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Conservation Officer Report
Weekly Conservation Officer Report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Division of Enforcement
15011 Highway 115 (Camp Ripley)
Little Falls, MN 56345-4173

LTC Greg Salo, Assistant Director, 651-259-5045

Report Fish & Game Violations
Call T.I.P. at 1-800-652-9093 or Cell #TIP



District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on the Roseau River and black powder hunters around the area.  A shoot from the road complaint was investigated.

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked angling, small game, and ATV/snowmobile enforcement. Ice fishing activity along the south shore is starting to pick up with the majority of it being concentrated on the east side, mostly portable shelters being hauled by ATVs and snowmobiles. Keep in mind that we had open water in some areas a week ago, use good judgement and refer to the local resorts’ reports prior to hitting the lake.

CO Nick Prachar (Baudette West) reports that the colder weather has brought the start of the ice fishing season on Lake of the Woods.  Enforcement action was taken for failure to display registration on snowmobile, no angling license in possession, and possession of a controlled substance.  “You can just look it up, right?” is no excuse to not have your fishing license.  It is illegal to not have it in possession while you are fishing.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports monitoring muzzleloader hunting, trapping, and angling activity throughout the week.  Ice conditions have improved and angling activity increased on area lakes.  Time was spent taking reports of incidental catch of fisher and pine marten and working on an applicant pre-employment background investigation. 

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) checked anglers and bobcat trapping activity. A complaint of wanton waste was handled and follow-up was completed on a big game case.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports seeing more ice anglers venturing out on area lakes.  Ice conditions have improved throughout the week.  Time was also spent checking muzzleloader deer hunters and grouse hunters.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, checked trappers, and assisted at the Fosston Snowmobile Safety class.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. CO Vollbrecht assisted a neighboring officer with a timber theft case and continued a background investigation on an applicant.  Muzzleloader and trapping activity was checked. 

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training and worked on a background investigation.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week checking small game hunters and muzzleloader deer hunters.  Time was also spent following up on illegally imported deer carcasses.  Requests from the public seeking information were returned.  

CO Angie Warren (Detroit Lakes) worked ice angling activity.  Anglers reported fair activity and ice conditions vary with some lakes still having areas of open water.  Muzzleloader, small game, pheasant, and trapping activity was worked.  CO Warren taught the regulations portion of a snowmobile safety class in Detroit Lakes.  She received calls of a possible wounded bear, car hit deer, obstruction of legal access to a public water, and possible taking of over-limit of fish. Assistance was also given to the Detroit Lakes police department with a horse on the loose in town.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring angling, muzzleloader, and pheasant hunting activity in the Pelican Rapids station. Trespassing calls were investigated as well as possible shoreline and wetland violations.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

Fosston – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports ice fishing activity has increased with colder temperatures firming up conditions.  Caution on the ice is still advised and checking it yourself is always recommended.  Muzzleloader hunters continued through the last weekend with nice weather.  Goose numbers are still high in the area providing opportunity for late season goose hunters.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) worked on a background investigation and followed up on trespass and trapping complaints. Ice is forming nicely with some anglers out having some luck. A dead snowy owl call was taken and also a nuisance snowy owl getting an individual’s chickens was turned over to wildlife staff.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) responded to trapping and hunting complaints.  Ice is still very thin yet with several instances of open water on area lakes.  A complaint of a person blocking a public access has been an ongoing issue with numerous fishermen complaining about not being able to access the lake.  The officer and area law enforcement are working to get the issue resolved.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) completed an investigation into illegal hunting activity by nearly every person involved with the group.  Citations were issued for hunting deer without a license, illegal party hunting, untagged deer, and unregistered deer.  Ice fishing is starting to take off with foot traffic on smaller lakes.  CAUTION is advised as thickness levels vary from one lake to another!  Two different fishing groups were cited for possessing illegal length crappies on a local lake with a special regulation.  Another successful snowmobile safety class was also completed as many area youth took part.

