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MN DNR Weekly Report for March 18, 2019

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Shane Zavodnik (International Falls #2) spent time working angling and snowmobile enforcement. Trail conditions in the woods are still fair, as they’re sheltered from the sun, but with even warmer weather in the forecast, Zavodnik sees the snowmobiling season drawing to an end quickly. Fishing success has started to pick up on Rainy Lake. With warm water runoff, fish have started to begin moving into pre-spawn areas. Shoreline structure, narrows, and the mouths of bays have been targeted by anglers. Zavodnik also spent time monitoring the Rainy River and its tributaries. The river is wide open to Loman, and there are already spots on the Littlefork River that have open-water current running. He expects fishing on the Rainy River as early as next week to begin depending on access sites being cleared out. Time was also spent teaching a snowmobile safety class with CO Slatinski and park rangers, and assisting local law enforcement in attempting to track down an individual who threatened someone with a knife.

CO John Slatinski (Ray) reports area activities have slowed considerably with limited inland-water angling opportunities and trail conditions diminishing. The snowmobilers that are still riding were pleased with most of the trail conditions while realizing the forecasted weather will likely wreak havoc on the remaining trail base limiting travel in many areas. Fish house removal is being monitored as the northern inland deadline nears. Conditions on the Rainy River were monitored with no landings accessible at this time. Slatinski and CO Zavodnik, along with Voyageurs National Park rangers, instructed a final snowmobile safety course for the year. The students were happy to get their certificates and some were eager to put them to use with the nice weather.  

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes. Lake and trail conditions have deteriorated rapidly. Forest roads and water access sites were checked. Equipment work is ongoing.

CO Duke Broughten (Cook) spent the week monitoring angling and snowmobiling activity. Anglers reported poor success. Warm weather and rain have deteriorated snowmobile trails. Without more snow the snowmobiling season has likely come to an end.

CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) spent time on enforcement on his snowmobile this past week. The rest of the time was spent getting equipment ready for warmer weather and possible flooding this spring.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and snowmobile activity, monitored fish house removal, dealt with a report of a bobcat that was killed after killing poultry, and worked a snowmobile detail on Lake Vermilion focusing on water skipping. Two snowmobilers were cited for careless operation for water skipping on the lake. Anglers were doing a good job of getting their fish houses off prior to the removal deadline. Other enforcement action was taken on bait labeling cisco and smelt violations, and snowmobile violations mainly consisting of speed and registration.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) monitored the removal of ice shelters from Virginia-area lakes. Most owners of shelters in bad spots were not waiting until the last minute to work on removing them. Warmer weather has really started to beat up local snowmobile trails. Even with the warmer weather, many snowmobilers were out putting on a few miles. Maintenance was performed on station equipment.  

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. He followed up on litter and fish house removal. Velsvaag received several questions about timber wolves.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) dealt with a bobcat that killed a pet cat in Grand Marais. The CO’s own suet bill is going sky-high due to those critters, which shows animals are having a tough time finding food in the forest. A beautiful weekend was had by the few anglers and snowmobile riders who were out. Trail conditions and lake conditions were very good.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) has been investigating several property owners posting land and cutting trees on Lake Superior shoreline on state-owned property. She patrolled snowmobile trails and responded to assist an older snowmobiler whose sled had gotten mired in the slush just off the groomed trail. Manning also checked anglers and former fish house locations, attended the funeral of retired CO Gene Borud as part of the DNR Honor Guard, and assisted Cook County with a suspicious activity report.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked with COs Lawler and Huener at Lake of the Woods during the week and worked station lakes and snowmobile trails over the weekend. Numerous overlimit cases were made on Lake of the Woods. Angling activity was very light in the Babbitt station. Snowmobile trails were still in good shape over the weekend but will deteriorate quickly. Additional enforcement action included fishing without a license, possession of drug paraphernalia and no shelter tag.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and snowmobile activity. Time was also spent in communication with ice shelter owners with houses out.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) spent time checking anglers and snowmobile activity. The trails are in excellent condition and some nice trout were seen in the bag. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations. 

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling, snowmobile and ATV enforcement activity this past week. Area trails and lake conditions deteriorated with this spring warmup making travel difficult. Anglers are reminded to pick up all debris including blocking materials while removing ice shelters. Enforcement action was taken for failure to transfer ATV ownership and illegally riding an ATV on a snowmobile trail.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Randy Patten (Northome) patrolled area lakes for anglers and monitored fish house removal. He worked snowmobile trails as riders took advantage of good trail conditions for late in the season. He continued work on ongoing cases and investigated a call of a dead wolf.

CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked snowmobile and fishing enforcement. He also took care of wildlife complaints. Snowmobile trails were still in good shape, with many people enjoying them. 

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and attended training this past week. The recent wind and snow made for harsh conditions on area lakes. Angler success was great. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and an overlimit.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) checked angling activity this past week. She also checked area lakes for fish houses. The deadline is the end of the day on March 18.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked angling and snowmobile activity in the area. Thanks to some rain last week, it made it a bit easier to remove fish houses. Sutherland also gave a presentation to a local DARE class and was able to show local furbearers to the class.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working angling, snowmobile, and shelter enforcement. Snowmobile trails remain in good condition with the additional snowfall over the weekend. Anglers are reporting slow to moderate success rates, at best. The public is reminded of the March 18 shelter removal date.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) enjoyed getting out and patrolling the snowmobile trails for what was likely the last week of rideable conditions. Slush on the ice made shelter removal challenging for those who were out trying to get them off before the deadline. Enforcement action was taken for both snowmobile and ATV registration issues.

NE ATV officer – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) attended the funeral for retired CO Gene Borud as part of the Division’s Honor Guard detail. Snowmobile trails are deteriorating quickly, but there are still some sleds out and about. Enforcement action was taken for expired snowmobile registration, failure to transfer ownership, illegal/loud snowmobile exhaust, and failure to display registration as required. Assistance was also provided to the State Patrol as well as local law enforcement agencies with emergency calls for service.  

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) continued working fishing enforcement on Lake Superior and area lakes. Many lakes were checked for fish houses, with some lakes still having them. Snowmobile enforcement was also worked on area trails. The trail conditions were excellent earlier in the week. Duncan met with several local media outlets and talked about fish house removal and ice conditions on area lakes. Duncan also had a student ride-along for a day.  

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) worked a career fair at Fond du Lac College where high school students were given information on the job duties of a conservation officer. Training was conducted with K9 Schody in preparation for upcoming testing. Snowmobile trails were patrolled in the area. Extra time was spent in the Nemadji State Forest, where enforcement action was taken for operating off trails in a limited forest, failing to transfer registration and other registration violations.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked snowmobilers on the trails north of Duluth. The trails are starting to deteriorate with the warming weather. Olson also checked trout anglers on Lake Superior and reports catches of lake trout and herring are still being seen. Enforcement actions were taken for snowmobile and ATV registration issues on Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.