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CO Reports: Lake ice deteriorating rapidly - use caution

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 16, 2021

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) Ice conditions on area lakes are deteriorating quickly and anglers are using ATVs for travel. Sullivan worked fishing activity and litter complaints on area lakes. He also investigated deer-hunting violations.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) primarily worked late ice anglers. She also investigated a situation where a beaver dam was removed, possibly affecting water levels on an adjacent lake. She also presented a 30-year appreciation award to a volunteer snowmobile safety instructor at the snowmobile club’s meeting this past week. Our instructors volunteer many hours a year to teach youth our safety classes. Their work is greatly appreciated and Ladd was glad to be able to extend that appreciation to the club and the instructors.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) monitored the angling activity on station lakes. A call was received from State Patrol dispatch about a large cat that was living under a home. The caller, who was older, was fearful for her life and didn’t want to get scratched.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing counties for angling enforcement. McGowan also completed training and worked on cases from this past fall.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking anglers throughout the past week and weekend. A few fish were seen, but overall the bite was quite slow. Most people said they were just out enjoying the nice weather. Patrol was done throughout the state recreation area, and parking permits and illegal vehicle activity were checked. Many outdoor law-related questions were fielded throughout the week. Enforcement action for the week included various fishing and state park-related violations.

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CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked a few anglers chasing panfish. Fishing was average, with deteriorating ice. Please use caution when going out on lakes.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports working wildfire enforcement with DNR Forestry personnel. Time was also spent attending various meetings and training sessions. Anglers were contacted on local lakes.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked ice anglers, marked some ice shelters and answered animal-related complaints.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes. He spent a day field training with COC Baum. Ice conditions are still in good condition and individuals are reporting success catching panfish. Time was spent marking shelters before the removal deadline.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice condition have begun to deteriorate on the accesses as warmer weather has hampered access to some lakes. Travel has been reduced to foot and some ATV use, though reports of ATVs going through the ice have been reported. Enforcement activity has focused on some of the new quality sunfish lakes with information and education being the prime focus. Abandoned shelters were addressed. Vinton participated in a work detail in a neighboring district.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted with a search warrant, attended training and worked on equipment maintenance.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers. The bite slowed down after the recent snowfall, but some anglers are having luck. Other time was spent patrolling for fire activity. With the nice weather, many people have started clearing brush and other items and starting their spring burning. Swedberg wants to remind Becker County residents that they are required to have a burning permit on hand if they are planning on having any fire larger than a campfire, and to make sure they are not burning any garbage or other prohibited materials.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity and fish house removal. An ice fishing tournament was monitored. Patrol was conducted for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Warren investigated a call of a possible injured eagle. A law and ethics talk was given to a snowmobile safety class in Mahnomen.

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CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week monitoring angling activity in the station. The panfish bite remains good, but ice conditions vary and anglers should use caution.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports the ice is going fast and that it probably won’t be safe to access the lakes by next weekend. Anglers were monitored and checked. Waterfowl migration is on and some great opportunities exist to watch birds in full plumage. It is a great time to check and clean wood duck boxes for something to do during the great spring weather.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the past week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV operators. Ice conditions on area lakes are deteriorating, with most lakes only accessible by walking. Anglers are urged to use caution as the ice varies from day to day.

CO Emily Leeb (Morris) reports working fishing and recreational vehicle enforcement this past week. Enforcement action for the week included fishing without a fishing license in personal possession and operating an ATV without required headlights.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) watched throughout the week as ice conditions continued to decline. The number of anglers also dropped each day. A few easy-to-access spots are getting hit hard by sunfish anglers, but most lakes are foot-traffic-only, with very few ATVs observed on lakes. Several citations were issued for angling without licenses, as well as operating a side-by-side ATV on a snowmobile trail. A dead bald eagle was found in the middle of a lake with no signs of injuries. Lawler seized the bird and transferred it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for proper disposal.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) checked anglers and worked recreational vehicle activity during the past week. Time was also spent working on a public waters complaint and organizing a firearms safety class. Training was completed as required for the Wildfire Investigation Team. Enforcement activity involved ATV safety and registration violations.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) continued to check fishing activity. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time working state forests due to recent forest road and trail closures. Ice conditions are deteriorating quickly and the several anglers checked reported the bite to be slow. Enforcement action was taken for no horse trail pass, operating an unregistered ATV, no license in possession and no ATV safety. Anderson also made a DWI arrest.

