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Bear activity heats up for northwest Minnesota DNR conservation officers

Area bear hunters are reminded that a valid bear license is required prior to establishing your bear bait stations. Nuisance bear complaints also have increased for some conservation officers.

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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, Aug. 16:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on the Roseau River and Hayes Lake. ATV activity was monitored throughout the Beltrami Island State Forest and Roseau County. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, angling without a license, allowing the illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile and operating an ATV and off-highway motorcycle on Bemis Hill in a restricted area.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) spent the week checking anglers on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River. A windy week made for fairly tough conditions and an inconsistent bite. Questions were answered regarding bear baits. Enforcement action was taken for violations including transporting fish without skin patches, walleye overlimit, fishing with extra lines and various boat safety violations. An individual was arrested for operating an ATV under the influence of alcohol.

CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) has noticed more ATV activity in the surrounding area. Helmets are required on anyone under the age of 18. Be sure to read the ATV regulations before taking the kids out on a ride. Fishing activity was also worked, with reports of poor fishing success.



CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) investigated complaints of early bear baits and answered numerous questions on the upcoming bear season. Area bear hunters are reminded that a valid bear license is required prior to establishing your bear bait stations.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) patrolled the station for ATV and angling activity. He also assisted with a wildfire. Time was spent working the start of the bear-baiting season, as well. Elwell observed good compliance with ATV laws this weekend.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working boating and angling activity on special regulation lakes. Time was spent patrolling area trails for ATV activity and patrolling complaint areas. Regas also reports handling several wildlife-related calls of nuisance bears causing crop damage and tracking a moose that was struck by a truck pulling a boat. The moose wandered off into the woods adjacent to the highway and later died from the injuries sustained in the crash. The moose meat was salvageable and a possession permit was issued to the driver involved in the crash.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports bear activity has ramped up. Complaints were handled regarding nuisance bears in crop fields and bear-baiting activity has started for the upcoming season. Prachar worked with Beltrami County to arrest and charge an individual for third-degree sexual assault.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending a firearms safety class in Crookston. Time was also spent checking anglers, working on wetland cases and following up on a wolf-depredation case. A wildfire case was investigated in Roseau County.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) handled several nuisance-bear complaints.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling and boating activity on area lakes. ATV trails were patrolled and several nuisance-animal calls were taken.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports issuing resource protection notifications for the area hydrologist for potential public waters violations. He also looked into TIPs of possible overlimits from anglers staying at local resorts and fielded calls related to injured or sick raccoons, skunks and foxes. The dry conditions are stressing area wildlife and diseased animals are becoming a common occurrence. People are reminded to stay clear of possibly sick animals. If one is dispatched, the small-game mammal should be carefully bagged and disposed of in the trash or buried. Notification to the local conservation officer is required if a protected animal is dispatched.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) worked ATV and boating enforcement this week. Boating traffic has really slowed on area lakes, as many families are cleaning up their lake cabins for the year and water levels remain low. Swedberg also assisted with an interview for North Dakota Game and Fish. North Dakota officers will follow up with any charges or citations. Swedberg assisted Becker County with several calls for service throughout the week.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted with a commercial minnow case, responded to a wildlife-related complaint and assisted local law enforcement.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent checking bear-bait stations.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and boating activity. AIS compliance was monitored. A complaint of digging in a wetland was investigated and a nuisance-bear complaint was worked with DNR Wildlife staff. Warren assisted Becker County and White Earth police with a domestic dispute.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week following up on complaints related to aquatic vegetation and possible wetland violations. Property owners are reminded to contact your local soil and water conservation districts or DNR office and ask questions prior to altering your shoreline or property. Calls from the public included questions about the new waterfowl regulations and nuisance-beaver complaints.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) continues to work with the area wetland inspector on ditches and ponds being dug out. Plautz worked AIS enforcement, as well as fishing and boating enforcement. Several public water accesses are tough for larger boats to launch from with the low water levels. ATV enforcement was monitored in complaint areas.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) spent the week checking anglers and following up on a Wetland Conservation Act restoration order. Goodman assisted the sheriff’s office with an unoccupied boat adrift on a local lake and investigated motor vehicle activity in WMAs.


CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) reports heavy recreational boating activity on area lakes as hot and dry weather continues. The drought has dropped lake levels to never-before-seen-levels by Lawler, causing headaches for some people with larger boats at accesses. Remember, if you have trouble launching your boat, you can bet you’ll have trouble taking it out. A few citations were issued for no angling license and no PFDs on a paddleboat in high winds. Injured- and nuisance-animal calls continue to come in with regularity.

CO Hannah Wood (Wheaton) took calls this past week regarding nuisance animals. She also assisted with the roadside pheasant count surveys and issued minnow-transport permits.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) checked recreational vehicle activity and AIS compliance. Time was also spent following up on a BWI case and nuisance-animal complaints.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working fishing and recreational vehicle enforcement throughout the week. Enforcement action taken included fishing without a fishing license in possession and burning violations. Douvier also assisted local Wildlife staff with their August roadside wildlife surveys and set up a TIP wall at the Stevens County Fair.

CO Dan Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week focused on checking anglers and boaters and monitoring AIS law compliance. Additional time was spent checking ATV operators and performing maintenance on station equipment. Baumbarger gave a boat and water safety talk at a local lake association meeting.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports completing equipment maintenance and preparing for the upcoming hunting seasons. He also reports speaking at a firearms safety class in Staples, fielding nuisance-bear reports and patrolling the state forest campground.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) continued to patrol for ATV and boating activity. Kunst responded to a crash in the Remer area and prepared for bear-baiting season.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for recreational vehicles, angling, boating and bear-baiting activity. Baum spoke at two firearms safety classes. He received a TIP complaint about fishing with extra lines, which resulted in enforcement action. Baum also took enforcement action for numerous violations, including no license in possession and operating an ATV on a public road right-of-way.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) assisted in the rescue of six people whose boat capsized. She also attended lake association meetings and investigated a shoreline complaint. Enforcement action was taken for bear-hunting and fishing violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked anglers and boating activity throughout the week. He also spent time investigating an arson fire. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent the week working bear-baiting, ATV and fishing activity. Several burn-ban violations were encountered in Huntersville State Forest. Currently, no fires are allowed on DNR-managed lands in the station.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked on bear-related items, including testing and reviewing the updated bear-bait registration website and looking for early bear baits. Boating, angling, ATV and AIS enforcement were also worked.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked off-highway vehicle enforcement, checked local anglers and continued work on an ongoing case. Cross also spoke at the Walker Rotary Club meeting. Finally, Cross gave assistance to local biologists in tracking a collar that had been placed on a small wolf pup. It was eventually found that the collar had broken off the wolf and the pup was no longer in the area.

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