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Boreal Community Media

Weekly Conservation Officer Reports for Northeast Minnesota

Jan 11, 2023 10:23AM ● By Content Editor
Image: Boreal Community Media 

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - January 10, 2023

Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports snowmobile activity was high and conditions on some trails have improved, other trails have yet to be groomed and lake conditions continue to be very rough and slushy. He also assisted St. Louis County deputies and responded to a fatal snowmobile crash where a single rider had lost control and struck a tree.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent the week checking snowmobilers on the North Shore State Trail and local trails. The trails are in great condition. Time was spent in the BWCAW checking trout anglers. The lake trout were cooperating for most anglers. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) reports both cross-country ski and snowmobile trails are in great condition, and with mild temperatures and sunny skies lots of folks were seen out and about. Another successful Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race was held over the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for modified snowmobile exhaust, expired registration, and no state trail stickers.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked a variety of activities throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, underage possession of alcohol, untagged deer, failure to register deer within 48 hours, and failure to acquire an aeration permit or sign area of thin ice.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked ice anglers and snowmobilers. A complaint was received of an injured deer stuck in the rocks along a rugged piece of Lake Superior shoreline. The badly injured animal was located and dispatched. Complaints of snowmobiles operating with loud exhausts and on closed trails were received and will be monitored. Conditions on lakes are varied for the upcoming trout opener. A little scouting and a saw for downed brush will be good ideas for the upcoming weekend. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile violations.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports continued work on a background investigation for the upcoming Academy. Time was spent on snowmobile and a few registration issues were handled. Hill also answered questions regarding trapping and winter camping. Hill also attended department-wide safety training.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile activity this week. Grooming of area trails is in full swing and trail conditions continue to improve. Area lakes have areas of slush making angling opportunities more difficult but some anglers are still finding fish.

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Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports ice fishing, spearing, and snowmobile activities continue to be the main emphasis of the workload, along with handling various animal-related complaints. Rainy Lake is yielding a few fish, but it is very sporadic. A youth snowmobile safety class was held with several youth receiving their certifications. Enforcement action was taken for illegal ATV operation and license violations.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working snowmobile trails throughout the area and checking anglers on area waterways. Simonson also assisted with a snowmobile safety course held in International Falls.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports snowmobiling activity has picked up as the land trails improved. Efforts of the local trail clubs has been met with appreciation. Lake surfaces are still very rough and off-trail travelers will still find pockets of slush. Ice conditions on the big lakes are still questionable. A reminder to nonresidents to obtain a trail pass for riding on snowmobile trails. Angling and spearing continue, with mixed success observed.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports another week of little activity noted. Snowmobile trails remain in poor condition, with some grooming happening. Area lakes have varying ice thickness, but slush and recent winds have caused significant drifting, which has now refrozen and is making travel extremely rough to say the least. Little angling activity was observed over the week. Equipment work was completed.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily snowmobile and trails enforcement. Larson spent time investigating snowmobile violations resulting in several infractions. He also spent time working on wetlands violations. Violations encountered were related to snowmobile registration, failure to transfer snowmobile title, and no ski pass on cross-country ski trails.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent speaking at a snowmobile safety class in Chisholm and assisting the St. Louis County Sheriff?s Office with a fatal snowmobile crash.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time patrolling the area snowmobile trails and checking angling activity. Favorable temperatures and improving snowmobile trails have led to an increase in outdoor activity throughout the region. Several snowmobile operators were stopped due to registration and excessive-speed violations over the course of the week. Riders are reminded to slow down, as several complaints were fielded over the weekend regarding oncoming snowmobilers traveling too fast into the corners. Zavodnik and several other COs assisted the sheriff?s department and Rescue Squad with a tragic, fatal snowmobile crash over the weekend.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Outdoor recreational activity was lower than expected. Anglers continued to report limited access on area lakes as well as limited success. Snowmobile trails are being groomed the best they can be. Lake ice thickness varies greatly from lake to lake and in some cases varies significantly depending what part of the lake you?re on.

Cook vacant.

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Aviation Section

CO Pilot Bob Geving (Mankato) attended a safety training session and also an Enforcement Safety Committee meeting. Geving also worked on flight planning for upcoming surveys and hanger maintenance.

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew wolf surveys and a shelter count on Upper Red Lake with Fisheries.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf pack survey and ice angler enforcement flights. Numerous aeration systems were inspected also.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued with helicopter maintenance follow up. He repositioned a helicopter to prepare for the moose survey in Ely. He also completed administrative tasks and attended a safety webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed wolf and bear telemetry flights. Telemetry training flights were conducted. He assisted in helicopter repositioning for the upcoming moose survey. Scott assisted Aitkin County with a search for a missing person.

Standby CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) completed online training and flew a radio telemetry flight in the Duluth and Carlton County area.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) repositioned the MD500 in Ely and began work on the annual moose survey. She also assisted on a missing persons search flight for Aitkin County.

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Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on administrative duties. Time was spent updating public waters and Wetland Conservation Act cases. Several calls and conversations were had with local government units regarding case status. Time was spent checking snowmobilers. Equipment maintenance was done. A district meeting was attended.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) continued working on a background for the upcoming CO Academy. Case file work was conducted for wetland cases.

WREO Jeff Humphrey (NE) reviewed ongoing and dormant wetland and waters cases. A deed restriction was drafted and a restoration order on a wetland case was issued. Humphrey also worked snowmobile trail enforcement and checked anglers on area lakes. Several registration and operation violations were encountered.

WREO Dustie Speldrich (North Metro) closed out public waters and wetland cases that were satisfactorily completed. She also completed mandatory online trainings and answered questions regarding collector snowmobile permits.

WREO Luke Belgard (SW) worked angling, snowmobile, and coyote-hunting activity this past week. Follow up was conducted with ongoing wetland and waters cases. Division background investigations continue.

WREO Julie Siems (SE) worked on open public waters and wetland cases. A background investigation is also being worked on. Department training was attended as well.

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