District 5 - Eveleth area
CO Shane Zavodnik (International Falls #2) assisted the State Patrol and St. Louis County with a vehicle crash on Highway 53 earlier in the week. Zavodnik has fielded multiple calls over the past week about nuisance bears and has encouraged callers to eliminate all food sources if possible. The weekend was unusually quiet with waterfowl hunters on opening day, but the ones checked were successful in bagging a few birds during the morning flight. Zavodnik wants to remind hunters that it’s their responsibility to make sure they have all of the required licenses and stamps before they are out in the field hunting. Various license/stamp and ATV violations were encountered during the week, as was failure to validate a sturgeon tag and extra lines.
CO John Slatinski (Ray) reports another busy week in the area. The splendor of fall colors and many recreational opportunities have people outdoors for a wide variety of reasons. Anglers report success in between periods of rain and high winds. Waterfowl opener was a little lackluster with the fewest number of hunters ever observed, likely due to threats of thunderstorms. The second day was better with more hunters and more birds in the bag. A couple individuals were assisted when they experienced mechanical issues several miles from the access. Reports of wanton waste and sick/injured animals were fielded and followed up on. A common phrase heard over the weekend was, “I told the salesperson to give me what I need for duck hunting,” when there were required licenses or stamps missing. The person selling the license is not responsible for making sure you have what you need and, in many cases, may not know. Check before you leave the store to make sure you got what you asked for and what you need. In one case, a person was sold an angling license along with waterfowl stamps instead of a small-game license.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the waterfowl hunting on opener was consistent with previous years – very poor with few hunters. Hunters reported very few ducks. Angling activity and boating continue. ATV activities were monitored locally. Area forest roads were checked and assistance was provided to DNR Forestry.
CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) spent the past week finishing up earlier cases. Time was spent working anglers and boating enforcement, including loud boats. The number of small-game hunters observed was still low but should increase with cooler weather and foliage dropping.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked the duck opener, ongoing small-game seasons, the state park and ATV riders. He also taught firearms safety classes twice in Hibbing. Duck hunters did fairly well on opening weekend with mainly mallards and wood ducks in the bag. Poor shooting, sky-busting and not retrieving ducks in thick wild rice stands resulted in fewer ducks than there could have been. Bozovsky had chats with a number of hunters about retrieving ducks right away to avoid losses. Otherwise, license, PFD, unplugged guns and duck stamp issues were handled. One angler was encountered who put an end to a mystery of a person who gave a false name a number of years back. At that time the person had been found hunting deer without a license and over bait. Bozovsky recognized the person and this time he gave his real name. He was cited for no fishing license, no driver’s license and no insurance. Ironically, he had paid his deer-hunting tickets from the previous encounter. Enforcement action was taken for an unplugged gun, federal duck stamp violations, no license in possession, wanton waste, no PFDs, no fishing license, no driver’s license and blocking a gate to a WMA.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring hunting and angling activity. Fewer bear hunters were observed. Grouse hunters reported finding birds but the grouse are difficult to see due to the amount of leaves on the trees. Opening weekend of waterfowl hunting yielded poor results. The few groups of duck hunters Broughten encountered reported seeing very few ducks. Broughten also assisted the State Patrol with a driving complaint.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spoke at firearms safety and trapper education classes, and then attended the field day for the firearms safety class. Several complaints of aggressive wolf activity are currently being investigated. Few duck hunters were checked during the duck opener; more grouse hunters were seen. Enforcement action was taken on a juvenile hunter who was given some bad advice about what kind of hunting license he needed. Frericks explained which license he needed and assisted him in purchasing it on the spot out in the field. Frericks checked two anglers who had a resident combination angling license. He noticed that neither the man nor the woman wore wedding rings. The man eventually admitted they were not married. Their combination angling license was seized and invalidated. The angler was issued a citation and advised he could purchase an individual angling license.
Cook – vacant.
