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MN DNR Weekly Report for Jan. 9, 2017

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (Int’l Falls) reports more snowmobile and ice fishing activity being observed as trail and ice conditions are starting to improve.  Most of the officers time was spent training new officers in snowmobile enforcement along with conducting an area youth snowmobile safety certification class.  People are reminded there is no such thing as safe ice. 

CO John Slatinski (International Falls #2) reports with recent snowfall area snowmobile trails are beginning to take shape and use of them is increasing. Officer Slatinski attended required training and, along with another local conservation officer and VNP Rangers, graduated a local group of youth from a snowmobile safety education class. Time was also spent monitoring cross country ski trail use. Users are reminded state and grant in aid ski trails require the user to obtain and carry on their person a cross country ski trail pass. Enforcement action involved driving conduct on a snowmobile, no ski trail pass, and fishing/spearing shelter violations.

CO Colleen Adam (Ray) reports the snow event this week added pressure to the lake causing some flooding/slush and postponing the ice road until things improve.  Local snowmobile clubs and NPS crews have area trails set and in great shape, waiting for the Arrowhead State Trail to get groomed.  Snowmobile enthusiasts can find plenty of miles to ride on the lakes and connecting trails.  Warm up at the local businesses that welcome the winter patronage.  Fishing is mostly limited to snowmobile and portables.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports sub-arctic temps kept outdoor activities to a minimum.  Area lakes and snowmobile trails were monitored with little activity observed.  Fishing reports are slow.  

CO John Velsvaag (Cook) checked snowmobilers and anglers this past week.  Snowmobiling conditions have improved but low temperatures kept people away.  Slush conditions have improved with the cold on area lakes and rivers.

CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) reports the cold weather this week made it difficult for outdoor activities.  The crews have been out clearing and grooming the snowmobile trails, and snowmobile activity increased this weekend.  (Current trail conditions can be found on MNDNR website).  The officer found numerous ice shelter violations and enforcement action was taken.  The walleye bite on Vermilion was good this weekend, and most of the anglers the officer checked had fish.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) primarily worked anglers, spearing, and snowmobiles during the week.  Sub-zero temps kept activity to a minimum.  Enforcement action was taken on unregistered snowmobile, no trail sticker, and operate snowmobile on a public highway.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) patrolled station lakes and checked anglers. Numerous anglers were cited for angling without a license. One particular angler tried to use his brother’s angling license as his own. The angler’s poor choice of actions were uncovered by CO Frericks when he recognized the individual from deer season where he was issued a previous citation. The angler was again cited and his brothers’ angling license was seized. Several snowmobilers were cited for operating unregistered snowmobiles. Full sized vehicles are showing up on Virginia area lakes. Snowmobile trails remain rough in places but are being groomed.   

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) checked fishing activity and found a few more anglers out.  Some snowmobiling is occurring and some trails have been groomed. 

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports fishing activity was steady over the last week of subzero temperatures, although most anglers reported little success. Snowmobile activity was low, but conditions were good on the trails and lakes around Ely. Violations included fishing without a license, unmarked ice house, and fail to display ice house license tag.

CO Marty Stage (Ely) had received a disturbing call in early December about a deer with an arrow lodged in its head below the eyes.  By the time the officer arrived, the deer was long gone.  But this time, there’s good news.  The party called back a couple days ago reporting that the deer had returned, that the arrow had fallen out, and that although there were wounds where the arrow had been, the deer seemed otherwise healthy and was feeding happily at their bird feeder. 

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports that he checked snowmobile trails and crossings and saw lots of sledders out.  He checked trapping activity and checked for pine marten and fisher boxes that may have been left after season.  Officer Fagerman also checked on a fellow that flipped his sled, but no injuries and only a slightly bruised ego and a cracked windshield occurred.

CO Mary Manning (Grand Marais East) patrolled GIA snowmobile trails and checked sled operators.  Officer Manning also checked anglers and responded to calls regarding coyote and deer hunting. 

