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CO Reports: Busy waterfowl opener - varied success

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Sept 29, 2020

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports following up on an archery deer-hunting violation case. He also spent time checking anglers. Several duck hunters were contacted on opening weekend and reported varied success. Various angling and waterfowl-hunting related violations were encountered this past week.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked fall hunters and answered nuisance-animal complaints.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy opening weekend of the regular waterfowl season. Most lakes were busy Saturday morning with hunters taking mainly blue-winged teal, wood ducks, and ring necks. Individuals enjoyed the nice weather on Saturday and area ATV trails were busy. Forest roads were busy with individuals grouse hunting. Vollbrecht attended a qualification shoot at Camp Ripley.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a moderately successful duck opener for many hunters. Vinton checked one 13-year-old hunter who shot their first duck on the wing! The young hunter was very excited about it. Duck hunters from boats should be reminded that PFDs are required in watercraft used for duck hunting, and it’s recommended they be worn as water temperatures are falling fast. Boats coming off area lakes for the season were inspected for AIS and a caller reported finding a dead osprey in their yard. A TIP call of anglers using extra lines was investigated. Enforcement action was taken for no licenses in possession and no PFDs.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week preparing for the waterfowl opener and working boating activity. There were many boaters out enjoying the nice weather throughout the week. There was plenty of shooting during the opening weekend of waterfowl hunting. Many hunters were able to get either teal, mallards, or wood ducks in the bag. Overall, most groups got in plenty of shooting. Enforcement action for the week included no state waterfowl stamp, recreational trespass, transporting loaded guns in a motor vehicle, no navigational lights on a boat, and no life jacket for a juvenile under 10 years old.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked duck and grouse hunters and attended training. New complaints of trespass, baiting and shooting from the road were worked, as were ongoing cases.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling and boating activity, with anglers reporting fair success. AIS compliance checks were performed. Areas were patrolled for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Small-game and archery hunting activity was worked. Warren worked the waterfowl opening weekend, with hunters having good success. A complaint of trespass was investigated.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) continued to work with COC Meng Moua. The officers checked anglers and worked the waterfowl opener checking hunters. Blue-winged teal and wood ducks were most common during opener weekend, with a few groups having a good mixed bag of waterfowl. A hunter-harassment complaint call was investigated and officers also investigated a complaint call of wolf stalking livestock. Enforcement action taken included taking illegal-length northern pike, operating an off-highway motorcycle in the road right-of-way ditch, transporting a loaded firearm in a motorized watercraft, shooting from a moving motorized watercraft, hunter harassment, and trespassing.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time working the waterfowl opener, as well as small-game and archery deer-hunting activity. Duck hunters were numerous with decent numbers of wood ducks, mallards and teal seen. Time was also spent completing ongoing investigations related to big-game, public waters, and aquatic plant violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked waterfowl, small-game, and deer-hunting activity. She assisted with a search for a lost/injured grouse hunter. Duck hunters in the area had limited success, with mostly blue-winged teal being harvested. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession while hunting and failure to display registration.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports another busy week in the area. Many duck hunters were out, and wood ducks and blue-winged teal were seen the most. Reports of hunting in a refuge, littering, and an overlimit-of-fish complaint were investigated. Enforcement action was taken for angling and duck-hunting violations.


CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked the waterfowl opener this past weekend. Hunters had fair success, and the most common ducks harvested were blue-winged teal and mallards. Violations observed included no lights, no PFDs and expired registration. Anglers this past week had success chasing crappies, bass and muskies. Complaints of ATVs on the roads and ditches causing damage near Pillager received some enforcement time.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking small-game and migratory waterfowl hunters. Multiple hunters were checked this past weekend during waterfowl opener. Kunst took enforcement action for failure to have a state migratory waterfowl stamp and failure to have hunting licenses in personal possession. Enforcement action throughout the week also included a small amount of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and ATV operation on a state highway.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) reports a busy past week, capped off by the waterfowl opener. Ladd and a CO trainee worked small-game, waterfowl and ATV enforcement. Ladd worked a trespass complaint and a complaint of a hunter shooting a swan. She also worked ATV enforcement and made two arrests for DWI.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked a busy waterfowl opener over the weekend. Violations detected included no federal stamp, unsigned federal stamp, unplugged gun, no HIP certification, no license in possession and insufficient number of PFDs. Guida worked with another CO and addressed numerous waterfowl and an extra-line angling violation. One two-person group was checked and displayed immediate remorse for an admitted overlimit of wood ducks. The hunters were relieved and just “ducky” when the officer team advised them that their ducks were actually six green- and blue-winged teal. Guida also received requests for permits for a road-killed bobcat and mink.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) worked waterfowl opener on area lakes and rivers. Most hunters were seeing blue-winged teal and wood ducks. Violations detected included unplugged shotguns, no waterfowl stamps and shooting during closed hours. Sullivan observed a large number of anglers fishing in the area and ATV use continues to be high.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked waterfowl- and bear-hunting, as well as angling activity. A waterfowler reported a swan shooting, which resulted in charges. Time was also spent on the local radio station discussing outdoor topics.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing counties for waterfowl-hunting activity. Numerous hunters were checked over the weekend. McGowan also attended Division training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for numerous waterfowl-hunting violations.


