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CO Reports: Ice conditions improving with colder weather

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 21, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports ice conditions in the area have improved and ice anglers have been fishing on a variety of lakes. Sullivan continued deer-hunting investigations and worked snowmobile activity.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked ice anglers who were finding some walleyes. The ice is forming well with the cold weather. He checked trapping activity in the area.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled for sport fishing activity and attended training at Camp Ripley. A call was received by an upset landowner with questions about coyote hunters releasing dogs onto their private land and also shooting onto the property in violation of the trespass laws.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) checked ice anglers throughout the week. Ice conditions remain spotty throughout the area. Warm weather and rain through the first part of the week reopened some areas of open water.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking ice anglers throughout the week. Jumbo perch and walleyes were checked on several locations around Big Sandy Lake. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines and unregistered recreational vehicles. Follow-up deer investigations were also completed.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity as ice started forming again. He also checked hunter activity and assisted at snowmobile safety education classes.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) continued monitoring the ice conditions on Mille Lacs Lake. Many anglers made it out throughout the week. Time was also spent on various wildlife-related calls. Assistance was given to local agencies on a medical call. Enforcement action was taken on angling violations.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) monitored ice fishing and emphasized early ice safety to those heading out. Trapping activity seems to be less this year. A reminder to people buying ATVs and snowmobiles that they must transfer ownership within 15 days of purchase.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing enforcement on Mille Lacs Lake. Walleye fishing on the north end of the lake was hit or miss, with some anglers catching keeper-sized walleye. Enforcement action was taken for angling extra lines, illegal-length walleyes, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and no fishing license in personal possession.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Area snowmobile trails are still in rough shape after the warm weather. He responded with the Division airboat to an emergency call of an individual lost on Upper Red Lake. The individual was located the following day. Vollbrecht also worked a detail on Lake of the Woods.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers. Ice conditions have improved in the Detroit Lakes area, as many lakes have between 4 to 6 inches of solid ice. Swedberg attended the annual Turf Wars snowmobile drag races in Cormorant over the weekend. There was a good turnout and law compliance was very good through the area. Swedberg also attended Division training during the week.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training and worked deer hunters, anglers and trappers, as well as ongoing cases and calls.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity. People are reminded to use caution as ice conditions continue to vary. Area wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas were patrolled for small-game and pheasant-hunting activity. Warren spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Fosston.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing county lakes for angling activity. Enforcement action was taken for angling after revocation and possessing illegal-length northern pike.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and trapping activity. She received calls of game species carcasses being dumped along roads. Ice depths and conditions vary.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) took time to catch up on emails and calls in the Park Rapids area throughout the week.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked late-season archery deer hunting, ice angling, spearing, and snowmobile enforcement. Cross also presented at a youth snowmobile safety class. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer with a firearm in a game refuge, no helmet on youth under 18, and operating an unregistered ATV.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking anglers and trappers throughout the week. Kunst took enforcement action on extra lines, leaving lines unattended, illegal-length northern pike and failure to have angling licenses in personal possession. Kunst continues to follow up on deer-season cases as well.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports seeing an increase of angling activity. Anglers are reporting a vast range of ice thickness within bays and entire water bodies. Continue to check ice thickness and be smart about changing conditions. Enforcement action consisted of angling without a license, no license in possession and operating a motor vehicle in a WMA where closed. Calls that Seifermann received included a report of an injured goose, a deer that needed to be dispatched and requests for car-killed deer permits.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers. The ice fishing season is off to a slow start with the unreliable ice conditions. Those anglers who did get out found good catches of walleyes, perch, and pike. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers and monitored trapping activity. Time was also spent patrolling lakes and trails on snowmobile and assisting with search and rescue efforts for a missing individual on Upper Red Lake. The individual ended up being found safe. Two anglers were found fishing without fishing licenses and numerous anglers were fishing without licenses in possession. One angler was caught in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Enforcement action was taken for the above offenses and the marijuana and paraphernalia items were seized.


CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity with many people out on the area lakes. Ice conditions are improving and it seems most of the snow blew off the lakes with the high winds. Snowmobile activity is picking up with some enforcement action taken for failing to have current registration. Be sure to check your snowmobile for current stickers before your first ride of the season.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored trapping activity with the opening of the fisher, pine marten, and bobcat season. Little snow accumulation so far this season made the forest roads passable with pickup trucks and trappers had no problems getting to their trapping spots.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked bowhunters and ice anglers, and monitored ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession, spear fishing without a spearing license, and allowing illegal youth operation of an ATV.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling and trapping activity this week. He also completed a trapping case and annual training this week.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking hunters and anglers. Enforcement action was taken for no shelter license, extra lines, and invalid deer license. Aeration permit locations were also inspected.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Krauel also spent time following up on big-game cases. Enforcement action was taken for deer overlimit, taking deer out of season, lending of licenses, extra lines, and fishing while privileges are revoked.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the area for ice angling and small-game hunting. He fielded questions about the previous gun deer season and the upcoming fishing season. Hanna conducted follow up for potential wetland violations.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf pack counts and working on the aviation training manual.


NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) conducted training in a helicopter for one pilot in preparation for the upcoming moose survey. He also attended to helicopter maintenance and administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed a creel flight on Lake Vermilion. He worked on the upcoming creel schedule and maintenance schedule for all aircraft. He completed recertification for Part 107 Drone operations and provided instruction for an aircraft checkout.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on open cases and corresponding with local government units. Time was spent reviewing documents and photos of sites for restoration.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) spent time working on case updates and attending TEP meetings with local government units. Ice fishing activity was checked and training worked on.

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