CO Tony Anderson (Morris) focused enforcement efforts on pheasant hunters, trapping activity, and muzzleloader deer hunters.  Officers’ Anderson and Baumbarger worked pheasant and muzzleloader deer hunters in the vacant Elbow Lake station.  Minnow transportation permits were issued and calls were fielded from the public regarding ATV registration, snowmobile trail questions, and trespass.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts focused on checking fishermen, ATV operators, deer, and small game hunters.  Additional time was spent investigating complaints of trespass and shooting from the road.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

Osakis – vacant.

Wheaton – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports colder weather has started making more ice.  Generally, 6-8 inches are being reported with less in a few deep areas of lakes and other historically weak ice locations.  Walleye are biting for the few anglers that have been out.  Several car kill deer permits were issued.  A birch tree cutting complaint and muzzleloader deer complaint were received and investigated.  Work continues on a background investigation for a CO applicant. Enforcement action was taken for timber trespass.

CO Paul Parthun (Lake George) issued a restoration order for a wetland violation and took complaints of shooting from a motor vehicle and shooting after hours.  He continued to check archery and muzzleloader deer hunters and continued work on a background investigation on an applicant for a conservation officer position. 

CO Chelsey Best (Remer) worked ice fishing, trapping, muzzleloader, and ATVs. Several cases are still under investigation. A deer shot from the road was investigated and turned over to tribal wardens. Enforcement action was taken for a northern over-limit.

CO Sam Hunter (Park Rapids) checked muzzleloader hunters and ATV’s.  Ice conditions continue to be unsafe in the Park Rapids area.  An ATV with two individuals went through the ice on a local lake.  If fishing cannot be postponed until ice conditions are safer, be sure to bring equipment capable of aiding you when you fall through i.e., ice picks, life jacket, rope, spikes. 

CO Duke Broughten (Longville) spent the week monitoring hunting and trapping activity. Muzzleloader hunters reported limited success for the last week of the open season. Lack of snow and ice has limited winter recreation activity. Ice conditions vary greatly in the Longville and Leech Lake area with some open water reported. 

Wadena – vacant.

Walker – vacant.

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (Int’l Falls) reports working on background investigation, along with follow-up investigation in regards to activities during deer firearms and trapping season.  People are reminded no such thing as safe ice, prepare for the worst.

CO John Slatinski (International Falls #2) reports time was spent working a couple of ongoing cases with a neighboring officer. He monitored areas of illegal spruce top harvesting activity and checked muzzleloader deer hunters and associated activities. CO Slatinski also assisted local authorities with a vehicle rollover and fielded questions in regards to fish house definition changes and related license requirements. Hunting license and deer registration issues were addressed. 

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports ice fishing is in full swing, ice houses are out, and snowmobiles and ATV’s are on area lakes.  CO Fondie monitored area forest roads, checked public access and sites where anglers were checked, and reports completed.

CO John Velsvaag (Cook) checked muzzleloader hunters this past week.  Hunting activity is down.  Trappers and anglers were out with some success.  CO Velsvaag responded to complaints of muzzleloaders shooting from the road and trespassing.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked angling, hunting and trapping activity, removed an abandoned trailer from state land, and worked on open deer season cases.  Citations were sent out for a deer baiting case and a combination forest product theft canceled driver’s license case from the previous month.  A hunter dumped deer carcasses on the side of the road.  Evidence led the officer to one of the hunters and it turned out that besides the littering violation, two hunters also had not registered their deer.  The officer checked on the status of a person that had not returned to his vehicle for days.  The officer found the person winter camping ½ mile away and doing fine.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spent time checking a few deer muzzleloader hunters and even fewer trappers. Ice fishermen have ventured out onto area lakes again and report as much as 12 inches of ice on some lakes and as little as five on others. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines.  

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) spent a majority of the week conducting a background investigation for a potential CO candidate.  Ice anglers are getting back out after the recent rains and warm temps.  Some snow fell in the area but not near enough for snowmobiling.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports more and more anglers are taking to the ice in the Ely area and reports were good on several lakes. Ice conditions continued to vary greatly on lakes with some areas easily supporting ATV’s while other areas were unsafe for foot traffic, as one perspective angler on Shagawa found out after falling through near shore. Violations included angling with no license in possession, fail to display current ATV registration, and no identification on an ice shelter.

