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MN DNR weekly report for March 2, 2020

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports ice fishing and snowmobiling activities continue to be the main enforcement work emphasis throughout the area. The Rainy Lake Sport Fishing Club held its annual fishing derby in the Sand Bay area of Rainy Lake. Attendance was high as the weather was very conducive for the great family activity. Snowmobile trails continue to hold up with a few bare spots showing, but the logging areas are in tough shape. Reports of ATVs observed on area snowmobile trails were received over the weekend. People are reminded that the trails are for snowmobiles only and enforcement action will be taken.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports the recent thaw/freeze conditions made for some rough trail conditions early in the weekend but improved as the weather warmed back up a bit. Time was spent patrolling the Vermilion Lake-area with violations addressed for speed on a snowmobile, registration issues, and allowing illegal operation of a snowmobile by juveniles. A group of mushers was encountered where one young lady, in second grade, was enjoying running her own four-dog team. The deer-planning workshop in International Falls was attended. Attendance was less than expected. Opportunities still exist if you wish to provide input for this process, which will help shape the direction of the local deer herd for several years to come.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports snowmobile trails have started to deteriorate with dirt and rocks exposed in some areas. Above-freezing temperatures in the forecast for the upcoming week should continue the melt down as the season nears its end. Angling activity and area forest roads were checked. Equipment work was completed.

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CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) spent time focusing on patrolling the area snowmobile trails. With what’s looking like the last couple weeks of good trail conditions, riders were encountered from all over the state enjoying the warm weather. Increased numbers of snowmobilers, in turn, led to the highest amount of violations observed over the weekend. Speeds from several snowmobilers were registered in the mid- and upper-90s. Zavodnik encountered dozens of snowmobilers traveling well beyond a reasonable speed, with most everyone admitting that they were going too fast. Zavodnik wants to remind anglers that their 2019 angling license is now expired and that ATV operators should review the rules and regulations. Time was also spent assisting St. Louis County with a father and son who were stranded on the snowmobile trail.

CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) spent the week on snowmobile. His primary focus was speeding, and numerous contacts were made. Trout anglers continue to have success in the BWCA.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked anglers, snowmobiles, an abandoned-snares complaint, and a snowmobile radar run with a high number of entrants and spectators. The local businesses participating in the run was thankful for the extra CO presence. Bozovsky intervened in a roadside domestic disturbance on a state highway and accompanied Wildlife Division biologists in documenting hibernating bears in a den. One snowmobiler didn’t want to hang around after water skipping his snowmobile and tried to get away by driving through someone’s yard and a resort. He then drove on roads. He was found about to enter his driveway and was dealt with. Enforcement action was taken for operating a non-highway motor vehicle in a state park, an unmarked fish house, no shelter license, and several snowmobile violations.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and snowmobiling activity. Fishing success remained low this week. Many anglers have already removed their fish houses. Snowmobile trails are deteriorating due to the lack of new snow and warm weather. Without new snow, the snowmobile season may come to an early end. Broughten assisted with law enforcement at the radar run near Side Lake. He also investigated a snowmobile-trespass complaint. The snowmobilers were located in a closed area and also found to be in possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

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Virginia – vacant.

International Falls #2 – vacant.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) focused on snowmobile speed enforcement over the past week. The violation rate was found to be high over the weekend with several citations issued. There has also been a recent rash of people attempting to drive cars and trucks on snowmobile trails and becoming very stuck. Visitors are asked to be observant of snow-covered roads they are unfamiliar with and to keep an eye out for snowmobile trail markers.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. He also assisted the U.S. Border Patrol on a snowmobile work detail. Fishing has been slow on area lakes and Velsvaag continues to get questions on pike regulations and border lakes fishing laws.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time in the BWCAW checking anglers. A detail with area officers was worked along the U.S./Canada border. Enforcement action was taken for angling, snowmobile and BWCAW violations.

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CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily crappie anglers and snowmobile and ski trail enforcement. Several snowmobiles going more than 25 MPH over the speed limit were stopped and cited while working with CO Hopkins over the weekend. Fishing is still slow and snowmobile trail conditions were deteriorating rapidly by the end of the weekend. A complaint resulted in a citation for cutting a tree in a state park. Additional enforcement action included angling for fish in a closed season, minor consumption of alcohol, registration display issues, and no ski pass.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and snowmobiling activity. Time was spent on a border waters detail, and on equipment maintenance as well.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports hitting the ski and snowmobile trails throughout the past week. The snow is starting to deteriorate on the snowmobile trails and the groomers are doing everything they can to keep up. Hill hit border lakes and checked for fishing activity. A few anglers were coached on how to utilize their fish after it was determined they had tossed a few northern pike on the ice and never brought them into the cabin. Some nice jumbo perch were seen in the bucket along with eater-sized walleyes. Hill was in contact with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency after Hill took a call about a plow truck leaking hydraulic fluid on the road, possibly causing an environmental concern.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers and worked small-game, ATV, and snowmobile activity. Numerous game and fish questions were answered. He took care of miscellaneous wildlife-related calls.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and attended training. Fairbanks and his K9 partner Si also provided K9 demonstrations at the SCI expo and a public event in Itasca County. The area panfish anglers has good success this past week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and snowmobile registration issues.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked panfish fishing and snowmobile activity. Tullibees have been targeted by anglers. The fish make for great table fare after being smoked. Area snowmobile trails are deteriorating quickly with the warm weather.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports focusing enforcement efforts on snowmobile and angling activities. Angler numbers increased over the weekend due to mild weather and an increase in angler mobility on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, taking walleyes in a closed season, no angling license in possession, failure to display snowmobile/ATV registration, and operating a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked a mix of snowmobile, ATV, and angling activity. Trail conditions were good at the beginning of the week but deteriorated quickly toward the end of week with the warm weather. The area panfish bite was good with several groups catching their limit and most people having at least some success.

NE ATV officer – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw heavy snowmobiling activity around much of the area. Area lakes remain navigable on the ice, but the upcoming warm trend could change that quickly. Make sure ice shelters are off by the deadline. An ATV/snowmobile detail was worked with other officers in the Nemadji State Forest.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) continued to work snowmobile enforcement on area trails. Trail conditions remained in great condition throughout the week. Local snowmobile clubs and DNR staff have done an excellent job grooming the Duluth-area trails. Fishing activity was also worked on area lakes. Duncan followed up on calls during the week on a variety of complaints. A snowmobile detail in a neighboring district was also worked over the weekend.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) spent time answering questions and talking about the DNR K9 Unit at the annual Safari Club International Expo in Brooklyn Park. Staples also assisted in picking up one of the newest additions to the K9 Unit. Calls about nuisance animals were answered. One involved a complaint of cats urinating on a garage and a house. There wasn’t much help that could be offered other than advice to put up a fence. A day was spent at a local school being on a mock interview panel where seniors prepared resumes and went through actual interviews.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked snowmobile enforcement. The trails remain in good shape with many sleds out on the weekend. Olson worked a detail assisting District 10 in the Nemadji State Forest with other District 8 officers. He tended to maintenance items during the middle of the week and checked anglers along the North Shore in the Duluth, Knife River and Two Harbors waters.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers and snowmobilers throughout the week. An enforcement detail was worked on combined ATV/snowmobile trails in the Nemadji State Forest. Assistance was given to a senior angler who got his small snowmobile very stuck in deep snow a long way from a road. Salmon and herring are cooperating for shore casters, with the occasional lake trout showing up as well. With coming warm weather, ice and trail conditions will continue to deteriorate. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and angling violations.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.

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