Conservation Officer Report

File photo
File photo

The Minnesota DNR provided the following summaries of recent activities by Conservation Officers:

CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reports angling activity was monitored and not very many folks were observed fishing, likely due to the extreme cold, deep snow, and slush on the ice. A report of wolves killing an adult horse was checked. This was the second horse killed by wolves on the same farm within 4 ½ months.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spoke at two Snowmobile Safety Classes and spent time checking snowmobilers on area trails. Most snowmobilers reports trails to be in excellent condition. A snowmobile trail groomer reported a dead yearling moose on the side of the trail. The groomer pulled the carcass to a road crossing where CO Frericks loaded the moose into his patrol vehicle and turned it over to Fond du lac biologists. Area lakes that had pockets of slush due to the heavy snows have started to firm up and some anglers have started to venture out.

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports monitoring pine marten and fisher trapping activity, along with fur registration in Big Falls. People are reminded to report incidental pine marten and fisher catches during bobcat trapping activity. Wolf depredation incident was investigated in the Littlefork area. Muzzleloader and wolf hunting was minimal considering the sub-zero temperatures.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports temps at minus 20 and colder throughout the week resulted in the week being spent working on computer and administrative items – spare time was spent working on equipment

CO Dan Starr (Tower) reports that a very cold week led to little outdoor recreation. Snowmobiles are out in full force when temps rose to a tolerable level. A dead moose was found by concerned citizens and taken for research. Anglers need to be reminded that ice is never safe, please check thickness frequently.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked trapping, muzzleloader deer season, snowmobiles and angling activity, with access to lakes and the slush conditions improving. The officer also attended a meeting in St. Paul, continued finalizing deer hunting cases and investigated the taking of a wolf that was shot in defense of a horse. Enforcement action was taken on a number of angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) spent so time on area snowmobile trails and saw a few riders out.  Very few ice fishermen due to cold, snow and slush. Fredin investigated a report of a muzzle load hunter shooting from Vermillion trail road.  

CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports very cold weather held on for another week in Ely, with air temperatures reaching down to the -20s and wind chill lows as cold as -40. Snowmobile trails have been groomed and a few snowmobiles are taking advantage of a good amount of snow.
CO Marty Stage (Ely) worked the last of the muzzleloader deer season and found it to be pretty quiet and very cold. The slush on the lakes is freezing a bit and the snowmobilers are beginning to venture out, but the trails are very rough. Remember to register your snowmobile BEFORE you go out and ride it around.
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports that few people are taking advantage of the early season snowmobile opportunities. The snow and slush has made ice thickness unpredictable as the CO found 11 inches of ice and moved 50 yards and found 5 inches. A few anglers have ventured out in the extreme cold to try their luck, but fishing has been very slow.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked snowmobile enforcement, ice anglers, and muzzleloader deer season throughout the week. More activity is starting up on area lakes, but there is still lots of slush and areas of thin ice. Court was attended in Cass County for an ATV DWI arrest from last winter’s Eelpout Festival. A snowmobiler was stopped for failure to stop at a road crossing and was subsequently arrested on a warrant. Enforcement action included failure to stop at road crossing, expired snowmobile registration, failure to transfer ownership, and operation on a county road. 
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) monitored snowmobile trails and ice anglers. The snowmobile trails are in excellent condition with the new snow along the North Shore. The officer finished up an ongoing big game investigation that occurred during the bear season. 