CO Marty Stage (Ely) checked lakes and ice conditions and found some lakes to be a bit alarming.  This week the officer observed open waters on local favorites like Fall, Ojibwa, Burntside, Tofte, and Garden.  Areas are opening up and there was rain water on the ice and fast deterioration before the snowfalls.  The local area had Ely people dropping fish houses and trucks though the ice, so be smart.  One fellow coming up from the cities was convinced that there was a foot of ice and that it was all safe.  He had a load of ATVs on a trailer and didn’t seem convinced when the officer told him otherwise.  Just because the ice is all white now doesn’t mean it is safe.  Don’t fall for that common misconception.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports eight to ten inches of good clear ice on most of the small lakes.  While it is said that no ice is safe ice, this is a good start.  For such a beautiful weekend, with snow and good ice, there was hardly a person out enjoying it.  A few ice anglers were checked as were some snowshoers out looking for that perfect Christmas tree.  One muzzleloader hunter thought it was good idea to park his truck on an access road as to block entry from other hunters.  Enforcement action was taken. 

CO Mary Manning (Grand Marais East) checked anglers and fishing shelters.  Ice conditions are still extremely varied throughout the region and more snow is needed for snowmobile trails to be ready for riding.  The officer also assisted another victim of the cell phone map app…a delivery truck ended up stuck several miles inland on an unplowed forest road.  The driver showed the officer the phone with the route displayed-including a stretch of an old, impassable logging road; it was quite a few miles from their destination right on Lake Superior!  Officer Manning was able to help the driver and the responding tow truck find a place to turn both large vehicles around and get back to civilization.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) primarily worked on a pre-employment background investigation over the past week.  Time was also spent on a deer case, and information was provided to the county attorney’s office on several deer cases.  Enforcement action was taken for failure to register a deer.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked on a background for a person in the hiring process. CO Schottenbauer also checked anglers and trapping activities and assisted a trapper in successfully releasing a wolf from a trap this week as well.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked ice angling activity and the final week of deer muzzleloader season. Ice conditions continue to improve with recent cold temperatures and some ATV and snowmobile travel is happening on shallow lakes. CO Murray assisted with teaching a youth snowmobile safety class during the week and followed up on investigations from the firearms deer season.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, investigated baiting complaints, and wrapped up a court case. Ice conditions continue to vary greatly on the area lakes.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) checked hunting activity this past week. She worked on big game cases from firearms deer season and did an interview with the radio station.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Hill City) worked big game, trapping, angling, and ATV enforcement. Work was completed on ongoing big game and trapping investigations.  Ice anglers continue to report steady success on area lakes.  Enforcement action was taken for over-limits of crappies, illegal length walleye, no angling license in possession, and failure to display valid ATV registration.

CO Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked follow-up from rifle deer season with enforcement action taken for illegally transporting a big game animal, failing to tag a big game animal, and failing to validate a deer tag.  CO Sutherland also took action on anglers fishing without a license.

Pengilly – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week following up on cases from deer season.  Deer dumping complaints continue along with following up on failure to register deer.  Ice anglers were checked and some permanent houses are being seen on area lakes.  Complaints of ATV use on snowmobile trails were investigated and trout angling complaints were handled.  Questions regarding waterfowl and angling on St. Louis River were answered. 

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) checked area lakes for fishing activity and checked fishermen.  He worked area trapping locations and followed up a couple complaints that are dating back to the firearm deer season.  CO Duncan also talked with archery hunters, worked bough cutting locations, and checked for permits and the proper paperwork. 

Brookston – vacant.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers along the North Shore, responded to complaints north of Duluth of dumped deer carcasses on public lands, and responded to a complaint of timber theft in the Floodwood area.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ice anglers and ATVs.  Inland ice conditions are improving, and those shore casting on Lake Superior are having some success with ciscoes and salmon.  Changing winds have given anglers a challenge in staying warm.  CO Miller took enforcement action for ATV violations.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tim Collette (Crosslake) monitored trapping activity and checked ice anglers.  Enforcement activity included angling without a license, expired ATV and snowmobile registrations, fail to tend traps, unmarked traps and snares, and illegally set traps.