CO Scot Fitzgerald CCSRA (Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area) reports checking a few duck hunters over the weekend, most of whom had harvested a few ducks. He also assisted with a work detail and a local agency with a call for service. Time was spent checking the park for vehicle permits and illegal vehicle activity. Many law-related questions were answered during the week, and Fitzgerald helped with some Division training earlier in the week. Fishing activity was also monitored around the recreation area. Enforcement action was taken for park violations and OHM violations.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw a busy duck opener. Many hunters got out and saw mixed results. No limits of birds were seen, and a few got skunked. Most bags were somewhere in between full and empty. He took a call of a swan injured in an electric fence. The fence was turned off and the swan was gone before he arrived. Flerlage attended training in Duluth and at Camp Ripley. He also assisted the sheriff’s office with a fatal crash.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked hunting, fishing and ATV enforcement this past week. Enforcement action was taken for litter and no PFDs. Trespassing and baiting cases were also investigated.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) worked waterfowl opener. The few hunters out had success. Speldrich investigated a littering complaint and hunting-deer-over-bait complaint. The most recreational activity observed over the weekend was recreational vehicle activity. Class 2 ATV operators, please remember that you are not a car and are not allowed to drive right down the lane of traffic. Rather, you must operate on the extreme right. Also, if you are planning to operate in Pine County state forests, these are limited class state forests. That means you may only operate where there are signs showing that you can. Stay out of areas marked “no motorized vehicles” and take your litter with you.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked waterfowl opener and found a few birds in the bag. He encountered violations for no small-game license, no federal duck stamp, and no state duck stamp. ATV riders and grouse hunters were worked as well, with a loaded gun and no-license violations found.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) spent time this past week preparing for, and working, waterfowl opener. Success varied for duck hunters on area lakes. Small-game hunters showed some success hunting gray squirrel but low success hunting grouse. Time was also spent training at Camp Ripley and in Duluth. Enforcement action was taken for transporting loaded firearms in a motor vehicle, hunting migratory waterfowl without a state waterfowl stamp, unsigned federal duck stamp, insufficient PFDs onboard watercraft, juvenile passenger on an ATV without a helmet, operating an ATV without headlights on, operating an ATV with more passengers than allowed, and burning without a permit.

District 11 - St. Cloud area


CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) attended in-service training and assisted with firearms qualification. Fall angling activity is picking up on area lakes with a decent walleye bite being seen. The waterfowl opener was worked and a decent number of birds were seen in the area and most hunters were finding some success. While patrolling, Silgjord checked several anglers at an area dam. One of the anglers checked didn’t have any fish but he did happen to catch a citation for illegal possession of marijuana. Other violations for the week included no federal duck stamp, no small-game license, unplugged shotgun, and insufficient number of PFDs.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) found a large number of people out using the resources. He stayed extremely busy with waterfowl-hunting activity. VanderWeyst handled many nuisance-animal calls, ranging from distempered raccoons to turkeys attempting to get into a local discount store. Apparently, they wanted to beat the after-Thanksgiving crowds, or perhaps they had a premonition they may be unavailable then.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports a busy waterfowl opener. Numerous calls were fielded in regards to trespass and people concerned with hunters shooting too close to their homes. Stearns County requested assistance with a hunter who was threatening other hunters. He was eventually located and charged with disorderly conduct. Other enforcement action consisted of an unplugged gun, no PFD on a waterfowl boat, no license in possession and several angling violations. Reports of an eagle and sandhill crane being shot were investigated. Additional follow up was conducted on ongoing big-game incidents. He reports seeing a strong walleye and smallmouth bass bite on the Mississippi River. A reminder that smallmouth bass are catch and release only from Sept. 14 through Feb. 28, 2021.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) found most duck hunters on opening weekend with a bird or two. Teal and wood ducks were the most common in the bag. Enforcement action was taken for license violations, unplugged guns, and early shooting. A call of a fawn deer wearing an orange collar was also taken.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking duck hunters and small-game hunters. Krauel also worked a metro detail. Enforcement action was taken for an unplugged shotgun, no federal duck stamp, no license in possession and an overlimit of ducks. Two arrests were made for felony arrest warrants.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and hunters. Violations were found for no licenses/stamps, unattended lines, and waterfowl hunting while in possession of lead. A litter complaint was investigated and animal-related calls handled.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) worked the waterfowl opener, check bear and small-game hunters, and checked complaint ATV areas. Enforcement action was taken for license violations, taking cormorants, expired watercraft registration, and a discharge-of-firearm violation.


Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew a fall recon flight for a few different officers.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf pup telemetry flight and gave a CO pilot his annual low-level ride.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports completing online mandatory employee training, flying a search for a shot swan and working area ATV trails. Jensen also worked Gull Lake and took enforcement action for no PFD on a personal watercraft, extra lines and an unregistered personal watercraft. He also investigated a potential waters violation.

NR Pilot Bread Maas (Brainerd) did refresher training in the helicopter with one pilot, and moved a helicopter for fire duty. He also attended an aviation webinar and worked on helicopter maintenance tasks.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on open cases and coordinating with local government units and field officers. Time was spent working the duck opener. Trespass, illegal party hunting, and license/stamp violations were encountered. ATV and boating activity was worked, as was AIS law compliance.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked the waterfowl opener over the past weekend. Most hunters had success and a few eagles took advantage of downed birds before hunters could retrieve them. Cases in his assigned area were worked on and AIS enforcement was conducted. Haberman also assisted Cass County with a search for a diabetic hunter.


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