Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



CO Reports: State trails and forest roads closed for spring thaw

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - April 5, 2022

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tony Flerlage (Crosby) monitored state trails and roads that are closed for the spring thaw. Flerage saw some melting snow this week. The small rivers and streams are flowing, but some lakes have had decent ice. Panfish are being caught regularly.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking anglers and ATV operators throughout the week. Anglers are having good success throughout the area for crappies and sunfish. As of April 1, all the designated trout lakes are closed to all angling until the season opener. Bike trails remain closed to all activity until things dry out later in the spring.


CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports ATV use in the area has started to increase as snow in area ditches is dissipating. Anglers continue to target crappie and sunfish, with moderate success. Enforcement action was taken for juveniles on ATVs with no helmets and expired ATV registration. Investigations into trapping violations and fish overlimits also continue.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled for angling activity. Reports of anglers taking overlimits from area lakes have been received. Guida prepared for upcoming training and maintained equipment.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers and ATV riders in the area. Enforcement action was taken for no angling licenses and expired ATV registrations. Calls of illegal burning, wounded wildlife, and fish overlimits were also looked into.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked trapping, fishing, and recreational vehicle enforcement this week. Enforcement action was taken for various violations. Numerous wildlife-related calls were handled.


District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) assisted Morrison County rescue a kayaker who had tipped over in the Mississippi River and was stuck within the ice flow. Westby also continued to work area lakes for angling activity and ATV enforcement. Westby assisted two people on Moose Lake whose ATV went through the ice. Both individuals were wearing float bibs and jackets. The ATV was removed shortly after. Westby also located a stolen ATV at the Pillager dam. With the assistance from the Baxter Police Department and Cass County deputies, the ATV was returned to the registered owner and charges for receiving stolen property were filed.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) attend training and conducted seasonal equipment maintenance.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity this week. He assisted neighboring officers with a litter investigation. Annual maintenance was also completed this week.

District 2 - Bemidji area


CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Complaints of dogs chasing deer were taken.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended annual in-service training and worked complaints of off-highway motorcycle road damage and trespassing.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking ice anglers and following up on open wetlands cases. The ice held up for another weekend of fishing and anglers had good success, but this week’s forecast could mean the end for the ice fishing season. Landmark also issued a permit for a road-killed otter and investigated a report of a number of snow geese found dead in a field. Several snow geese were collected by Wildlife staff for sampling.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) attended training and spent time on snowmobile and fishing enforcement.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking ice anglers and attending training. Enforcement action consisted of a variety of angling and recreational vehicle violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling activity. She advises anglers to be cautious while traveling out on the ice. She also investigated a forestry harvest complaint.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) attended training at duck school and spent time checking ATV riders and anglers throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV without headlights, failure to transfer title and failure to display valid registration on an ATV.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) attended training for waterfowl identification and enforcement. He patrolled area lakes for panfish fishing activity. Baum found anglers having varying success. Baum took enforcement action on various violations, including angling without a license and failure to display valid ATV registration. Baum wants to remind anglers to check ice conditions before venturing onto the ice.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers. Lake ice has held up this past week and anglers were rewarded with good catches of perch and sunfish. Forecasted rain and warmth may make it impossible to access the lakes soon as the shoreline ice starts to erode. Mathy also spent time working on a deer-related case from this past fall and a fishing TIP call. Enforcement action was taken for a snowmobile violation.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for late-season ice fishing activity. He also attended Division trainings. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week at training, where he learned more about ducks and other waterfowl and migratory bird species. Most of his time was spent studying waterfowl during their migration, learning how to identify various waterfowl species, and also learning various techniques in enforcing waterfowl hunting laws and detecting waterfowl-related violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked angling and ATV activity. Many people were still on the ice and catching panfish. Sutherland gave a presentation to an area youth DARE class and brought in Minnesota furbearer pelts. Habitats of the animals and the food chain were topics covered.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored angling activity and recreational vehicles during the past week. Time was also spent on complaints involving dogs chasing deer and illegal burning. Holt attended training and conducted commercial license inspections.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spoke with several people who were scouting for the upcoming turkey hunting season. Beaver trappers were also out and about as some of their trapping locations are now accessible with the melting snow and ice.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) continued to check ice anglers despite slushy conditions and the ice sheet pulling away from shore. Diminishing snow cover is also prompting litter investigations as months of debris is revealed.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored ATV activity in the Isle station. Time was also spent away from the Isle station this week for waterfowl training in southern Minnesota.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) completed some tasks related to the upcoming fire season and is investigating a burning violation of car parts. State forest and WMA roads and trails were monitored for illegal use. Deer stands were removed from WMA lands and trapping concerns were taken from a beaver trapper. A work detail on Lake Vermilion found snowmobiling conditions good and some panfish being caught.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) spent a number of days completing required training. Calls were fielded about incidentally trapped animals and an injured deer.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking ice anglers. He also patrolled for ATV activity and attended a local TIP banquet.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) received a complaint about vehicles driving off road on state forest lands. The vehicle was immobilized, thus needing to be towed out at the owner’s expense. It is important to drive vehicles only on approved and maintained roads.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew with the Upper Red Lake officer to check over the lake for past due shelters and trash. Two shelters were spotted, as was half a V-plow, but other than that the lake looked clear of debris.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf pack counts and two rotary training flights.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued ground training and flight training with two pilots, and attended to helicopter maintenance. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) provided low-level training for a unit pilot. He attended training focusing on wildlife identification. Scott updated pilot training records.

Standby CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) conducted training flights and attended to aircraft maintenance this week.

NR Pilot Grace Zeller (Brainerd) continued ground training and attended to administrative tasks.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on open cases and prepping for the upcoming AIS season. Time was spent at training at Camp Ripley and getting ready for in-service.

--- --- ---


What To Read Next
Musher Joanna Oberg of Grand Marais and her team of dogs finished the 107.5-mile mid-distance race in 15 hours, 5 minutes and 15 seconds.
Leadership takes honest reflection and thinking about the needs of others, Jenny Schlecht writes. With that in mind, do we have the right leaders to get a new farm bill passed by Sept. 30?
Members Only
An original 'UP NORTH' cartoon, by Frank Haggerty
Members Only
Musings from Pequot Lakes resident Craig Nagel about the joy of hunkering down with a good book during winter