CO Randy Posner (Brainerd) noted that ice has slowly been forming on most lakes, however the ice thickness is unpredictable.   Ice anglers have ventured out on North Long Lake, Gull, and Crow Wing River.  Spear fishermen have had some success and so have the anglers.  He checked some rabbit hunters and the harvest was low.   Muzzleloader deer hunters were checked, there were a few successful hunters this week but deer activity has slowed according to some hunters. Reports of deer carcass dumping and unregistered deer were investigated.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) worked the last weekend of muzzleloader hunting.  Hunters in the area reported not seeing much deer movement and limited success.  Investigation included illegal taking of big game, trespass, and transporting loaded firearms.  Many anglers are traveling by foot onto area lakes and getting the ice fishing season started.  A background investigation is also ongoing. 

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for late season deer hunting and ice fishing activity. Ice anglers are finding ice conditions to be varying in consistency and anglers are urged to use caution.   CO McGowan also assisted other law enforcement agencies with calls for service.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) worked a late season baiting case, assisted with firearms training at Camp Ripley, and checked early ice anglers.  Some anglers were on ATVs in areas with six inches of ice where there was open water nearby. CO Ladd cautioned anglers and reminded them the ice was unpredictable and with all the recent high winds, weak in some areas.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd 2) worked a background investigation and Use of Force training at Camp Ripley.  Officer Guida assisted the Wildlife division with furbearer registration day. Car injured deer permits were also issued.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling, spearing, muzzleloader and trapping activity.  Training was attended, questions were answered on the local radio station, and incidental fisher were handled.  A deer feeding complaint was also handled.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (Cuyuna SRA) reports patrolling the SRA for park violations and for any fishing activity.  The officer also gave a Law and Ethics presentation at the Crosby Snowmobile Safety Class where 15 students received their safety certificate.   Lots of outdoor law related questions were fielded and calls of car kill deer permit and injured deer were fielded.  Time was also spent with SRA staff in gathering information about upcoming events in the park. 

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Chris Tetrault (Isle) checked anglers on a Mille Lacs Lake. Anglers ventured into the southern bays and had success catching walleye and northern pike. Anglers had reports of catching a wide variety of sizes of walleye. Please ensure that you are checking with local resort businesses before venturing out on the ice. Other people were found small game hunting and trapping in the area as well.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked ice anglers venturing out onto smaller lakes.  Anglers reported harvesting some crappie.  CO Speldrich worked on a background investigation for a potential new hire and also took a call of an injured/sick snowy owl. 

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked early ice fishing activities and found some walleyes to be cooperating.    Pan fish action is slower.   Ice conditions vary, with some venturing out on Mille Lacs with four inches.    A reminder to those venturing out to watch the wind and cracks, as becoming stranded with open water would not be fun.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) had an increase in ice fishing activity.  The week started out with many lakes still without fishable ice.  Toward the end of the week, many lakes had sufficient ice to support anglers on foot and a few areas had enough for ATVs.  Trapping activity was also checked.

CO Eugene Wynn (Pine City) spent the week checking ice conditions, followed up on deer season complaints, and spent time checking State Forest areas.  He answered questions about dogs running, ice conditions, and inquiries about trespassing.  Local lakes were still open in places as of a few days ago.  Use extreme caution when venturing on the ice.
CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) patrolled area lakes and Mille Lacs Lake.  Ice conditions remain sketchy and should use due caution.  A number of lakes still have portions with open water.  Pan fish bite was fair and walleye bite on Mille Lacs in the bay areas was good.  The officer responded to a party possibly through the ice on Mille Lacs.  A passerby saw just an ice bucket and auger on the ice and figured the owner fell through, but was later found on shore.

Malmo – vacant.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) issued car kill deer permits, picked up a fisher and a pine marten from trappers that had been caught after close of season, and a snowy owl that had been hit by a car.  The owl is going to be taxidermied and donated to an area school.  Many calls of illegally dumped deer carcasses are coming in where CO Kuske has to explain to landowners that she is unsure why hunters think they can dump their deer on other people’s land and in the road ditches. 

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time assisting with Use of Force training for division members.  Calls regarding road kill deer were also taken. 

