Conservation Officer Report
The Minnesota DNR provided the following summaries of last week's activities and observations by Conservation Officers:
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports checking fishing and boating activity on the Rainy River with CO Patten, with fair amount of activity observed considering the windy conditions. Invasive species checks were also performed on water related equipment entering and leaving the Rainy River. Predator control zones were closed in the Littlefork area. CO Kittelson spoke at a local Rotary Club meeting where deer hunting regulations were discussed and questioned answered on upcoming season. A few more grouse seen in hunters’ bags this past weekend.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) returned phone calls, issued permits, checked access sites, monitored forest roads, and monitored hunting, angling and trapping activities.
CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reports checking on hunting and fishing activity throughout the week. A few muskie anglers were pursuing their favorite fish. Grouse hunters are seeing more birds now that the leaves have fallen off the trees. The birds also flush more wildly with the lack of leaves. Assistance was provided at a detail in Hibbing. A complaint of a net in an area lake was turned over to tribal officers.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked ongoing hunting seasons, anglers, balsam bough cutters and a bough buyer, ATVs, invasive species enforcement, seized a fisher, and investigated a dog in a trap incident. Enforcement action was taken on take small game after hours, and a number of boating, waterfowl hunting and ATV violations.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spent time investigating reports of dumping garbage. By going through the garbage pile CO Frericks was able to find and piece together enough information to locate the owner of the garbage. Still more deer baits are being found. Reports of people posting state land with “No Trespassing” signs are being investigated and monitored closely. Duck hunters report finally seeing more ducks but taking few due to lack of cooperation from the ducks and their own marksmanship skills.
CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) checked boaters on Lake Vermilion and for the most part all stated fishing was slow. A few more grouse are being seen with the leaves all but gone. Fredin received a TIP call of three shots heard at night followed by fireworks being set off. The caller believed the fireworks were intended to deceive people into believing the first shots were fireworks also.
CO Sean Williams (Ely) patrolled several trails inside the BWCAW with active small game hunting activity. Hunters are still reporting seeing a good amount of grouse, but success levels continue to be low. Violations include storage of boats at a public landing and taking small game with no blaze orange.
CO Marty Stage (Ely) worked the whitefish opener in the BWCAW. Almost all of the boats that were at Pipestone did not have the required navigational lights to operate after sunset and most of those intended to motor out in the dark after picking their nets. One group encountered had all been drinking heavily and had a long list of violations, including: no BWCAW permit, possession of cans, littering fish guts into the water, damage to campsite trees by throwing knives into them, not enough PFDs, nets set too close to other nets, no fishing license in possession, no legal net buoys, possessing two northern pike illegally and no navigational lights. The group was planning to motor out in the dark without lights in a couple hours after they sobered up. They were a happy group and said they were proud that they had been whitefish netting this way all their lives.
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) checked grouse hunters, ATVs, and whitefish netting activity during the week. Calls were answered on wolf concerns and about an eight point buck that may have been taken unlawfully. The designated trout lakes are producing some nice fall brook trout and splake. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful transport of game birds and for no hunting license in possession.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt/Ely) spent the week primarily working small game, trapping, boating, and netting activity. The week ‘netted’ many violations, including a group who had kept two northerns out of their whitefish nets. The same group was short on PFDs and had aluminum cans in the BWCA. Other violations during the week included possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, transport loaded firearm in motor vehicle, untagged traps, unregistered watercraft, no navigational lights, and license and stamp issues.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area hunting and trapping activity. Time was spent working a detail with District 8 as well. CO Schottenbauer also worked area ATV activity.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) monitored ATV activity, followed up on past bear bait station complaints and checked small game hunters. The Officer gave an aquatic invasive species presentation at the Cook County High School. Time was also spent on nuisance animal complaints.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked big game, small game, and trapping activity over the weekend. More grouse were seen being taken as most of the leaf cover is now gone along the North shore. Enforcement action was taken for game transporting violations and having no blaze orange while taking small game. Trapping investigations and trespass calls were also handled during the week.