District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports there was no hunting activity in the normal places on the opening day of the regular waterfowl season. A combination of unseasonably warm weather, a marathon happening over a large swath of the town, and a pending thunderstorm made the first half of the day a wash. The following day, however, a good number of hunters were located and success was good, with geese and mallards primarily being seen.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and hunters this past week. Fishing was slow and grouse hunters had little success. Velsvaag followed up on a litter complaint and took several nuisance-animal calls.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked grouse hunters and remote trout lakes, and monitored bear-hunting activity. He attended a rifle-armoring class at Camp Ripley and took enforcement action for ATV violations.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked the duck opener, which was fairly successful for those hunters who went out. Birds noted in the bag included geese, mallards, wood ducks and black ducks. Bermel watched one hunter shoot a grebe and then throw it in the weeds. The hunters also had lead shot. Time was spent working grouse hunters and checking off-highway vehicles. Assistance was provided to the county on a search warrant where the subject of the warrant was also a litter suspect on a large garbage dump in the woods. Additional enforcement action included litter, expired canoe registration, and no OHM registration.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked the waterfowl opener, small-game hunting, and angling activity this past week. He checked ATV activity and assisted with an injured person on the Superior Hiking Trail.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked small-game and waterfowl-hunting activity during the past week. A few more grouse were showing up but cover remains thick, making it hard to see birds. Bowhunting checks were made and illegal deer-baiting complaints are being investigated.
Tofte – vacant.
District 7 - Grand Rapids area
CO Randy Patten (Northome) finished a background investigation, worked ongoing cases, checked waterfowl hunters, and enforced AIS regulations.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) and COC Marc Johnson worked small-game, ATV and fishing enforcement, along with the waterfowl opener, in their station. In addition, they spent time speaking at a firearms safety class at Bigfork Elementary. They assisted other law enforcement agencies on several calls, two of which resulted in arrests. Warnings and enforcement actions were taken for no ATV registration, driving after revocation, operating an ATV on a roadway, ATV equipment violations, no boat plug in, no license in possession and an AIS violation.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked the waterfowl opener, investigated shining complaints and handled injured-animal complaints. Fairbanks and his K9 partner Si also assisted with searching for evidence that was thrown from a motor vehicle during a pursuit. Angler success and waterfowl-hunter success was good this past week. Enforcement action was taken for possessing toxic shot, waterfowl stamp issues and license issues.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked waterfowl opener with multiple groups getting out and having success. Enforcement action was taken for not having a federal waterfowl stamp, not possessing a state waterfowl stamp, not being HIP-certified, not having a small-game license and not having enough PFDs on a watercraft. Work was also done where a bear was taken by an individual without a license and where early bear-baiting and attempting to take a bear in the wrong zone also were found.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working waterfowl, small-game, angling, and big-game enforcement. Area waterfowl hunters had a wet open to the season with rainfall, and they reported only moderate success. Mallards, ring-necked ducks, teal, and wood ducks were the most common species observed during bag checks. Grouse hunters continue to struggle due to sufficient cover for birds still present. Enforcement action was taken for several waterfowl-hunting and boating violations.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) checked waterfowl hunters, grouse hunters, and anglers throughout the area. Waterfowl-hunting success was fair with wood ducks and ring necks being the primary ducks seen in the bag. Almost all hunters reported that the mosquito flocks were thicker than the duck flocks.
NE ATV officer – vacant.
District 8 - Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a fair number of waterfowl hunters out despite the foul weather. However, not a lot of birds were seen. Enforcement action was taken for failure to sign a federal stamp, no license in possession, no trout stamp, and no stamp in possession.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) followed up on wetland issues throughout the week. He worked the waterfowl opener in the Duluth area. Fewer than normal numbers of hunters were out and about. Weather played a role in a reduced take for waterfowl as opening morning was extremely foggy through most of the area. Schmidt also attended the Carlton County MDHA annual banquet.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) and COC Hanna Wood spent time checking anglers and small-game and waterfowl hunters. They’ve been spending some time on a wetland violation case that led to a burning-of-prohibited-materials violation. Duncan and Wood took a call about an injured eagle as well as several TIPs regarding a possible woodcock shot on small-game opener.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked the waterfowl opener. He also conducted patrols in area WMAs and the Fond du Lac State Forest, checking small-game hunters. Humphrey spoke with a firearms safety class in Barnum and attended the Carlton chapter of the MDHA’s annual banquet, answering questions about the upcoming hunting seasons. Ducks and duck hunters were few and far between on Saturday due in large part to severe weather. Sunday’s hunters didn’t fare much better, with one to two ducks on average per boat.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) answered questions and gave a talk at the annual Minnesota Deer Hunters Association banquet in Carlton. Waterfowl opener was worked over the weekend with help being given in the Deer River station. Enforcement action was taken for possessing toxic shot, as well as stamp and license violations. A trespassing complaint was received where a deer was field-dressed on a person’s posted private property. Follow ups continue on two separate litter complaints received in the area.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked duck and goose hunters on the opening weekend of waterfowl season. Geese are starting to congregate, but local ducks are still in their usual spots. Salmon anglers are finding fish congregating near river mouths. Commercial records items were resolved. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and state park violations.
Lake Superior Unit – vacant.