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CO Reports: Check your boat out before first use this year

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 30, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) spent the week checking ATV riders and anglers. Time was spent on the Rainy River with a focus on angling and boat and water safety enforcement. Just a reminder: As you take your boat out for the first trip of the year, remember to ensure it has all required safety equipment, as well as up-to-date registration.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked area lakes for angling activity. Ice conditions have deteriorated enough where anglers are unable to get out on to the lakes. He worked a boat and water safety detail with CO McGowan on the Rainy River. The river was very busy, with sturgeon and walleyes being caught in most areas. Several boating safety violations were detected.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reminds people that burn permits are now required if they’d like to clean up leaf and brush debris. The dry spring and windy conditions make for a high risk of wildfires. Ice conditions have deteriorated to the point where the ice fishing season has come to an end in the area. Vinton, along with WREO Joe Stattelman, worked a detail on the Rainy River. The river has opened all the way to Lake of the Woods and anglers were finding both sturgeon and walleyes. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display watercraft registration and litter.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) wrapped up a deer wanton waste case and looked for spring trappers.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week following up on ongoing cases. Swedberg continues to work on cases from the deer season and also followed up on a TIP complaint of someone who was angling without a license during the late ice fishing season.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked forest road closures and ATV and OHM enforcement. He also assisted on a search warrant.


CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, trapping and ATV enforcement. He investigated a report of a dog possibly killed by wolves. Time was also spent responding to miscellaneous wildlife-related calls.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) monitored activity in area WMAs and waterfowl production areas. Patrol was conducted for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Leeching activity was monitored as ponds continue to open. Patrol for illegal fire activity was conducted.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV operators, and monitoring spring fish run activity. Additional time was spent following up on a potential trapping violation.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) spent the week working recreational vehicle activity and trapping. Time was also spent following up on miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints. Holt followed up on ongoing investigations and monitored spring fish run activity.

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports checking open-water anglers and monitoring the early stages of the fish run. Time was spent patrolling public areas and answering questions related to upcoming seasons.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) watched this week as ice on station lakes started to pull away from shore. There haven’t been any boats sighted on the water yet, but they’re not far off. WMAs and WPAs were patrolled for illegal deer stands, as well as turkey hunters preparing for their hunts. Calls about injured- and car-killed animals were handled, as was a taxidermy inspection.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued training COC Nicholas Baum this week. Mathy and Baum patrolled the Park Rapids area and the Rainy River. Mathy and Baum observed ATV activity in the Park Rapids area, with a violations for failure to update a driver’s license, operating an ATV without headlights on, and operating an ATV in the road right-of-way without a valid driver’s license. While patrolling the Rainy River, Mathy and Baum encountered violations for no license in possession and failure to have safety equipment for watercraft. Mathy and Baum conducted multiple commercial checks for taxidermy. Mathy and Baum want to remind recreational vehicle users to check the status of trails before operating on them.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time enforcing trapping regulations, with enforcement action taken for trapping without a small-game license and untagged traps. Kunst also took a call regarding an incidental otter trapped in a beaver set.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time during the week completing training. Equipment maintenance was completed in preparation for the open-water season. A wolf-depredation incident was also investigated.

CO Mike Cross (Lake George) worked spring trapping and angling on the Rainy River. He also assisted the sheriff’s office with setting up a landing zone for the medic helicopter, and responded to a bear-related complaint. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, no license in possession, no watercraft registration, and watercraft safety violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) stored snowmobile equipment and prepared watercraft equipment for use. Guida investigated a complaint of a dirt bike being illegally operated in the public road ditch, tearing up road approaches. Guida also received a call of an accidentally trapped otter from a beaver trapper.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked a trapping case, prepped watercraft for the open-water season and completed some commercial inspections. Closed forest roads and ATV trails were worked as they are currently closed.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked area lakes for angling activity. McGowan also worked the Rainy River, where numerous boats were observed. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license, narcotics, angling with extra lines, keeping walleyes out of season, and numerous boating violations.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) patrolled for early spring activities this week. Some anglers caught fish, but ice conditions are deteriorating fast. ATV trails remain closed and will be until at least the first couple weeks in May. Spring trapping has also picked up.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) checked area lakes. Ice conditions along shorelines are deteriorating quickly. Ice fishing activity was low. Sullivan patrolled spring closure areas and checked for illegal ATV operation. Sullivan also contacted a subject with a warrant. The individual was arrested.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking anglers during the week and weekend. Most reported a slow fish bite and also quickly deteriorating ice conditions. Patrol was done in the SRA for park passes and illegal vehicle activity and time was spent monitoring closed trails in the SRA. Fitzgerald spent time getting summer equipment ready. Many outdoor law-related questions were fielded throughout the week and weekend. Enforcement action was taken for various SRA violations.


CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked trapping, ATV and angling activity. A swan that apparently hit power lines was recovered and outdoor information was shared on the local radio station.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ATV traffic as ditches became snow-free and are drying out. Ice anglers were checked and a fish house was removed early in the week, but area ice has since become mostly inaccessible from shore. Beaver trappers were checked and some abandoned boats were addressed.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored ATV and angling activity in the Isle area. Shore anglers were checked in Isle Bay. Trapping activity was also monitored. Griffith also spent time throughout the week on equipment maintenance. Assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies on calls.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling area for fishing, trapping, and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for burning without a permit. She also worked on training, equipment maintenance, and presented a 40 years of service award to a local Minnesota DNR firearms safety instructor.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) checked late-season ice anglers and early season river anglers. A fish house was successfully removed from Mille Lacs Lake. Equipment items were also addressed, along with a case of trapper harassment. Starr also assisted local law enforcement with a felon in possession of a firearm when a coyote was shot on the ice of a lake.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked ATV/OHM, trapping, and burning activity over the past week. Time was spent completing training, equipment maintenance, and a litter investigation. Calls were fielded about trapping, sport netting, and wildlife management areas.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) talked to youths at a firearms safety class held in Little Falls, monitored ATV activity, and responded to a call of an injured sandhill crane. Enforcement action was taken for failure to obtain a burning permit.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week checking angling locations. A call regarding swans killed by a power line was investigated. A career presentation was also provided to natural resources law students at Central Lakes College.


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity this week. He helped a neighboring officer remove tree stands from WMAs. VanderWeyst observed a large influx of bald eagles in the area this week.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports seeing the Mississippi River completely ice-free as well as an increase in shore anglers. Enforcement action consisted of angling without a license, targeting fish in a closed season and illegally bowfishing in the early bowfishing season. He conducted ATV enforcement and investigated several litter complaints where fish and game animals were dumped in local ditches.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Krauel also spent time patrolling for ATV enforcement and assisted the county with a drug arrest.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) concluded several deer-hunting investigations. Citations were given for hunting without licenses, overlimits, and untagged deer. ATV laws were enforced in the area. Anglers were checked sucker fishing along the Rum and Elk rivers. Benkofske also assisted local departments with impaired individuals.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) completed training, checked anglers, and worked on equipment maintenance. Calls were taken about injured animals, burning restrictions, and litter.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked ice anglers and ATV riders. A trespass complaint was investigated. Animal-related calls were handled.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) attended a pilot meeting and online training.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) reports flying wolf telemetry as well as attending an online pilot meeting and various other administrative tasks.


Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports attending a quarterly pilot meeting and completing administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of setting up aircraft into floats/summer configuration. Jensen attended an online pilot meeting and worked on training tasks for the Aviation Unit.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) followed up on helicopter maintenance and fuel trailer inspection issues, and attended the quarterly pilot meeting. Safety items, staffing and spring planning of upcoming flights were discussed. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) reports the final shelter flights of the season were completed. Aircraft maintenance was completed. He attended the quarterly pilot meeting.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on open cases and following up with local government units and hydrologists on new case status. A work detail on the Rainy River was done. Focus was on fishing activity, boating safety and AIS law compliance.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued to work on cases in his assigned area. Training was conducted for POST-mandated classes. Spring fishing and ATV activity were monitored and closed forest roads where checked.

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