Minnesota DNR report: Violations high over Memorial Day weekend

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of May 26, 2020.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports a very busy Memorial Day weekend with lots of people enjoying the nice weather on Rainy Lake. The closing of the Canadian border has kept people on the U.S. waters, which made areas of the lake very busy. Some, in fact, were the busiest Kittelson has ever seen.

Enforcement action for the week included no angling license, no boat registration, illegal-length walleye and extra lines.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports activity has increase and become centered around area waterways. People are happy to be out on the lakes with the temperatures rising. Overall success for anglers has been favorable. Various fishing and boating violations were addressed over the holiday weekend.

Reports of nuisance bears are starting to be heard. To avoid unwanted interactions, remove any source of what a bear may consider food. Birdfeeders attract more than just birds. Garbage containers should be kept where they cannot be accessed by animals. As natural food sources become available, bears will typically move on if we restrict access to what may attract them to residential areas. It is also more effective if landowners work together to remove all food sources from a neighborhood.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes and public access sites. Holiday weekend activities were light. ATV traffic was monitored. Minnow-trapping activities were checked. Beaver-related problems have started.


CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) completed an investigation from this spring’s trapping season resulting in violations, including wanton waste, failure to notify a conservation officer within 24 hours of accidentally killing an otter and muskrat, and possession of otter out of season.

Time was also spent working ATV and angling enforcement over the busy Memorial Day weekend. Enforcement action was taken on various ATV and boating safety violations, and an angler was also found to be in possession of an illegal-length northern pike.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked anglers, boaters and ATV riders, as well as aquatic species and state park enforcement during a busy holiday weekend on the lakes. Bozovsky taught species identification and wildlife complaints classes.

Personal watercraft speed violations within 150 feet of shore outnumbered boating violations over the holiday weekend, with one operator not getting it. He was warned one day and was cited within 24 hours for the very same violation. He also felt he should disregard Bozovsky’s order to stop his PWC.

Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, illegal-length fish, no state park permit and numerous boating, invasive species transport and PWC violations.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring boating, fishing and ATV activity. Fewer people were observed recreating than past Memorial Day weekends. Anglers reported limited success. ATV activity remained high.

Broughten arrested one individual for DUI on an ATV. Broughten also assisted with a wildfire investigation, an ATV crash and a multiple-vehicle crash.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports angling, boating, and ATV activity over the Memorial Day holiday was extremely high. Although activity was high angling success was very low with most anglers only reporting success for northern pike and smallmouth bass.


Violations included angling with no license in possession, operating an off-highway vehicle on a state highway and possession of an illegal-length fish.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and boaters this past week. He also followed up on an old litter complaint. Velsvaag took several nuisance-animal calls and checked anglers coming out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time in the BWCAW checking anglers with area officers. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area forest and county roads checking ATV and motorcycle operators, checked anglers and boaters on lakes and accesses, and checked many campers over the holiday weekend. She handled questions about nuisance beavers, wildlife viewing, camping on DNR lands and campgrounds.

Manning also assisted Cook County with reports of a domestic disturbance, an illegal campfire and a search for a missing person.

Enforcement action was taken for operating a watercraft without required lights; no angling license in possession; no state park permit; illegal alcohol possession; and failure to display boat registration.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) focused on OHV activity and water-related activity throughout the week and busy Memorial Day weekend. A very high violation rate was encountered, with violations that included numerous people fishing without licenses; illegal-length northern pike; expired/unregistered watercraft; no personal flotation devices; transporting water in a live well; expired ATV and OHM registrations; illegal youthful operation; and failure to transfer ownership.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and boating activity this past week. Time was also spent in the BWCAW and border waters.


CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports Cook and Lake counties were full of people enjoying the outdoors leading up to and including the Memorial Day weekend. It seems as if every other vehicle had a canoe strapped to the roof headed northbound toward the BWCAW after the Superior National Forest opened it for overnight camping this past week. A few canoeists were spoken to about updating their registration along with making sure they have the necessary PFD for each person on board.

Hill switched gears and patrolled for ATV activity throughout the station, contacting a few operators on some remote forest roads. Violations include failure to display registration numbers, no headlight and operate an ATV without a driver’s license.

