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CO Reports: No muddin' on closed forest roads and trails

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 23, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) Due to recent warm weather, ice in the area has been deteriorating rapidly. A complaint of ATVs operating on a grant-in-aid trail during closure was investigated. Numerous ATVs were contacted operating on the closed ATV trail. Someone who didn’t agree with the closure had removed the “trail closed” sign at the trailhead, but it was located in the woods. ATV trails are set to open Saturday, May 1. Any operation prior can cause excessive damage to the trail bed. Enforcement action was taken.

Guida also patrolled area lakes for angling activity.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) worked area recreational vehicle complaints and activity. Sullivan also checked angling activity and assisted local police departments with miscellaneous calls for service.

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) took enforcement action this week for OHM and ATV violations. Nuisance-wildlife calls were also handled. ATV trails will be closed for several weeks to come for spring thaw.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling and ATV activity. A token of appreciation was presented to a volunteer firearms safety instructor for 40 years of teaching and mentoring.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) checked late-season ice anglers. Ice conditions are deteriorating quickly. McGowan also attended training and completed follow-up from last year’s deer season.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) spent time at Camp Ripley for firearms training. There are still some anglers out chasing panfish on the ice. ATVs were checked on the roads, but the trails aren’t open yet. Most of the forest roads are closed.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking area lakes and mine pits for fishing activity throughout the week and weekend. He assisted park staff with people illegally out biking and walking on closed trails that had caused damage. He patrolled for illegal vehicle and ATV traffic in the park and also checked for vehicle permits. Time was spent assisting at a training at Camp Ripley. Many outdoor law-related questions were fielded. Enforcement action for the week included various SRA violations.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on a variety of activities during the past week. Enforcement action during the week consisted of ATV violations, burning without a permit, litter and failure to register deer. A controlled substance DUI arrest was made. State forest roads and trails are closed in the area until further notice and burning restrictions are in place so refer to the DNR website for updated information.

CO Mike Cross (Lake George) worked primarily on training, equipment maintenance, and checking late-season anglers. Ice conditions are different all over the area and continue to deteriorate daily. Enforcement action was taken for multiple ATV violations and Cross assisted the sheriff’s office and State Patrol with traffic control during a large structure fire.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) responded to calls about an injured owl, people feeding deer, an accidental catch, and a fish house left out past the deadline. She also investigated a big-game violation and shoreline violations.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time working ATV and sport fishing enforcement. Multiple ATVs were found riding on closed trails. Enforcement action was also taken on expired ATV registration, failure to have ATV safety training and operating in the road right of way. Kunst also conducted a follow-up interview from deer season.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued training COC Nicholas Baum this week. Mathy and Baum patrolled Park Rapids and Cass Lake area. Mathy and Baum observed angling activity on Pike Bay, Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. Mathy and Baum had violations including no license in possession, failure to display ATV registration, and ATV operator/passengers under 18 without helmets. Mathy and Baum investigated big-game cases from the previous fall related to an invalid bonus deer tag, failure to submit a bear tooth, and failure to register a bear bait. Mathy and Baum want to remind anglers to check ice conditions as temperatures increase.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending the Fisher firearms safety class. Time was also spent checking anglers and investigating a fire.


CO Tim Gray (Bagley) attended in-person and online trainings. He also checked anglers and for shelters left on the ice.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes. The ice conditions continue to deteriorate, but anglers are having good success catching panfish. He completed online training and returned several phone calls regarding land-use questions.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) spent time patrolling local ATV trails and checking late-season anglers. Time was also spent in Lake Bemidji and Itasca state parks, and assistance was given with various fire and burning related complaints/incidents.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice conditions have deteriorated, nearly to the point anglers can’t access. Please use caution and plan on rescuing yourself if you fall through. Life jackets, ice picks and a plan to crawl out should be thought about. Vinton discussed possession limits with a couple of out-of-state anglers and took enforcement action on unpermitted fires. Vinton assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office with a call in rural Otter Tail County where it was reported someone was threating to burn another’s house down and now their house was on fire. The sheriff’s office apprehended one person at the scene.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week patrolling for fishing, ATV, and fire activities. With the spring season coming on strong, Swedberg wants to remind ATV riders to check state trails status before riding. Many area trails are closed during the thaw season and all snowmobile trails that allow ATV access are closed until at least April 1. Ice conditions are expected to worsen this week with rain in the forecast. Be sure to check ice conditions and realize the ice might not be as good at the end of the day as it was in the morning.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, worked ongoing cases and met with the county attorney’s office to discuss an upcoming trial.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) monitored angling activity and ice conditions, with lakes having varying amounts of ice breakup. The station was patrolled for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. Patrol was conducted for fire activity, and wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas were checked for activity.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV operators. Additional time was spent preparing for upcoming firearms safety classes and patrolling area public lands for activity/violations.


CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports safe ice fishing is no longer an option in the area. Ice and open-water anglers were checked over the weekend and past week. Bowfishing enthusiasts are reminded that river locations are not open until the general spearing/bowfishing opener. Light geese and other various species of waterfowl were observed in good numbers. Turkeys are starting to be found away from the wintering flocks and beginning spring rituals. The snow is mostly gone and the potential of spring fires getting away is probable now.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) worked angling and ATV enforcement throughout the previous week. Ice conditions continue to deteriorate on area lakes. Time was also spent following up on ongoing cases. A meeting was held with volunteer safety instructors regarding an upcoming firearms safety class.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) checked the last few ice anglers this week as conditions by the end were unfishable. Ice on lakes is starting to pull away from shore, with as much as 50 feet observed on smaller lakes. With assistance from DNR Forestry, several illegal/abandoned tree stands were seized off the Forada WMA. They had been left out from past deer seasons. A call about an accidentally trapped otter was taken from a spring beaver trapper.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice anglers as ice starts to pull away from the shore. Open water has brought out some beaver trappers mostly working nuisance areas. With most snow gone from ditches, ATV traffic is also picking up.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored angling and ATV activity in the Isle area and neighboring stations. Griffith also worked with a neighboring officer following up on a wetland case. Enforcement action was taken on various ATV violations.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling area for fishing and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations including operating an ATV with youth passengers without helmets, operating an ATV with too many passengers, failure to display ATV registration, and operating a Class 1 ATV on the shoulder of a state highway. The officer also worked on training and equipment maintenance.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) responded to grass fires in the area. Enforcement action was taken for failing to obtain a burning permit. Speldrich worked ATV activity in the General Andrews State Forest and surrounding area. Enforcement action was taken for equipment violations, under 18 with no helmet, operating in a day use area, and underage operation of a Class 2 ATV on a public road. Speldrich also responded to wetland violations.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked spring fish run, ATV activity, and a bow-fishing complaint. Owners of ATVs are reminded that they are responsible for youth operators riding legally. Enforcement action was taken for taking fish without a license, taking northern pike out of season, no ATV registration, allowing illegal youth operation, and driving after revocation. Starr is currently assisting a neighboring officer with the removal of a fish house from a lake.


CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing, ATV, and OHM activity this past week. Training was completed and enforcement action was taken for various ATV and OHM violations.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked ice angers, monitored ATV riding activity, and talked to youths at a firearms safety class. Enforcement action was taken for expired snowmobile registration.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) attended department training during the week. Time was also spent checking for ice anglers. Ice conditions have deteriorated greatly and open water is prevalent on most lakes in the area.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling and trapping activity this past week. He assisted a neighboring officer with a TIP call. He discussed new sunfish regulations with what looks like to be the last full week of ice angling with rain in the forecast.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports that most lakes have very poor ice conditions. Fishing has all but stopped. A beaver trapper turned in an incidentally taken otter. The otter was given to an area school for education purposes.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Blong Lor (Center City) spent the past week working ice anglers. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley for training.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) took complaints of trespassing and nuisance animals, and answered many calls on regulations. Wetland and public waters cases were followed up on.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports monitoring ATV activity in closed areas. Numerous injured and nuisance animal calls were handled. Anglers on the thinning ice were checked, with some luck being seen on panfish.


CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) spent the week checking ice and open-water anglers. ATV complaint areas were worked. Several animal-related calls were handled.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Some anglers were still getting out on the ice on one end of the lake while other anglers were casting in open water on the other end of the lake. Krauel would like to remind ice anglers that ice conditions are deteriorating very rapidly and to use extreme caution each time they go out. Krauel also spent time patrolling for ATV activity. Krauel also spent time working on equipment maintenance and inventory.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew two wolf telemetry flights and attended an aviation weather webinar.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying fire detection routes during the recent warm, windy days. Jensen assisted with finding possible wetland violations and also illegal ATV/OHV operations. Jensen completed flight instructor recertification, UAV pilot recertification and a qualification shoot at Camp Ripley.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed a training flight in helicopter and prepared a helicopter for fire season. He also attended aviation webinars, and completed pesticide applicator training for this year in preparation for the annual cattail spraying project this summer.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) reports telemetry flights were completed along with a preparation flight for the upcoming fire season. Online training courses were attended.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on updating cases and patrolling area lakes and access for activity. ATV complaints were investigated. Numerous questions regarding new fishing regulations on area lakes were fielded. Several nuisance-animal calls were taken. Training was attended and assistance given to firearms qualifications.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued working on cases in his assigned area. Virtual meetings where attended for TEP and the Minnow Harvester Project. ATV activity has increased and ice conditions continue to deteriorate.


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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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