Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



As off-highway vehicle traffic increases, DNR officers report numerous violations

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of April 5, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports Rainy River fishing continues to be the main emphasis of the workload as people are fishing from International Falls to Baudette and out into Lake of the Woods.

Enforcement action for the week included no angling license; failure to display boat registration; insufficient number of personal flotation devices; no fire extinguisher onboard; angling with extra lines; and possession of a small amount of marijuana.

He also responded to a grass fire, which is still being investigated.

CO Curt Simonson (International Falls 2) spent time this past week checking anglers and boating activity on the Rainy River. Enforcement action taken consisted of not having a throwable life-saving device, insufficient number of life jackets, and expired boat registration.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area forest roads, completing equipment work, and work planning for summer activities. Spare time was spent on administrative tasks.


CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) spent time investigating trapping violations and patrolling on ATV over the past week. With the warmer weather, Zavodnik observed a heavy increase in ATV traffic. He wants to remind operators to page through the off-highway vehicle regulation book before going out. Violations observed included operating without lights on; expired registration; unregistered off-road vehicles; failing to transfer ownership; and operating without completing ATV safety training.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring fishing, spring trapping, and ATV activity. Ice on area lakes is rapidly deteriorating. The few anglers out reported limited success. ATV activity is picking up and ATV owners/operators should refresh their memories on ATV laws and rules.

Broughten fielded calls regarding trespass and timber theft. Broughten also investigated a grass fire.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports angling activity has very nearly stopped as ice conditions have become very unpredictable and dangerous. He also assisted with the investigation of several grass fires that occurred along Minnesota Highway 61 near Silver Bay.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and ATV riders this past week. Ice conditions are very poor with the warm-up. Velsvaag received several calls about fishing regulations and road closures.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked anglers trying to bag their last lake trout before the close of the season. He also spent time on border lakes checking walleye and northern pike anglers. Take precautions before you venture out as the ice is deteriorating quickly with the warmer weather.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked anglers on area Lake Superior tributaries where the temperatures are still a bit low, but fish are starting to show up. Anglers are reminded to respect property owners’ postings and stay in the riverbed where land is posted.

Snow is nearly gone from roads and trails, and drivers are urged to use caution when venturing out in unfamiliar territory as mud and frost heaves are taking its place.


Cook County has several fish sanctuaries and a few of those rivers were also patrolled. Manning also assisted Lake County with traffic control during a brush fire over the weekend.

She also took calls about nuisance beavers and off-highway motorcycle use.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent time on the Rainy River and on ATV enforcement. He also testified in court on a deer case. Enforcement action included expired watercraft registration; expired ATV registration; allowing illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile; and no helmet on ATV passengers under 18.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling activity along Lake Superior.

On his way home Saturday, he passed a small 2-by-2-foot grass fire in the ditch of state Highway 61. By the time Schottenbauer was able to turn around and attempt to extinguish the fire, it had grown to at least 20 by 15 yards, and was climbing the cliff into the woods. Schottenbauer radioed for Silver Bay Fire, and started an investigation into the origin.

As the fire department started its response, they were stopped for three more fires along Highway 61, and Schottenbauer realized there were more fires behind him. Investigation turned to notifying residences of the danger and that they may need to leave. Fire support from up and down the North Shore, and DNR air support, were able to put the fires out.

One building was lost, and the fires are still under investigation.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked Lake Superior streams this past week as anglers fished the spring run of steelhead trout. Fire danger remained high over the weekend along the North Shore as most areas are now snow-free. Please check for local fire restrictions and use caution before doing any outdoor burning. A report of nuisance-wolf activity was reported and is being investigated.


District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the past week working trapping and OHV enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for operating ATVs in a wildlife management area, allowing children to operate ATVs without helmets, and expired ATV registration.

An injured bear cub was captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, forestry, small game and ATV riders. Numerous game-and-fish questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended training, monitored off-highway vehicle activity and handled nuisance-animal complaints. The warm weather and high winds have ice clearing from area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and illegal operation of an off-highway vehicle by juveniles

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) spent time checking spring beaver-trapping activity. Water-level fluctuations and cold weather have not been helpful variables in trapping so far this spring.

She also worked aquatic invasive species enforcement checking public access areas for boats and also public roads for boat-transportation violations.

She worked on a possible timber theft complaint with a neighboring officer.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATV activity in the area with many off-highway vehicle riders out and about. Enforcement action was taken for operating an unregistered ATV and operating on a designated non-motorized trail.

Many anglers were seen on small lakes and area rivers getting their boats ready and fishing for panfish. Looks like the area lakes will be completely open soon with the strong winds and warm weather.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working angling, trapping, boating and aquatic invasive species enforcement. Van Asch also spent time working on the Rainy River, where there was no shortage of anglers to contact. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license; angling with extra lines; insufficient number of personal flotation devices; failure to display valid watercraft registration; failure to tend traps; and untagged traps.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time monitoring road and trail closures. With the dry weather conditions, several roads and trails have firmed up and are now open, while others remain impassable and closed. Issues with beaver trapping and birch-pole theft were also investigated.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) found most lakes in the area still have ice on them, but none of it is usable. With the current warm weather and forecasted rain, ice-out is not far away. ATV activity remained steady and patrol was focused on problem areas. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession, failure to illuminate headlights while operating an ATV and failure to display registration.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the past week working shore anglers and anglers on Lake Superior. Fish cooperated at times and wind conditions were great over the weekend. Trespassing complaints and illegal ATV use on closed roads were handled. Injured- and nuisance-animal issues were also handled over the week. Smelting inquiries were the most common questions of the week.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked off-highway vehicle, fire and angling enforcement throughout the past week. Humphrey observed heavy ATV traffic during the warm weather and patrolled state forests’ seasonally closed forest roads and trails. Area lakes have opened up and fire danger remains high in the area.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) worked on getting equipment ready for the open-water season. Questions on spring-season angling were answered along with ATV-law questions.

K-9 training continues with a new K-9 partner. He was certified by the United State Police Canine Association in game detection this past week.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports the warmer weather over the weekend produced a busy Lake Superior. Boat anglers were out in full force, with hundreds of boats between Duluth and Two Harbors observed. The south/southwest wind tempered the coho salmon bite, but many enjoyed a day on the open water. Wildfires and ATV complaints in closed areas made up the remainder of the workload during the week.

Violations about boating safety equipment, angling violations and ATV violations were dealt with.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked boaters and anglers on Lake Superior during the past week. ATV trails remain mostly closed due to spring melting and soft conditions. Fishing activity is picking up on Lake Superior, with many boats out trolling on nice days. In addition to safety equipment, boaters need to make sure to remember the navigational rules required of boaters along with a good sense of etiquette when fishing among other boats.

Enforcement action was taken for angling and ATV violations.

Sign up for the Northland Outdoors newseletter

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.
What To Read Next
Founded in 1977, F-M Walleyes Unlimited was inducted into the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame in 2015, putting it in the unique position of being enshrined in two states’ fishing halls of fame.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan. 30.
The plan also includes wildfire aviation upgrades in Hibbing and Brainerd.
The effort will use solar energy, heat pumps and electric vehicles to eliminate burning fossil fuels.