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CO Reports: Some CO's report unacceptable number of violations for waterfowl opener

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - September 27, 2022

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Conservation Officer) Dan Starr (Onamia) worked opening of regular waterfowl season which was a bit discouraging for CO Starr, as an unacceptable number of violations were found. A large list of violations included no small-game license, no state duck stamps, unsigned federal duck stamps, unplugged shotguns, possessing/using lead shot, insufficient PFDs, overloaded watercraft, failure to retrieve downed ducks, no HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification, no license in possession and illegal drug possession.

Starr also attended in-service training and took care of some equipment service items. Opening week of the small-game season found a few people having success.


CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked a busy duck opener. Time was also spent checking anglers on Mille Lacs Lake and working the ATV trails. Griffith followed up on complaints of ATVs operating in Mille Lacs Lake and trespass complaints. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, failure to display watercraft registration, hunting without a license, unplugged shotgun, drug paraphernalia, and use of toxic shot while duck hunting.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked hunters pursuing various game during the many fall seasons that were open. Enforcement action was taken for illegal waterfowl equipment, license violations, life jacket violations, and unlawful ATV operation. Calls regarding litter and trespassing were also looked into.

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked waterfowl hunters as the season opened for most hunters. A trespassing issue was addressed when access to a fishing lake was disputed. He also monitored a local ATV ride and checked big-game hunters.

District 9 - Brainerd area


CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked his field training assignment this week. The officers encountered numerous waterfowl hunters and anglers this week. Some very remote areas were worked. License, PFD, and waterfowl regulations were enforced. Most duck-hunter bags checked averaged two to three ducks, including green-winged teal, wood ducks, and mallards.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking waterfowl and small-game hunters throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for various violations. Phone calls from people with hunting related questions were also received.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) attended annual training at Camp Ripley. He checked mostly satisfied duck hunters over the weekend, with mainly teal and wood ducks seen.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked small-game and waterfowl-hunting activity, as well as ATV enforcement during the week. Enforcement action was taken for registration issues and shooting nongame birds.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) and COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Ryan Christenson spent time patrolling ATV trails and checking anglers, bear baits, and waterfowl hunters. Several limits of woods ducks were observed. Hunters reported seeing good numbers of waterfowl. Enforcement action included license and safety equipment violations. The officers would like to remind hunters to have adequate PFDs on watercrafts.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) continued field training. Time was spent patrolling area ATV trails, lakes, and scouting for the waterfowl opener. It was a busy waterfowl opener at many public accesses, with a mixed bag of ducks being brought in. Waterfowl hunters took mallards, wood ducks, pintails, ring necks, and teal. Time was also spent preparing and maintaining equipment for the waterfowl season.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking small-game hunters and waterfowl hunters. He checked many groups of duck hunters over the weekend, and most groups had some success and almost every group was law-abiding. Teal, wood ducks, and ring necks were the most common ducks seen over the weekend, with some redheads and mallards mixed in. Enforcement action for the week included trespass issues on a waterfowl production area, using lead shot on a WPA, and no plug in a shotgun while hunting migratory waterfowl.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted with in-service training and worked bear and duck hunters. Duck opener was good for most hunters. Almost everyone had ducks and many had their limit. Peterson also responded to a trespass call on a squirrel hunter. The hunter was located and enforcement action was taken for trespass and no license.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports a busy start to the waterfowl season. Hunters had success with mixed bags of mallards, teal and wood ducks. He also checked squirrel and grouse hunters in the area. Some enforcement action consisted of insufficient licenses, unplugged shotgun, transporting a loaded firearm, possession of lead shot while waterfowl hunting, insufficient number of life jackets, taking of a non-game migratory bird and miscellaneous recreational vehicle registration issues.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) continued field training COC Znajda. Time was spent investigating a deer-dumping incident and checking anglers. Waterfowl hunters were checked over opening weekend. Most hunters had a few ducks in the bag.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) continued training with a new conservation officer candidate. The officers worked Cass County area lakes and rivers throughout the week. The area has been busy with waterfowl-hunting and fishing activity. Enforcement action was taken for multiple overlimits, boating safety violations, and numerous waterfowl-hunting violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked hunting and angling activity. She also responded to a call of an injured eagle. Enforcement action was taken on no license in possession, no HIP certification, and an extra fishing line.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked archery deer and bear hunting along with small-game hunting throughout the week. The weekend primarily consisted of Cross checking waterfowl hunters and archery deer hunters. None of the waterfowl hunters that Cross checked were skunked on opener. Significant time was also spent on a continuing background investigation.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked waterfowl hunters and anglers. A hunter-harassment call was received and investigated. Time was also spent at training the past week. Enforcement action was taken for waterfowl, angling, and ATV violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy weekend of waterfowl opener in the area, with very good results had by hunters. Hunters harvested numerous blue-winged teal, wood ducks and some mallards. Enforcement action was taken for not having federal and state waterfowl stamps, possessing lead shot and having an unregistered ATV.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) focused on small-game hunting and angling during the previous week. Time was also spent checking waterfowl hunters on the opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for hunting small game without a license, taking ducks without state or federal stamps and transporting loaded firearms.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored waterfowl hunting over the opening weekend. Success rates were high considering the rice crop was rather poor this year. In-service training was attended at Camp Ripley. Hochstein also assisted with instructing at the State Patrol Academy for their water survival training.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) assisted with in-service training at Camp Ripley this week. He worked the waterfowl opening weekend, with a high success rate from most hunters. Enforcement actions included no life jacket, no throwable, no state/federal stamp, no plug in a shotgun, lead shot in possession, transporting a loaded firearm, no license in possession, and no angling license.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports a busy duck opener. Enforcement action was taken for no license, unplugged shotgun, and burning prohibited materials. A trespass call was also handled.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked waterfowl activity in multiple different areas of the state. He worked on training and vehicle maintenance this week. He took calls concerning ATV activity and concerns of youthful operation on roadways and riding without helmets.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) assisted with training at Camp Ripley and worked the waterfowl opener over the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for no small-game license, no license in possession, and no federal duck stamp.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the Isanti area for the opening of the duck season. The weather was wonderful with the overcast skies. Hanna observed many ducks on the first day but not so many the second day. Questions were fielded about trespassing and legal hunting hours.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking small-game hunters and anglers. He also worked a busy waterfowl opener. Krauel also assisted a waterfowl hunter with boat issues get out of the mud and back to the access.

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