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked anglers, deer and pheasant hunters, and trappers. Investigations continue on deer season violations dealing with illegal party hunting.  Illegal deer stands left in public hunting grounds were addressed.  Ice conditions in the area started to firm up with a few inches of ice on most lakes.  People are still reminded to use caution on early ice. CO Thesing spoke on a local radio show and spoke at the DNR snowmobile safety classes in Holdingford and Richmond.  Enforcement action for the week included leave stands/equipment on SNA overnight and lend borrow of deer license.

CO Frank Rezac (St. Cloud) reports checking pheasant hunters and muzzleloader deer hunters. Cases involving trespass, hunting deer over bait, and portable tree stand overnight in WMA were investigated.  Poor ice conditions were observed with open water on some area lakes.  Few fishermen were observed out on the ice.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking hunters and the first ice fishermen of the year.  Ice conditions are extremely variable.  Some lakes have seven inches of ice and some are still mostly open.  A taxidermist inspection was completed and a new wetland violation was addressed. 

Pierz – vacant.

Paynesville – vacant.

Annandale – vacant.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked hunters, trappers, and a few anglers who reported most areas with thin ice still. Time was spent working on a background investigation, following up on complaints of trespass, wanton waste, and carcass dumping.

CO Phil Mohs (Center City) worked hunting and fishing activity.  Ice anglers began to venture out on to area lakes.  Several area lakes still have open water and very thin ice in many areas. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, fishing with extra lines, illegal transportation of firearms, and a deer over-limit. 

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked hunters, trappers, and ATV’s. Violations were found for illegal lend/borrow deer licenses, fail to tag deer, fail to validate tags, and fail to register deer. Several animal complaints were handled as well as illegal deer carcasses dumping calls.

CO Brandon McGaw (Mora) checked some ice anglers during the week.  Ice conditions range from open water in some isolated spots to six inches in other spots.  A few hunters are still out in the woods and fields.  

CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on several investigations related to the past firearms deer season and trespassing calls. Ice fishing in the area has started on some small lakes, but anglers should be aware that the ice is not yet safe on most lakes even for just walking. The high winds have left lakes with open spots or very thin ice spots.

CO Mike Krauel (Milaca) spent the week following up on big game complaints.  CO Krauel also took several calls about carcasses being dumped illegally.  He also removed several camping items abandoned in a nearby state forest. Enforcement action was taken for lend and borrow big game license, take deer over-limit, and driving after suspension.

Big Lake – vacant.

District 13 - West Metro area

CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked anglers and bow hunters in the metro area this week.  He wrote a supplemental report and answered questions to the Asian community on small game hunting season and firearm safety classes.

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) reports anglers are venturing out on many local lakes as the ice becomes thicker by the day.  Many lakes still have really thin ice so remember to be vigilant as you venture out.  CO Birdsall attended the Waconia HS Conservation Club pheasant hunt and assisted hunters out in the field.  Many students were participating in their first ever pheasant hunting trip.  Enforcement action was taken for wetlands violations and angling without a license.

CO Leah Weyandt (Mound) spent the week completing background investigation interviews.  CO Weyandt received another call about a snowy owl that had been found dead. The owl was likely hit by a vehicle in Chanhassen. A call was also received about a sick swan on Little Long Lake.

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week patrolling deer hunters, monitoring ice conditions, and following up with complaints.   CO Grewe, and a neighboring officer, spoke at a local business regarding the upcoming ice fishing season and some shelter license changes.

CO Tim Maass (Osseo) continued to follow up on investigations from the firearm deer season. Time was also spent checking late season open water anglers earlier in the week. CO Maass also investigated a possible wetland violation.

CO Thephong Le (ELCOP) attended a firearm training and qualification at Camp Ripley. He worked complaints at Fort Snelling State Park on dog off leash and illegally parking (without a required State Park vehicle permit). He took calls for injured/dead animal and report of nuisance animal caught in live trap.

Prior Lake – vacant.

Bloomington – vacant.

Ft. Snelling – vacant.

District 14 - East Metro area

CO Vuthy Pril (ELCOP) checked big game and small game hunters. Some ice anglers were checked on a couple area lakes in Dakota County. CO Pril also handled injured animal calls and spoke at a snowmobile class.

