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CO Reports: Please leave cute, wild animals in the wild - where they belong

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - June 23, 2022

Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports patrolling by ATV and watercraft. He also spent some time on routine maintenance and assisted another agency with a DWI arrest. He received a call from a family that had brought baby cygnets home and wanted to raise them. The cygnets were picked up and brought to a local animal rehabber. As a general reminder, leave wild animals in the wild where they belong. In most cases the parents are off feeding and will return to their young.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling, boat and water safety, and off-highway motor vehicle patrol. Cross additionally assisted with a youth firearms safety class. Enforcement action was taken for angling, boat and water safety, and off-highway vehicle violations.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling activity and investigated ATV complaints. She also spoke at a firearms safety class.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling, boating, and recreational vehicle traffic. Baum has noticed an increase in the number of recreationist getting outside with the change of weather recently. Baum took enforcement action on various angling, boating, and recreational vehicle violations. Baum wants to remind people to take a look at the regulation books and ask questions before heading out.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) handled several nuisance-bear complaints and patrolled the lakes and trails. Training was provided to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office on boating and ATV laws.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) checked recreational vehicle use and anglers. Mathy assisted an ATV rider who was stuck back on a trail after their ATV blew a tire. A nuisance-bear complaint was investigated. Enforcement action was taken for littering, underage possession of alcohol, OHM, ATV, boat, and angling violations.


CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) attended a week-long boating instructor training out of state. Several TIP calls and questions were also handled.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers, monitored ATV and OHM activities, and responded to TIP reports and animal-related calls. While at a local resort checking anglers, Brown noticed that a fishing rod over the back of an unoccupied boat was moving. Brown walked over and picked up the rod and reeled in a large crappie. The owner came down to the harbor and enforcement action was taken for the unattended fishing line. While speaking to a mother about not having a helmet on her child on an ATV, another member of the party fled on a dirt bike. The individual was tracked down shortly after and charges of fleeing on a motor vehicle are pending. Enforcement action was also taken for parking violations, ATV-registration violations, no PFDs on watercraft, possession of open alcohol containers, failure to drain live wells, no boat navigation lights, and possession of slot northern pike and walleyes.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATV activity the past week with many people on area trails. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV down the middle of the roadway and for having expired registration. Sutherland also worked the area walleye and panfish bite, with summer patterns finally setting up.


CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked anglers and boating activity throughout the past week. Time was also spent working an AIS enforcement detail and following up on open fire investigations. Holt checked ATV complaint areas and handled nuisance-bear complaints.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking ATVs and anglers. He worked an ATV detail with Hubbard County-area conservation officers to target high-use areas. Swedberg also worked a TIP call of an individual taking fish using a net at an area dam. He was able to get to the area and watch the person use a landing net to scoop up several fish. Thanks to the TIP call, Swedberg was able to find the group of people and found there were several more issues on top of the netting violation.


District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking ATV riders and anglers. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful dirt biking, children without helmets, expired registration, lack of life jackets, and no angling licenses. Benkofske also assisted on medical calls, local lake association meetings, and firearms safety classes.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week on boating/fishing, and ATV activities. A wetland-digging incident was also investigated.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area


CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) patrolled area lakes and accesses. ATV activity was monitored throughout the week. TIP calls and nuisance-animal calls were followed up on. Griffith also assisted local deputies on a domestic in progress.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked a variety of activities this week, including sport fishing, boating, and ATV/OHM enforcement. Time was spent at an AIS check station. A talk was given at a lake association meeting. Two firearms safety field days were attended.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) took a variety of animal-related calls over the week. Deer are creating road hazards as of late and motorists should use caution at high-movement hours. Assistance was given to the State Patrol on a traffic situation and revoked driver’s license case. A shoreline-alteration situation was also worked on with the area hydrologist. Starr worked an annual ATV memorial ride and found compliance very good.


District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) patrolled area lakes and rivers for boating and angling activities. Westby spoke at a firearms safety class at the Rice Creek Pheasant farm. He took several phone calls about nuisance bears. A trapping complaint was taken with enforcement action for failing to tend traps. Other enforcement actions included no life jacket, failure to display registration, wetland violations, and several ATV violations.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked anglers and conducted boat and water safety checks. He conducted aquatic invasive species checks at public water accesses, monitored ATV activity, assisted local law enforcement and fielded multiple calls about nuisance bears. Enforcement action was taken for expired boat registration, no angling license in possession, and operating a mechanical weed roller without a permit.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked the area focusing on boating and ATV activity. Windy weather slowed the weekend water activity down some. Area fishing has tapered off on some lakes and picked up on others.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying an ATV detail and various APM/WCA photo flights.

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew a few enforcement recon flights and started training in the Cessna 185 airframe.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) reports working the field and assisting Brainerd Fisheries on lake surveys.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) reports aircraft checkout training was started with a unit pilot. He prepared a weekly training presentation. He scheduled upcoming aircraft maintenance and future flights.

Stand-by CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) flew an enforcement flight in the Lake Vermilion area with the local officer there. Maintenance issues were tended to, and training tasks were completed.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) continued flight training with a mission-based flight scenario and a night operations flight. She modernized helicopter weight and balance sheets to allow for electric data entry and record keeping.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NE) spent the week teaching at the Academy. Time was spent checking anglers, ATV activity and following up on WCA (Wetland Conservation Act) and PW (Public Waters) complaints. Site visits were conducted. Follow up with field COs and LGUs (Local Governmental Units) was conducted.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) conducted an AIS check station with district 7, 9 and 10 officers near Big Sandy Lake. Case updates were conducted and TEP (Technical Evaluation Panel) meetings were attended. AIS enforcement and ATV enforcement conducted.

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