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CO Reports: Lack of new snow, warm weather means snowmobile trails deteriorating

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 2, 2021

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Snowmobile trails have deteriorated to the point where they are unusable. He completed online training.

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending annual training this past week. Time was also spent checking anglers and snowmobile operators. Predator hunters were also checked.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) attended mandatory trainings and checked anglers.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) attended K9 training with Storm and the other Division handler/K9 pairs at Camp Ripley. Snowmobilers and anglers were also checked and assistance was given with an ongoing investigation.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked anglers and snowmobile enforcement and provided assistance on a search warrant.


CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week checking anglers and monitoring litter and fish house removal from area lakes. Landmark would like to remind anglers to pay attention to the angling regulations posted at the public accesses. Otter Tail County has multiple lakes that have reduced sunfish limits starting on March 1. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license in possession and no fish house identification.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the past week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV operators. Baumbarger began monitoring area lakes for the fish house removal deadline, and took a complaint of deer feeding.

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports efforts were concentrated on fishing enforcement for the last weekend of targeting game fish. Time was also spent on complaints of unsafe ATV operation, and follow up on lend-and-borrow cases stemming from the firearms deer season. Anglers are reminded about the March 1 bluegill-limit decreases on several lakes in the area.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) monitored ice fishing and recreational vehicle activity throughout the past week. Complaints were received concerning littering on the ice. The fish house removal deadline in the southern two-thirds of the state is the end of the day Monday, March 1. Enforcement activity involved angling licenses, fish house violations and angling with unattended lines.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked the last week of the game fish season on area lakes. Several anglers were out either fishing or prepping their shacks for removal. Panfish anglers continue to show the best success as walleyes continue to not cooperate. Several anglers were cited for using too many lines or not having a fishing license. A detail was worked on Upper Red Lake with other COs, with several citations issued for extra lines and dressed fillets.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers. Snowmobile trails are in tough shape and travel isn’t advised. Mathy completed required training and worked on Bear Committee items.Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on fishing enforcement as well as patrolling state forests and WMAs. Numerous violations for abandoned property and litter were found. Time was also spent on a sport fishing work detail on Upper Red Lake and Lake of the Woods.

CO Mike Cross (Lake George) focused on fishing and ongoing training. Enforcement action was taken for illegal removal of timber from state property, illegal-length fish, fishing without a license, unregistered snowmobiles, unmarked fish houses, and no license in possession.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) assisted with snowmobile safety classes. Enforcement action was taken for unattended lines, drug paraphernalia, and no license in possession.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) worked from snowmobile as the trails are deteriorating quickly. Many fish houses were being removed from the lakes. The ice is maintaining its thickness despite the warm weather. Ice anglers were checked.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked fishing and snowmobile/ATV enforcement this past week. Enforcement action was taken for no licenses and expired registration.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked angling and snowmobile activity. She spent time reminding anglers of the fish house removal deadline and to clean up the ice when leaving.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports most of the past week was spent checking anglers on area lakes.Sullivan encountered anglers who were enjoying the weather and the final days of walleye fishing. Sullivan also found anglers who had a hard time being honest after being caught violating. One experienced angler was given several opportunities to be honest after being caught angling with an extra line, but chose to go home being dishonest. Sullivan was also yelled at for several minutes while taking enforcement action for no shelter license.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) checked station lakes and documented angling shelters that appeared to be frozen into the ice or falling apart. Owners are reminded to remove all debris from the shelter. One angler contact resulted in Guida seizing a good amount of illegal marijuana and a glass smoking device. Another angler was addressed for not having a current angling license.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) continued field training with a conservation officer candidate. The officers spent time patrolling Crow Wing and Cass county lakes and snowmobile trails. McGowan also spent time following up on big-game cases from last fall. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling violations, recreational violations and narcotic violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the past week and weekend. Some trout were caught and even with the warm weather wearing on the trails, some snowmobilers were trying to get the last few rides in.Fitzgerald attended training and assisted with gun maintenance at Camp Ripley. Area lakes were checked for permanent houses with the upcoming fish house removal date. Anglers are reminded to clean up any debris or garbage around their houses.The SRA was checked for vehicle permits and for illegal vehicle activity. Enforcement action was taken for various fishing and snowmobiling law violations.


CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling, snowmobile and cross-country skiing activity. Possible problem fish houses were documented prior to the removal deadline.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked the final week of the angling season. Snowmobile riders were also out trying to make use of snow cover, but they mostly were limited to lake surfaces. Snow depth should not be a factor for fish house removal. Verkuilen also assisted the State Patrol with fleeing suspects and answered trespassing concerns.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored angling activity on Mille Lacs Lake. Snowmobile trails in the Isle station and surrounding stations were also monitored. Mille Lacs Lake was busy over the weekend. Anglers reported the bite to be better than previous weekends. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length walleyes, extra lines, possession of drug paraphernalia and no shelter license.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling Mille Lacs Lake and other area lakes for fishing activity. She also spent time patrolling snowmobile trails. Enforcement action was taken for a small amount of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, extra lines, illegal-length walleye, ice shelter on the ice without a license, unmarked ice shelter, failure to display an ice shelter license, no fishing license in possession, and litter.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked area lakes for fish houses without identification. Most fish houses were being removed prior to the deadline. She took calls of injured deer, questions about turkey hunting, and bear-hunting questions. Stanton Lake in Willow River is filling up as the dam project nears completion. The area is marked with thin ice signs.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked the last week of the walleye season on Mille Lacs Lake and found some walleyes to be cooperating. Under-sized fish violations were encountered, along with extra-line and shelter violations. Snowmobiles were out in full force to enjoy the fresh snow. Assistance was given to neighboring officers for a juvenile party on the ice and ATV use on a snowmobile trail.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement this past week. Enforcement action was taken for various sport fishing violations, including extra lines, unattended lines, and possessing walleye fillets. Drug- and alcohol-related offenses were also addressed.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports focusing on anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Enforcement action consisted of registration violations, no snowmobile safety certificate when required, improper shelter identification, no angling license in possession, drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana. Trail conditions have diminished with the warmer weather, although many snowmobilers were taking advantage of the recent snowfall to get one last good ride in for the winter. Reminder that dark houses and fish houses must be off the ice no later than midnight on March 1.


CO Tou Vang (Pierz) patrolled snowmobile trails and checked ice anglers this past week. The bite continues to be slow on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for expired ATV registration, expired snowmobile registration, and unlawful operation of an off-highway motorcycle.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) was advised of TIP calls concerning possible fish overlimits and someone chasing swans with snowmobiles.He spent most of the past week marking and reminding fishing shelter owners of the removal deadline. He also presented a law presentation to 17 snowmobile safety students.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports a busy end to the game fish season.Enforcement action was taken for no license, no registration, extra lines, illegal-length fish, and possession of marijuana.Fish house and litter issues are also being worked on.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers and snowmobile riders, and took complaints about litter. Time was also spent on equipment maintenance and Division training.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the last week of the fishing season checking anglers and ice shelters. Several anglers were enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine. One group of anglers Krauel contacted told him they thought they might have caught one legal slot fish and kept it. When asked who caught the fish, the anglers responded they were not sure who caught it and did not know where it was. Upon further investigation, Krauel found three illegal-length walleyes, several containers of marijuana, and several license violations in the group.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports finishing a case involving illegal trapping methods and trespassing near Santiago. Anglers were checked on area lakes and enforcement action was taken for possession controlled substances. ATV laws were also enforced, including one ATV driver who was caught red-handed stealing a road sign.

CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) patrolled for anglers and recreational vehicle operators. Additional time was spent issuing wildlife-possession permits. Enforcement action was taken for operating a snowmobile with expired registration, failing to purchase an ice-shelter license, and leaving a shelter at a public water access. A property damage complaint was handled involving high winds, a Ford Fiesta, and a rogue spear house. The spear house became dislodged in the high winds and struck a nearby angler’s vehicle. The angler was a true hero and decided to wedge the spear house against his car to prevent it from blowing further and potentially damaging more property.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and snowmobile riders. A snowmobile trespass was investigated. Follow up was done on a litter complaint.


Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew two wolf telemetry pack counts and worked on training items.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying the final fish shelter surveys of the year. He also took evidence photos for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Online training was performed and a safety talk was given to the Minnesota Forestry aviation fire group.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance and attended an aviation webinar.He also presented a class at the Minnesota Aerial Applicators annual recertification meeting. This is in preparation for the annual cattail spraying on state wildlife management areas, which helps rid the state of hybrid cattails.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) reports completing Duluth creel survey flights and online training courses. He also attended to aircraft and vehicle maintenance.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on trainings and catching up on case notes. Time was spent talking to anglers and checking lakes for upcoming fish house removal deadlines. Nuisance-animal calls were fielded. Questions regarding fishing license purchase and expiration were answered. Sites for Wetland Conservation Act violations were inspected.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. Meetings were conducted and new projects were started. A work crew was conducted on Mille Lacs Lake over the weekend.

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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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