal from area lakes. Time was also spent on miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints and checking recreational vehicle activity. Ice conditions are starting to deteriorate, especially around accesses. Enforcement activity involved angling license violations and various fish house violations, including failing to remove after the deadline.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) checked anglers throughout the past week. Many questions on new fishing regulations were answered and complaint calls were taken about various angling violations. The snowmobile trails are melted in the Remer area and are in poor condition.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) and COC Baum patrolled Park Rapids and the Cass Lake area. They observed angling activity on Pike Bay, Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. Mathy and Baum encountered violations including no license in possession, angling without a license, failure to display ATV registration, and no shelter identification. Mathy and Baum remind anglers to get their 2021 angling license and check ice conditions.

CO Mike Cross (Lake George) worked ice angling and continued with ongoing training. Some good success was seen for perch, tullibees, and burbot on Leech Lake. Crappies were hitting on some of the smaller lakes. The ice is going to go fast, so it is advised to take your fish house off before the March 15 deadline. Enforcement action was taken for angling, ice shelter, and ATV violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling activity throughout the past week. Enforcement action was taken for expired ATV registration.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) verified shelters had been removed from area lakes. He also assisted area Wildlife staff with removing abandoned property and litter from wildlife management areas. The warm weather is bringing a quick end to the ice season, with shoreline access points deteriorating quickly.

Turn in Poachers (TIP) line 800-652-9093, 24/7, or #TIP - MnDNR CO Reports

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) worked lake activity, including fish houses on the ice past the removal deadline and new panfish regulations. A rush to make use of the warm weather left some people without a license after the Feb. 28 expiration date for 2020 licenses.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored ATV and snowmobile activity in the area. The warm weather brought a decrease in snowmobile activity. Angling activity was also monitored on Mille Lacs Lake. Anglers enjoyed the warm weather fishing in the bays. Griffith was pleased to see that all anglers checked remembered to purchase the new 2021 fishing license. Griffith worked with a neighboring officer investigating unwanted property left on public land. They also investigated burning violations in the area. Enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited material.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling for fishing activity and checking to make sure ice shelters were off of area lakes. She also spent time assisting the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office on a physical disturbance, assisting CO Griffith on a burning prohibited materials violation, and following up on a litter case on county land.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked the walleye season closure and the extended pike fishing season. Training items were addressed, and he looked for fish house litter. Warm weather melted snow and created muddy conditions. He gave a laws and ethics presentation to a snowmobile safety class.


District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked ice anglers, monitored ATV activity, followed up on the previous deer season, and talked to youths at the firearms safety training class in Buckman. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, operating an ATV without an ATV safety certificate, failure to display ATV registration, failure to transfer ATV title, failure to renew ATV registration, and failure to register deer as required.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the past week checking anglers. A modest panfish bite was seen on several area lakes. Recent warm weather has degraded ice at access sites significantly and anglers are reminded to use caution when venturing out.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville ) reports working angling activity this past week. He focused on reminding anglers of the new panfish regulations this year and to buy the new fishing license. He handled calls of injured animals and overlimit complaints. VanderWeyst saw a few fishing shelters left out, but all were removed after calls to the owners.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports checking anglers and shelter activity on area lakes. He also reports conducting equipment maintenance and completing annual training. Injured- and nuisance-animal calls were handled as well.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the past week working on fish houses left out past the deadline. Enforcement action was also taken for no license, no registration, and burning tires. Training was also completed.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports working a detail at Lake of the Woods with COs Seamans and Sura. Poor ice conditions in most of central Minnesota sent many anglers farther north. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, angling without a license, unattended lines, illegal-sized fish, unlawful possession of fillets, and possession of controlled substances.

CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) patrolled for anglers and recreational vehicle operators. Time was spent working a detail on Lake of the Woods. Enforcement action was taken for failing to display valid snowmobile registration, angling with extra lines, angling with unattended lines, and placing a non-portable shelter on the ice without a license. One angler was contacted in a portable shelter off by himself. When Seamans knocked on the window, the angler threw a fishing pole out of his hands. The check revealed the angler was fishing with extra lines and fishing after having his license revoked for a gross overlimit in 2020.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers and area lakes for shelter removal compliance. Calls were taken about injured animals, wetland violations, and dogs chasing deer.


CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked ice anglers and worked ice shelter removal. A trespass complaint was investigated. Several animal-related calls were handled.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking anglers and checking shelters for the shelter removal deadline. Krauel also spent time testifying in court and on equipment maintenance.

Turn in Poachers (TIP) line 800-652-9093, 24/7, or #TIP - MnDNR CO Reports

Aviation Section

Standby Enforcement Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) conducted training flights.

NR (Natural Reources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew three telemetry wolf pack count flights. Pack counts are done unless we receive significant snowfall.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying shelter removal flights and a wolf pack telemetry flight. Jensen also flew a helicopter proficiency flight. Violations found during flights were a possible WCA violation, shelters on the ice past the deadline and an illegal/unpermitted aeration system in operation.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed a training review in a helicopter with another pilot, and did a training flight in the airplane as well. He assisted with a deer count near Lakeville in preparation for a special CWD deer hunt. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed an instrument proficiency check and aircraft check out. Telemetry flights were completed and area lakes were checked for shelters out past the deadline.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on training. Time was spent updating cases and checking violation sites. Anglers and shelter removal were monitored.


WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) spent the past week working on cases in his assigned area. Meetings and project group work was conducted during the week. Time was spent on monitoring lakes for fish house removal and late-ice rip-rap projects on shorelines.

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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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