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Cold weather limits participation in northwest Minnesota CWD hunt, DNR officers say

In other news from DNR conservation officers, a propane tank exploded inside a fish house on Upper Red Lake with four occupants inside. All four made it back to shore, where they were given medical attention by a husband and wife. The two both had emergency medical backgrounds and just happened to be on shore at the resort.

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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, Jan. 3:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on Lake of the Woods and Hayes Lake. Fishing has slowed down, but anglers are still flocking to the big lake even with the low temperatures. Violations encountered during the week included angling with extra lines, unregistered snowmobile and driving without a driver’s license.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) assisted local wildlife offices with fur registration and spent time monitoring trapping activities in the area. Sura responded with fire and rescue and ambulance crews when a propane tank exploded inside a fish house on Upper Red Lake with four occupants inside. All four made it back to shore, where they were given medical attention by a husband and wife. The two both had emergency medical backgrounds and just happened to be on shore at the resort at this same time. Violations that were handled included no shelter license, fishing without a license and possession of illegal-length walleyes. Enforcement action was also taken for an individual leaving fishing lines unattended. After the initial contact, Sura followed the man back to his own fish house, where he stated his fishing license was. The individual proceeded to shut and lock the fish house door. Sura then watched through the fish house window as he rapidly pulled up several fishing lines.

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CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) spent most of his time with angling and snowmobile enforcement. With the brutal cold weather, anglers were observed still out on the ice. Fishing reports in the area were slow with only a few success stories. He also worked the CWD hunt in Permit Area 261. There were very few hunters.

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CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) monitored the late-season CWD deer hunt in Permit Area 261, seeing very little participation with the frigid temperatures. He also responded to a call of dogs chasing deer and checked anglers and snowmobilers in the area.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) concentrated on ice angling and snowmobile activity this week and continued investigations from the past deer season. Snowmobile safety presentations were given to youth in Plummer and Red Lake Falls. Most snowmobile trails in the area have been groomed and are in good shape. Snowmobile-registration, -operation and -certification violations, as well as angling license violations, were handled this week.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working trapping and angling activity on special regulation lakes. Regas noted anglers reported a slow bite as they faced the challenges that accompanied the frigid -30F weather. Time was spent patrolling area trails and preparing for an upcoming court trial. Violations encountered and addressed this past week included angling license and snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports significant angling pressure on Upper Red Lake through the holiday season. Time was spent working angling and snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines and angling with no license in possession.

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 during the late-season CWD hunt. Anglers and snowmobile operators were also contacted. Aeration systems were checked. Various deer-hunting and snowmobile-related violations were encountered.

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CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked local ice anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Snowmobile trails are in excellent condition after the snowfall. Individuals were checked for cross-country ski passes at area trails.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a recent blizzard had caused area lakes to get hammered with deep snow, drifts and slush. Travel is difficult if not impossible in some areas. Vinton and RTO Oldakowski discovered a vehicle that had gone through the ice on an area lake the night of New Year’s Eve. The COs contacted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and determined the driver had gotten out. The driver was later identified by the COs and that information was passed onto the sheriff’s office. Vinton assisted area wildlife staff and CO Anderson (Wadena) with fur registration.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers and snowmobilers. There is plenty of snow that came down throughout the week, and plenty of snowmobilers were out enjoying the snow. Ice conditions continue to improve, even with the heavy snow, and there seems to be 8 to 16 inches on a lot of area lakes. The extremely cold weather over the weekend and through next week should continue to help the ice.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted with fur registration, worked snowmobile patrol and handled calls of injured deer and a public-access nuisance.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, small-game and deer-hunting enforcement. Time was also spent registering fur and working the CWD management deer hunt for permit areas 262 and 261.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity. People are reminded that even with the cold weather, ice conditions continue to vary. Wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas were monitored for activity. Snowmobile activity was worked, with most trails getting groomed.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobile activity. Snowmobile riders are reminded to make sure their machine has current registration. Kits to put skis and a track on dirt bikes are becoming more popular and Landmark wants to remind operators that such kits still do not make the dirt bike legal to operate in ditches or on designated snowmobile trails. Ice conditions are improving on area lakes, but still vary in depth and slush is prevalent in places. A side-by-side did break through the ice on an area lake over the weekend. Anglers are urged to use caution and check ice depths before venturing out with vehicles and houses. Enforcement action was taken for a number of snowmobile-related violations, including operating down roadways, registration and illegal exhaust violations.

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Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) worked a busy weekend with snowmobile activity, ice fishing and more follow-up on deer-season complaints. Plautz assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office with a suspicious vehicle complaint, which resulted in a violation for transporting loaded firearms. Plautz continues to set up snowmobile safety classes with local instructors and worked other activities such as trappers and coyote hunters. A stolen fish house report was finalized with a good outcome.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) spent the holiday weekend checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Trails were found to be freshly groomed, while lakes were slushy. Frigid weather reduced activity, but of those checked, compliance was high. Additional time was spent on equipment maintenance and assisting at a snowmobile safety class in Ashby.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, snowmobile riders, fish houses and ATV riders. With the recent snowfall, area lakes are experiencing slush and flooding around fish houses. Several fish houses have been marked, as they are frozen in and will be difficult to remove. A reminder to anglers: Only two lines per person are allowed while ice fishing.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) had a big increase in snowmobiling activity this week with the snowstorm that dropped over a foot of snow throughout the area. Lots of people were out, with a few operators cited for various violations. This added snow made slush start appearing on area lakes, but a midweek cold snap hardened everything. Anglers were cited for no license, illegal-length northern pike and fishing while their license is suspended. Several snowmobilers were assisted during the week getting machines unstuck and unburied, a lesson that is easily forgotten with fresh powder.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working small game, fishing, and recreational vehicle activity. Douvier also fielded numerous wildlife-related questions. Enforcement action taken included no license in possession, illegal operation of an ATV, and taking deer with an invalid license.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV and snowmobile operators. Recent snow has brought out more snowmobile activity around the area, but has also started creating slushy conditions on area lakes. Reports of an ATV and truck going through a few area lakes have been reported, as new snow is insulating the ice. Most lakes around the area have 12 inches or less of ice, so anglers should use extreme caution if considering using a vehicle on the ice.

Osakis – vacant.

Fergus Falls – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports the recent heavy snowfall has made for well-groomed snowmobile trails. He would like to remind snowmobilers to check their machines to ensure they are in good running condition, registered appropriately and to respect private landowners by staying on the designated/groomed trails. He also reports checking anglers and assisting another agency with stolen property.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for snowmobiling and ice angling activity. He has ridden many of the area snowmobile trails and ditches, and reports good conditions for riding. Baum found anglers having varied success on area lakes. He took enforcement action for various violations, ranging from angling without a license to failure to display snowmobile registration. Baum wants to remind snowmobilers to double-check their registration before getting out on the trails.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) reports checking angling and trapping activity. She also followed up on ongoing cases.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on the snowmobile working trails and fishing activity. The area received approximately 20 inches of snow, but not all the trails have been groomed yet. Enforcement action was taken for failure to transfer registration, operating an unregistered snowmobile, failure to display registration and failure to display a shelter license.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing county snowmobile trails throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Snowmobile trails in the area are in great condition due to the recent snowfall and trails being groomed. Multiple snowmobiles were found to have expired registration. Other violations included failure to display valid registration.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers. Some pockets of good walleye and panfish catches were seen. Anglers navigated deep snow and very cold weather during the week, which led to many failing heaters and vehicles that wouldn’t start. The lake ice is still extremely variable, with 8 to 22 inches seen and reported. Enforcement action was taken for angling and ATV violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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