District 5 - Eveleth area
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports snowmobiling and ice fishing accounted for a majority of the workload this past week. Area snowmobile trails have just begun to be groomed with some trails not getting done because the swamps are not frozen yet. Slush on the lakes is problematic in bays and near shorelines. People are urged to use caution when on the ice, whether ice fishing or snowmobiling. Snowmobilers are also reminded that loud mufflers are illegal and enforcement action will be taken.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) monitored trapping, snowmobiling, angling, and spearing activity. Fur registration was attended, with trapper numbers appearing to be down slightly. Area snowmobile trails are starting to take shape as the swamps and lowlands begin to refreeze after starting to thaw from the last major snow event. Snowmobile speed and registration issues were common. A reminder that most modifications to a snowmobile’s exhaust system that increase noise levels are likely to result in a violation.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports little angling activity was observed. The BWCA trout opener was a non-event due to deep, heavy snow, poor ice, and slush. He heard multiple comments from people on the deer herd over the week as deer continue to wade through snow, with more in forecast. Lake conditions remain very poor with numerous lakes checked and no anglers observed.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) reports time was spent in the Hibbing station assisting with furbearer registration. Despite the snowy conditions, many trappers were observed with a decent success rate during the fisher/marten season. A fair number of bobcats and some otters were also brought in during registration day. Zavodnik patrolled the snowmobile trails most of the week and observed quite an increase in snowmobile activity as the weekend approached. Most, but not all individuals were observed obeying the speed limit on the trails. Enforcement action taken included operating a snowmobile with expired registration, failure to transfer ownership within 15 days of purchase, and operating at an excessive or unreasonable speed. Zavodnik wants to remind riders to be aware of the speed limits and of other snowmobilers when going out this season. Time was also spent investigating possible deer-hunting and trapping violations.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) primarily worked anglers and snowmobiles. Angling activity has been slow with a surplus of slush on top of the ice, making anglers think twice about venturing out. Fisher, marten, otter and bobcat furs were registered and assistance was provided to the Hibbing Police Department and Fire Department at an auto shop business fire. Enforcement action was taken on snowmobile violations.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and snowmobiling activity. Area lakes continue to have a lot of slush on them. Snowmobile trails are in decent shape, however some are getting rough as the soft ground and poor ice conditions have limited groomers. Snowmobile speed continues to be the biggest complaint this season.
Virginia – vacant.
International Falls #2 – vacant.
District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) checked a good number of trout anglers attending the BWCA trout opener. Slush and snow conditions were tough, and some groups camping in the BWCA reported it taking seven hours to travel less than 2 miles. Violations included angling with extra lines, possessing live bait on a designated trout lake, and taking trout without a trout stamp.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Slush conditions are bad and fishing was slow all week. Snowmobile trail conditions are very nice other than lake conditions, which should be improving later next week with the decreasing overnight temperatures.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent the week in the BWCAW during the trout opener. Overall the ice conditions were decent with some deep pockets of slush. He also monitored snowmobile trails. Enforcement action was taken for taking fish out of season, live minnows on a designated trout lake and multiple snowmobile violations.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked anglers and snowmobilers primarily. Manning worked a detail with fellow officers for the first trout-fishing opening of the season on lakes entirely inside the BWCA. Slush is challenging on area lakes for both sleds and folks on foot. Manning also rang in the new year by being berated by a would-be skier upset about needing a Minnesota ski pass to use an area trail system. Manning explained the expenses involved in maintaining and grooming the outstanding ski trails – paid for in part through the funding provided by the passes – but the skier opted to skip buying a pass and went elsewhere.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked a two-day detail on Mille Lacs Lake with CO Lerchen. The lake was very busy with a high violation rate. Assistance was provided with fur registration in Tower, deer cases were worked, and lakes and trail were patrolled. Enforcement action included trapping without a small-game license, taking a doe without a permit, no fishing license, extra lines, unattended lines, illegal-length walleyes, overlimit of walleyes, marijuana/drug paraphernalia, and expired registration on ATVs and snowmobiles.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked the BWCAW trout opener last week, slush is very deep in many areas due to mild temperatures and heavy snow. Time was spent with wildlife complaints, and snowmobile complaints.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports tackling a multitude of different winter activities throughout the past week. Hill took part in a Boundary Waters trout detail with area officers. Multiple anglers were contacted and a few different species were seen in the bag. One angler was spoken to about using game fish as bait. Snowmobiles are out in full force as the holiday season is behind us. A few registration violations were handled and a party was cited for an illegal exhaust. Hill hit the ski trails and contacted cross-country skiers. Unfortunately, ski pass compliance was very poor and multiple tickets and verbal warnings were issued.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling, trapping, and snowmobile activity during the past week. Area lakes continue to be problematic for anglers with areas of slush. Most snowmobile trails are in good shape with a high volume of users. Murray also assisted with a fur registration station in Two Harbors.
