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CO Reports: CO's remind early ice anglers; always check thickness, be prepared

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 30, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) took enforcement action this week for lending/borrowing another person’s deer license, failure to register deer, and littering. Trapping cases are under investigation and ice conditions continue to vary greatly throughout the area.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports area lakes are starting to freeze and some ice anglers have made it out on foot. Sullivan continued working firearms deer season cases and completed reports.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports investigating poaching TIPs from the public. Anglers were checked on area lakes with some success observed among the ice anglers. Ice conditions are inconsistent.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) continued follow up on big-game cases, including some archery and muzzleloader bait cases, trespass, and a deer overlimit case. Some anglers are starting to test the ice in the area as we transition to the winter months.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled for migratory waterfowl hunters and deer hunters. Enforcement action was taken for unplugged guns, no small-game license, and no personal floatation devices. Some ice anglers have been observed on frozen bays trying their luck at angling.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time following up on cases from the firearms deer season as well as working the muzzleloader opener. The Sagamore Unit is now open to hunting but remains closed to biking. Enforcement action for the week included license violations.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked the first ice anglers of the season. Certain small lakes have ice thick enough for anglers to venture out. The muzzleloader deer season opened with low participation. He attended a funeral with Honor Guard duties for State Trooper Derek Haehnel.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked on completing investigations related to the firearms deer season.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports fielding question related to the muzzleloader deer season and limits and assisting the region with the airboat should it be needed with early ice conditions. Some anglers ventured onto some area lakes with walkable ice on a few Perham-area lakes. There were some muzzleloader hunters taking advantage of the nice weather during the opening weekend.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking area lakes for ice fishing activity and following up on cases from the rifle deer season. Several lakes in the area are starting to form good ice and the first ice anglers of the season were checked. While the anglers were excited to be out, fishing was slow.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, worked a litter complaint and assisted on a search warrant. Enforcement action was taken on a deer hunter without a license, hunting over bait and no blaze clothing.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking muzzleloader deer hunters and following up on cases throughout the week. Calls were taken from people asking various hunting questions. She also issued deer-possession permits. Some lakes in the area have ice fishing activity. Kunst reminds anglers to be safe and always be aware of ice conditions, especially this time of the year, prior to going out.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) spent this week patrolling the area for big-game, recreational vehicle, and angling activity. He made contact with numerous muzzleloader hunters out in the woods this weekend, but encountered nobody who had filled their tag. Baum saw ice anglers on some small lakes in the area; some spots had up to 6 inches of ice. He reminds people that ice conditions can change quickly and it is always smart to have safety equipment when venturing onto early ice. Baum crossed paths with some ATV riders who were taking advantage of the warm weather and final riding opportunities on area forest roads. Baum took enforcement action for a variety of recreational vehicle violations.


CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports conducting boat maintenance and paperwork, and continuing to follow up on big-game investigations. Calls from the public included permits for deer-possession permits and general questions related to hunting/trapping. He reports checking some early ice anglers and wants to remind anglers and those on the ice to be mindful of early ice conditions, which can change daily.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked waterfowl and big-game hunters throughout the week. Late-season waterfowl hunters were checked, and follow up from the big-game season was completed. Enforcement action was taken for various waterfowl-hunting violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked ice anglers. Ice has formed on small lakes with approximately 2 to 4 inches seen. Caution must be taken as the ice is very unpredictable. Larger lakes still have large areas of open water. Mathy also removed an abandoned minnow trap on Leech Lake. Some time was spent following up on existing deer-season cases.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) continued to spend time on big-game violations in the area. Most of the station lakes are frozen over, but ice conditions remain questionable. Enforcement action was taken for taking big game without a license, taking with illegal equipment, failure to register deer as required, youth ATV helmet violations and transportation of loaded firearms.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) completed training and equipment maintenance. He worked early ice fishing, the late archery deer season, the muzzleloader deer opener, and some trappers who have traps out. Cross reminds anglers to use extreme caution on the early ice as conditions vary greatly throughout each lake and from lake to lake.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week investigating TIP complaints, patrolling for spruce top/balsam harvesting activities, and checking a few anglers taking advantage of some early yet, dangerous ice fishing. A TIP call of people shooting after dark was investigated. Although the original complaint, which was reported days after the fact wasn’t proven, the investigation ended with a citation for lend/borrow after a hunter tagged his deer with a tag belonging to someone who wasn’t with him in the field. A firearm and deer were seized as a result of the investigation.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked hunters, monitored trapping activity and followed up on cases from the firearms season. Ice conditions vary on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and allowing illegal operation of a snowmobile.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked small-game and muzzleloader deer-hunting activity. Time was also spent following up on open cases. Complaints were received involving the illegal dumping of deer carcasses in random places. Anglers are starting to get out on the ice on a few lakes. Extreme caution is advised if going out on the ice, as ice conditions may vary greatly.


CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports checking the first ice anglers of the season. As usual for this time of the year, the ice thickness varies greatly from lake to lake or even from spot to spot on the same lake. If venturing out on the lakes please check ice thickness often and don’t forget important ice safety equipment such as ice picks and outerwear with a lot of floatation.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice anglers as bare-minimum ice has formed on shallower lakes. Muzzleloader hunters were out taking another shot at deer season. Verkuilen also issued roadkill tags and checked small-game hunters.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) continued working on cases from the firearms deer season. A Trespass complaint was followed up on. Trapping activity was also monitored. With falling temperatures, ice fishing has started in some areas around the state. Ice is never 100 percent safe. Griffith reminds anglers that safety is first, and to always carry ice picks. Check ice thickness as you go, as conditions can change fast.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) responded to a call of wanton waste of deer. She also assisted the county with a disturbance. Speldrich conducted a site inspection of a potential public waters violation and Wetland Conservation Act violation. She also assisted with an injured eagle.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on some pending cases from the deer season and checked ice anglers. Litter is becoming a larger problem as of late, with deer carcasses to a fiberglass boat being left on public ground. Hunting pressure on deer continues, as muzzleloader season has arrived.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) conducted follow-up investigation on a bear case from earlier in the year and spoke with the county prosecutor about charging. Time was also spent walking WMAs after calls about deer stands being left out overnight. Several phone calls were handled about deer licenses and the muzzleloader season.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked deer- and pheasant-hunting activity. He handled TIP call. VanderWeyst also worked the end of the waterfowl season with a few birds still using the unfrozen bigger waters.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking hunters. Enforcement action was taken for hunting in a refuge, lending/borrowing a deer license, and no taxidermy license. Calls regarding trespassing and injured animals were handled.


District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week following up on deer-hunting cases. Krauel also talked to a few anglers who were excited to get on the newly formed ice. He reminds anglers that no ice is ever safe and to please check DNR ice thickness guidelines before risking your lives or others’ lives while venturing out on the ice.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) received a TIP complaint of hunting over bait. Hanna spoke with the hunter who thought the rules were the same as another state. He was advised they are not.

Aviation Section

Standby Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew a flight in support of enforcement and worked on other station duties.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports finalizing reports from the firearms deer season and prepping aircraft for winter flying.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed a maintenance flight in a helicopter and did administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed manual updates for multiple aircraft. He completed training modules for upcoming training flights.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on public water violation cases and checking small-game hunters and anglers. Time was spent moving equipment around for the end of the season and preparing for winter activities.

WREO Robert Haberman (NC) worked on cases in his assigned area. A restoration order was issued in Pine County and a deed restriction was removed with the completion of a successful wetland restoration.


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