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CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking anglers and ATV riders during the past week. Kunst wants to remind people planning to ride ATVs in the Remer area that the ATV trails are still closed for spring thaw. Enforcement action was taken for taking fish without a license, failure to have an angling license in personal possession, expired ATV registration, ATV operating on a highway and juvenile riders failing to wear a helmet. Kunst also responded to a call about a snowmobile that went through the ice. Lakes continue to melt and the shorelines are quickly receding from the land. Remember to be extra cautious this time of year if you plan on heading out onto the ice.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) and COC Baum checked various lakes around the area. The ice has started to weaken and is variable in thickness in spots due to the recent warm weather. Some anglers were seen catching a few perch and crappies. Mathy attended a Bear Committee meeting. A deer case was also investigated. Enforcement action was taken for deer-hunting and ATV-related violations.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked anglers as lake edges with a lot of sun exposure start getting spongy. He also completed training and monitored the spring goose migration.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) continues to monitor angling and ATV activity in the area. With the warm weather, there has been a big increase in ATV activity. Fire enforcement was also focused on throughout the week as many people are out doing spring cleanup. Assistance to other agencies was given throughout the week as well. Enforcement action was taken for failing to obtain a burning permit, burning prohibited materials, and various ATV violations.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling area for fishing and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations. She also followed up on a call of a vehicle operating on snowmobile trail and litter in the Solana State Forest.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) checked people targeting northern pike. He saw a few large pike being caught. ATV riders have arrived in full force, which is creating some issues with muddy ditches. Starr took action for false application on a license and being more than 200 feet from tip-ups.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing and ATV enforcement this past week. Time was spent addressing fires as a result of spring yard cleaning. People are reminded to check on burning restrictions in their county before starting a fire. Calls were fielded regarding new panfish regulations on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for illegal youth ATV operation, youth ATV passengers without helmets on, operating an ATV without lights on, failure to display valid ATV registration, failure to renew ATV registration, no fishing license in personal possession, driving after revocation, open bottle in a motor vehicle, failure to obtain a burning permit, and burning prohibited materials.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked ice anglers and monitored ATV activity this past week. The bite on area lakes continue to be slow. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display registration and decal as required on an ATV, failure to transfer ATV, operating a prohibited motor vehicle (pickup truck) on an ATV trail, and driving after revocation.

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CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the past week checking late-season ice anglers. Silgjord also participated in assigned training. A complaint of two dead calves being dumped at the Uhlenkolts Lake Access near New Munich was investigated. If anyone has knowledge of the person or people responsible, please contact the TIP line.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked on educating anglers about the new sunfish limits on the Horseshoe Chain. He worked with neighboring officers and handled a TIP call. Snowmobiles were stored with optimism that winter has past at least the need for a snowmobile.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports warm weather has caused ice conditions to diminish quickly. There’s also a significant increase in ATV activity. Enforcement action for the past week consisted of fishing without a license, targeting fish in a closed season, unregistered ATV, youth rider under 18 not wearing a helmet, operating without ATV safety, and youthful prohibitions. It’s a perfect time of year to review the off-highway vehicle regulations and check to ensure your registration is valid.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports ice conditions have deteriorated in the past week. Several lakes in the area are only accessible by foot, with some being done for ice fishing. Fire complaints were worked in the area.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports working on investigations related to unlawful angling and deer hunting. A case was made involving an overlimit of bucks taken from the past hunting season. An otter pelt was seized that was being possessed illegally. ATV laws were enforced along roadways.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) completed training, checked anglers, and worked on equipment maintenance. Calls were taken about injured animals, burning restrictions, and ice litter/safety.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking anglers. Krauel also spent time working on evidence logs. He also assisted another officer with a fishing-out-of-season detail.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked ice anglers and ATV riders. A trespass complaint was investigated. Animal-related calls were handled.

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Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf-telemetry flight and attended some webinars on aviation training.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying a shelter/debris flight on Mille Lacs Lake and angling enforcement flight on Lake of the Woods. Enforcement action was taken for no registration displayed on an ATV. Evidence was documented for two potential waters violations.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance items and had aircraft radios reprogrammed for the year. He also attended aviation webinars.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) reports telemetry flights were completed, as were deer surveys in selected areas.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on case work. Anglers and follow up on shelter removal was conducted. Time was spent patrolling public lands for litter and activity. ATV activity is starting to increase.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. Time was spent on training and meetings. ATV activity was heavy with warmer weather. Late-ice fishing has been slow.

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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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