District 7 - Grand Rapids area
CO Randy Patten (Northome) checked area lakes and trails, spent time on equipment issues, completed mandatory training, and investigated game-violation complaints.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers and worked small-game, ATV, and snowmobile activity. He also patrolled state parks and campgrounds.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored trapping activity and worked snowmobile enforcement. The slush on area lakes has made it tough going for anglers. Enforcement action was taken for obstructing a road right-of-way, license issues and operating a snowmobile on a roadway.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused much of the week on angling and snowmobile enforcement activities. Anglers continue to struggle to access area lakes with slushy ice conditions still present. Snowmobilers were out in full force with recent snowfall throughout the area. Enforcement action was taken for several snowmobile violations.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked snowmobile, ATV, fishing and trapping enforcement. Several violations were addressed with registration issues being at the top of the list. Hochstein attended local fur registration stations. Assistance was also given to other law enforcement agencies on calls for service, including a snowmobile crash with injuries.
NE ATV officer – vacant.
District 8 - Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw heavy snowmobile activity in the area. He also reports ice fishing remains difficult due to slush, but anglers who are able to get to their spots are seeing some success. Enforcement action was taken for no snowmobile safety training, no state trail pass, and failure to display registration.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked snowmobile and angling activity throughout the week. Anglers are fighting through the slush and tough lake conditions. Snowmobile activity was heavy with the nice weather and great trail conditions. Unfortunately, violation rates were very high with failure to display registration and numbers, expired registration, altered exhaust systems and failure to obtain snowmobile safety certificates.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent the majority of the past week working snowmobile enforcement. Area trails have been very busy with riders. Many violations were observed, with registration issues being the most common. Other common violations were no snowmobile safety certification and altered mufflers. Anglers were also checked throughout the week on area lakes. Ice conditions and slush continue to get better on area lakes. Duncan also gave a law enforcement presentation about snowmobile laws and enforcement tactics to several county deputies.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) attended DNR Honor Guard training last week at Camp Ripley, worked with a neighboring officer checking snowmobilers and anglers, and answered calls regarding nuisance turkeys and snowmobile trespass issues.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) assisted with fur tagging and attended a meeting with the Minnesota Trappers Association. There has been a fair amount of snowmobile activity in the area. Extra time was spent working complaint areas where enforcement action was taken for careless driving and failing to stop for stop signs. Assistance was given working angling enforcement on Mille Lacs Lake, where enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling without a license in possession, angling with an extra line and recreational vehicle registration violations. One fish house with three anglers resulted in three citations because they did not have angling licenses. They stated they thought they would just chance it (not getting licenses) because they were only fishing for a short time.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked snowmobile enforcement in and around the Duluth-Two Harbors areas. Olson reports registration and safety certificates were the most common violations found. He checked anglers along the North Shore and on inland lakes, where some crappies were seen in the buckets of anglers.
Lake Superior Unit – vacant.