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Boreal Community Media

Weekly Conservation Officer Reports for Northeast Minnesota

Feb 15, 2023 11:36AM ● By Content Editor
From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - February 15, 2023

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports very warm weather and high snowmobile traffic in the Ely area meant trail conditions began to deteriorate, especially on the well-travelled state trails. Although the majority of the trails are still in very good shape, several muddy spots were seen. He also assisted the St. Louis County Rescue Squad after they received a call for help from a snowshoer who was several miles inside the BWCA and had become lost and exhausted. When he was located it was discovered that his foot was caught in a deadfall and he required help to get out of the snow.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked trout anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Snowmobile trail conditions deteriorated with the warm weathers and a lot of snow settled down and refroze on lakes. Lake trout fishing was slow and Velsvaag took several calls about northern pike regulations in the northeastern part of the state and answered questions about trapping.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked anglers on area lakes and monitored snowmobile trails. He attended training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for possession of live minnows on a designated trout lake, snowmobile-registration violations and an overlimit of lake trout.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) spent some time early in the week training at Camp Ripley. Beautiful weather and excellent trail conditions made for some top-notch recreating throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line and no license in possession.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) attended training, took several snowmobile- and trail-related complaints, checked anglers, and worked snowmobile and ski trails. Several cases are under investigation. Enforcement action was taken for several snowmobile speed violations along with modified exhaust and registration violations. The extreme warmth has taken a toll on area trails, with the warmth expected to continue along with rain in the coming days.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked ice anglers and snowmobiles. Trails were in very good shape throughout the week, but warm weekend weather started to create some bare corners. A few trout anglers are out and having limited success, but ice travel remains easy. A snowmobile safety class talk was given, and questions were answered about nuisance coyotes. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports attending a district meeting early in the week, followed by a few days of training at Camp Ripley. Equipment maintenance was also completed. A law and ethics talk was given with CO Ledeen and U.S. Forest Service Officer Belmore at Cook County High School.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile activity during the week. Area trails were in excellent shape and freshly groomed. Enforcement action was taken for illegal exhaust systems and licensing violations. Murray also attended Division training at Camp Ripley.

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports time was spent at Camp Ripley for the Enforcement Division?s annual awards and training program. The weekend was spent monitoring a variety of outdoor activities, including snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing, shed hunting, and walking as the warm weather brought out lots of people. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and ATV registration issues, but overall compliance was good.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports spending time this week attending training, working area snowmobile trails and checking anglers on area lakes and rivers. Anglers reported some success. The warm weather had many people out enjoying the trails and ice fishing. Enforcement action taken was for ATV- and snowmobile-registration issues.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) attended an annual training event at Camp Ripley. Slatinski checked anglers who were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, but were not providing stellar success reports. Snowmobile activity continues to improve with an influx of participants to the area. Follow appropriate trail etiquette and regulations to keep all trail users safe.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) monitored snowmobile and angling activities. Weekend temps in the 40s have caused trails to deteriorate, and dirt and rocks have appeared in corners and high-traffic areas. Angling success remains poor with very little observed caught. Timber sales continue to be checked.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily snowmobile enforcement. Larson also spent time in yearly training at Camp Ripley. Violations encountered were related to speed on snowmobile trails, modified snowmobile exhaust, and snowmobile registration. Larson also took complaints from the state parks in his station.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling activity and snowmobile enforcement. In addition, time was spent training at Camp Ripley and attending the Blackwoods Blizzard Tour lunch hosted by the Pathblazers Snowmobile Club. Violations encountered included snowmobile speed, expired registration, allowing illegal operation, and taking fish without an angling license.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time attending annual training at Camp Ripley over the week. He also worked a detail in Lake County and around the Lake Vermilion area over the weekend. Multiple violations were encountered over the weekend such as angling without a license, unattended lines, excessive speed on the snowmobile trails, and several snowmobile-registration issues. Snowmobile trail conditions deteriorated greatly over the weekend due to unusually warm weather.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Anglers reported limited success. Recent warm weather brought high snowmobile activity. The warm weather and high traffic left snowmobile trails in need of new snow.

Cook vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) attended an Honor Guard meeting and drill at Camp Ripley. The Division?s annual training event and officer awards ceremony was also attended during the week. Willis fielded regulation-related calls and prepared for upcoming training.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent most of the week working snowmobile and angling activity. He assisted with the MNUSA snowmobile ride in Hinckley. He also attended Honor Guard training and annual training at Camp Ripley.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) continued to work snowmobile enforcement on area trails throughout the Duluth area. Common violations included no snowmobile safety certificate, modified exhausts, and registration issues. Winter fishing was also checked on area lakes. Time was spent investigating complaints involving dogs chasing deer. Duncan assisted with a MNUSA snowmobile ride in the Hinckley area. Duncan also spoke to a group of youth anglers learning how to fish steelhead this upcoming spring.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) spent time checking anglers and monitoring snowmobile activity this week. Warm weather hasn?t affected trails as much as one would think. Angling success continues to vary from lake to lake. Time was spent talking to middle students on a field trip to fish from the ice on a local lake. Topics discussed included ice safety, aquatic invasive species, and general angling laws.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Jeff Humphrey (NE) worked snowmobile trail enforcement. He prepared files on a wetland case for court. He also followed up on two active waters cases.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) attended annual training and flew telemetry flights for Wildlife.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf pack surveys and attending training at Camp Ripley. More feeding sites were located within the CWD feeding ban zone during these flights. An online flight instructor renewal course was completed and an aerator survey flight was completed where 55 aerators were inspected on three lakes.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) attended training. He also worked on helicopter maintenance plans and administrative tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) attended training at Camp Ripley and worked on maintenance schedules.

Standby CO Pilot Jake Willis (Grand Rapids) completed ongoing survey paperwork. Training and events were also attended at Camp Ripley.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) attended training and began training for her OH-58 transition again. She also attended to record-keeping tasks and made an estimate for a potential upcoming project.

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