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Anglers converge on Upper Red, other lakes as ice fishing heats up across the region

It was reported that an ATV went through the ice on the northeast side of Upper Red Lake, even though the average thickness of the ice on the lake was about 8 inches. Please use caution and keep safety in mind not only during early ice, but throughout the hard-water season.

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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, Dec. 6:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) spent time checking anglers on Upper Red Lake throughout the week. Much like anglers’ success, the thickness of the ice also varied across the lake. It was reported that an ATV went through the ice on the northeast side of the lake, even though the average thickness of the ice on the lake was about 8 inches. Please use caution and keep safety in mind not only during early ice, but throughout the hard-water season. Enforcement action was taken for violations including fishing without a valid license, possession of marijuana, fishing with extra lines, overlimit of walleyes over 17 inches and expired ATV registration.

CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) reports working the muzzleloader deer season this past week, with several violations addressed. He observed some anglers are eager to get out on the ice. Use caution if you plan on going out on the ice as some area waters have not completely frozen over.

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CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) taught the law and ethics portion of a snowmobile safety Class in Warren and checked area muzzleloader hunters. He also responded to a TIP call resulting in the seizure of two white-tailed bucks and a muzzleloader. Charges are pending for buck overlimit, transporting untagged big game, shooting from the roadway at big game, failure to register big game, borrowing a big-game license, taking deer with an invalid license and transporting illegally taken big game.

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CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) monitored hunting, trapping and angling activity this week. A shining complaint was investigated and a snowmobile safety presentation was given to local youth.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a lot of fishing pressure on Upper Red Lake. He worked with other officers on the lake in response to the high numbers of anglers coming to the lake. Enforcement action was taken for an overlimit of walleyes, angling with no license, no angling license in possession and possession of a controlled substance. Prachar learned of an ATV rider who found open water in a wide separation in the ice. All people involved made it out safely. Always remember that ice is never 100% safe. Take precautions when on the ice no matter what your mode of travel is.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this week checking deer hunters and anglers. Small-game hunters were also checked. A trespassing complaint was investigated.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked area lakes for angling activity. He spoke to a group of students at Bemidji State University about ice safety and winter angling regulations.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice is starting to form on some of the shallower area lakes. Anglers should take care when venturing out on the ice. Remember, it’s recommended there’s at least 4 inches of ice before for walking on it. Vinton worked with area hydrologists on an active restoration order and checked area wildlife management areas for muzzleloader deer-hunting activity. He also completed required department training.

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CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week following up on cases from the deer season and checking ice anglers. The bite has remained slow on many area lakes. Ice thickness ranges from open water to 6 inches on smaller lakes. If you plan on going out, check the thickness as you go. Swedberg also assisted with a snowmobile safety course for about 50 area youth over the weekend.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked small-game and deer hunters, and worked ongoing cases. A violation of hunting with an invalid license was handled. Peterson also spoke to a snowmobile class about laws and safety.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working small-game, trapping and deer-hunting enforcement. Muzzleloader deer-hunting activity has been good. Late-season pheasant hunters have been finding birds and enjoying the mild weather. Time was also spent giving a law and ethics presentation to a snowmobile safety class in Glyndon.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on small-game and muzzleloader-hunting activity, with checks performed. Ice angling activity was monitored, with ice conditions continuing to vary. A complaint of possible trespass was investigated. Information was provided about hunting regulations. A complaint of a dead swan was received. WMAs and waterfowl production areas were monitored for activity. Follow up on open cases was conducted.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) continued to follow up on cases from the firearms deer season. Trespassing and lending and borrowing licenses were cases that needed some attention this week. Ice conditions around the area continue to be very fluid, with most lakes too thin. Some cold nights will thicken things up, but lakes are not ready yet. Permits for car-killed deer are still being issued. Evidence lockers were cleaned out.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) checked ice anglers, trappers and some deer hunters through the week. Plautz assisted an Amish family locate a lost horse and return it to home. Plautz seized an incidentally caught fisher.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) checked a good number of muzzleloader hunters and anglers late in the week. Deer-harvest success was high, while pheasants are still hanging tight to cover. Goodman continues to locate hunters who have not registered their deer from the regular firearms season. He’s explained that a late-registered deer is a better situation than an unregistered deer. Enforcement action was taken for unregistered deer, transporting loaded firearms and illegal-substance possession.

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CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) received notices of incidentally trapped animals. Questions were received about nuisance-beaver problems and what shot can be used for pheasant hunting on public hunting areas. Ice fishing activity has increased on area lakes.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working big- and small-game enforcement throughout the week. Douvier fielded calls regarding injured deer and questions about the muzzleloader season. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful party hunting.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking deer hunters, pheasant hunters and trappers. Additional time was spent checking anglers and following up on injured-animal complaints.

Osakis – vacant.

Fergus Falls – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports conducting seasonal equipment maintenance and checking small-game, muzzleloader deer hunters and trappers. He also assisted people with nuisance-animal questions and patrolled state lands by ATV.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for big- and small-game activity. He continues to investigate big-game violations. Baum also patrolled the area for early ice angling activity and found anglers with various numbers of fish.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) spoke at two snowmobile safety classes. Enforcement action was taken for use of an aeration system without a permit.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time working the muzzleloader deer season. Activity is slow in the woods but picking up on the lakes, with many ice anglers checked. Ice conditions are still questionable.

Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports ice conditions didn’t improve much due to recent mild weather. Anglers were finding some select locations with up to 6 inches of ice. However, some spots that had ice opened back up. Snowfall will greatly slow down the ice creation, creating uneven and large areas of unsafe ice conditions for the foreseeable future. Some trappers were checked and Bear Committee items were also worked on.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked deer hunting, trapping and early ice fishing. Hunting activity has slowed down over the last week, but a few late-season hunters are still out. Ice conditions have deteriorated significantly over the past week in the area with the higher temperatures. Cross notes there is still open water on many of the smaller lakes in the area, as well.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking grouse hunters and trappers throughout the week. She received calls in regards to trespassing and deer-possession permits. The warm weather is causing most lakes in the area to not have ice that’s safe enough to fish on yet.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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