CO Reports: Officers check ice anglers, remind all; early ice is unsafe
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Dec. 8, 2020
District 9 - Brainerd area
CO (Conservation Officer) Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) checked ice anglers, with a few having some luck. As a reminder, ice conditions vary this time of year with the varying temperatures. Please be careful if you venture out on the ice because not only do you risk your life, you risk the life of rescuers. Fitzgerald also reports checking muzzleloader deer hunters during the past week and weekend. A few late-season small-game hunters were also seen out trying their luck. Calls regarding a possible people through the ice, car-killed deer permits, dumped deer, and many outdoor law-related questions were fielded. Time was also spent patrolling the SRA for state park permits and illegal vehicle activity.
CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) continued to train with COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Brown. They did not see as many hunters out this past week due to the lakes starting to freeze over. People are switching over to ice fishing. Remember that ice conditions vary and not every lake is the same. Be sure to check ice thickness. Violations this past week included possession of marijuana, no fishing license in personal possession, fishing with an extra line, and unattended lines.
CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) worked muzzleloader deer hunters and worked on cases from this fall’s firearms deer season. Early ice anglers are starting to venture out on some lakes. McGowan also spent time on equipment maintenance, and assisted the Forestry Division with a spruce harvest inspection.
CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) monitored angling activity on station lakes. Assistance was given to a local police department on a call where a vehicle went through the ice. Guida also worked on watercraft maintenance and investigated an incident where a contractor cut down a tree with an active bald eagle nest within it.
CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked muzzleloader-deer-hunting and angling activity. A trespass complaint and a call involving ice fishing equipment with no anglers visible were handled.
CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked the first ice anglers of the year. The small lakes have enough ice that people are trying their luck. He saw a few hunters out for the muzzleloader season. Grouse hunters were checked, and they were finding some birds.
District 10 - Mille Lacs area
CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice angler activity on small lakes in the area. Muzzleloader hunters were out making use of the above-average temperatures. Questions were answered regarding the remaining waterfowl running out of open water.
CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time catching up on paperwork, maintaining equipment, training, and following up on calls. He followed up on two deer-carcass-dumping complaints on private property.
CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) investigated a littering/dumping case. She also checked anglers on local lakes and responded to a TIP of extra lines. A sick or injured trumpeter swan was reported, but Speldrich and the wildlife manager were unable to get close enough to catch it.
CO Dan Starr (Onamia) investigated a case of spruce-tree cutting on a WMA, which led to a citation being issued by CO Maass at the suspect’s home in the metro. An incidental fisher was turned in, with concern heard from trappers about the high number of fishers and a short season. Ice anglers continue to press their luck on thin ice.
CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked hunting activity this past week. Hunters afield were low in numbers, as were animals harvested. Some anglers were observed venturing out into various bays on Mille Lacs Lake this past weekend. Anglers should exercise extreme caution as ice conditions are poor and no fish is worth your life. Ice thickness, though very important, is not the only thing to consider before venturing on the ice. Anglers should also consider what safety equipment they have at their disposal. Ice picks, floatation device/suits, and ice cleats are a few things that anglers should have and always use. Calls were fielded regarding a dead bald eagle and dumped deer.
District 2 - Bemidji area
CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking anglers on area lakes. Time was also spent following up on deer-related cases and checking muzzleloader and archery deer hunters. Various deer-hunting-related violations were encountered.
CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked ice anglers and muzzleloader hunters.
CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored ice activity on nearby lakes and found that more people are going out onto the ice. A lot of time was spent checking ice anglers on Upper Red Lake. ATV and big-game activity was also monitored. Enforcement action was taken for multiple angling violations and big-game violations.
CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week working on ongoing cases and checking ice anglers. Many people were seen out fishing over the weekend and ice conditions continue to improve. A lot of the area lakes have walkable ice and fishing has been good. Swedberg wants to remind anglers to check regulations before going out and double-check that they have purchased their license for the year.
CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked ice anglers and trespass complaints. Some muzzleloader deer hunters were also checked. Most reported slow activity.
CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity, with anglers reporting fair-to-good success. Ice conditions continue to vary and caution should be used. Muzzleloader hunting was worked. Warren spent time on small-game hunting on wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas. A call of burning garbage was received. Follow up was conducted on open cases.
CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) and COC Brown spent the past week monitoring angling, muzzleloader-, and pheasant-hunting activity in the Pelican Rapids station. Surprisingly few hunters were observed despite the nice weather, as most people are focusing their attention on ice fishing. Anglers are urged to use extreme caution on area lakes. Average ice depth observed was 4 inches or a little less, with no more than 5 inches on small, shallow lakes. Anglers are finding a few panfish, but are limited in the areas they can safely fish. Calls from the public included reports of dumped deer carcasses and trespassing. Enforcement action was taken for hunting without a license, angling without a license, no shelter identification, no shelter license, and no license in possession.
District 4 - Walker area
CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) continued to check hunting and fishing activity. She reminds people to check the ice conditions while venturing out onto the lakes.
CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) worked fishing and big-game enforcement during the past week. Several lakes have 4 to 6 inches of ice and numerous anglers were checked. Northern pike were the most common fish seen in the bucket. Reminder that designated trout lakes are closed to angling for all species until the trout season opens. Enforcement action during the week included no license in possession, unattended lines, illegal-length/overlimit of northern pike within the slot, angling without a license, no shelter license, and transporting a loaded firearm.
CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked ice anglers and deer hunters. The ice is slowly getting thicker, with up to 6 inches seen on shallow lakes and bays. Reports of hunting deer over bait, filling a wetland, and a dog caught in a trap were received and investigated. Boats were maintained and stored. Enforcement action was taken for underage possession of alcohol and angling violations.
CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking small-game and muzzleloader hunters. Kunst has been following up on a baiting case. A few ice anglers were out on a small lake in the area, but Kunst reminds people not to take chances on the thin ice in the area.
District 11 - St. Cloud area
CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) continued to field train with COC Zach Larson. Time this past week was spent patrolling Stearns and Todd counties. Ongoing deer and wetland violations continued to be investigated. A number of early ice anglers were observed on area lakes.
CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports completing squad maintenance. He checked bow and muzzleloader deer hunters. Small-game hunters and trappers were also checked/observed. He also issued deer-possession permits, collected a car-killed fisher, investigated big-game-related complaints and assisted a local police department on a traffic stop that resulted in the recovery of stolen property.
CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports checking the first ice angler of the season. The lone individual was running five tip-ups.
District 12 - Princeton area
CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week following up on deer-hunting cases and working on equipment maintenance. He also spent time following up on littering complaints.
CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking a variety of outdoor enthusiasts during the past week. Lots of pheasant hunters were out working their dogs during the nice weather. Wetland violations were enforced and trespass calls were investigated. One person was cited for chumming the water with bait and using too many rods.
CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked hunters, ATV riders, and a few ice anglers. The latter people reported the ice is still unsafe in most areas! Calls were responded to regarding dogs chasing deer, litter/carcass dumping, illegal party hunting, and injured animals.
CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked hunters and handled hunting complaints. Calls were received for hunting in closed areas and trespassing. Several animal-related complaints were handled.
Standby Pilot CO Tim Gray (Bemidji) took photos of a bait complaint for a local CO and looked for timber theft activity.
NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a Duluth creel survey consisting of 50 lakes. Heineman also worked on telemetry gear and administrative duties.
Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports preparing for and completing a Duluth fisheries creel survey.
NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) completed a training flight in an airplane and worked on upcoming classes and other administrative tasks.
Water Resource Enforcement Officers
WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on new and open public water, WCA and aquatic plant management cases. An aeration permit project was started. Muzzleloader deer hunters were checked.
WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. Trappers and muzzleloader hunters were checked. Ice anglers were out on smaller lakes, but ice conditions are still unstable. Do not go out on the ice unless there is 4 inches or more.