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Minnesota DNR report: Above-average temps affect hunting, lake freeze-up

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Nov. 30, 2020.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Shane Zavodnik (Cook), along with CO Kittelson and COC Simonson, responded to a complaint involving a party retrieving a dead deer on private property. After further investigation, the passenger was found to have taken a doe in a lottery zone without the appropriate license, had failed to validate and attach the tag, and had registered it as a buck because they knew a doe could not be legally taken with that license.

During the course of the interview, the known driver, whose driving privileges are canceled, pulled into the driveway with the suspected pickup truck that transported the illegally shot deer. He also had the strong odor of alcohol coming from him and was ultimately found to be under the influence of alcohol.

Enforcement action, including a DWI arrest and the seizure of a rifle, deer and a motor vehicle, was taken during the course of the investigation.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked the muzzleloader deer season, the special state park muzzleloader deer season, and a complaint of several large deer-hunting-related items left on the local Wetland Management Area. Computer training was also completed. Enforcement action was taken on state park violations.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) continued with follow-up investigation on several cases started during the rifle deer season. Annual safety training was completed. Frericks responded to the report of a wolf that was shot after displaying odd and concerning behavior.


CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports seasonal equipment maintenance and storage were tended to. Questions were heard in regard to the muzzleloader deer-hunting season. Assistance was provided to individuals having trouble obtaining deer-hunting licenses.

People are reminded to discard unwanted deer remains appropriately. Along roads and trails are not appropriate and this behavior does not shed a good light on the hunting community.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area forest roads and checking public water access sites over the past week. Area lakes were checked and hunting activities were monitored. Equipment work is ongoing.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports opening weekend of the muzzleloader deer season saw everything from sun and 40 degrees to snow and 30 mph winds. No hunter success was seen, but several hunters did report hearing at least some shooting.

Ice conditions still vary greatly and no lakes were yet safe in the Ely area.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked muzzleloader deer hunters and anglers this past week. Ice fishing was slow as anglers had difficulty getting out on the early ice on most lakes. Velsvaag had several calls about trapping regulations and northern pike size restrictions.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent the past week following up on past investigations. He monitored ATV complaint areas, which resulted in enforcement action.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area forest roads and trails. She checked a few archery deer hunters and grouse hunters. Lake ice conditions still vary.


Manning also followed up on a couple cases from the summer and fall in addition to handling equipment maintenance.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, ice anglers and ATV riders, and worked on follow up from firearms deer season. Enforcement action included littering, allowing illegal juvenile ATV operation, and leaving duck decoys to freeze in public water after the close of the season.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked on some equipment needs and checked area activity. Time was also spent preparing for upcoming ice angling activity.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports checking early ice anglers in the area. Ice thickness varies between 2 and 6 inches. Water flowage may make ice dangerous so be sure to look at a map ahead of time to determine areas that may carry a higher danger.

Walleyes, crappies and sunfish were seen in the bag.

Equipment maintenance was handled with the upcoming change of the seasons. A person was contacted for illegally burning garbage in a burn barrel.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked deer muzzleloader hunting and trapping activity this past week. Some ice anglers are starting to venture out on the shallow lakes and bays while deeper lakes have unsafe conditions.

Time was also spent on follow-up investigations from the firearms deer season and monitoring bough-harvesting activity.


District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) and COC Stephen Westby continued with Phase 4 of field training. They located several people out pheasant hunting and muzzleloader hunting. With higher-than-average temperatures, very few deer were seen by hunters. Enforcement action included several violations for transporting loaded firearms, small-game violations, and no license in possession.

Pheasant hunters and trappers are required to wear full blaze orange during the muzzleloader season.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended training, checked hunters and worked decorative material enforcement. Fairbanks and his K9 partner, Si, also assisted in locating spent casings in a trespass case, sat on the perimeter of a barricaded-suspect situation, and searched for a firearm that was thrown from a vehicle.

Enforcement action was taken for outstanding warrants and illegal cutting of decorative materials.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) did follow up from the firearms deer season this past week. She answered questions about the recent deer harvest and current muzzleloader deer season. Some lakes are seeing a build-up of ice and ice-fishing activity. Folks are reminded to refer to the recommended guidelines for ice travel before heading out. Make sure to check the ice first.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy week of follow up from the firearms deer season. He also worked muzzleloader opening weekend, with minimal hunters out in the windy conditions.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) continued follow-up work on open big-game investigations. Seasonal maintenance was also performed on equipment. Several wildlife-related calls were fielded and addressed.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time following up on firearms deer season cases, checking muzzleloader hunters, and talking with people who are gearing up for ice-fishing season. A few ice anglers were checked on smaller lakes.


Remember when venturing out that ice thickness varies significantly this time of year so use extreme caution and check the thickness often.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) spent time finishing administrative work from the firearms deer season. Additional phone calls were fielded regarding ongoing issues and Turn in Poachers calls to follow up on.

With the cold weather, ice fishing should be possible soon. At the moment, ice conditions are still dangerous.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) and COC Charles Scott reports the deer season closed with a hunting over bait complaint. Questions were answered pertaining to the proper way to post property to prevent trespassing.

Follow-up on previous calls was attended to. Yearly training objectives were completed, as was vehicle maintenance.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) attended K9 training with the rest of the DNR K9 Unit at Camp Ripley. K9 assistance was given in a case that involved shooting from the road and trespassing in Aitkin County. Other follow-up on cases from the firearms deer season was conducted.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) finished up on remaining items from the firearms deer season, and checked muzzleloader hunters and a few trappers over the weekend.

Boats have been launching from the McQuade Safe Harbor and fishing the waters around Duluth with limited success. A small-craft advisory was in effect all day Sunday, keeping anglers on shore.


CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) wrapped up cases from the firearms deer season. Commercial cisco netters were checked as they wrapped up their season. Even the cisco meat and roe markets are being impacted by COVID-19-related closures.

Enforcement action was taken for ATV and big-game 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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