There is a hot walleye bite on a lake within the station, prompting Hill to spend some time monitoring anglers and the amount of fish they bring home. Hill responded to multiple calls given out by Cook County.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked a busy holiday weekend on the North Shore. Angling and water recreation activity was high with warmer weather. Enforcement action was taken for unattended fire, no PFDs and licensing violations. Murray assisted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office with an ATV accident involving one fatality.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers, patrolled state parks and worked small-game hunters, ATV riders and aquatic invasive species. Numerous game- and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife complaints and an illegal fire.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked boat and water enforcement, monitored AIS compliance and assisted the local police department at a domestic disturbance. Fairbanks and his K9 partner, Si, also trained for upcoming certifications. The area anglers did well this past week.

Enforcement action was taken for insufficient PFDs; no throwable device; no license in possession; no skin patch; uncountable fillet; and possession of illegal-length walleyes.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked heavy angling activity over the past week. Enforcement action was taken for possessing a walleye and northern pike within the protected slot, failing to have an angling license and expired registration on a watercraft.


CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working angling, boating, ATV and AIS enforcement. Angling and recreational boating activity increased throughout the area with the long holiday weekend. Several nuisance-bear complaints were also fielded and handled. Enforcement contacts included possession of an overlimit of crappies; illegal-length walleyes; illegal-length northern pike; no angling license in possession; insufficient number of PFDs; and several watercraft-registration violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) saw heavy outdoor recreation over the holiday weekend. Several people were informed that their PFDs in their watercraft may not be up to par. Waterlogged and deteriorated life jackets were common. Please make sure that your safety equipment is in serviceable condition before heading out onto the water.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a very heavy week of angling activity. The holiday weekend also brought a lot of people out on the water to recreate as well as fish. Enforcement action was taken for angling while license privileges are revoked; no angling license; allowing unlawful juvenile operation of a PWC; and no PFDs on board a watercraft.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked the Memorial Day weekend on area lakes for angling and boating activity. Angling success was a little slow, but lakes were very busy with the warm weather. ATV-related complaints were handled and nuisance-animal calls were returned. As a reminder, please leave baby animals where you find them.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time working the St. Louis River monitoring fishing activity. Several lakes around the Duluth area were also worked for fishing and boating enforcement. Time was dedicated to invasive species enforcement at area accesses. Outdoor activities throughout the week and extended weekend were very high.

Bears visiting local feeders hanging from decks makes for happy bears and usually unhappy homeowners. As a reminder, when you stop providing them food, they will go away.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) spent time working angling, boating, OHV enforcement and AIS enforcement throughout the week. Humphrey also conducted patrols in area state parks, wildlife management areas and at public water accesses.

A Turn in Poachers call was investigated regarding angling in a closed area. Humphrey assisted in an off-highway motorcycle fleeing incident, which resulted in the arrest of the operator. Humphrey and CO Willis worked on a search warrant involving social media use.


Humphrey found Memorial Day weekend to be very active, with many people recreating. Violations for angling, boating and OHV operation, registration and licensing were encountered.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) continues to assist with K9 training. K9 Schody assisted with searching for a firearm that was believed to have been thrown from a vehicle. On another call he assisted with searching for a person who fled from local police.

Enforcement action was taken on several violations over the holiday weekend for ATV and boating activities. Staples and CO Willis took enforcement action on an angler whose angling rights were revoked. It was the second such instance in about two weeks. They seized the angler’s equipment.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked Lake Superior during a busy holiday weekend. The light northeast winds made for relatively smooth sailing with areas of heavy fog cover in the Duluth and Knife River waters. Lake trout made the majority of the bag with fewer salmon seen during the weekend. Area state parks and state forest campground areas were also checked, with some minor violations addressed.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers and boaters on a warm and buggy holiday weekend. ATVs were out in full force. Riders need to be observant of posted signs and existing regulations. Anglers found mixed success with lake trout and salmon near Duluth and walleyes on the St Louis River.

Boaters need to check registration and safety equipment before heading out on the water. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

Katie Rohman has served as the managing editor of the Duluth News Tribune since 2019. She started with Duluth Media Group in 2017 as regional editor of the Superior Telegram, Pine Journal, Lake County News-Chronicle, Eastern Observer and Western Weekly. She has worked in newspapers around the Midwest since 2004.
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