CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the muzzleloader season came to a quiet close with a few people trying to fill their tag. Overall, there was an increased number of hunters compared to previous years, mainly due to the ability to use scopes. A few people are starting to venture out onto Rainy Lake ice fishing and dark house spearing. People are reminded to use extreme caution as there is no such thing as completely safe ice. A few animal complaints were also handled throughout the week and weekend.
CO Shane Zavodnik (International Falls #2) spent time earlier in the week checking anglers on Upper Red Lake with COs Vollbrecht, Whiteoak and McGowan. Permanent fish houses are working their way out on the lake and fishing success remains consistent throughout. More than 20 walleyes were seized within a five-hour span of checking anglers, many of whom were measuring their fish incorrectly or did not know the specific regulations on the Lake. A reminder that one fish over 17 inches is allowed per angler on Upper Red. Midweek involved the completion of Phase 4 Field Training. COs Slatinski and Kittelson assisted him with getting the lay of the land, and Zavodnik met with multiple law enforcement agencies around the area. Time was also spent finishing up deer cases and acquiring a set of antlers from an illegally taken deer from the rifle season.
CO John Slatinski (Ray) advised a person with concerns their farm animals were being alarmed by a neighbor operating a snowmobile with loud exhaust near the fence line. He assisted local law enforcement and other conservation officers with the search and successful location of a lost individual. He fielded questions about dock work and the requirements of contractors. If permits are going to be required for this type of work, now is the time to start the process of obtaining them in order to avoid delays later on.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) monitored area lakes for angling activity, checked public access sites and continued work on equipment. Phone calls were returned and administrative tasks completed.
CO Duke Broughten (Cook) spent the week monitoring trapping, angling, and muzzleloader deer hunting activity. Trapping and hunting activity yielded poor success. Angling activity was slow as ice conditions are still limiting lake travel.
CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) spent the week finishing cases. There were a few hunters out trying to harvest a deer before the end of muzzleloader season. Hopkins is investigating a deer shot from the road and a baiting complaint.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked anglers, ATV riders, muzzleloader deer hunters and finished up a snowmobiling violation case. A trapping case was wrapped up with the trapper being found in violation of failing to check snares daily, untagged snares and not wearing blaze orange during the muzzleloader deer season. The snares were checked a total of four times in a 13-day period. This was the second time in three years that the trapper was in violation of tending and tagging violations. Other enforcement action was taken for driving after revocation, no ATV safety certificate, no angling license in possession, failure to display snowmobile registration and failure to transfer snowmobile registration.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Cherry and assisted in the riding portion of the class. Several cases where deer carcasses were dumped were investigated. Frericks reminds hunters to dispose of their deer carcasses properly. Proper disposal options include on your own property, in a landfill or through your garbage service. On the side of a dead-end road or in a ditch is not the proper place to dispose your deer carcass.
CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) responded outside of Hoyt Lakes to where a deer was shot from the road and left for a period of time. Then the parties returned, dragged the deer to the road and loaded it without field dressing it. Lots of deer carcasses and accompanying litter were seen along a three-mile stretch of road outside of Hoyt Lakes. A road-killed buck deer with the head removed was also found.District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily angling enforcement throughout the week. Enforcement action included angling without a license and an illegal-length northern pike.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) spent the week checking anglers and a few snowmobilers. He followed up on past investigations and responded to wildlife calls.
CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports ice conditions varied greatly throughout the Ely area. Some anglers reported as much as 11 inches and as little as 4 inches on the same lake. Angling activity has picked up slightly but most reports were still not good. Violations included no license in possession.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and deer muzzleloader activities during the week. Ice conditions continue to improve with more anglers now venturing out on area lakes and getting a few fish. Nuisance animal calls were handled and a trapping complaint was investigated.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area lakes and accesses; anglers are urged to continue to check ice conditions frequently when venturing out. She also checked snowmobile trails and forest roads; snow cover remains thin to absent. A few people attempting to drive street vehicles on unplowed forest roads discovered that a plowed road would have been a better option as unseen ice under the snow caused some problems. Manning also again assisted DNR Wildlife staff with fur registration and followed up on deer registration issues.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) checked angling activity in the area. Snowmobiles are starting to hit the backcountry area as well. Schottenbauer had the privilege of assisting the Silver Bay police and fire departments with their local “Shop with a Hero” event. He was proud to be a small part of such a generous community that gives so much back!
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) did some remote patrols by snowmobile during the week. There were a few ice anglers out but it was pretty quiet overall. A few were also out riding snowmobiles in the backcountry.District 7 - Grand Rapids area
CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked snowmobile and fishing enforcement. He also did equipment maintenance. Snowmobilers are reminded they need to operate in the bottom or outside ditch of the roadway.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, followed up on a trespass case, investigated trapping complaints and assisted in locating a person who was lost in the woods. Fairbanks and his K9 partner SI also assisted in locating a person who fled into the woods after crashing his vehicle. K9 Si was able to find items that the suspect threw along the track. Angler success was good this past week. Enforcement action was taken for fleeing on foot, no license in possession and shelter license violations.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and pike spearing activity. Early ice has created many opportunities for anglers to get out on area lakes and take advantage of great fishing. Enforcement action was taken for a past case where an angling shelter was left on the ice after the deadline.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports spending most of the week patrolling his new station and getting to know community members in the Hill City area. Efforts were focused on ice fishing and muzzleloader activity. Follow up work was conducted on a trapping violation case. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing license in possession, shelter identification issues, shelters without sufficient reflective materials and ATV violations.
Hill City – vacant.
NE ATV officer – vacant.District 8 - Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) investigated a call involving hunter harassment and saw an increase in angling activity. Ice conditions are getting better and weather has been good. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) worked fishing and trapping enforcement the majority of the week. Deer carcass dumping sites were investigated with hopes of finding evidence to prosecute for litter. Duncan assisted a hunter who shot a deer that went onto private property and spoke at a snowmobile safety class during the week
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) checked ice angling activity on area lakes. Ice thickness ranged from 6 to 10 inches. Surprisingly, a few cars and small trucks were observed out on a couple lakes. Anglers were generally reporting a slow bite. Humphrey followed up on a baiting complaint and a TIP call. He patrolled area state parks and WMAs. Humphrey also spoke to students at a snowmobile safety class at the Cloquet High School taught by instructors from the Wood City Riders.Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ice anglers in the Duluth area and Duluth-Superior bay; ice is supporting ATVs and Snowmobiles. Walleyes and crappies were being caught on Fish and Boulder lakes and an OHM complaint was handled.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ice anglers and a couple early snowmobilers riding on a scant cover of snow. Field training items were completed and seasonal equipment maintenance issues were handled. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.
Lake Superior Unit – vacant.