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Minnesota DNR officers field complaints of ATVs on closed Northland trails

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of March 22, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports the fishing on the Rainy River has started with approximately 100-plus boats each day over the weekend. People are reminded to make sure their boats have current registration and the required boat safety equipment.

Animal-related complaints were also handled, and he assisted neighboring officers with a trapping case.

Enforcement action taken for the week included fishing license violations and failure to have the required boat safety equipment on board.

CO Curt Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending time this week checking anglers on the Rainy River and finishing up a trapping investigation. Many anglers enjoyed being in the boat this past weekend with the nice weather. Simonson would like to remind people to make sure they have the proper boating safety equipment onboard their boat. With the water being very cold yet, it is important.

Enforcement action taken this week consisted of keeping walleyes/sauger during a closed season, untagged snares, illegal snare loop size, and not tending traps daily as required.


CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports angling activity has slowed in both the number of participants and the number of fish being caught. Seasonal equipment maintenance was tended to. Waters-related projects were checked and monitored.

Burning activity was monitored with conditions prime for fires to get away easily. Rain accumulating at the time of this report should help with fire danger and is being cheered by many individuals concerned about spring water levels.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports checking area lakes, monitoring area forest roads and continued work on equipment. Computer-based training rounded out the week.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) spent time responding to multiple complaints of garbage left on lakes after ice shelter removal. Collapsed pop-up hubs, cigarette butts, various garbage, plywood floors and tarps were observed still laying on the ice over the warm weekend.

Zavodnik also assisted with a fire investigation and with local law enforcement on a recreational vehicle complaint.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring fishing and ATV activity. Anglers reported poor success this week. Ice on area lakes is deteriorating fast. Due to the lack of snow and rain, fire danger is high.

Broughten fielded calls related to trespass, ATVs on snowmobile trails and spring beaver trapping.

Broughten also assisted local law enforcement with a single ATV rollover with serious injuries.


District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports angling activity tapered off with deteriorating ice conditions and slowing angler success. However, there was still a good number of anglers spread across Ely-area lakes mostly targeting lake trout.

The fire danger increased as more areas became snow-free and several fires popped up.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers this past week. Ice conditions are still good but starting to decline. He also checked some ATV riders and followed up on litter complaints.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) saw most of the area snow melt away, leaving trails and portages bare. Lake conditions are slightly better, but angling has been slow and very wet.

Snow melt-off and windy conditions also means restrictions to burning permits. One homeowner was contacted regarding a pile that had flared back up and had a small amount of illegal material.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked an investigation resulting in unattended-lines violations and a deer-hunting investigation from last fall resulting in a citation for taking a doe without a permit.

Anglers were checked coming out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Ice conditions are deteriorating very rapidly. Time was also spent monitoring closed ATV trails.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area trout lakes and tributaries. Time was also spent watching mud-covered snowmobiles trying to ride one last time.


Low snow amounts and the lack of rain are making for some ripe spring fire conditions in the area.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and ATV activity during the week. Most anglers have switched to Lake Superior stream and shore-fishing opportunities as shallow inland ice conditions are starting to deteriorate.

Spring fire restrictions started this week as exposed areas of grass emerge, increasing wildfire danger.

Enforcement action was taken for license violations and a shoreland complaint was investigated.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers and conducted ATV enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for angling license violations and allowing a child to ride on an ATV without a helmet.

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

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored trapping activity and attended training at Camp Ripley this week. The area ice conditions are beginning to deteriorate around the shorelines. Enforcement action was taken for license issues.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) checked angling, ATV and trapping activity this past week. She and another CO encountered untagged traps and other associated violations. She checked local ATV trails for activity, as most if not all are closed right now.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATV activity with the warm weather. Enforcement action was taken for driving on a state non-motorized trail and expired registration.

Ice anglers are still walking out on area lakes where then can reach the ice from shorelines. With the wind and warm weather, it is advised to be extremely careful when venturing on area lakes as the ice is deteriorating quickly.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on angling, ATV, fire and trapping activities throughout the surrounding areas. The warm weather has caused ice conditions to deteriorate significantly this past week, likely ending late-season ice angling.

Van Asch also attended Division training held at Camp Ripley.

Enforcement action was taken for several angling and ATV violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time monitoring decorative forest material harvesting, spring beaver trapping, ATV and fishing activities. The warm weather has brought ice fishing to an end on most local lakes.

Several questions were answered about the upcoming turkey hunting season.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) spent one day conducting in-service and ongoing training at Camp Ripley.

ATV activity was high with the warm weather and enforcement actions were taken for failure to display registration, operating an unregistered ATV and operating without headlights.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked snowmobile trails and closed forest roads for illegal ATV operation.

Time was spent working the North Shore for shore and river anglers. Anglers were checked returning from Lake Superior at McQuade Harbor and success was mixed, but most were having some kind of luck.

Nuisance-animal complaints were handled.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent a day at Camp Ripley completing firearms training and online training was also completed during the week. Field activity included checking fishing along the North Shore of Lake Superior, checking boat fishing on Lake Superior and some inland panfish enforcement.

ATV activity was busy throughout the past week, with the common complaint being ATVs on closed trails.

Duncan also spent time on equipment maintenance.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) issued a permit for a fox that was hit and killed on the highway.

Staples also assisted with a work detail in the district and continues K-9 training with a new partner.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers on Lake Superior in Duluth waters and reports the coho salmon catch has been good during the week. The south/southeast winds slowed fishing. A reminder that it’s imperative while boating on Lake Superior to be diligent that your safety equipment is current, aboard and in working order.

Olson coordinated with U.S. Coast Guard boarding crews on complaints in regards to navigational light use in the early morning hours.

ATV enforcement was worked on areas closed to operation due to spring closures and the state snowmobile trails.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers and boaters on Lake Superior. Nice early season weather has a lot of boaters excited to get on the water.

ATV complaints were checked on trails that are currently closed. Seasonal equipment details were handled, along with questions regarding trespass violations and river access.

Enforcement action taken for 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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