District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring hunting and trapping activity. Small-game and waterfowl hunters reported limited success. Broughten also attended training at Camp Ripley.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports that although the snow has slowed grouse activity, there were still plenty of hunters in the area chasing them. However, less success was observed.
Whitefish netters have begun to brave the icy waters and their efforts were rewarded with a few nice fish.
Annual training was attended at Camp Ripley. Injured-animal calls were fielded. Areas were patrolled for balsam bough and spruce-top cutting activity.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the water trapping opener was a non-event as most waterways froze over. Bays on lakes have frozen and waterfowl hunting appears nearing the end.
Grouse hunting has slowed as multiple inches of snow are on the ground.
Forest roads and access sites were checked. Administrative tasks, returning phone calls and issuing permits continues.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked ongoing hunting seasons, attended training at Camp Ripley, worked whitefish-netting enforcement near Ely and continued to work illegal spruce-top cases.
Possession of controlled substances was collateral damage for suspects during two incidents. One duck hunter was cited for drug paraphernalia and marijuana. Three people were arrested for felony level drug possession during a spruce-top case. One passenger had syringes, meth and two felony warrants (car theft and drugs). The driver and another passenger were in possession of enough meth and marijuana to be considered dealers.
Enforcement action was taken on a number of whitefish netting violations, no personal flotation devices, no identification on a bear bait barrel, and drug-related violations.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) continues working on decorative forestry product cases and a walleye-overlimit case from the previous weeks. He also observed that waterfowl and small-game-hunting screeched to a halt after several snow storms that hit the region as of late. Zavodnik continues to monitor big game and trespass and also worked on equipment maintenance throughout the past week.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) attended annual in-service training at Camp Ripley and worked on storing boating equipment for the season. ATV activity continues to remain steady and more people were seen in the woods preparing deer stands for the upcoming season.
Some follow-up interviews were done regarding juveniles who were successful during the early youth hunt. The problem was that they used early antlerless tags and were nowhere near an early antlerless zone. Their excuse was that the guy at the gas station said that was what they needed. Frericks reminds all hunters to ask a conservation officer if they have questions about licenses and not the guy at the gas station.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports hunting activity has slowed greatly in the Ely area after several days of snow and cold weather. Hunters reported seeing no birds over the week and many bodies of water that were holding ducks and geese are now empty. Violations included taking an antlerless deer in a bucks-only zone, failure to register non-motorized watercraft, and no lifesaving device on board a watercraft.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked small-game, ATV and trapping enforcement. He monitored whitefish netting and followed up on past investigations.
An ATV safety field day was held in Grand Marais.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) attended and helped instruct at annual in-service training held at Camp Ripley. Several inches of fresh snow made for challenging conditions on the range and were great training for the snow conditions around the state this past week.
Manning also helped volunteer instructors and other officers with an ATV safety field day for students in Grand Marais.
A few overeager snowmobilers were spotted this past week, although snow depths are not quite enough to prevent serious damage to sleds. Lakes are also showing signs of freeze-up and folks are reminded to use caution and check conditions frequently when they venture onto the ice.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) checked trappers on the water-trapping opener, checked grouse and duck hunters, and worked a big-game investigation. Numerous questions and complaints were fielded throughout the week, and several road-killed deer permits were issued. Grouse have been scarce with the snow cover.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area hunting and angling activity this past week. He attended training as well this week.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports conducting multiple commercial minnow retailer inspections throughout the week at area businesses. All paperwork was in order.
An ATV safety field day was completed at the Cook County Public School with 12 excited youth receiving their safety certificates.
Time was spent at Camp Ripley for yearly in-service training.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked trapping and archery deer-hunting activity.
The first ice of the season has begun to form on ponds and shallow bays in the area, but is unsafe for travel.
Murray also attended a Division training session at Camp Ripley and performed seasonal equipment maintenance.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers, small-game and waterfowl hunters and boaters. He also patrolled campgrounds, ATV riders and aquatic invasive species activity. Numerous game and fish questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, attended training and worked waterfowl activity. The youth deer-hunter success was good in the area. Enforcement action was taken for license issues.
CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) took a report of illegal birch pole harvesting this past week. She checked big- and small-game hunting activity. She also attended annual training.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked angling, migratory waterfowl, boating and ATV enforcement throughout the surrounding areas. Time was also spent attending annual in-service training held at Camp Ripley.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) attended annual in-service training at Camp Ripley this past week.
Big-game-hunting activity is picking up with Turn in Poachers calls being followed up on. Willis and COC Brown responded to one complaint that resulted in enforcement action for hunting with the aid of bait and for unlawful lend/borrow of a deer license.
Enforcement action was also taken for no Harvest Information Program certification, failure to obtain a burning permit and insufficient blaze orange during a firearms deer season.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) focused work toward small-game hunters during the past week. Some pothole lakes in the area already have ice, which has limited some waterfowl activities. Complaints of baited stands were handled and snowmobile issues were encountered.
He attended in-service training at Camp Ripley.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent one day at Camp Ripley completing annual training.
Several days were spent in the woods working archery deer and small-game hunters, and investigating possible hunting violations for the upcoming firearms deer season. Waterfowl hunters and water trappers were also checked.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) and K9 Schody assisted with a deer-poaching case in the Detroit Lakes area.
Annual training was attended at Camp Ripley, where part of the training was giving trapping updates to the rest of the conservation officers in the state.
Assistance was given to a local resident who was having problems with a bobcat killing their pet ducks.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) attended Division training at Camp Ripley and assisted fellow district officers with a baiting case that resulted in an illegal deer and equipment being seized.
Aquatic invasive species enforcement was focused on as pontoon boats, swimming rafts and docks are being removed for the season with the recent snowfall and bitter temperatures.
Muskie anglers are still braving the cold on area lakes north of Duluth.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ATV operators and shore anglers. Training was attended at Camp Ripley and preparations were made for a quick change of seasons. Ice anglers are anxiously awaiting first ice, but need to be cautious as water temperatures are not yet allowing for the formation of safe ice. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.