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CO Reports: Swimming allowed at public accesses - but can't interfere with boat launching

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - June 8, 2021

Boat ramp and dock on a northern Minnesota lake. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Chris Vinton (Perham) reports callers were reminded that swimming is allowed at public water accesses, but those using the access should pick up after themselves, be mindful of no parking areas, and not interfere with folks attempting to launch their boats.

CO Vinton focused enforcement activities on boating, AIS and ATV activities. Above-normal temperatures for the area brought out lots of boats and PWCs but slowed the fishing. ATV riders are reminded that ATVs are prohibited in the ditches south of Highway 10 until Aug. 1. Enforcement action was taken for an ATV in the ditch south of Highway 10, unregistered ATV and no license in possession.

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending annual training at Camp Ripley. Anglers and watercraft operators were checked. Various nuisance-bear calls were received. AIS enforcement was worked at area public water access sites.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored boating and angling activity on area lakes. He responded to a call of two individuals assaulting a person at the state park and then driving away in a stolen van. The two individuals were later taken into custody by the Beltrami County Sherriff’s Office. Vollbrecht attended firearms qualification at Camp Ripley. Local ATV trails and forest roads were patrolled.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) checked anglers, boaters and ATV riders. Assistance was also given to the county with a fatal car crash/hit-and-run incident. Nuisance-bear complaints were handled and a detail was worked with other area officers over the weekend.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week working boating, recreational vehicle, and fishing patrols. Crappie and sunfish have started to move in to shallow areas and fishing activity has increased. The hot weather brought a lot of boaters to the area as well. Swedberg also worked a recreational vehicle detail around the Cormorant area with CO Landmark and CO Chihak during the Turf Wars Racing event.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, worked ATV patrol, and followed up on a complaint of public land posting.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the past week working sport fishing, AIS and ATV enforcement. He also attended training at Camp Ripley, assisted other area officers on an ATV detail, and spent time speaking to community stakeholders.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week working AIS, commercial minnow dealer, and ATV/OHM enforcement. Landmark also attended division training at Camp Ripley. ATV/OHM operators are reminded it is their responsibility to know the rules and regulations and to transfer your purchased off-road vehicle into your name within 15 days. Calls from the public included angling questions, boat registration problems, and reports of nuisance bears. If you have a bear in your neighborhood, please remove garbage, bird seed, and all other food sources to deter the bear from staying in the area. Enforcement action was taken for failure to transfer OHM/ATV, operating an OHM within a road right-of-way, careless OHM operation, no valid driver’s license, operating an unregistered OHM, failure to display ATV registration and no ATV safety training.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking anglers and ATV riders throughout the week. Kunst received a call of a camper staying in a state forest for longer than 14 days, various animal-related complaint calls and a sport fishing violation call. Kunst also assisted at a firearms safety training field day.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) investigated a report of blocking a waterway. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, OHM violations, and no license in possession.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) focused on ATV riders, watercraft operators and anglers. Fishing remained active for some, with most people still catching some of their targeted fish. Enforcement action was taken for no personal flotation device, traveling on a public road with the boat plug in, no navigation lights after sunset, and failure to display valid registration. Cross also spoke at multiple public events, assisted at an ATV safety class, and assisted the Cass and Hubbard County sheriff’s offices.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled area lakes for angling and boating enforcement. McGowan also assisted DNR Forestry with wildfire investigations. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, overlimit of walleyes, and numerous boating violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on ATV, fishing and boating enforcement during the week. ATV trails are extremely dusty given warm weather and lack of rain. Annual firearms training was completed.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and boaters. Anglers reported fishing was relatively slow, possibly due to the lake fly hatch or extremely warm weather. Mathy presented safety information to kindergarten and first-grade classes at the Cass Lake Elementary School. Assistance was also provided after a drive-by shooting incident. The suspect was later apprehended. Calls about injured deer, nuisance bears, an overlimit of fish, and unmarked gill nets were received and investigated. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) attended training at Camp Ripley this week. Baum also enforced fishing, boating, and recreational vehicle activity. Baum encountered violations for no licenses in possession, no life jacket, no helmet on ATV passengers under 18, and fishing without a license. He also attended an ATV safety class and spoke about ATV laws.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) spent time working angling and boating activity on Aitkin- and McGregor-area lakes/rivers. Ladd also worked ATV activity, locating one group where the youth were operating without helmets and underage without ATV safety. Ladd followed up on several wetland and aquatic plant violations and answered several phone calls about trespass-related issues.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled station lakes this week. Guida worked an extra patrol on Mille Lacs Lake, monitoring special regulations. Guida assisted with a car-wounded deer and also a loon that was tangled in fishing line. Case preparation was done for an upcoming court trial.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) took enforcement action this week for no fishing license, expired registration, failure to transfer, no helmets, dogs chasing deer, wake violations and fishing harassment. Nuisance-wildlife calls were handled as well.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) observed a large amount of recreational boating and fishing over the past weekend. Sullivan also assisted with area firearms safety training classes. Careless-operation-of-ATV and damage-to-property complaints in the area continued to be investigated.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking the state recreation area for anglers during the week. Time was spent checking the SRA for illegal vehicle activity and for state park permits. He assisted with Division training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action for the week included various SRA violations.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) enforced boating and fishing laws throughout the week. He gave a tow to two PWC operators after their machine stranded them in the lake. He also attended firearms training at Camp Ripley and patrolled by ATV on area trails.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored angling activity on Mille Lacs Lake throughout the week. The fishing success seemed to slow through the week, as the temperature went up. Griffith also monitored ATV activity on the Soo Line and Red Top trails. Griffith would like to remind riders to stay on the designated trail. Griffith also helped out with a firearm safety class that took place in Moose Lake on Saturday.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling for fishing, boating, and ATV riding activity. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length walleyes on Mille Lacs Lake, no angling license in possession, and failure to have a throwable PFD in the boat. She also assisted with a DNR event at the Aitkin Elementary School.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) rescued a bear cub after the sow was hit by a car on Interstate 35. The cub will be rehabilitated at the Garrison Animal Hospital. Speldrich received a complaint of a bald eagle held captive in a dog kennel. The eagle was actually a polish chicken and had a black body with a white plumed head. The owners aptly named it Que Ball. She also assisted with a firearms safety field day.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked night ban regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, along with the walleye catch-and-release season. Muskie season opener found some nice fish boated. Violations for no PFDs, lacking boat registration, and PWC registration issues were found. Sun and heat hampered some outdoor activities.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) primarily worked sport fishing and ATV/OHM enforcement this week. Hot weather brought many people to area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for various sport fishing, boating, and ATV-related violations. A firearms safety field day was attended and led by COs around the state, certifying over 20 kids.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and boaters. Most calls this week concerned nuisance beavers and bears. A complaint was also received regarding taking snapping turtles during the closed season.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored ATV activity, worked boating safety and AIS, and checked anglers. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display OHM registration, failure to display ATV registration and numbers, operating an ATV without required safety training, failure to display valid boat registration, failure to transfer boat title, failure to renew boat registration, no PFD onboard watercraft, operating a PWC within 150 feet of shore, no angling license in possession, and an overlimit of crappies in possession.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week monitoring angling and boating activity in the station. Time was also spent monitoring for AIS violations. A lake association meeting was attended and information regarding various DNR topics was addressed. Silgjord also attended the Freeport Family Fishing Contest and spoke with volunteers and attendees. All of the youth who had brought up their catch for weigh-in appeared to being having a great time. Silgjord would like to thank all of the volunteers for the hard work they put in to the event.