CO Chelsie Leuthardt (White Bear Lake) spent time checking muzzleloader hunters and fishermen. She also spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Stillwater. Despite ice conditions still being treacherous, several individuals were still out braving the ice to engage in ice fishing. CO Leuthardt wants to advise users that the ice is never safe and to exercise extreme caution if they make plans to venture out.

CO Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent the week checking goose hunters in the area. Lots of geese around and many groups were having great luck. He also followed up on some dumping cases and had an incidentally caught otter turned in. Enforcement action included littering and no licenses in possession.

CO Jake Willis (Maplewood) finished follow-up from firearms deer season and answered waterfowl hunting complaints. Training for division honor guard was attended at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for wanton waste, hunter harassment, and trespassing.

Ham Lake – vacant.

Metro Officer – vacant.

Eagan – vacant.

District 15 - Marshall area

CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week checking hunters and conducting investigations.  Deer and pheasant hunters continue to enjoy warm weather.  Muzzleloader season ended rather quietly.  Several ice anglers are creeping out on new ice.  Snowmobile safety was taught in Slayton.

CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Benson) reports working the close of the muzzleloader deer season and continuing to check pheasant hunters. Pheasant hunters reported poor success though many said they had seen roosters at a distance. The officer saw more people beginning to venture out onto the ice but warns that ice is still thin and most area streams and rivers are still open.

CO Craig Miska (Ortonville) focused enforcement efforts towards deer, pheasant, and goose hunting activity.  Anglers are again venturing onto ice on local waters.  Please use caution if venturing onto the ice. 

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Madison) continued to follow up with several deer investigations. Officer Gutzwiller would like to remind the public to use extreme caution when venturing onto areas of ice at this time. Pheasant hunters checked said they were able to find some birds in cattail areas. Hunters reported the ice is extremely thin and not safe in many areas. 

CO Andrew Dirks (Worthington) worked pheasant and muzzleloader deer hunters throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for hunters not wearing blaze orange and ATV operation violations. Several investigations are ongoing.

CO Ed Picht (Montevideo) checked pheasant hunters, deer hunters, and ice fishermen.  Remember when venturing out on early ice to have ice picks or other means to self-rescue. TIP reports were investigated regarding big game cases.  Assistance was given to an injury accident on a state highway. 

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) spent the week working trapping, pheasant hunting, and muzzleloader deer hunting enforcement. Time was also spent working on hunting and trapping investigations. The last weekend of the muzzleloader season was busy. Some lakes are starting to freeze over but extreme caution needs to be used by ice fishermen. A couple inches of fresh snow brought out the first snowmobile activity.

Lake Benton – vacant.

Redwood Falls - vacant.

District 16 - New Ulm area

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar-West) followed up on deer cases.  He received concerns about injured animals.  Time was also spent on commercial investigations.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) followed up on litter complaints where people illegally dumped deer carcasses. Other poaching investigations from deer hunting are still ongoing and TIP reports are still coming in about illegal hunting activity. CO Klehr is also working on a background investigation of a potential hire for the next DNR academy.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls regarding boating, trapping, and state park violations. He also followed up on deer hunting cases.  CO Nelson primarily worked deer, small game, and ATV enforcement activities.

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) focused enforcement efforts on shining activity and muzzleloader hunting through the close of the season.  Deer investigations have begun into tag and over-limit cases.  A background investigation continues on an applicant for the upcoming academy.

CO Mike Gruhlke (Jackson) patrolled his area checking activity relating to muzzleloader deer, trapping, waterfowl, archery deer, fishing, pheasant, and other small game activity.  Pheasant hunters continue to have some success.  Field hunting for geese continues as well.  CO Gruhlke noted attempts at trapping through the ice for muskrat.  He also took a phone call from a person reporting to have observed a snowy owl just east of Jackson.  That would be the second snowy owl in a week, with the first being an injured one on the west side of the county.

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) continued enforcement checks on big game hunters, small game hunters, waterfowl hunters, and trappers.  Many questions were answered regarding rules and regulations.

