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CO Reports: Lake ice conditions have improved - some areas still have slush

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 25, 2022

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Sullivan (Brainerd) Ice conditions on area lakes have improved but some areas still have slush that makes travel difficult. Snowmobile activity in the area continues to be high and snowmobile trails are in good condition. Sullivan continued background investigation on a conservation officer applicant.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Additional plowed roads are increasing truck access on local lakes. Some success was seen on area trout lakes since the opener. Little new snowfall, but snowmobile trails are still being groomed. Enforcement action taken for no shelter licenses and expired registration.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) spent most of the week training at Camp Ripley. Attended the Winter Meeting of the Minnesota Trappers Association and assisted with registering fur. Other time was spent checking anglers and snowmobiles.

Conservation Officer Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked snowmobile and cross-country ski pass enforcement this week. Compliance was good. The CWD landowner deer hunt was monitored. Officer Guida also assisted the Use of Force Team in the annual re-certification of Conservation Officers in CEW/Taser use.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) Time was spent throughout the week checking anglers, snowmobilers, and attending training throughout the week. Enforcement action included license and recreational vehicle registration violations. Dirks also attended the MTA meeting and various trapping related questions were answered.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) assisted with officer training at Camp Ripley this week and spent time working on area lakes and snowmobile trails as well as continued some work on a trapping investigation involving an out of season fisher.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent time this week on snowmobile and fishing enforcement. Trapping cases were investigated and enforcement action was taken for registration and license issues.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) attended training at Camp Ripley and check ice anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Lakes in the Lake George and Bemidji #2 stations were monitored. Officer worked Leech Lake with CO McGowan and continued work on a background investigation.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling and snowmobile activity. Training was attended at camp Ripley. CO Warren spoke at a firearm safety class in Mahnomen.


CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking angling activity in the Pelican Rapids Station. Few lakes have angling activity as travel off a plowed road is impossible without a snowmobile or tracked ATV. Angling success has slowed as well. Area snowmobile trails are in great condition, but have seen limited traffic due to the cold weather. Officer Landmark also prepared for an upcoming court case, attended training at Camp Ripley, and investigated several trapping violations.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) completed mandatory training and set up of new division equipment. Time was also spent on snowmobile on the trails and lakes.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) attended training at Camp Ripley, completed equipment maintenance and patrolled by snowmobile.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time on the trails and lakes in the area checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Kunst also attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Leech Lake and other Cass Co lakes throughout the week. CO McGowan also spent time patrolling state snowmobile trails, and training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) continued to check anglers and snowmobile riders. She assisted removing a dog out of a foot hold trap.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers and monitored snowmobile activities. Anglers have been reporting a fairly slow bite on most lakes. Enforcement action was taken for unattended tip-up line, no shelter license, possession of illegal length fish, and no fishing license in possession. A traffic stop was made which resulted in the arrest of an individual who gave a preliminary breath test over three times the legal alcohol limit. The individual received additional charges of test refusal at the jail.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and attended training. Angler success was great this week. Many complaints of vehicles traveling to fast on the area lakes have came in this week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and possess illegal length fish.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity over the past week with many individuals out enjoying the deep snow and the better ice conditions. Trout season had it first full week of action with good catch rates seen on area designated trout lakes. Remember only one line and preserved minnows can be used on these waters. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license in possession and not having current registration on a snowmobile.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked anglers and trapping activity throughout the previous week. Time was also spent following up on TIP complaints and answering questions about sick and injured animals. Holt attended training at Camp Ripley and responded to deer feeding complaints. Feeding deer is illegal in Itasca County in response to CWD. Feeding and attractant bans are in place across the state to prevent concentrations of wild deer in areas with a higher risk for disease.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) – worked angling, snowmobiling, dark house spearing, and trapping enforcement. Division training was also attended at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, no angling license, failure to display snowmobile registration, and several trapping violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored the end of the bobcat hunting and trapping season. Most hunters and trappers reported having to work hard to have success with the deep snow in the woods. Angling and snowmobile activity in the area is continues to be greatly dependent on the weather. Training was attended at Camp Ripley.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked snowmobile activity where trails could use a replenishment of snow. Anglers were out but inhibited by colder than average temperatures for the coldest week of the year. Verkuilen also attended training.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent time on snowmobile trails and Mille Lacs Lake. Snowmobile trails have been in good condition keeping them busy with riders. Trapping activity was monitored with the end of the bobcat season. Enforcement action was taken on multiple violations. Griffith would like to remind anglers to reel up their lines before going to town to have lunch.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) investigated a TIP of an illegal (trap) box set near the Nemadji State Forest. The investigation showed no violation. She also attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) attended training, performed equipment maintenance, and started a background investigation for a current hiring process. Snowmobilers are reminded to stay on the trails, as private landowners do not appreciate illegal trespass. Cold weather has hampered some outdoor activities.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement this week. Various equipment repairs were made this week. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley for training. A call was fielded about trapping.


District 11 - St. Cloud area

Co Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and snowmobile trails. Ice is in good conditions but several inches of slush and areas on Cedar Lake. Officer Westby spent time at Camp Ripley for department training. Time was also spent with neighboring officers working snowmobile enforcement.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored fishing and snowmobile activity and attended training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license and various snowmobile registration violations.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week assisting with division firearms training. Training attended at Camp Ripley. Time was spent patrolling area lakes and snowmobile trails. A vintage snowmobile racing event was worked with CO’s Westby and Vang.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked area station with focus on fishing and snowmobile activity. The officer attended training at Camp Ripley. Fishing on area lakes continues to be busy.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking fishermen and snowmobilers. Enforcement action was taken for no license, extra lines, illegal fish, marijuana, and expired snowmobile registration. Bertram also attended training.

District 12 - Princeton area


CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers and patrolling for snowmobile activity. CO Krauel also attended division training. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing license, no shelter license, and no ATV registration.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled area lakes and snowmobile trails. CO Hanna worked with Benton County Sheriff’s Office on a snowmobile that was burnt on Little Rock Lake. If anyone has any info on the burnt snowmobile please call the TIP line. CO Hanna also educated multiple people on the northern pike size regulations on various area lakes.

Aviation Section

CO Standby Pilot Tim Grey (Bemidji) reports cancelling a flight due to a pre-flight maintenance issue. Time was spend on troubleshooting and maintenance scheduling for the same issue.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf telemetry and a shelter creel flight. Jensen responded to a call for service to assist Virginia Police to search for a suspect who ran from police on foot. Jensen also attended in-service training at Camp Ripley.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance items, and prepped for possible deer surveys, based on snow amounts in the SW part of state. He also welcomed our new helicopter pilot to the unit, and explained operations at our base, and discussed details of the years helicopter mission requirements. He also attended an aviation webinar.

NR Pilot Grace Zeller (Brainerd) Completed some onboarding tasks and has started general DNR new employee training.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) cancelled several flights due to weather and other issues. Time was spent on updating training manuals as well as other administrative tasks.

CO Standby Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) reports cancelling flights due to weather. Aviation training and other administrative tasks were completed.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued work on a background for the next CO academy. Case updates were conducted and training at Camp Ripley was attended.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) worked angling, and snowmobile enforcement this week. Follow-up was conducted with ongoing WCA and public waters cases. Background investigations continue.

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