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DNR Report: Check ice conditions before heading out

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Dec. 5.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports muzzleloader season continues to be slow with few people and minimal harvest. A few animal-related complaints were handled throughout the week and weekend. Ice conditions are not good, so people are asked to use caution and common sense.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) monitored muzzleloader deer-hunting activity, small-game hunting, and trapping activity this past week. Cold weather and high winds resulted in low activity. Ice continues to improve on the Rainy River and area lakes. Simonson encourages people to check ice conditions before venturing out.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) monitored the ongoing muzzleloader season. Small-game hunters are still reporting some success, although it’s been tougher with the snow and cold weather. As snowmobiles begin to be woken up from a summer slumber, operators are reminded to check for registration requirements as well as any maintenance issues that were not taken care of before putting them away. Parents are also reminded they are responsible to make sure juvenile operators under their care know the rules and have the appropriate safety certification before allowing them to operate.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports outdoor activities were minimal over the week. Newly formed ice is unsafe, and no angling was noted. Deer hunting is nonexistent. Complaints continue with regards to the number of wolves and no deer. Snowmobiles have made an appearance. Equipment work is ongoing.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked big-game and trapping activity. A handful of anglers were also checked, and anglers are reminded to be cautious for areas of thin ice. Time was also spent investigating a trespassing complaint that resulted in criminal charges and assisting in getting a wounded bald eagle to a rehabilitation facility.

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CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) and COC Coby Fontes gave a presentation on decorative forest products to a group of approximately 100 DNR forest officers. Time was spent on Upper Red Lake for the early ice walleye bite. It resulted in 15 individuals being cited for violations. Most notably, nine people were cited for the possession of an overlimit of walleyes, one person was cited for possessing a fish outside of the slot, and one person was cited for having unattended lines. A total of 42 walleyes were seized during 12 hours of work on the busy lake. Enforcement action was also taken against several individuals for drug-related offenses, which resulted in the seizure of numerous grams of marijuana and several pieces of drug-related paraphernalia.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring hunting, trapping, and fishing activity. Few muzzleloader deer hunters were encountered. Recent cold weather brought out a few ice anglers. Ice conditions vary, with some lakes still open. Snowmobile riders will have to wait for more snow. Broughten also fielded calls regarding trespass, timber theft, and deer baiting.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports ice conditions over the week and weekend were found to vary wildly from lake to lake. A few second-hand reports of anglers pushing out too early with wet results were heard. Violations included angling with no license in possession and fishing with extra lines.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked muzzleloader hunters and anglers this past week. Ice fishing has started and some nice fish were caught on several area lakes. Some lakes still have open water.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked early ice anglers and a few hunters. He maintained station equipment and completed required training.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area roads and trails. There is still a fair bit of unfrozen swamp, brush and downed trees on some snowmobile trails and clubs are continuing to get things groomed as they are able. Colder weather is helping with lake ice, but anyone venturing out should be vigilant about frequently checking thickness as they go out.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) assisted with a snowmobile safety class in Babbitt. Thanks to all the great volunteers who helped. Ice fishing activity is quickly picking up in the area with good ice forming. Some success was noted for walleyes and northern pike. Enforcement action was taken for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and for no identification on an unattended fish house. A resource protection notice was issued for fill being placed in a wetland.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked a few early ice anglers venturing out. Varied snow and ice conditions have led to clear, solid ice on some lakes, and slush forming on others. A few snowmobile riders were also seen as riding season got off to a cold and windy start. Questions were handled about hunting near the city limits of Silver Bay. He also talked about spearing with a group of people. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile violations.

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CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a slower week of activity in Cook County. Stemming from a cease and desist order issued the week before, Hill issued citations for unpermitted public waters work and failure to file a contractor responsibility form after a contractor knowingly conducted unpermitted shoreline/bank work along Lake Superior. Continued investigatory work was done on a big-game case from the firearms deer season.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked muzzleloader deer-hunting and trapping activity this week. Area lakes are seeing the first anglers starting to venture out onto newly formed ice by foot travel only. Most lakes don’t have enough ice for ATV traffic and anglers are cautioned to check ice conditions frequently.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers, checked trapping activity, and completed equipment maintenance. As temperatures decrease, he has seen an increase in the number of people getting out onto the ice. They’re having decent success. One group of anglers found out the hard way that using only the winch to secure their ATV to their snowmobile trailer was a bad idea. The group made it 10 miles before they realized they had lost an ATV. Luckily, the ATV stayed upright on the highway and didn’t cause any collisions.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) and COC Roemeling spent the week continuing investigations on spruce-top thefts and a big-game-violation case. Several anglers were checked this past week and were having moderate success. Ice conditions on area lakes varied.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked muzzleloader deer-hunting and trapping activity throughout the previous week. Time was also spent checking anglers and ice conditions on area lakes. Ice conditions vary and caution is advised. Holt continued to follow up on cases from the firearms deer season.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor small-game hunting, muzzleloader hunting, and ice angling activity. Ice thickness varies dramatically from lake to lake, but many people were able to find sufficient ice on smaller lakes. Follow-up work was done with ongoing cases and several trespass complaints were fielded.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) fielded TIP calls and continued investigating ongoing calls this week. Hunting violations were followed up on and administrative details were attended to. Enforcement action was taken for operating an unregistered off-highway motorcycle.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time working on yearly training, which included several online courses. He also attended an online meeting. Work activity included monitoring area lakes for angling activity. Duncan also spent time working trapping enforcement. Other activities included checking on decorative material harvesters and following up on a possible trespass violation.

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CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) spent time catching up on training and equipment maintenance. Upcoming snowmobile safety classes were prepared for as well.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Willow River) worked on a special assignment and fielded calls this past week.

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