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DNR Report: Fire danger rises with wind, higher temps

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of May 22.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the fishing activity on Rainy Lake was busier than opening weekend, but still not as busy as in past years. ATV-related complaints, nuisance-beaver issues and invasive species violations were handled throughout the week. Enforcement action for the week included illegal transport of invasive species, transporting filleted walleyes while on the water, fishing license violations, and boat-registration issues.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working Rainy Lake, Rainy River and Upper Red Lake this past week. Anglers reported having success. ATV activity was monitored as well. Violations encountered were angling without a license, being overlimit on walleyes and other various license and registration violations.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports the spring beaver-trapping season ended with beaver-related complaints of causing damage still being heard. Bears are beginning to cause a raucous with sightings coming in. Preventive measures by humans can help mitigate most conflicts with hungry bruins. Complaints of prohibited vehicles being operated on closed forest roads were investigated. Equipment maintenance was tended to. Anglers reported a slight slowdown of success, but limits were still observed in livewells. Lack of required boating safety equipment was noted during several contacts.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling, boating and ATV riders. Area forest roads were checked. Equipment work and administrative tasks completed. Beaver problems continue to be monitored.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling enforcement. Larson spent time checking anglers near the Eagles Nest area and in the BWCAW. Violations encountered were unattended lines, boat-registration issues, prohibited cans and glass in the BWCAW, and failure to retain a skin patch on game fish while transporting.


CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) spent the week at Camp Ripley assisting in training 17 new conservation officer candidates. They were taught defensive tactics and firearms skills throughout the week.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) attended a firearms safety class of approximately 30 students. He spoke about common violations that occur in the field during hunting season as well as the laws and ethics when hunting. Zavodnik travelled to Mille Lacs Lake for a couple days on a detail. Boating safety and registration violations were encountered as well as several anglers keeping illegal-length walleyes. Nuisance-bear reports also kept increasing throughout the week.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating and ATV activity. Fishing success slowed after opening weekend. ATV activity is picking up. Broughten also investigated a trespass complaint and field calls regarding nuisance animals and boat registration.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports angling activity was still high in the Ely area, but success was reported to be much more difficult by most anglers. ATV activity had increased, although a fresh hatch of biting flies put a damper on many riders’ trips. Violations included angling without a license in possession and failure to display ATV registration.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking anglers in the BWCAW. Some nice walleyes were seen in the bag. ATV-complaint areas were monitored. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) spent the week focusing on angling activities. With cold water, fishing remains slow on inland lakes. Down on tributaries of Lake Superior, steelhead anglers are having pretty good success. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a fishing license, no license in possession, and failure to display ATV registration.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent much of the week in the BWCAW enforcing boating, angling and BWCAW regulations with CO Larson, with violations found including unattended fishing line, transporting fish without skin patches and unlawful food and beverage containers. The responsible party was located in a large litter-dumping case off the Jackpot ATV loop, with a citation issued. A citation was issued to a landowner who was burning logs without a permit and the fire spread resulting in suppression efforts from Morse Fire. Additionally, a citation was issued to the owner of a fish house after it was found at a public access of a remote lake. It had been there since December.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked anglers and boaters. A public waters violation was checked in Isabella with unpermitted work done in public waters. Closed campgrounds were monitored and steelhead anglers were checked. A wildlife-possession permit was issued. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.


CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports conducting commercial minnow inspections on local minnow retailers throughout the week. No violations were found. Time was spent on the water, and the daytime lake trout and walleye bite appears to be slow. However, anglers are reporting late-night success for walleyes. One angler was cited for angling without a fishing license and a few more license warnings were issued. Hill assisted local EMS with responding to a report of an elderly male who was choking at the dinner table. A quick response led to a good outcome.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked watercraft and invasive species enforcement efforts during the week. Fire danger increased in the area this week as windy and warmer weather has dried vegetation out before full green up. Please check area restrictions before burning.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) patrolled area lakes, monitored ATV activity, and responded to TIP reports and animal-related calls. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with no license in possession. Anglers continue to see a steady walleye bite on area lakes.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, performed safety inspections on watercrafts, and attended K-9 school with his K-9 partner, Fennec, this week.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy first week of the fishing season in the Itasca County area, with many anglers on area lakes after a not-so-distant winter. Sutherland took enforcement action for angling without a license, not having enough life jackets on board a watercraft, possessing a protected slot walleye, and operating an unregistered watercraft.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked angling and boating safety throughout the previous week. Time was also spent monitoring AIS compliance and recreational vehicles. Holt attended D.A.R.E. graduation for fifth-grade students in the Grand Rapids and Cohasset schools. Students were able to ask questions about being a conservation officer and explore equipment used by COs.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to focus on fishing and boating activities. Water is warming fast and the panfish bite is picking up. People also found success on local trout lakes. Several violations were addressed, including angling without a license, extra lines, and illegal-length fish.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw heavy outdoor activity with the warm weather this past week. Registration continues to be an issue, particularly with off-highway motorcycles. Right-of-way violations were also persistent. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license, operating an unregistered OHM and operating an OHM on a public road right-of-way. Assistance was also given to the Floodwood Police Department with off-road vehicle issues.


CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working angling activity on area lakes. Lack of care or knowledge about slot restrictions resulted in enforcement action, as did unlicensed anglers. Fire activity continued throughout the week. Please follow burning restrictions/permits. Time was also spent at Dunkin Donut’s Cop on a Rooftop to benefit Special Olympics.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) continued to work fishing enforcement on area lakes and accesses. Many shore anglers were also checked during the week. A waters complaint was investigated and will require another site visit in the coming days. A couple separate fishing trespass issues were investigated, and Duncan also met with a couple landowners in reference to beaver damage.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) spent the week monitoring angling and boating activity. Minnow-trapping complaints were fielded, and nuisance-bear calls were taken. Watercraft registration and safety equipment violations were handled.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) spent the week assisting with CO Prep candidate interviews. As fire complaints are coming in, it is important to note the DNR website has up-to-date information on fire danger and burning restrictions, which change frequently throughout the spring/summer months.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) continued to work anglers and boaters this week. Time was also spent on ATV patrol. As a reminder: Pine County ordinance allows for operation on the far-right side of the road, not as a part of traffic within the lanes of travel. Miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints were taken.

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Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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