CO Randy Patten (Northome) checked trappers, anglers, and snowmobilers. Investigated complaints on failing to check traps, shoot big game from a motor vehicle, and furbearer over-limit. Assisted CO Fairbanks with a netting complaint and had equipment maintenance completed. Enforcement action was taken for failure to check traps.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) worked small game, fishing, and snowmobile activity. Most snowmobile trails are groomed, and there were quite a few people out enjoying them. With more snow forecasted and cold temps the conditions are expected to get better. He also took miscellaneous wildlife calls. 
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and worked trapping enforcement. The area lakes have varying slush and ice accumulations. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile registration issues.
CO Sarah Sindelir (Grand Rapids) took a call from Driftskippers Snowmobile Club this last week concerning illegal use of the snowmobile trail they maintain south of LaPlant Road. The trail sustained extensive damage from a four-wheel drive vehicle. Anyone with information involving this incident is urged to call me or DNR enforcement. Many trails in and around the Grand Rapids area are designated for specific use, such as snowmobile trails. Certain activities and vehicles are prohibited on many trails. Please take the time to know where you will be recreating as enforcement action will be taken if illegal use is found on these trails.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) checked local ice anglers with some limited success. Anglers are still unable to get to historic areas they have fished this time of year. The snow insulation has prevented adequate ice formation on some of the larger deeper lakes. A snowmobile safety class was attended with a law talk given. The class attendance was at a record number due to the early season snow. Cases were also finished up from firearms deer season.
CO Gary Lefebvre (Pengilly) worked trappers, small game hunters and muzzle loader deer hunters. He also worked on equipment issues during the week.
CO Shawn Wichmann (Hill City) worked trapping and snowmobile activity. Enforcement action was taken for transporting a loaded firearm, failure to site validate fisher coupon and failure to check traps. Snowmobile activity has increased throughout the week.
CO John Velsvaag (NE regional ATV officer) worked ATV enforcement for vehicles accessing the frozen lakes for angling. He assisted local officers with muzzleloader deer hunting season duties. Some enforcement time was spent checking trapping compliance. CO Velsvaag worked snowmobile patrol in the Ely / Babbitt area with abundant snow conditions. Enforcement action was taken while assisting other officers.
Water Resource Enforcement Officer Tony Arhart (Grand Rapids) received and investigated bobcat hunting and northern pike spearing- over limit complaints. Wetland Conservation Act issues were responded to.

CO Andy Schmidt (Brookston) worked area snowmobile trails. Trails are packed and the groomers are catching up. Lake conditions are improving but heavy snow is making for tough travel. Anglers able to get out have been reporting some success. The officer attended the riding portion of snowmobile safety class for Carlton, Cloquet and Esko.

CO Randy Hanzal (Duluth) reports snowmobilers have gotten an early start trail riding, however some swamps have yet to freeze making trail grooming impossible in a few areas. Be sure to check and make sure registration is up to date and all number are displayed properly before setting off on your maiden voyage. A presentation was given at a local Snowmobile Safety class. A few trap set were checked for compliance. Anglers are reporting a good mixed bag of fish if you’re hardy enough to brave the cold temperatures.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) spent some time working snowmobile enforcement. Area trails are in good condition with plenty of snow everywhere. Officer Duncan investigated a TIP of a deer hunting violation that resulted in several charges. Other enforcement work involved checking winter fishing activity and trapping enforcement. Several telephone calls were also returned during the week.  

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) reports working ice angling, muzzleloading , trapping, and snowmobile activity throughout the week. Snowmobile activity picked up during  the week.  Many of the trails have been groomed, however some trails in swamp or wetland areas are not frozen. Slush under the snow pack on some area lakes has also made travel difficult.  Caution is still advised for persons venturing out on the ice. Muzzleloader season ended the way it started slow due in large part to the frigid temps and snow. Trappers checked in the area also reported a slow week with travel difficult. A report of an injured deer and TIP information were received. CO Humphrey assisted at a Snowmobile Safety class in Cloquet.  Violations for no blaze orange, snowmobile operation, and no license in possession were encountered.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) spoke to snowmobile safety classes in Carlton and Cloquet. The muzzleloader hunt finished up at Jay Cooke State park and harvest numbers appear to be down. Snowmobile activity is picking up in the area. Complaints of trespass and operating in the median of a four lane highway have been received and are being worked. A complaint of hunters shooing deer from the road was investigated and enforcement action was taken for failing to validate tag and shooting form the roadway at a big game animal. K9 training was conducted with K9 Schody.

CO Keith Olson (Marine Unit) attended a USCG Duluth port meeting and dealt with a bobcat that took up a winter residence underneath someone’s deck. He also checked snowmobilers in the Duluth area, worked a special detail in the Ely area, assisted Duluth PD with a burglary in progress call and checked anglers in the Duluth Harbor.

CO Matt Miller (Marine Unit) wrapped up deer season cases and prepped equipment for winter. Ice conditions are variable with the heavy snow on top of the new ice; be careful.  Meetings were attended in St Paul for the Strategic Plan project. Enforcement action was taken for big game and snowmobile violations.

CO Troy Ter Meer (Marine Unit) checked anglers and snowmobilers throughout the week.  He worked on reports, performed equipment maintenance and attended training.

CO Dustie Heaton (Willow River) checked area snowmobilers over the week. Violations detected included expired registration and failing to stop at an intersection. Complaints of snowmobile trespass were taken as well. Angling activity in the area remains slow. Heaton taught the law portion of a youth snowmobile safety class in Willow River and worked on ongoing investigations.