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CO Reports: Bear baiting in full swing; season opens Sept. 1

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Aug. 25, 2020

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tom Hutchins (Crookston) spent time following up on multiple wetland violation cases. Anglers and watercraft operators were checked on area lakes. Various angling and boating related violations were found.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) assisted at an event in St. Paul, started paperwork for wetland complaints and investigated a wolf-depredation complaint.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) began Step 1 of field training with COC Victoria Griffith. They worked angling and boating activity on area lakes as well as Lake Winnibigoshish. The bite has slowed with the warm late-August weather. They also worked a boat and water detail on Lake Vermilion. Numerous contacts were made and boaters are reminded to bring a sufficient number of PFDs for occupants on board. The officers worked ATV activity on area trails and forest roads and followed up on nuisance-bear complaints.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports beginning Step I of field training with recent DNR Enforcement Academy graduate COC Vincent Brown. The officers went over expectations for this phase of training and Brown was introduced to the Perham station. The COs assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office with a fatal boating accident on Otter Tail Lake. An escaped deer farm deer was spotted and the owner contacted. Efforts are being made to retrieve the deer. Enforcement action was taken for unattended lines on a dock, parking violations at public water accesses, riding on the rear deck and gunwales and camping at a public access.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week working sport fishing, bear baiting, and ATV activity throughout the Detroit Lakes area. Several area bear hunters have been having success with many bears being seen on camera and baits being hit. Swedberg also followed up on several aquatic plant/shoreline cases and other wetland complaints.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked trespass and aquatic plant removal complaints. He also monitored bear-bait sites.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling and boating activity. AIS inspections were performed for compliance. Areas were checked for bear-baiting activity. Patrol was conducted for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Information was provided on bear hunting, private boat launches and firearms use on personal property.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked fishing enforcement this past week. The nice weather brought out a fair number of anglers. No fishing license in possession and expired registration were the most common violations observed. He checked boaters and PWC operators on area lakes. PWC violations observed were driving too close to shore at faster than no-wake speed. Boating violations observed were no registration and insufficient PFDs. He received a complaint of a bowfisher dumping rough fish at public accesses. Complaints of bears knocking over bird feeders and getting into garbage also received attention.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time during the past week on ATV, fishing and boating enforcement. Bear baiting is in full swing. Remember to read the rules to prevent violations, as many people wait several years to get drawn. The hunting season is approaching fast, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the regulations.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking bear baits, ATV riders and watercrafts and anglers. Enforcement action was taken for angling without an angling license in personal possession, operating a personal watercraft after legal hours, and taking fish without a license.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked anglers, ATV riders, and bear-baiting activity. She assisted with an ATV accident and investigated shoreline violations.


District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) focused work on anglers this past week. Some lakes are producing a decent panfish bite. ATV riders were checked with nice weather days leading to a lot of ATV use. He attended the Academy graduation for Honor Guard duties.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked Cass and Crow Wing county lakes throughout the past week. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling and boating violations. He also assisted local law enforcement agencies with calls for service. McGowan also started phase one of field training with a new officer from the Conservation Officer Academy.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked fishing, ATV, wild rice and bear-baiting activity this past week. Best took enforcement action for a panfish overlimit, altering the course of a waterway and various ATV issues. In one stop on a Class 2 ATV the following issues were addressed: over capacity, no seatbelts or helmets worn by juveniles, no ATV safety, open container, age of operator and no valid driver’s license in a roadway.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked ATV, bear-baiting, watercraft and angling activity. Invasive species work was done at landings and a lakebed alteration case was worked.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) patrolled the Foot Hills State Forest and checked watercrafts and ATVs. He checked anglers on Loon Lake for licenses as well as proper boating safety equipment. Sullivan also conducted ATV enforcement, with enforcement action taken for unlawful youth operation.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity. Another warm week bolstered water recreation activity. Hunting is on a lot of people’s minds as they were sighting rifles, scouting areas, and inquiring about safety classes.


CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) handled several nuisance-bear complaints where crops were heavily damaged. Bear baits were checked. Wetland and public waters complaints were taken and several questions regarding bear hunting were answered. Speldrich also assisted the county on a suicidal person call.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on bear-baiting sites, ATV activity, and boating safety checks. Enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, along with riding on the bow of a boat at high speeds. Starr assisted with a water-skiing accident in which the injured person needed to be airlifted. A strong storm also called for action, as live power lines were down on public roads. State park campers were also checked on during the storm.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) started the field training process with COC Zachary Larson this past week. The officers spent time patrolling area lakes, public lands, and familiarizing Larson with the Sauk Centre station. Time was also patrolling Big Sauk and Big Birch lakes. Enforcement action for the week included operating watercraft without proper navigation lights, PWC operating after hours, illegal-length northern pike, and no license in possession. A public-nuisance complaint was investigated on the Sauk River and an AIS complaint was also received, resulting in an ongoing investigation for transporting zebra mussels.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) followed up on wetland and shoreline concerns. He received calls in regards to zebra mussels attached to a boat lift and jet ski operation concerns. Calls from the public about upcoming hunting seasons were addressed.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports monitoring bear baiting, angling, and ATV activity. He also served a cease and desist order on a public waters violation and continues to investigate other public water and wetland violations. Enforcement action for the week consisted of several children under 10 years old not wearing life jackets as required, no sound-producing device, illegal-length northern pike in possession and several registration-related violations. One angler who did not have the required fire extinguisher observed Seifermann launch his patrol boat. He admitted he knew he didn’t have a fire extinguisher but took a chance at it.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of his time working bear-baiting activity in the new 451 zone. Several cases were made including an unregistered bait station, litter, and unattended property in a WMA. Bertram fielded many questions regarding the upcoming hunting seasons and trespass laws.

District 12 - Princeton area


CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking anglers. He also followed up on a potential wetland violation and checked bear baits.

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports working boat and ATV patrols. Citations were issued for lack of life jackets. Illegal camping was also enforced on state lands.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and boaters. A complaint of leaving property on a WMA was investigated and several animal-related complaints were handled.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers, ATV riders, watercrafts, and bear baits. Time was also spent on public water and wetland site inspections, taking hunting-related calls, and looking into litter complaints.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) attended online pilot training seminars.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf telemetry flight and attended to maintenance on his truck. Heineman also worked on training.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports completing two days for the northeastern Minnesota wild rice aerial survey. This survey consists of documenting wild rice density, percent coverage, and swan usage on 100 shallow lakes. Overall, rice abundance looks good across northeast Minnesota.


CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying an APM flight and a WCA photo flight during the week in support of field officers. Jensen also completed an instrument proficiency check ride.

NR Pilot Brad Maas(Brainerd) completed the helicopter aerial cattail spraying project on state wildlife management areas. 1,800 acres were sprayed this year, making a total of 10,000 acres sprayed during the 4 years of the project. Wildlife managers report the efforts are beginning to produce more open water.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on AIS issues. APM, WCA and public waters cases were updated, and COs, local government units and hydrologists consulted on cases. Time was spent on a special detail in the metro area. State forest areas were patrolled, a trespass call was investigated, and WMAs were patrolled for activity. Boating and ATV activity was monitored.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) conducted site visits in Pine County and conducted case follow up. AIS enforcement was worked and calls for service were answered. AIS training for Cook County deputies was conducted.

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