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CO Reports: Mixed success reports from small game opener

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Sept 22, 2020

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending in-service training in the Perham area. Time was also spent checking archery deer and small-game hunters. A Presidential security detail was worked in Bemidji.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) qualified with firearms, attended training at Camp Ripley and assisted at the Presidential visit to Bemidji. He also checked goose and grouse hunters and finished a wolf-depredation complaint.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy opening weekend of small-game and archery hunting. ATV activity increased over the weekend with the nice weather. Grouse hunters reported mixed success with tree foliage making it difficult to see birds. Vollbrecht worked a security detail during President Trump’s visit to Bemidji on Friday.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a quiet small-game and archery deer opener. A couple of groups of squirrel hunters were contacted on local wildlife management areas, as were early goose hunters and a few bowhunters. Vinton completed Step I of the field training process with COC Vincent Brown and assisted other COs with President Trump’s visit to Bemidji.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week preparing for the small-game and deer archery opener. Other time was spent training in Perham and at Camp Ripley. Swedberg also assisted with a security detail for the President’s visit to Bemidji.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training all week.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked boating and angling activity. AIS inspections were performed. Area trails were patrolled for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Small-game and archery openers were worked. Warren attended annual training and a security detail in Bemidji. A call of an abandoned bear cub was received. The public is reminded to leave baby animals alone

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked hunting and angling activity. She retrieved a sunken canoe for a person who tipped it over and was unable to get it back to shore. She also wrote a deer-possession tag. Enforcement action was taken on ATV violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on game, ATV and fishing enforcement, as well as Division training. Several calls were received with questions regarding the deer seasons. Enforcement action for the past week included operating an off-highway motorcycle on a public roadway, operating an OHM without registration, operating in a right-of-way without a driver’s license, failure to display ATV registration, youth helmet violations, operating a Class 2 ATV in the right-of-way of a state highway, and angling with extra lines.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) attended training and worked ATV activity and small-game enforcement.

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked fishing enforcement. He checked and watched a few anglers. He saw a few anglers catch fish but generally the bite was slow. He checked boaters and observed expired registration. He worked on a wetland complaint and report of ATVs driving carelessly in road ditches near Pillager.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) received three separate illegally taken deer calls. An investigation into one of the incidents found that a deer was shot with a gun and aid of a light. Charges are pending. The others are still under investigation. A call of a gill net in Leech Lake was found to be an unidentified net and the net was removed from the lake. Mathy also assisted with an injury OHM accident in the Chippewa National Forest. Annual training was attended and a security detail in Bemidji was worked.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) finished a commercial investigation, checked fall anglers, followed up on complaints from bear season, and patrolled over the weekend for archery and small-game opener as well as heavy fall ATV traffic. Enforcement action was taken for unregistered bait, no helmets, no OHM registration and riding where unauthorized.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) patrolled area forests, checking hunting activity. Sullivan observed a low number of archery and small-game hunters. ATV trails continue to be very busy. Bear hunters in the area reported bear activity at baits has decreased the past week.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked bear activity, and the archery deer and small-game openers, as well as angling and ATV activity in the area. Ladd began field training a conservation officer trainee from Academy 20.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked early goose hunting and sport fishing this past week. He also attended training. Guida followed up on a complaint of a lakeshore owner cutting emergent vegetation without a permit. The landowner was cited earlier this spring for the same violation. The violator stated he was removing all the vegetation so his kids would have a hockey rink without weeds to skate on this winter.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked archery deer- and grouse-hunting activity. Anglers were checked and training was attended. A litter complaint and nuisance-beaver issues were addressed.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) worked the small-game and archery deer opener over the weekend. Several goose hunters were still out the last weekend of the early season. He attended training at Camp Ripley. Fishing pressure was pretty steady on the lakes and river.


CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) wrapped up Phase 1 of field training with a new conservation officer. McGowan also assisted with enforcement activities along the North Shore. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) (Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area) reports checking small-game and archery hunters over the opener weekend. A few bird hunters were having some luck, but there was still lots of leaf cover, which made seeing birds a bit more challenging. He assisted with annual Division training and a work detail during the past week. Time was spent patrolling the park for park passes and illegal vehicle activity during the week and weekend. Enforcement action for the week included various park violations and also a traffic violation.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked hunting activity for the small-game and archery deer openers. Nice weather caused a bump in lake activity as the fall bite is picking up and docks are started to get moved around. He also followed up on a wetland complaint and attended training.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) attended firearms qualifications. She also assisted with a detail in Bemidji. A call of a dog caught in a trap on private property was taken. It was also reported that the dog owner then illegally took the traps from the private property. Several questions regarding the upcoming youth deer hunt were answered.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on nuisance-animal complaints and ATV traffic. The small-game opener and archery opener brought many people out for a pleasant weekend. Some grouse were checked in the bag. A work detail in Lake County was worked with CO Bozovsky. Overall compliance was found to be good.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked a variety of activities this past week, including bear hunting, archery deer hunting, small-game hunting, and ATV/OHM activity. Time was also spent at training and working a detail for the President’s visit to Bemidji. Small-game hunters showed low success, with hunters agreeing that less foliage would be beneficial. Enforcement action was taken for hunting and ATV-related violations.

District 11 - St. Cloud area


CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) finished COC Larson’s first phase of field training. Time was spent patrolling for ATV activity throughout the district, with multiple stops being conducted for various violations.Youth operators and passengers without helmets continue to be a common issue. Parents are reminded that all youth passengers and operators of Class 1 and 2 ATVs need to have on a DOT-approved helmet when on public areas and in the road right-of-way. A training event was attended at Camp Ripley and Silgjord was able to present CO Joyce Kuske her retirement plaque after more than 19 years of service! Congratulations, Joyce! Silgjord also attended a Sauk Centre Conservation Club meeting.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked goose hunters this past week. He assisted multiple agencies with various calls and also attended training.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports attending training at Camp Ripley. He received several phone calls regarding trespass concerns, injured animals, and public hunting land inquires. A big-game investigation with several violations is ongoing. A suspicious vehicle/driver in the area of a WMA was arrested on traffic-related offenses.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) received several calls about a fawn that was wandering through the city of Browerville near a busy roadway. Efforts to walk the deer out of town were not successful. Bertram, with help from another former farm kid, were able to catch and “hog tie” the fawn. It was transported and released in a WMA on the edge of town.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week checking small-game and goose hunters. Krauel also spent time attending Division training and patrolling for ATV activity.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and hunters. A trespass was investigated, as was a complaint of a WMA rules violation. Animal-related calls were handled.

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking archery hunters and small-game hunters out in the field. Many phone calls also handled with questions from the public on regulations. Illegal fires were enforced around the area. Training was also completed over the week.


Aviation Section

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew wolf pup telemetry and trained on picking up and dropping water with are DNR helicopter for firefighting.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports assisting with moving two aircraft hangars at the Grand Rapids airport.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports checking area anglers, completing a qualification shoot and speaking to the Minnesota Seaplane Pilot Association about aquatic invasive species.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed his annual airplane low-level waiver check ride with another pilot. He also took part in helicopter water bucket training, and helped reposition an airplane for needed maintenance. He also took part in an aviation webinar.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working small-game hunters, and checking AIS compliance, anglers and bear hunters. ATV activity was worked. A detail was worked in Bemidji.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued working on case updates and new case entries in his assigned area. He also worked AIS and ATV enforcement. Haberman also worked a detail in Bemidji.


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