CO Randy Patten (Northome) checked grouse hunters and anglers, answered several calls about the upcoming deer season, and enforced aquatic invasive species laws. Enforcement action taken for operating ATVs on a state highway and transporting dressed fish.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers, worked small game, big game, waterfowl , and ATV activity. Violations included no license in possession, and youth without a helmet on an ATV. He also took small game complaints, and wildlife complaints.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked archery deer hunting, patrolled for OHV activity and checked waterfowl hunters. Warmer temps over the week brought many anglers out to the water. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession and navigational light issues.
CO Sarah Sindelir (Grand Rapids) spent time working on a division background investigation. She also assisted two trappers with accidentally trapped wolves. She worked shining activity and took enforcement action. She handled a couple trespassing calls from around the area.
CO Gary Lefebvre (Pengilly) worked fishermen, ATVs, trappers, small game and archery deer hunters. He also handled several trespass and hunting complaints during the week.
CO Shawn Wichmann (Hill City) spent the week working waterfowl, angling, ATV, and invasive species activity. Enforcement action was taken for not removing boat plug and a cease and desist order was issued for excavating in public waters.
CO John Velsvaag (NE Region ATV officer) worked OHM enforcement in several areas and responded to ATV complaints of illegal operation on the roadway. CO Velsvaag also assisted with a TIP complaint on illegally taking a deer. He also worked ATV and OHM complaint areas on the Mesabi Bike Trail.
Water Resource Enforcement Officer Tony Arhart (Grand Rapids) worked waterfowlers, anglers, boaters, trappers, OHVers and he checked water-related equipment. CO Arhart also tracked new and open wetland and public waters inventory violations and restorations. The ducks have not kept up with the hunting pressure. Many people out road hunting grouse and placing deer stands. Buck scrapes are now being sighted in the woods. Numerous hunting, trapping and angling-related questions were received. He also responded to a complaint of someone driving a car at a high rate of speed, directly into Dixon Lake off the public water access. No injuries were observed or reported. The vehicle was partially submerged and was retrieved.
CO Andy Schmidt (Brookston) followed up on trespassing complaints in the area. Time was spent working ATV complaint areas and trails. Small game hunters were checked along forest roads and most were reporting some flushes. Trapping opener was worked and trappers checked.
CO Randy Hanzal (Duluth) reports another busy week. Reports receiving calls with questions about hunting rules, regulations and about the upcoming firearm deer season. A few calls of hunters baiting stand sites were also received. The officer participated in a trapping detail with other district officers. Hundreds of trap sites were inspected with almost no violations detected. The Officer responded to a call for assistance in apprehending a person who stole an ATV and was currently fleeing from the police. Along with a Floodwood Police Officer, Officer Hanzal located the suspect deep in the woods on an ATV trail and arrested the individual.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) continued with the final weeks of training with a COC. Officers took enforcement action on waterfowl hunters shooting late, checked a large number of grouse hunters and took enforcement action on hunting with loaded firearms in the vehicle. Officers investigated two separate incidents where dogs were killed by wolves in the north Duluth area. Officers worked a trapping detail with a number of local Conservation Officers and investigated an illegal dumping and a trapper harassment complaint. Officers also took enforcement action on illegal shining.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) assisted with a district detail and found good compliance with the laws on the water trapping opener. Time was spent working on equipment and getting ready for the fall and winter seasons. Complaints of illegal stands and hunting deer over bait were looked into and are still under investigation. K9 assistance was given to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office in searching for evidence in a case.
WREO Mike Scott attended a three day conference for the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference in Duluth. The conference focused on aquatic invasive species and terrestrial invasive species with presentations put on by experts from around the Midwest and country. Valuable information was learned; new ideas and methods of dealing with some of these invasive species were discussed. Work on a background investigation is ongoing.
Sgt. Keith Olson (Marine Unit) checked small game hunters, worked a shining detail and received calls on the upcoming firearms deer season. Olson also worked a trapping project with District 8 officers, checked local rivers and anglers on the North Shore and received a nuisance bear complaint.
CO Matt Miller (Marine Unit) answered questions about the upcoming deer season. An incidentally captured bobcat was released from a fox trapper’s set without injury, but with many loud and intimidating noises made to the assisting officers. Enforcement action taken for ATV violations.
CO Troy Ter Meer (Marine Unit) checked on a deer with an arrow in it that died in someone’s yard in Duluth. He spent most of the week finishing the background report on the CO Prep Candidate. He also participated in a trapping detail. One untagged trap was seized.