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CO Reports: Clean up your campsites before you leave

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - June 28, 2022

Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) this was the worst weekend of the summer so far for the amount of garbage left behind at dispersed campsites in the state forest. Pack out what you take in.

CO Best spent the week on ATV, boating and fishing activities. Complaints of aquatic vegetation cutting were also handled. No helmets on kids in/on ATVs is still an issue.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area spent time working at Camp Ripley instructing at the Academy. Time was also spent assisting the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Randall with flooding after heavy rains.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled for angling and all-terrain vehicle activity. Guida assisted with the DNR Academy at Camp Ripley and responded to flooding in the area. The area was saturated from recent rain events and received 4 to 6 inches of rain overnight. Area ATV trails and numerous gravel roads were underwater and washed out, requiring repair and maintenance. Operators should use caution and avoid these areas until repairs are completed and water levels lower.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers and ATV riders throughout the area. State parks and campgrounds were patrolled. Nuisance-animal calls were handled. Enforcement action was taken for no life jackets, extra lines, speeding, and drug paraphernalia.

CO Calie Kunst (Crosslake) spent time patrolling fishing, boating and ATV activity throughout the week. Multiple violations were found and addressed. Kunst also took calls on nuisance-bear and -beaver complaints.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled for boating and angling activity throughout the week. Assistance was also provided in the Randall area, where flooding occurred.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) handled a variety of nuisance-animal complaints, primarily nuisance bears. Assistance was also provided in Randall due to the flooding.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked primarily in the enforcement of angling, boating, and off-highway vehicles. Cross also attended training at Camp Ripley. Additionally, he took calls on an injured eagle, nuisance bears, and in reference to a timber wolf. Enforcement action was taken for watercraft, angling, and off-highway vehicle violations.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) received multiple nuisance-bear reports. She also investigated a shoreline violation and attended a youth fishing tournament.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports assisting with flooding in Randall, checking anglers and conducting ATV/OHM enforcement. He also received miscellaneous animal-related calls and a call about a suspicious person in the state forest. Enforcement action consisted of no OHM registration, failure to transfer OHM, no ATV safety training, failure to display ATV registration numbers, operating too fast for trail conditions and operating without headlights when required.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling, boating, and recreational vehicle activity. He observed various violations and took enforcement action. Baum wants to remind boaters to inspect boats for required safety equipment prior to launching.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and recreational vehicles. Mathy investigated a report that an ATV was operating on a paved non-motorized trail and had driven over freshly poured concrete, causing rutting and damage. Nuisance-bear complaints were received. Enforcement action was taken for angling, boating, and ATV violations.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) patrolled area lakes, checked anglers and boaters, and responded to wildlife-related calls. A large Norway pine tree containing an eagle nest was downed in a storm, resulting in an eaglet becoming trapped and abandoned. The eaglet was freed from the branches it was trapped behind and was transported to a wildlife rehab facility. Enforcement action was taken this week for possession of fish within the protected slot, no fishing licenses in possession, possession of fully dressed walleye fillets, and possession of an overlimit of walleyes.

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CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) patrolled recreational vehicle trails and checked anglers during the previous week. Time was also spent monitoring AIS compliance in the area. Holt took nuisance-bear complaints and checked special regulation lakes. Enforcement activity involved ATV and OHM violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked recreational boating, angling and ATV activity this past week with summer in full swing. Sutherland took enforcement action for failing to allow a watercraft to be inspected before entering a waterway, not having enough life-saving devices aboard a watercraft and angling with extra lines.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) took several nuisance-animal and -wildlife complaints. It is the time of year when people are starting to come across what appear to be abandoned fawn deer. Please remember that a majority of the time these fawns are not truly abandoned, their mother is nearby, and it is best to leave them alone.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity where aquatic vegetation growth becomes more of a transportation issue every week. ATV traffic was monitored, including some areas of wetland rutting. Verkuilen also assisted with equipment maintenance, investigated a trespassing complaint, and issued a nuisance-beaver permit.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked angling activity on area lakes throughout the week. Fishing success has been hit or miss. ATV activity was a focus through the weekend. The trails were busy with many riders out enjoying the weather. Enforcement action was taken for multiple boating and ATV violations. A litter complaint on public land is also being followed up on.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked fishing, boating, and ATV activities. Overall outdoor recreation activities seem to be down, with public access areas found empty. Nuisance-animal calls continue. A wolf-depredation case was investigated in which a beef calf was killed just north of Milaca. A safety talk was also given at the start of a large bowfishing tournament.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) patrolled public water accesses, checked anglers, conducted routine equipment maintenance, and attended online training. Activity was down and anglers report that the fish bite has been inconsistent.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) reports activity in the area remained busy with fishing and boating. Some ATV activity was observed this weekend, with registration and transferring ownership the most common violations. He also assisted neighboring officers with flash-flooding concerns.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the week at training. Anglers and boaters were checked. Follow up was conducted on Wetland Conservation Act violations.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) followed up with miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints and water resource violations. He contacted a boat operator with registration from 2017. Enforcement action was taken.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew a wood duck survey flight and continued training for the Cessna 185 airframe.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying an APM flight in central Minnesota, completing required spin training and assisting with photo/situation report efforts at the flood located in the City of Randall.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed a training flight in a helicopter and also spin training in an airplane. He worked on plans for the upcoming cattail spray project, and also completed administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed the Red River mapping flight. He provided emergency maneuver training to unit pilots. Photographer introductory flights were conducted. He attended to current and upcoming aircraft maintenance.

Stand-by CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) completed ongoing training this week and had flights canceled due to weather.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) continued training in the MD 500, including another night flight and flying tasks to prepare for fire bucket training. Maintenance issues were tended to, and administrative tasks were completed.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working open cases and following up on complaints. Time was spend working with local government units, hydrologists and COs. Anglers and AIS activity were worked. Time was spent teaching at the Academy. Assistance was given to flood and storm damage and public safety. Assistance was given to local law enforcement with a near-drowning.

WREO Jeff Humphrey (NE) began transitioning from field duties to water resource officer enforcement duties in the northeast. Equipment inventory/transfer, radio updates, and other administrative business were worked on during the week. Humphrey also began reviewing open WCA, AIS, APM and protected waters cases within the assigned work area. A nuisance-bear complaint was handled in the Duluth area.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued case follow up and transition to new WREOS. Meetings were attended and ATV enforcement was conducted. An aquatic plant management and WCA flight was conducted in the vacant St. Cloud station and over Sauk Center area lakes.

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