District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports another busy weekend with lots of people out boating, fishing and participating in other outdoor-related activities. Windy weather hasn’t been the most conductive for fishing on Rainy Lake as most people were trying to tuck behind islands and inside channels. A few animal-related complaints were also handled throughout the week.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports bear complaints continue to come in, although there are fewer as people continue to identify and remove food sources. Angling numbers continue to be strong in the area with fair success being seen. As the days begin to get shorter, the talk is starting to change to bear baiting and additional ATV activity has been observed. Monitoring of area state forest campgrounds continues with complaints responded to.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring boating activities over the week. Wild rice beds were checked and ATV activity was monitored. Fishing success continues to be poor. Public access sites continue to be checked. Equipment work is ongoing.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) spent time following up on a litter complaint over the week. The suspect was quick to admit to the offense, and nearly a half-truck bed full of beer bottles and cans were brought back to their rightful owner. Public water access violations were investigated. Zavodnik also helped out with academy training for watercraft week at Camp Ripley.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) primarily worked anglers, boaters, ATVs, off-highway motorcycles and state park enforcement. A 9-year-old was seen operating a personal watercraft doing adult-type stunts. He topped it off when he decided to closely circle Bozovsky’s patrol boat at high speed. Personal watercraft can't be operated by people under age 13, and they must have a safety certificate.
A person was cited for no angling license. The spouse of the person cited said he had not seen a conservation officer in 30 years of owning an island on Lake Vermilion, which apparently played out in the decision to take the chance to fish without one.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license; no license in possession; removing aquatic plants without a permit; a state park camping violation; and a number of ATV, off-highway motorcycle, personal watercraft and boating violations.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ATV and fishing activity. ATV activity remains high. Broughten fielded multiple ATV trespass and damage complaints this week. ATV operators are reminded to stay on trails and respect private and public property. Few anglers were observed this week, but those out reported moderate success.
Broughten continues to receive many nuisance-bear complaints. Most nuisance bear problems are solved when the property owners remove food sources and clean up garbage.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) focused on boat and water enforcement over the week. Angling success continued to increase as weather conditions cooled. Violations included taking trout with no trout stamp in possession and angling with no license in possession.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and canoers this past week. Fishing picked up this last week and some nice walleyes were caught on the reefs. Several people asked questions about boat and personal watercraft regulations because of suspected illegal operation, and questions about nuisance animals continue.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked anglers, boating, aquatic invasive species and ATV enforcement. He also spent time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length fish, insufficient number of personal flotation devices and possession of drug paraphernalia.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) spent the past week patrolling state and national forests checking ATV operators, anglers and boaters. Manning also assisted with watercraft scenarios at the Department of Natural Resources Academy at Camp Ripley.
State park use continues to be high and many visitors had to be reminded to purchase their park permit, despite numerous signs reminding them as they drive in. All parks have self-service registration kiosks available to visitors.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) followed up on a fireworks and camping complaint at Bear Head State Park resulting in enforcement action. An investigation into several untagged minnow traps resulted in a citation. Nuisance-bear calls were fielded. Time was spent patrolling in the Boundary Waters with CO Huener.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and boating activity on remote lakes and the Boundary Waters. Time was spent on area ATV trails as well.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports speaking to multiple business and property owners about bears getting into trash throughout the week. A very easy solution is to put up an electric fence. Those who have put up an electric fence swear by its effectiveness.
ATV violations were very common, and Hill has noticed a trend of illegally operating ATVs in the lane of traffic instead of on the shoulder of the road. One person in particular was stopped for the violation, and they ended up receiving a citation because they had a juvenile passenger on board who did not have on a helmet or seat belt.
Citations were issued for personal flotation devices violations on a few boating contacts.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked boating and invasive species enforcement efforts this past week. Fishing success slowed with not many fish observed being caught. A public waters complaint was investigated and nuisance-wildlife calls were handled.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked anglers and boaters, patrolled campgrounds, and monitored ATV riders and aquatic invasive species. Numerous game and fish questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.
CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) took a call about muskies being gutted and left in the Grand Rapids area. Most likely, they were illegally taken. The muskie is a game fish and considered by many to be a prize to catch. Information leading to who may have done this is welcomed and can be reported via the Turn in Poachers line.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked boating and angling activity. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, not having enough life jackets on a watercraft and transporting fish without a skin patch.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working sport fishing, boating, ATV and aquatic invasive species enforcement. Several nuisance-animal and waters complaints were fielded and handled. Follow-up work was also completed on open investigations.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to primarily work fishing and ATV activity. Violations included operating an ATV on a state highway, angling with extra lines, and an illegal-length fish. Assistance was also given to other law enforcement agencies on calls for service.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, investigated a trespass complaint, worked boat and water enforcement and assisted with an ongoing investigation. The area walleye bite picked up this week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues, no throwable, insufficient personal flotation devices and possessing an illegal-length walleye.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) assisted with training conservation officer candidates at the academy at Camp Ripley this past week. Boating and angling activity was also worked. A wolf-depredation complaint was investigated near Meadowlands.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) responded to complaints of ATV trespass, nuisance animals and boating issues related to lights. Time was spent working boating and fishing activities along with shoreline and wetland violations. Lake association issues involving lake levels and outlets were also handled.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked Lake Superior angling and boating safety enforcement during the week. Salmon have been showing up in the Tofte and Grand Marais waters. Water temperatures have been scattered and varied throughout the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior. Enforcement actions were taken for angling violations and watercraft registrations.
Olson responded to calls from an aquatic invasive species inspector in the Silver Bay Marina of a boat of concern. He also worked commercial enforcement for commercial netters and charter boats along the North Shore.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) instructed at the conservation officer academy for watercraft operation week. Anglers were checked on Lake Superior and commercial complaints were investigated. Miller reports ATV complaints continue and enforcement action was taken for boating and angling violations.