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling, boating and AIS activity this past week. Complaints of jet skis out after hours and a TIP of a bowfisher shooting a large northern pike and another of bowfishers dumping their creel in the ditch and bragging of shooting snapping turtles were received.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking anglers on various lakes. Enforcement action was taken for illegal fish, transporting boats with drain plugs, and no navigation lights on boats. ATVs and dirt bikes were also checked. Various complaints were also handled on WMAs, including target shooting and camping violations.

Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew several survey flights for fisheries.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) reports flying a helicopter training flight and tending to other administrative tasks.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports completing end-of-month paperwork, administrative tasks, and coordinating with a contract pilot for a creel survey.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of flying angler creel flights in the Duluth area and working a boat/water enforcement detail on Mille Lacs Lake. Jensen also attended firearms qualification at Camp Ripley.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) gave a flight review to a helicopter pilot and did a training flight in a helicopter. He prepared equipment for possible fire duty and did administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed creel flights for Lake Vermilion. He attended training at Camp Ripley. Time was spent on ATV enforcement, and aircraft maintenance was scheduled.


Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week assisting and instructing at Camp Ripley for qualification shoots and handgun transition. Time was spent on AIS activity and open cases. Several wildlife-related calls were taken and people were given guidance.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on cases in his assigned work area. A special project was worked in Aitkin with local law enforcement and time was spent for training at Camp Ripley.

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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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