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DNR Report: Birch pole thefts continue near Virginia

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of April 3.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working the Rainy River this past week. The open water and warm weather had many people out in boats this past weekend. Fishing reports were average, with anglers reporting catching some fish. Simonson would like to remind people to double-check registration and safety equipment in boats before hitting the water for the first time this year. Violations encountered this past week consisted of expired registration, no life jackets, no fire extinguishers and angling with extra lines.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports that although snowmobiling conditions continue to be excellent, there has been a drastic reduction in participation. Angling activity has picked up both on interior waterways along with the popular Rainy River catch-and-release walleye season. Ice has slowed down in its recession toward Lake of the Woods but the accesses continue to become usable as the river gains ground in an eastward progression. Watercraft registration was a common violation as boats come out of storage. Be mindful of the spring road and trail closures and know what vehicles are or are not allowed.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring spring road/trail closures, dealing with an otter turned in by beaver trappers, and completing equipment work. Other time was devoted to various administrative tasks. Deer are showing the effects of winter, with no end in sight. More than a foot of snow remains on the ground. Another winter storm takes aim at the Northland this week, further adding to the snow depth.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling, snowmobile and trapping enforcement. Larson spent time checking some of the few crappie anglers in his station. He also spent time on equipment maintenance.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling, ATV and snowmobile enforcement. Recreational activity was severely limited throughout the week as many people prepare for spring. A reminder that all grant-in-aid snowmobile trails that run through private property are now closed for the season. Snowmobile trails that run through state property will remain open as long as conditions allow.


CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time following up on a birch pole theft case over the week. Zavodnik contacted the suspect, who was in possession of approximately 120 birch poles. Enforcement action was taken and contraband was also seized at the scene. Administrative tasks were also completed throughout the week.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Recent warm weather started to deteriorate snowmobile trails. Ice anglers reported poor success. Broughten also attended training at Camp Ripley.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports angling activity was good over the weekend as anglers got out to enjoy the spring weather that finally arrived. Several complaints were taken of snowmobile use on local grant-in-aid trails. Snowmobilers are reminded these trails are closed as of April 1.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers this past week. Snowmobiling was slow at the end of the week. Ice conditions are still good, but there are some areas of slush.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) reports the winter trout fishing season came to an anticlimactic end. Winter weather continues to linger and the tributary waters to Lake Superior remain pretty locked up with snow and ice. Equipment maintenance was conducted.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) primarily checked anglers. Some snowmobile traffic was still observed, and trail conditions were pretty good throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for no state park vehicle permit.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) took complaints of snowmobiles operating off-trail and with loud, modified mufflers. Snow and ice have held with the increase in sun, but with grant-in-aid trails closing and grooming ceasing, trails will begin to deteriorate quickly. Lakes remain covered with snow and slush. Several commercial items were handled for the Fisheries office. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports attending training at Camp Ripley all week.


CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked snowmobile and angling activity during the week. Some area grant-in-aid snowmobile trails are now closed, so check area conditions to know what trails are still open before you ride. Murray also attended a division training session at Camp Ripley.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) attended in-service training and went to the Leech Lake Tribal College to recruit students. Brown patrolled area lakes on snowmobile, checking anglers and monitoring snowmobile and ATV activity. Anglers have had good success with catching decent numbers of crappie and sunfish.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended K-9 school with his K-9 partner, Fennec, this week.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity over the past week. The panfish bite was good at times. The ice remains thick and the snowbanks are large. Sutherland worked on finalizing past cases and patrolled area lakes over the past week.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked angling and recreational vehicle activity during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints. Holt attended annual training at Camp Ripley.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) focused on monitoring angling activity over the past week. Several groups did very well and were able to find crappies and jumbo perch that were willing to bite. Enforcement action was taken for driving a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail, angling without a license, and expired snowmobile registration.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) fielded regulation-related calls and instructed at division in-service training this week. State snowmobile trails are still in good condition, but people still riding are reminded to be sure of what trail they are on. Grant-in-aid trails on private property are now closed for the season.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) followed up on trespassing complaints related to snowmobile activity. Time was spent working angling and snowmobile activity in the area. He handled a complaint of a vehicle that was stuck on a snowmobile trail.


CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time following up on phone calls and emails after returning from vacation. Time was also spent working from a snowmobile and patrolling area trails and lakes. Registration violations were encountered, and he educated several snowmobilers about off-trail operation and trespass. Duncan also prepared for the upcoming open-water season

CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) continued working on special projects. Time was also spent conducting a job shadow for a student interested in a career with the DNR.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this week at Camp Ripley training. Time was also spent on patrol for snowmobile activity and fishing activity. Nuisance animal-related complaints were taken. Assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies when the road conditions were slick.

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