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CO Reports: State forest trails and roads still closed

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - April 14, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled area lakes for angling activity. Numerous ATVs were out operating on local township roads. Trails continue to be closed. A reminder that anyone under the age of 18 operating an ATV or riding as a passenger needs to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked trapping activity and some early fishing activity as all area lakes are now free of ice. Ladd also monitored activity around closed forest roads and ATV trails.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) continued training COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Nicholas Baum this week. Sullivan and Baum instructed a firearms safety class at Pequot Lakes Middle School. Sullivan and Baum patrolled the Rainy River and observed violations including no license in possession, no noise making device, throwable lifesaving device, and fire extinguisher, failure to renew watercraft registration, angling with an extra line, and angling without a license. Sullivan and Baum patrolled the Baxter and Pequot Lakes area for recreational vehicles and observed violations including no helmets on youths, failure to renew ATV registration, no ATV safety certificate, allowing illegal operation of an ATV, and operating motor vehicles on a posted closed road.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSAR) reports checking area lakes for fishing and boating activity throughout the week and weekend. Several anglers were reminded that the designated trout lakes are closed for every species until the opener of trout fishing. Fitzgerald patrolled the park for illegal ATV and closed trail issues. Park passes were checked and many outdoor law-related questions were fielded. Several calls about injured animals were taken and assistance was given to park staff on some SRA-related issues.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) has seen more anglers targeting crappies this week. Beaver trapping has picked up, too. Rains have raised water levels so please use caution, especially around moving water.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports following up on wildfire cases. Time was also spent checking anglers and watercraft operators. ATV operators were also contacted. Various angling and watercraft-related violations were encountered.


CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked fish run activity, spring trappers and a few anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked boat and water safety shifts with CO Larson on the Rainy River over the weekend. The river was busy and several large sturgeon and walleyes were observed being caught. Anglers are reminded to check for boating safety equipment and registration before going on the water. Vollbrecht followed up on a complaint of individuals filling a wetland and patrolled areas for ATV activity.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) patrolled for ATV activity and followed up on a complaint of ATVs operating on wildlife management area land. A report of an accidental otter catch was handled and assistance was given to the Bemidji Police Department. Time was also spent training with K9 Storm.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports scouting for turkeys that hunters may be pursuing for the approaching 2021 spring turkey season. Vinton assisted with putting together training from the EVOC team. ATV and spring fire patrols were conducted and complaints of a public water access that had ATV damage done were investigated. A possible violation of aquatic plant removal is under investigation. Questions were fielded about the new sunfish regulations.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week working sport fishing, ATV, and fish run activities. Water temperatures were rising through the first part of the week. The surface water temperature in a lot of areas lakes is in the mid-40s. Some anglers were having success with crappies, but for the most part it was still difficult to find crappies in shallow areas. Swedberg also worked a TIP complaint with CO Landmark on early bowfishers along the Pelican River. The COs were able to make contact with two groups of bowfishers who did not realize the season starts in two weeks (April 24). Enforcement action for the week included angling without a license, bowfishing out of season, illegal operation by a youth on an ATV and OHM, operating an OHM on a county highway, and expired boat registration.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) handled calls of a dead eagle and trespass. He also worked beaver and minnow trappers as well as early open-water anglers.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent issuing wildlife-possession permits and answering questions about the upcoming spring turkey season.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling, leeching and fish run activity. Boating safety regulation checks were performed. Patrol was conducted for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. A call of a car-hit eagle was received. Upon investigation, it was identified as a Canada goose. WMAs and waterfowl production areas were monitored for activity.


CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring the spring fish run, checking anglers, and patrolling for ATV and OHM violations. Anglers are finding a few crappies in the shallow bays, but the water temperatures need to warm up some for the activity to pick up. Early season boaters are reminded to make sure every occupant has a life jacket. It does not take long for hypothermia to set in with the current water temps. With the early ice-out, bowfishers are reminded that the early bowfishing season is only for lakes south of Highway 210. While on patrol, Landmark and CO Swedberg observed bowfishing boats on an area lake. The anglers were surprised to see the officers and were unaware of the early bowfishing regulations, as they did not read the regulations thoroughly. It was discovered that the anglers were taking rough fish out of season, taking rough fish in a closed spawning area, and had no life jackets onboard their watercraft. Enforcement action was also taken for multiple life jacket violations, watercraft registration violations, angling without a license, and several ATV/OHM violations.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports boats and anglers are getting out for some early panfish action. Despite low water temperatures, crappies were still being caught in shallow bays. Richards took reports of incidentally caught otters and fielded questions related to turkey hunting. Contacts were made on the water with reminders on boat registration and safety items.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) monitored fishing, boating, and invasive species throughout the week. ATV traffic was worked and Plautz assisted with a firearms safety field day in the Battle Lake area. Incidentally caught muskrats from multiple trappers were handled.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and boaters. Calls were handled about the upcoming fishing opener and the husband/wife fishing license.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) checked anglers, recreational vehicles and trapping throughout the previous week. Time was also spent organizing a firearms safety class and monitoring spring fish run activity. A TIP complaint was received and an investigation is ongoing.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked throughout the week checking panfish anglers both from shore and boats. With heavy rains, it was hard to get outside most of the week, but by the weekend anglers were enjoying nicer weather and some mixed crappie success. A few anglers were reminded that targeting bass before fishing opener is not allowed. Another angler was cited for possessing marijuana and paraphernalia while fishing with his children.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) checked spring trappers and anglers, and responded to numerous incidental catches. An illegal bridge that was blocking navigable river waters was also investigated. Cross responded to an ATV accident and attended emergency medical training at Camp Ripley.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time enforcing ATV laws throughout the week. Violations that were found were addressed to drivers. Kunst also took phone calls on incidental otters trapped in beaver sets. She also responded to a fire in Aitkin County.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers, ATV riders, and fire activity. Activity was relatively low due to the cold and wet weather. Mathy investigated a report of littered snow goose carcasses along a roadway. Mathy also assisted at an ATV accident in the Paul Bunyan State Forest. Enforcement action was taken for an angling violation and driving on closed forest roads in the state forest.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers and working ATV activity. Several violations were detected from catching and keeping bass and northern pike out of season to operating ATVs in the closed area of a state forest. Krauel also spent time working on equipment maintenance and following up on DNR cases.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports enforcing ATV laws. A deer investigation was looked into. Benkofske patrolled state forest areas and handled numerous animal-related and fire calls.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) took complaints of nuisance and injured animals, and assisted with wetland and public waters violations. Bear sightings are common this time of year. A reminder to remove bird feeders and other food sources if bears are seen on your property. If you don’t, they will likely continue to return.

Aviation Section

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf telemetry flight for nonfunctioning GPS collars. Heineman also attended to administrative tasks and training.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying a fire detection flight and also flying a helicopter training flight. Online training was completed during bouts of poor flying weather.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) flew a training flight with another pilot and completed administrative tasks. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed online training courses. He worked on flight schedules for upcoming surveys and attended to a variety of maintenance items.


Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week checking anglers, working on old and new Wetland Conservation Act and public water cases. Time was spent cleaning up equipment and transitioning for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. State forest land was patrolled for ATV activity.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned area. A possible shoreline violation was investigated in Hackensack. State forest trails were patrolled for road closures. Spring fishing activity was monitored.

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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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