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent time patrolling trails and lakes by snowmobile.  Warmer weather early in the week saw higher activity levels.  More time was spent following up on violations from deer season.  Crews are working hard getting trails groomed as swamps harden.  Enforcement action for the week included possession of marijuana, underage possession of alcohol, unattended lines, unmarked fish house, operate vehicles other than snowmobile on Grant-in-Aid trail, take antlerless deer without a permit, fail to register deer as required, storage of personal property on state land, and fail to display snowmobile registration.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and snowmobiling activity and assisted the county on a medical call in the Finland area.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) checked anglers on area lakes and worked snowmobile trails. The trails are in great condition. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and fishing violations.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile enforcement efforts during the week. Fishing success varied with some anglers having limits and others with very few fish. Area trails were in better shape this week as grooming continued. Enforcement action was taken for licensing violations and failure to transfer ownership of a snowmobile.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Randy Patten (Northome) checked anglers, snowmobilers, and trappers.  He helped with snowmobile training for new conservation officers and handled various informational calls and nuisance animal calls.

CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked small game, big game, snowmobile, and fishing enforcement.  He also worked training, snowmobile safety, and completed cases from the firearms deer season.  Various wildlife calls were answered.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, met with the county attorney, monitored snowmobile activity, and assisted the local PD with locating a burglary suspect. The area lakes are seeing more angler activity; angler success was fair this week. Enforcement action was taken for registration issues and no license in possession.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) presented laws and regulations at a local firearms safety class in Warba this past weekend. She also attended division training, took calls regarding car killed deer, and checked angling activity.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and spearing activity.  Enforcement action was taken for multiple no licenses in possession, no shelter tag on an unattended fish house left on the ice overnight, and an over-limit of fish.

CO Gary Lefebvre (Pengilly) worked fishermen, trappers, snowmobiles, and trails.  He also assisted with a wildlife project during the week.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Hill City) worked angling and snowmobiling activities in and around the Hill City area.  Despite the cold temperatures, anglers were still able to put a few fish in the pail.  CO Van Asch assisted with Academy 17 snowmobile training given in Bigfork.  Enforcement action was taken for no angling license in possession, illegal length walleye, angling with extra lines, and over limit of crappies.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Caleb Silgjord (Brookston) spent time checking anglers and monitoring trapping activity in the station.  Follow up was conducted on a timber theft case and assistance was provided on a trapping investigation.  A litter violation was also addressed with enforcement action being taken.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) followed up on a trapping investigation and completed case files and evidence from deer season.  Time was spent checking anglers on area lakes and some fish were seen.  Ice conditions are fairly good in the area and easily traveled by ATV/snowmobile along with some plowed roads that street vehicles are using.  Nuisance wildlife calls were handled along with deer possession permits issued. 

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time working winter fishing on area lakes.  Several calls were answered and returned during the week.  Snowmobile activity has picked up, so time was spent working area snowmobile trails. 

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) checked area lakes for hard water angling activity and ice conditions.  Ice thicknesses varied from 9”-15” depending on the lake.  Anglers were reporting mixed results on pan fish and pike.  CO Humphrey observed light snowmobile traffic mostly on the Munger and Soo Line trails.  Snowmobile trails in the area were still in poor condition.  Officer Humphrey followed up on deer season licensing issues.  Multiple car kill deer permits were issued and concerns about people feeding deer too close to busy roadways were addressed. 

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) spent time preparing incidental fur from the area to be turned over to the Trapper’s Association Tanned Fur Project. This project uses donated and our confiscated furs. The furs are tanned and given to schools and other institutions for educational purposes. The annual winter convention of the Minnesota Trapper’s Association was attended in Askov where assistance was given with fur tagging and answering questions. Very little snowmobile activity to report in the area. Trails are in fair to poor condition. Even though we have had a good stretch of cold weather, riders are asked to still be cautious on the trails. There are still reports coming in that some wetlands and other wet areas are not completely frozen. Fishing activity is picking up in the area. Reports of success are mixed across the area with good compliance with the law found in most places. Assistance from K9 Schody was requested from an area city after a snowmobiler lost his handgun while riding in the area. One area in the city limits where the snowmobiler had been stuck was given as a possible location of the lost gun. Seventy hours later and buried in the snow, it took K9 Schody less than 10 minutes to locate the firearm. It was turned over to the local police department to return to the owner. The importance of this find was so the firearm wasn’t eventually found by someone that should not have it.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers on the St. Louis River and a couple of small frozen harbors.  Ice conditions on the harbors change by the minute, and cannot yet be counted on.  Inland anglers and snowmobilers have found better conditions with enough ice to access most bodies of water and enough snow to ride.  During one angler check on the St. Louis, the angler’s young lab puppy escaped the tent and took off down the bank, making for a little excitement until the dog’s owner got him safely cornered and back to fishing.  Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

Lake Superior Unit - vacant.

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