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Minnesota DNR report: Bear baiting in full swing, nuisance bears in full force

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Aug. 31, 2020.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) and COC Curtis Simonson started the past week working fishing and boating enforcement on Rainy Lake. Bear baiting is in full swing with the season opener around the corner. Time was spent checking bear baits throughout the area. Nuisance-animal complaints were received and handled in the area. Time was spent working ATV enforcement throughout the area.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) spent most of the past week checking bear-baiting locations. Conditions are looking toward a good outlook for the season opening in a couple days. Aquatic invasive species compliance was monitored with a large amount of traffic into and out of the area water accesses. Concerns about forest and waters use were heard.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring wild rice activities as the harvesting has started. ATV, angling and boating activities continue to be checked. Area forest roads were checked. Public access sites monitored and numerous questions relating to the upcoming fall hunting seasons answered. Assistance was given to Department of Natural Resources Forestry in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) spent time in the woods and the water over the past week. Zavodnik focused his activity toward big-game hunting that is soon approaching. Several nuisance-bear complaints were fielded as well. Fishing remains consistent and multiple individuals were found angling without a license.

While on patrol, Zavodnik witness a road rage incident where they were observed brake checking and swerving into the other vehicle. The operator was cited for careless operation of a motor vehicle.


CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring fishing, ricing and ATV activity. Fishing success remained limited this week. Broughten fielded calls related to trespass, early goose hunting and bear hunting.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports he again focused on bear baiting and ATV activity. Compliance was found to be high and baiting activity stepped up noticeably. Reports of baits being visited by bears also increased considerably.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked anglers and bear baits this past week. He also assisted the U.S. Forest Service and Lake County Sheriff’s Office with the removal of a group of problem campers in the Boundary Waters. Velsvaag also received several nuisance-animal calls and questions about watercraft regulations.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking ATV riders, bear-bait stations and traveled in the Boundary Waters along the border checking anglers. He responded to several nuisance-bear complaints. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) continued to check bear-bait stations and educate hunters and nonhunters on bear-baiting and -hunting issues. Manning also patrolled forest roads and campgrounds, including taking a call on abandoned camping gear at an area campground and more reports of human waste, diapers and trash left by visitors along the North Shore.

A road-killed bear call was also handled. Enforcement action was taken for an early bear bait station and baiting with illegal materials.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked most of the week in the Boundary Waters with conservation officers Lawler, Lor and Ramaker. Many groups were contacted throughout the wilderness, and a good fish bite was noted in many areas. Violations included several groups with prohibited glass and metal containers and illegal-length northern pike. Bear baits were checked with failure to register baits in a timely fashion and bear-bait sign violations detected.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area bear-baiting activity this past week. Time was also spent checking area anglers and in the metro.


CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a nice mix of activity throughout the station this past week. A few personal flotation devices and registration issued were handled after Hill contacted some paddlers in violation on an area lake. The leaves are thinking about changing, and Hill ran into some ATV riders “scouting” for the upcoming season. Bear season is right around the corner and last-minute baits were checked.

Hill worked in the Boundary Waters as well, and one person was found to be in possession of a few aluminum cans full of soda pop. Station paperwork and equipment maintenance was also handled.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked ATV and bear-baiting activity this week. Bear activity remains high in the area. Lake Superior anglers continue to find nice-sized lake trout.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) and COC Stephen Westby (Madison) worked bear baits and a complaint of a sick wolf pup, and checked people fishing. They stopped several ATVs and issued citations for operating on the roadway, transporting a loaded firearm, and a second-degree DWI arrest.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) monitored bear-baiting activity, responded to nuisance bear complaints, attended training and assisted with the vice presidential detail this past week. Many bears have been hitting baits and patrolling the area homes for meals. Enforcement action was taken for license issues, illegal bear baits and arrest for outstanding warrants.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) fielded numerous phone calls from people with questions about this upcoming firearms deer season. A change that affects hunters locally this year is that Permit Area 179 is a lottery area. In previous years, it was hunter’s choice. She worked ATV enforcement in the Grand Rapids and Hill City areas.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATV activity over the past week with multiple machines on area trails as temperatures start to dip a bit. Enforcement action was taken for careless operation, failing to transfer title and not having ATV safety.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working angling, boating and ATV enforcement throughout the surrounding areas. Bear-baiting activity continues to be monitored, as hunters make last-minute preparations before the season opener. Time was also spent following up on a trespass and ATV complaints.


CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) talked with several people who were out and about preparing for the upcoming bear-hunting season. Most had good reports of bears coming into their baits. Time was also spent monitoring ATV activity and an arrest was made for an individual who was operating an ATV under the influence of alcohol.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the past week working ATV trails and bear baits. Bear-related complaints are ramping up again and bird feeders are not a great idea unless bear visits are desired. He also assisted with the security detail in Duluth during the week.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) patrolled the Carlton County Memorial Forest, Fond du Lac State Forest, and Sawyer and Kettle Lake wildlife management areas. Humphrey checked ricers in the area who were reporting excellent conditions and some of the best ricing in many years.

Humphrey continued checking bear baits in the area for compliance and also investigated a dog-chasing-deer complaint. Humphrey also assisted on a security detail in Duluth during the week.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) and COC Charles Scott worked a security detail in the Duluth Harbor. Multiple bear baits were checked in the area. They also worked ATV enforcement, with a few violations for equipment noted. Time was spent checking shore anglers along area lakes.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) attended K9 training at Camp Ripley with Schody and the rest of the DNR K9 unit. A special security detail was worked in the Duluth area. Other time was spent giving advice and responding to several nuisance-bear complaints.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) spent the past week working the waters of Lake Superior. Aquatic invasive species, boating and angling made up the contacts during the week, and a special detail was also worked with the U.S. Coast Guard in the Duluth-Superior Harbor. Enforcement action was taken for no watercraft registrations and angling license not in possession.

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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