District 4 - Walker area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) checked the area for snowmobile riders and ice anglers. She reminds people to be mindful of ice thickness before traveling out onto the lakes. She also wrote possession permits for car-killed deer.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and snowmobile riders. Area lakes average 7 to 9 inches of ice. There are, however, several areas on many lakes that froze late and likely still have very thin ice. Snowmobile trails are groomed in the area. Enforcement action was taken for angling and ATV violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked sport fishing and snowmobile trail enforcement this past week. Guida continued field training with COC Ryan Hanna. Some area trails have not been opened due to maintenance of lowland wetland areas that have not completely frozen. They checked anglers who walked out on the ice attempting to catch fish. Angling license compliance was good but one angler was caught using extra lines and another was in possession of an illegal-length northern pike. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports activity this past week of monitoring fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and muzzleloader deer activity.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports continuing Step 4 field training with COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Emily Leeb. They patrolled for muzzleloader deer and small-game hunters, but with the amount of snow few hunters were seen out. They also checked area lakes for fishing activity and saw a few anglers. Please be careful on the ice as the conditions vary and there’s lots of slush and open water. Fitzgerald and Leeb took calls for car-killed deer permits and cars traveling on the grant in aid snowmobile trail. They also fielded many outdoor law-related questions. Time was spent patrolling the area snowmobile trails and the conditions varied with some trails not being groomed due to unfrozen swamps. A fair number of sleds were seen out getting the first ride of the season in. Please remember to check your registration – if it says 2019 or older your sled registration is expired. Enforcement action for the week included various snowmobile violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for late-season muzzleloader deer hunters, snowmobile activity, and fishing. Numerous snowmobilers were out over the weekend enjoying good snow conditions. Enforcement action was taken for numerous snowmobiling violations and hunting deer over bait.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) and COC Mikeena Mattson primarily worked snowmobile enforcement, big-game enforcement, ATV enforcement, and fishing enforcement this past week. A snowmobile safety talk was given. Additionally, a local high school was visited and an informational talk was given on what conservation officers do. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display current snowmobile registration, possession of an illegal-length northern pike, and no angling licenses in possession. A warrant arrest was made.

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Reminder: Any resident born after December 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota must possess a snowmobile certificate. Two options are available to complete certification. Ages 11 and older can take the online course and hands-on day or attend the traditional youth course. Those 16 or older can take the online course.

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District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked anglers who were out in slushy conditions and patches of open water. Snowmobile riders were out but trail conditions quickly deteriorated. Muzzleloader and small-game hunters were making use of the fresh snow that made it easy to spot game.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent meeting with the new CO Prep candidates to answer questions on the training process. She reports snowmobile trails in the area are in good condition.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) handled snowmobile trespass calls and patrolled local trails for snowmobiling activity. Speldrich taught the law portion of a youth snowmobile safety class at Willow River School. Speldrich worked on an investigation from the firearms deer season and on a background investigation for a potential new hire. Speldrich assisted the State Patrol with a suspect who fled on foot on Interstate 35.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) checked early ice anglers and found some panfish and small pike showing up. Anglers should use extreme caution when venturing out, as ice conditions vary. A lost hunter was found in the Mille Lacs WMA (Wildlife Management Area) and trespass concerns continue to be heard. Assistance was given at the scene of a car-vs.-pedestrian accident. One victim was life-flown in critical condition.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) worked on a background investigation for the upcoming CO Academy. He gave a law and safety presentation to a snowmobile safety class, and checked hunters over the weekend. Assistance was provided to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office with a helicopter crash.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) assisted several agencies with calls, including a new no-parking area off Highway 22 that anglers used for years to access the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes. He contacted anglers on the lake to advise them to move. Deer-hunting cases continue to be the primary workload. VanderWeyst discussed laws and ethics at a snowmobile safety class.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports anglers have started venturing out on area lakes. The ice varies from 3 to 6 inches. Most lakes have areas of slush, which is making travel difficult.

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If you are 18 or older and would like to become an instructor for Snowmobile Safety, ATV Safety, Firearms Safety, Trail Ambassador or one of the Advanced Hunter programs, contact your local conservation officer or regional safety training officer. Instructor clinics are scheduled throughout the state and are listed on the DNR website.

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District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week working snowmobile enforcement. He also assisted in the arrest of a vehicle displaying stolen vehicle plates and spent time checking pheasant hunters.

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked hunters, snowmobile riders and ATV riders, and assisted in a call of a man overboard in the river who was found to be in his boat. Londgren continues to works on a background investigation.

CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports spending a lot of time on the snowmobile, monitoring trails and checking on riders. Enforcement action was taken for no registration and various moving violations. An ATV was stopped that was found to be stolen out of the Twin Cities area. Benkofske, with the help of CO Seamans, arrested the individual for possession of stolen property and theft.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew bear and wolf telemetry. The bear locations will be used by the biologist to visit the den this winter to weigh the animal, change the battery on its collar and check on the health of the bear and possible cubs. Heineman also did annual helicopter training.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying a rotary training flight, a big-game bait flight and a wolf telemetry flight. Local ice angling is sporadic due to slush issues with most lakes now frozen over with either clear ice (due to freeze-up after the snow event) or slush issues due to heavy snow. Jensen also spoke at a career day at Trek North High School.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter maintenance issues. He flew a training flight in a helicopter, and did a training flight with another helicopter pilot, in preparation for the upcoming moose surveys. Emergency maneuvers for low altitude were practiced, simulating the moose survey work. He also flew with TFO (Tactical Flight Officer) Haberman on a call to the National Guard helicopter crash site near Rockville. They provided additional light at night with landing light and searchlight to enable investigators to complete taking of photographs four hours after the incident.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week working on old case files, new case calls, and calls from the public regarding hunting and fishing questions.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on case files in his assigned area. Haberman also conducted a TFO flight with NR Pilot Maas, providing aerial lighting for the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota Army National Guard. Snowmobilers were out and about over the weekend and several were stopped for enforcement action.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement