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DNR Report: Hats off to snowmobile trail groomer operators

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan 23.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the week and weekend was spent monitoring snowmobile activity and ice fishing. The area clubs continue to do an excellent job maintaining the area trails considering the lack of snow. Hats off to the groomer operators — keep up the great work. Snowmobilers are reminded to ride to the right, slow down, and don’t drink and drive. Time was also spent training the new COs in snowmobile operations and enforcement.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports spending time this past week checking anglers on area lakes and rivers. Area snowmobile trails were monitored as well. Enforcement action taken this past week consisted of having illegal modified exhaust, failing to display snowmobile registration, and failing to display shelter licenses on fish houses. Simonson also assisted with the snowmobile training that was held in International Falls for the new COs.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports snowmobile activity in the area has increased with most traffic being found on the overland trails. Work continued on a background investigation of a potential hire. Assistance was provided in International Falls with snowmobile operations training for the newest officers from the last CO Academy.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling and snowmobile activity over the past week. Snowmobile traffic is down considerably from previous years. Fishing activity was light over the week as lake travel remains difficult and rough. Large pockets of slush remain. Equipment work and administrative tasks were completed.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) spent time checking for snowmobile activity and angling activity. Larson worked a trapping violation and worked on an ongoing angling violation. Time was also spent on a dumping case.

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CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and snowmobile activity. Minimal angling or spearing success has been seen over the past couple weeks, but the quality of ice on area lakes continues to improve. Violations encountered were primarily snowmobile speed and registration.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time patrolling area snowmobile trails and checking anglers over the week. He also assisted with snowmobile training for the latest graduating class of conservation officers. Zavodnik wants to remind snowmobile riders to watch their speeds and to operate at reasonable speeds as crashes have become more common as of late.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and snowmobile activity. Anglers continued to report limited success. Snowmobile trails are in moderate condition and could use new snow. Broughten also fielded calls regarding injured animals, dogs chasing deer, and timber trespass.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports trout-angling activity dropped off drastically over the week. Angling success was again slow for the few people found fishing. Violations included angling without a license, taking trout without a stamp, and failure to display snowmobile registration.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Fishing was slow and slush continues to be a problem on many lakes. Snowmobiling on larger lakes is rough, but trail conditions are good.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) monitored snowmobile activity on local trails and the North Shore State Trail. The snowmobile clubs have done a great job clearing all the trees and debris from past storms. He also spent time in the BWCAW checking trout anglers.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marias #2) spent the week in International Falls attending snowmobile training school. Ledeen and other new officers learned skills on how to effectively and safely patrol from a snowmobile, use RADAR detection for speeding, and life-saving winter survival skills.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily angling and snowmobile enforcement. Trails continue to be busy, especially on the weekends. Fishing success has been relatively low. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, failure to display a shelter tag, and failure to display snowmobile registration.

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CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) monitored snowmobile activity and checked inland trout anglers. Signage issues were discussed with state park staff, and loud snowmobile exhaust complaints were worked. Lake Superior commercial items were handled with Fisheries staff. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports working a full week of background investigations. Hill conducted follow-up work on a trapping case and a few anglers were checked. They were having minimal luck.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked snowmobile and angling activity. Recent snow provided new snow for grooming trails, and trails are being groomed frequently. Many lakes are still rough, making travel difficult and hazardous for snowmobile operators who encounter slush and hard drifts.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers, monitored snowmobiling activity, and completed follow up. Four anglers were found in possession of sunfish overlimits. Enforcement action was taken for the overlimits and the sunfish were seized. Enforcement action was also taken for angling with extra lines.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling, snowmobiling and trapping activity in the area. As ice thickness continues to increase, larger fish houses are being seen on area lakes. Even tandem-axle fish houses are showing up. Sutherland took enforcement action for angling without a license in possession and failing to have proper registration on a snowmobile.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored snowmobile riders and angling activity. Time was also spent following up on complaints involving trespassing and illegal trout-fishing activity. Holt continued working on a background investigation on an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports both angling and snowmobiling activity were high throughout the area. Snowmobile trails are in great shape and the weather has been very favorable for going for a ride. Several complaints were followed up on and ongoing cases were worked on.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) worked angling and snowmobile activity throughout the week. He reports heavy use on area lakes and trails. Fishing success was good, as was compliance with regulations. Thanks to the efforts of local snowmobile clubs, many of the trails are in great shape. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display registration and no license in possession.

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CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked snowmobile trails and area lakes for anglers. Snowmobile trails have been in great shape and plenty of people are taking advantage. Fishing has been all right, and the slush issues seem to be improving. He assisted with snowmobile training for the first-year officers in International Falls.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent much of the work week doing snowmobile enforcement on area trails. This also included a day with neighboring officers working Carlton and Pine counties. A few of the snowmobile violations encountered included modified exhausts, expired registration, and adults without snowmobile safety certification. Area lakes were checked for angling activity and those anglers were checked. Duncan also spoke about the job of a conservation officer to a group of residents at their monthly meeting.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) patrolled snowmobile trails and checked ice anglers this week. A presentation was given to Hermantown-area youth attending a snowmobile safety field day. During the week, enforcement action was taken for snowmobiling and angling violations.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) worked on special projects this past week.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this past week continuing snowmobile enforcement and fishing checks. Time was also spent on snowmobile training as well.

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