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CO Reports: Muzzleloader deer season wraps up, Ice anglers report mixed results

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Dec. 15, 2020

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District 4 - Walker area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked hunting and fishing activity. She responded to a call of someone falling out of their deer stand. She also received calls regarding trap tampering and carcasses dumped along the roads.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on fishing, trapping and deer-hunting enforcement. The brief warmup at the end of the week resulted in some questionable ice. The forecast looks good for gaining some back. Public waters and wetland violations were investigated in Wadena, Hubbard and Otter Tail counties.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports the ice continues to slowly thicken. More ATVs were seen venturing out, but caution still is advised. A TIP call of a hunter possibly hunting deer out of season turned out to be a legal porcupine hunter. Mathy also responded to a report of a hunter pointing their rifle at oncoming traffic. Evidence of that happening couldn’t be found. A deer-season case was completed and submitted to the county attorney’s office for formal charges of taking an overlimit of deer out of season. Enforcement action was taken for several angling violations and ATV violations.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) arrived at his permanent station. Time was spent conducting district familiarization and meeting with community members and regional staff. Additionally, Cross checked ice anglers, who had varying levels of success. Ice conditions vary greatly around the area. Late-season muzzleloader and archery hunters were also checked. Hunters reported seeing a fair number of deer during the final weekend of the muzzleloader season.


CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking ice anglers and small-game hunters. Some lakes around the Remer area have approximately 4 inches of ice on them. Anglers found success on a few small lakes. Enforcement action was taken for taking fish without a license, angling without an angling license in personal possession and taking illegal-length northern pike. Kunst wants to remind anglers to always have their angling license in possession while fishing, and to review angling limits and regulations prior to going out on the lake. Kunst also responded to call of a hunter who fell out of a deer stand.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) reports some ice fishing is underway in the area, but anglers need to be aware ice conditions vary greatly. A deer went through the ice on an area lake. Many of the area lakes are not safe for foot travel. Ladd also assisted with training at Camp Ripley.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) checked muzzleloader hunting activity and early ice angling activity. A gross misdemeanor case from the deer season was presented to the county attorney for charges.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked deer- and grouse-hunting activity, as well as ice anglers.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) had a busy week of checking anglers. McGowan worked the Mississippi River for open-water anglers and Upper Red Lake for ice fishing. He began field training a conservation officer candidate (COC) and responded to a vehicle crash. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling violations.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports assisting with in-service at Camp Ripley throughout the past week. He fielded calls regarding fishing and ATV-related question in the state recreation area. Fitzgerald also patrolled the SRA for fishing, illegal vehicle activity and state park permits.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked ice anglers and muzzleloader deer hunters. He also checked trapping activity.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) finished the muzzleloader season with a trespassing case. Best also took enforcement action for no fishing license, commercial bait violations, operating a motor vehicle on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail, operating a motor vehicle off-trail, and no timber harvest permit. Investigations remain open for baiting, failure to register big game and deer-overlimit complaints.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) completed step 4 of field training with a conservation officer candidate. He also checked ice anglers who were able to walk out on area lakes. Deer-hunting activity continued to decrease as the seasons progressed.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking muzzleloader deer hunters this past week. Time was also spent checking trapping activity and small-game hunters. Anglers were checked on area lakes.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked ice anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored ice anglers on nearby lakes. Most of the week was spent checking ice anglers on Upper Red Lake. It was a busy week on Upper Red Lake, and many anglers found success. ATV activity was also monitored. Enforcement action was taken for multiple angling and ATV violations.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers and finishing some cases from the deer-hunting season. Ice fishing has picked up in the area as many lakes have at least 4 inches of ice on them. Anglers are having mixed results, with most being able to get fish during the evening after the sun goes down. Swedberg also reports that while most lakes have very solid ice, anglers need to continue checking as several lakes do not have thick enough ice for permanent houses or recreational vehicles to go out on them.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked two trespassing cases and attended training.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the past week working the remaining days of the muzzleloader deer season and ice fishing activity. Time was also spent closing open cases from the firearms deer season. One case involving a trespass violation in Minnesota resulted in the discovery by Wisconsin game wardens of an illegal taxidermy business in Wisconsin.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity. Ice conditions continue to improve but anglers should use caution as ice conditions vary. Muzzleloader, small-game and pheasant-hunting activity was worked. Area WMAs and waterfowl production areas were patrolled for activity. ATV activity was worked.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week checking pheasant hunters, muzzleloader hunters, and anglers. Anglers are urged to use extreme caution on the ice as some areas have reopened and other areas have 3 inches of ice or less. Those venturing onto area lakes are finding a decent panfish and walleye bite. Calls from the public included a trespassing complaint and requests for deer-possession tags. Enforcement action was taken for trespassing, angling without a license in possession, angling with extra lines, unregistered ATVs and no shelter license.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice anglers making their way onto smaller lakes. Trappers where also making use of the clear ice and lack of snow. Verkuilen also assisted at a training event and investigated a dead raptor.


CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time maintaining equipment, attending training at Camp Ripley, and following up on calls. She followed up on a report of an abandoned boat and other litter left on Aitkin County land.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked anglers throughout the past week. Some panfish were seen.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on trapping season items and muzzleloader deer hunters. The warm weather has been hampering ice formation, and extreme caution should be used. A call about a possible wetlands violation was taken, along with questions related to lake-level laws. Starr followed up on fall cases.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked big-game, small-game, and sport fishing activity this past week. Hunters and anglers were low in numbers. Ice conditions are still poor on Mille Lacs Lake with large amounts of the lake being open water. Time was also spent working on a deer-hunting investigation.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) spent the past week getting to know his station. He checked WMAs for muzzleloader deer hunters and area lakes for ice anglers. A few were fishing in the vicinity of open water. Please exercise caution and be safe as you enjoy the great outdoors. Enforcement action taken for operating an ATV without headlights activated, youth operating an ATV without a helmet, and allowing illegal youthful operation of ATV.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) focused his efforts this past week patrolling the Sauk Centre station. Very few muzzleloader deer and pheasant hunters were observed out in the field. Activity on area lakes has picked up with some anglers having early success. Please be careful venturing out on some of the bigger lakes in the area as not all of the lakes have completely frozen over yet.


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked with neighboring officers on fishing, hunting and trapping activity. Fishing on local ice still is not advised. Make sure to check ice conditions if you venture out, and remember that ice conditions can change hour by hour.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports a busy week of checking small-game hunters, deer hunters, trappers and anglers. He reports making progress on several ongoing big-game investigations. Enforcement actions was taken for illegally taking or possessing protected wild animals, dumping deer carcasses, failing to register deer as required, trespassing, and angling without a license. While observing one angler, Seifermann noted that he had caught seven crappies through the ice. When the angler noticed Seifermann, he left the fish on the ice and hurried to his vehicle. The angler was charged with fishing while his angling privileges were revoked and driving while revoked. He was arrested on a local warrant. Numerous deer-possession permits were issued and injured-animal complaints were addressed.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) completed a snaring investigation. The individual did not have a license and wasn’t checking his snares as required. Trespass calls were also handled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked on muzzleloader deer hunters at the Lake Maria State Park special hunt this past week. The weather was great for staying out in the field and the hunter harvest rate was approximately 50 percent. A snowmobile antique collector was assisted in getting his older snowmobiles (over 25 years old) special collector permits. Several nuisance-animal-related calls were also handled.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week working on equipment maintenance. He also patrolled for muzzleloader deer-hunting activity.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking muzzleloader hunters during their final days of trying to harvest a deer during this year’s season. Anglers were out on the ice on shallow lakes over the past weekend as the temperature dropped. Two young thrill-seekers were stopped operating ATVs and dirt bikes carelessly around Spectacle Lake. Benkofske and CO Krauel arrested an individual driving a stolen car taken from Princeton a few days prior.


CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers and hunters, and followed up on deer-hunting cases. Calls were responded to on injured animals, trespassing, and wetlands violations.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked hunters and handled hunting related calls. A wetland complaint was investigated. Several animal-related calls were handled.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) looked for evidence of timber theft and attended to maintenance issues.

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf telemetry flight and attended to maintenance on the airplane. Heineman also worked on training and GPS routes for the Duluth Fisheries creel survey.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying an ice-angling creel flight and training with other CO pilots.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed Flight Review. Multiple training tasks were completed from the DNR training program. He flew a creel survey in Duluth and assisted with the search for an individual. Vehicle maintenance was attended to.

NR Pilot Brad Maas(Brainerd) attended aviation webinars and completed a training flight in the helicopter, in preparation for the upcoming annual moose survey in Ely.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week checking muzzleloader deer hunters and anglers, and taking calls about injured owls and deer. Public waters and Wetland Conservation Act cases were worked on. A few small-game hunters were checked. Several state forest areas and WMAs were patrolled for activity. Deer-carcass dumping continues to be a problem around the area.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued to work on cases in his assigned area. Deer hunters and small-game hunters were checked. Ice fishing activity was monitored and training attended at Camp Ripley.

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