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DNR officers take report of 'armed bear' in Boundary Waters

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of July 12, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports fishing success on Rainy Lake has picked up with more fish being seen in the livewells. Lots of people are still out enjoying the water with boats and personal watercraft. Animal-related complaints and ATV-related complaints were also addressed throughout the week.

Enforcement action for the week included an overlimit of fish, illegal-length fish, license issues, extra lines and boat safety equipment violations.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports having a busy week checking anglers on Rainy Lake, Rainy River and Lake of the Woods. Anglers reported having some success finding hungry fish. Boat and water safety checks were conducted as well.

Enforcement action taken this week was for no license in possession; operating a Class II ATV on a state highway; operating an ATV with no lights; and not displaying registration properly.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports that despite the extended time with hot weather, angling, boating, and ATV activity remain high. Recreational boating activity has increased as people take to the water for respite from the heat. Anglers had been reporting a tough bite, but more positive reports have been heard the past few days with overcast skies. He assisted campground staff with noise and nonpayment complaints as well as a downed telephone line.


Violations encountered included an overlimit of walleyes, illegal-length walleyes, using extra lines and various boating safety equipment violations.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports boating and angling activities continue to be monitored. Fishing remains poor overall with few fish observed caught. Area forest roads were checked for ATV activity. Fire danger remains extreme as drought conditions persist. Equipment work and administrative tasks were completed.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATV and angling activity. Time was spent assisting local law enforcement agencies and maintaining station equipment. ATV activity has been steady, but angling activity has slowed with high temperatures slowing the bite.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time mainly patrolling area lakes. As the warm weather and bug hatch continues throughout the region, anglers have found it difficult to find and pattern active fish. Many boating safety checks were made throughout the week, with the majority of boaters found to be in compliance.

Violations encountered included fishing without a license, extra lines and failing to have a sufficient number of wearable life jackets on board the watercraft.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating, and ATV activity. Anglers continued to report limited success. Broughten fielded calls regarding ATV and jet ski complaints. He also investigated a public waters violation.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports angling success in the Ely area continues to be spotty as warm weather and water temperatures dominated over the week. A burning ban is in effect for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness after several fires popped up following a thunderstorm on the Fourth of July. Conditions continue to be very dry and residents and visitors are urged to be extremely careful.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked boaters and anglers this past week. He also took numerous nuisance-animal complaints and followed up on several calls about litter and the fire closures.


CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time on remote lakes checking anglers. Some nice lake trout were seen in the bag. He checked ATV riders and worked aquatic invasive species. Enforcement action was taken for ATV, boating and angling violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) attended the funeral for retired Conservation Officer Joyce Kuske. She met with members of the Cook County ATV club and worked ATV enforcement during the week. Manning spent a few days working in the Boundary Waters, including with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Belmore.

In a first for both, Belmore and Manning took a report of an "armed bear" in the Boundary Waters. A camper reported a bear stole a backpack containing his handgun (and several delicious-smelling snacks) from a portage landing and ran off into the woods. They were unable to track and locate the bear or the pack. The officers responded and, after searching the area, located and recovered the partially shredded pack, numerous empty snack wrappers and the undamaged firearm.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) patrolled in the Boundary Waters and on other station lakes and ATV trails. The water levels are extremely low, making some river routes and portages difficult. One individual was arrested for 3rd degree boating while intoxicated after being found over twice the legal limit. The fire danger is very high, and Bear Head State Park staff reported several campsite guests leaving fires still burning in fire pits. Citations were issued for failing to extinguish campfires in each case. Other enforcement action included fishing without a license; no/insufficient personal flotation devices; no navigational lights after sunset; glass in the Boundary Waters; and failure to display watercraft registration.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling, boating, and ATV activity this week. Time was spent working on various wildlife-related complaints. Schottenbauer also celebrated the life of another lost partner, retired CO Joyce Kuske, this week. She will be missed.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports heavy off-highway vehicle patrol throughout the week.

One operator was stopped for multiple ATV violations. During the stop, Hill noticed liquid leaking out of a paper bag that was sitting on the floor of the machine. Further investigation found that the operator was drinking a Twisted Tea while on the roadway. When Hill stopped them, they tried to hide the open container by putting it in the bag. They were cited.

Hill met with local ATV riders and answered questions about regulations. Nuisance-animal calls were handled.


CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked boating and invasive species enforcement efforts during the week. Water recreation activity remained high with recent warm and dry weather. Fire restrictions are becoming more restrictive as drought conditions persist and fire danger increases. Use caution and check for restrictions in your area before doing any outdoor burning.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) enforced angling, ATV, and boating activities, and continued to address complaints of beavers and bears causing inconveniences to people.

Enforcement action was taken for illegal dumping, boat registration issues and possession of illegal-length northern pike. A dispute among neighbors was also handled.

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

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked heavy angling and boating activity over the past week, with many recreators out and about on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for not having enough life jackets on board a watercraft, angling without a license and operating an ATV down the main portion of a roadway.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on angling, boating, ATV and aquatic invasive species activities throughout the surrounding areas. Boaters are reminded to check and ensure that all required safety equipment is on board before heading out on the water.

Enforcement action was taken for several angling and boating violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to patrol area lakes and ATV trails. Time was spent staffing a booth at the Aitkin County Fair.

Enforcement action was taken for various angling violations, including failing to register a sturgeon that was taken this past spring.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a busy week in the outdoors. The Floodwood area was worked for ATV activity during the annual Catfish Days events, and area public accesses were monitored for aquatic invasive species law compliance. A call regarding three intoxicated people in Jay Cooke State Park was also handled and resulted in an arrest for DWI. Various calls for service were fielded, and advice was given in a neighbor property dispute.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) checked anglers and boaters on area lakes. ATV activity has been high and Schmidt worked complaint areas and trail heads. Trespassing complaints regarding ATV use were investigated.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent several days on area lakes working fishing and boating enforcement. Water recreation continues to be very busy. A common violation included pulling tubes and water skiing without a mirror or an observer. Another common violation is paddle boarding without a life jacket. Time was also spent at area accesses discussing aquatic invasive species issues and educating boaters about invasive species laws involving watercraft.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked a special enforcement detail in Jay Cooke State Park during the week. Humphrey also followed up on a trespass/property boundary complaint in the Kettle River area and a lakeshore dispute near Cloquet. Humphrey conducted ATV and aquatic invasive species patrols around area lakes and trails during the week.

Calls/questions on nuisance animals, youth ATV operation and shoreland regulations were received.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) focused on boating safety work on area lakes and Lake Superior, teaming up with the U.S. Coast Guard boarding teams patrolling the Duluth harbor and Lake Superior. Olson worked impaired ATV operation in the western half of St. Louis County into the evening hours. A special detail was also worked in Jay Cooke State Park over the weekend.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked boaters and anglers on Lake Superior. Commercial and charter items were handled and a stolen “No Smelting” sign was recovered. Complaints were received of anglers using extra lines and failing to follow navigation rules.

Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

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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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