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar-East) spent time with pheasant and deer hunting activity.  He gave a snowmobile safety talk at the Willmar Middle School.  CO Vernier also followed up with a no license/lend and borrow case and issued several wildlife possession permits.  CO Vernier also worked on a candidate background investigation.

Hutchinson East – vacant.

Hutchinson West – vacant.

District 17 - Mankato area

CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) continued working on a background investigation for the upcoming academy in 2018. CO Henke also completed follow-up from the firearms deer season. Some late season pheasant hunters were checked. Fishing activity remains low in the area as most lakes do not have walkable ice yet.

CO Jamie VanThuyne (Mankato 1) worked trapping and fishing activity this week. CO VanThuyne also followed up on cases from deer season and assisted local agencies on several calls.

CO Luke Belgard (Faribault) worked angling, ATV, and muzzleloader deer activity this week. A few anglers have tested the ice, but are advised to use extreme caution at this point as ice is very thin and open water spots remain.  The officer reports a busy end to the muzzleloader season with good deer movement producing a number of successful hunters.

CO Chris Howe (St. Peter) spent much of the week working on big game enforcement. Muzzleloader activity continued to be low, right to the end of the season. Assistance was given to the State Patrol during a winter storm with whiteout conditions. There were still some anglers fishing open water on the Minnesota River, while a few anglers began testing their luck on the ice near shore on area lakes. Early ice anglers are reminded to exercise extreme caution, which sometimes means waiting a couple more days after the ice fishing itch strikes.

CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato 2) followed up on complaints of individuals taking over-limits of walleye.  Deer hunting activity was worked.  Small game hunters and pheasant hunters were checked as well. 

CO Chad Davis (Owatonna) checked deer hunters, small game hunters, goose hunters, and ATV operators.  The officer also spent time monitoring trapping activity and investigating big game violations.

CO Brent Ihnen (Waseca) spent the week checking deer, pheasant, and waterfowl hunters. Additional time was spent patrolling for trapping activity and predator hunters. Officer Ihnen also gave a law and ethics presentation to a local snowmobile safety class.

Spring Valley – vacant.

District 18 - Rochester area

CO Trent Seamans (Rochester) spent the week checking goose hunters. Goose numbers continue to be high and hunters are finding success. Other time was spent closing out trespassing cases. Enforcement action was taken for failing to have a federal duck stamp, failing to be HIP certified, and hunting migratory waterfowl with an unplugged shotgun.

CO Tom Hemker (Winona) reports many questions asked about the CWD in the area.  Muzzleloader deer hunters continue to harvest a few more deer.  Ice fishermen were going out on poor ice and finding some pan fish.  A few goose hunters were still on the river.  CO Hemker also attended training at Camp Ripley and a local snowmobile safety class.

CO Mitch Boyum (Rushford) reports checking muzzleloader hunters; success was slow. Cold and wind made hunting tough. CO Boyum reports receiving numerous calls reference the late January hunt coming up in the CWD zone.  A trespass case from September was closed out with a citation being issued. A few pheasant hunters have been out with limited success. They report seeing a few more birds since the corn has been harvested.

CO Brittany Hauser (Red Wing) spent the week patrolling for muzzleloader activity and area fishermen. As area waters continued to freeze, the season’s first ice fishermen were observed. Assistance was given to local agencies for various calls and a trespass complaint was received and investigated. No enforcement action to report.

CO Kevin Prodzinski (Wabasha) reports working a somewhat quiet close to the 2017 muzzleloader deer season.  Hunting pressure increased over the final weekend and several successful groups were contacted with mostly does.  Ice fishermen are beginning to venture out onto the back waters and finding a few pan fish.  Goose hunters and trappers are also finding success.  Some division training was attended and enforcement action involved some license and tagging issues.

CO Kylan Hill (Zumbrota) reports working a relatively busy week of the goose migration on area fields and rivers. Those that put their time in and withstood the cold were seen with birds. Goose hunting enforcement action included hunting without federal and state waterfowl stamp, no stamp in possession, no HIP certification, and hunt with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. The end of the muzzleloader season came and went with few hunters seen. Much like the goose hunters, those that put their time in and braved the cold were rewarded with deer harvested. Other enforcement action for the week included no blaze orange and untagged deer.

