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CO Reports: Careless ATV operation results in enforcement action

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - August 17, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jim Guida (Brainerd East) Enforcement action was taken on an operator of a Class 2 ATV who stated he was operating his side-by-side 68 miles per hour down the highway. In addition to careless operation, the operator was advised the local road authority ordinance restricts operation to 30 miles or less on that county road.

Guida also patrolled for all-terrain vehicle activity and illegal burning. He also monitored activity including early bear baiting. Guida assisted the local ATV club in instructing approximately 30 youth in all-terrain vehicle operation at an ATV safety class.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) handled numerous burning complaints and a few nuisance-animal calls. Enforcement action was taken this week for no helmets, expired registration, allowing operation of unregistered watercraft, allowing a smoldering fire, and activities involving illegal fireworks.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking ATV riders, bear hunters, and wild rice harvesters. Wild rice opener turnout was low due to low water, unripe rice in many areas, and windy conditions. Enforcement action was taken for wetland damage, ATV helmet violations, and illegal dirt bike riding. A trapping education class was also put on.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) attended a kids fishing day on Gull Lake. Youth anglers were taken out on Gull Lake with area law enforcement officers as their guides. The competition was strong. A youth angler guided by Brainerd and Crosby police department officers took the largest-fish honors. Sullivan also patrolled area lakes and ATV trails.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) focused on ATV activity this week. ATV activity remains busy through the month of August. The most common violation encountered is minors on ATVs not wearing helmets. There has been an increasing number of Class 2 ATVs with adults riding with minors without helmets. Griffith reminds riders that anyone under 18 must be wearing a helmet while riding both Class 1 and 2 ATVs. After citing an adult rider for multiple minors without helmets, the rider sent their significant other to Griffith’s location to complain and swear at her. Bear baiting has started and activity was monitored. Angling activity was also monitored on Mille Lacs Lake. A litter complaint was followed up on. Enforcement action was taken on several ATV violations, angling with extra lines, no life jackets, and boat safety violations.


CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) observes fall on the horizon: Bear baiting started, leaves are changing color (due to drought-related stress), and hunting questions are rolling in. He worked Game Fair, assisted with another agency’s investigation, and looked into early hunting complaints.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) continued to deal with complaints of bears destroying field corn and wolves harassing and killing livestock. Several wolves were removed from one farm after an adult cow was taken down and killed. The start of the bear-baiting season also created a few complaints of trespassing and reports of baiting violations.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this week checking boaters and anglers. Many anglers were reporting a slow bite. Time was also spent checking for early bear baiting activity.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending a firearms safety class in Crookston. Time was also spent checking anglers, working on wetland cases, and following up on a wolf-depredation case. A wildfire case was investigated in Roseau County.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) handled several nuisance-bear complaints.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling and boating activity on area lakes. ATV trails were patrolled and several nuisance-animal calls were taken.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports issuing resource protection notifications for the area hydrologist for potential public waters violations. He also looked into TIPs of possible overlimits from anglers staying at local resorts and fielded calls related to injured or sick raccoons, skunks and foxes. The dry conditions are stressing area wildlife and diseased animals are becoming a common occurrence. People are reminded to stay clear of possibly sick animals. If one is dispatched, the small-game mammal should be carefully bagged and disposed of in the trash or buried. Notification to the local conservation officer is required if a protected animal is dispatched.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) worked ATV and boating enforcement this week. Boating traffic has really slowed on area lakes as many families are cleaning up their lake cabins for the year and water levels remain low. Swedberg also assisted with an interview for North Dakota Game and Fish. North Dakota officers will follow up with any charges or citations. Swedberg assisted Becker County with several calls for service throughout the week.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted with a commercial minnow case, responded to a wildlife-related complaint, and assisted local law enforcement.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent checking bear-bait stations.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and boating activity. AIS compliance was monitored. A complaint of digging in a wetland was investigated and a nuisance-bear complaint was worked with DNR Wildlife staff. Warren assisted Becker County and White Earth police with a domestic dispute.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports completing equipment maintenance and preparing for the upcoming hunting seasons. He also reports speaking at a firearms safety class in Staples, fielding nuisance-bear reports and patrolling the state forest campground.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) continued to patrol for ATV and boating activity. Kunst responded to a crash in the Remer area and prepared for bear-baiting season.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for recreational vehicles, angling, boating, and bear-baiting activity. Baum spoke at two firearms safety classes. He received a TIP complaint about fishing with extra lines, which resulted in enforcement action. Baum also took enforcement action for numerous violations, including no license in possession and operating an ATV on a public road right-of-way.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) assisted in the rescue of six people whose boat capsized. She also attend lake association meetings and investigated a shoreline complaint. Enforcement action was taken for bear-hunting and fishing violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked anglers and boating activity throughout the week. He also spent time investigating an arson fire. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent the week working bear-baiting, ATV, and fishing activity. Several burn-ban violations were encountered in Huntersville State Forest. Currently, no fires are allowed on DNR-managed lands in the station.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked on bear-related items, including testing and reviewing the updated bear-bait registration website and looking for early bear baits. Boating, angling, ATV, and AIS enforcement were also worked.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked off-highway vehicle enforcement, checked local anglers, and continued work on an ongoing case. Cross also spoke at the Walker Rotary Club meeting. Finally, Cross gave assistance to local biologists in tracking a collar that had been placed on a small wolf pup. It was eventually found, that the collar had broken off the wolf and the pup was no longer in the area.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) continued to work his new station and meet and work with local law enforcement and other DNR division partners. Westby worked shore anglers who were experiencing a slow bit due to the low water. Westby also received bear-related complaints and worked ATVs in the area.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored ATV activity, checked anglers, worked AIS, took multiple calls about nuisance bears destroying crops, and assisted with a trapper education class at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) attended an Honor Guard meeting during the week. Assistance and instruction was provided at a trapping education class at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Silgjord also patrolled the station for ATV and AIS activity.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling, boating, and AIS activity. He handled calls concerning the upcoming firearms deer season. He also worked on preparing for an upcoming firearms safety class.

CO Leah Kampa (Annandale) reports checking anglers and conducting ATV enforcement. Time was spent conducting equipment maintenance and investigating a public waters violation. Enforcement action for the week included failure to have a burning permit, fishing without a license, no navigation lights and failure to display current registration on watercraft.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) taught at a trapper education class and assisted the local sheriff’s office with a felony warrant arrest. Bear baiters were also checked.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week patrolling for angling and ATV activity. Krauel also followed up on several wetland and trespass complaints. Violations for the week included angling without a license, juvenile without a helmet on an ATV, driving with a revoked driver’s license, possession of drug paraphernalia, and fishing after fishing privileges are revoked.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying creel surveys and fire detection flights. Jensen also attended various aviation meetings.

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) conducted several fisheries survey flights.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued with helicopter spraying of hybrid cattails on state WMAs. Only a few plots were completed near Karlstad due to strong winds most of the week.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) flew wild rice flights. He flew multiple mapping flights in northwestern Minnesota.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on open cases and updating records. Several cases were closed out with satisfactory completions. Time was spent answering questions regarding AIS and wildlife. Several new cases were opened and work with local government units and hydrologists was conducted.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) finished assisting state and federal partners with fire duty near Ely. Time was sent on updated case files and answering calls for service. A site inspection was conducted near Emily on a possible shoreline violation. AIS and ATV enforcement was worked near the Cross Lake area.

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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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