Rochester #1 – vacant.

Training Section

Planning is ongoing for this year’s training activities, including ordering equipment and supplies and reserving training areas at Camp Ripley.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Bob Geving (New Ulm) worked on UAS program research and attended to maintenance matters.  On-line training was completed along with other administrative tasks. 

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew a wolf telemetry flight and attended a Minnesota Interagency Air Operations working team annual meeting.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued working on helicopter maintenance and did training flights with one pilot in helicopter.

CO Pilot Christopher Lofstuen (Grand Rapids) reports a poor week of flying weather. Maintenance issues with one of the aircraft were addressed.  Future mission and project planning was also completed.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a week of working on background investigation and rotary transition training.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on a background. Time was also spent working on APM, WCA and PW cases.  Several cases were reviewed and discussed with field CO’s and LGU’s regarding future action and progress.

WREO Robert Haberman (NE) checked ice fishermen and muzzleloader hunters. WREO Haberman also closed out finished WCA cases and worked on active cases.

WREO Larry Hanson (SW) updated old and current WCA and PW cases. Several old cases were closed out. AIS checks were completed in area counties. Problem hunting areas were addressed and assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies. Injured animal complaints were addressed.

WREO Julie Siems (SE) worked on the division background investigation.  A high school class was spoken to regarding conservation law enforcement and the use of K9s.  Work on public waters violations also continues. 

Central – vacant.

Enforcement Education

Please check the DNR WEB SITE at www.mndnr.gov for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Education Courses and instructor training sessions.
If you missed a fall class and are over 18, check on-line for the online course information, also located at www.mndnr.gov.

Please check the DNR WEB SITE www.mndnr.gov  for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Youth and Adult Snowmobile Safety Courses and instructor training sessions.

Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.

Reminder---anyone born after December 31, 1979 cannot purchase a license to hunt in Minnesota without first taking a DNR Safety Training Course and receiving a certificate.  In addition many states have even more stringent mandatory Hunter Education requirements.  Check before you go!!! 

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.

Reminder---Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands and waters in Minnesota, must successfully complete the ATV Safety Training online course.  Persons under age 16 must complete the ATV online course and riding component before riding on public lands. Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.


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.

See Also:


NW RTO Greg Oldakowski (acting) worked on background information for potential volunteer safety instructors.   Scenarios and training were provided officers in Use of Force training. Training was received as well regarding youth involvement. 

NE RTO Mike Lee assisted other Division Use of Force Instructors at Camp Ripley with training for officers. Officers completed weapons qualifications and scenario based training. Officer Lee also attended Division Honor Guard Training with other Division Honor Guard members. Officer Lee also completed backgrounds on new firearm safety instructors.

North Metro RTO Brett Oberg (acting) focused on background investigation work.  Time was also spent dealing with burning and littering violations.  Small game hunters were also checked.

Southern RTO Jen Mueller (acting) continued to work on a background investigation. She also followed up on leads that came in though the TIP line on a poached deer near Stewart. She attended a meeting with ATVAM members and also attended human trafficking training with other RTO’s. 

Rec Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence attended training and a meeting with RTOs at Camp Ripley.  RTO Lawrence worked on newly revised lesson plans for the firearms safety instructors. RTO Lawrence completed revisions to the Trail Ambassador Program training materials for the 2018 season.  He took inquiries and questions about off highway vehicle registrations and operations.  RTO staff and Education Safety Training Section staff held a meeting with ATVAM for discussion on the youth ATV training requirements along with the certification process. 

RTO                                                                                       E-MAIL:
NE RTO Mike Lee                                                                 mike.lee@state.mn.us
NW RTO Greg Oldakowski                                                   gregory.oldakowski@state.mn.us
North Metro RTO Brett Oberg                                               brett.oberg@state.mn.us
Southern RTO Jennifer Mueller                                              jennifer.mueller@state.mn.us
South Metro RTO Phil George                                               philip.george@state.mn.us                 
Rec Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence                             bruce.lawrence@state.mn.us

Curriculum Specialist:  Vacant

Education Specialist:  Vacant

Curriculum Coordinator:  Vacant


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