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DNR conservation officers monitor fish house removal, littering issues as winter fishing activity winds down

As weather conditions begin warming, anglers should practice good, late-ice safety measures.

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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, March 14:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) continued to monitor ice shelter removal in advance of the upcoming removal date, conducted equipment maintenance and investigated the dumping of deer carcasses on a local wildlife management area.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) monitored angling and snowmobile activity this week. Enforcement action was taken for storing ice shelters at public accesses and snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports good snowmobile trail conditions with the exception of some areas with drifting snow issues. Time was spent working snowmobile enforcement.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

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Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this week checking anglers and snowmobile operators on area grant-in-aid trails. Time was also spent working on open wetland and public water cases. An incidentally taken otter was picked up from a beaver trapper. Lake aeration systems were inspected.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. He worked a detail on Lake of the Woods with CO Huener.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports patrolling the area lakes for fish house removal, litter and shelters that may have been left at public accesses. Anglers fishing from portables are finding slushy conditions as they use ATVs and snowmobiles. Vehicles are limited to plowed roads. As weather conditions begin warming, anglers should begin practicing good, late-ice safety measures.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking area lakes for fishing activity and making sure all fish house in the southern half of the station were removed. Swedberg also prepared for an upcoming court trial from a case that began in the fall of 2020.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent conducting aeration inspections.

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CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on snowmobile activity. Anglers and fish house removals were monitored. Questions were answered about aquatic vegetation permits, and a call of an injured deer was investigated. Warren also assisted Becker County searching for a missing person.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking angling and snowmobile activity in the Pelican Rapids station. The panfish bite on area lakes is still hit or miss, but is showing signs of improvement. Time was spent monitoring fish house removal, and high compliance was observed. A shoreline complaint was also investigated and was found to be in compliance. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and failure to remove a fish house before the deadline.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) responded to complaints of trespassing, hunter harassment and sick/injured wildlife. Overall activity slowed through the week with arctic-like cold and wind moving through the area, although a few anglers were checked attempting to locate panfish. Additional time was spent on equipment maintenance, online training and attending a funeral for a retired conservation officer. Enforcement action included an ice shelter left unattended after the legal deadline and hunter harassment.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) spent time patrolling the snowmobile trails in the area. Minor violations were encountered through the weekend. Injured-animal calls were handled and timber wolf concerns were fielded. Fishing activity remained low with a lot of snow on the lakes.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked lakes for fish house removal and litter. A floor of a fish house was still frozen into the lake. The owner was found and contacted. Snowmobiling activity in the area remains high.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) reports a few fish houses did not get off the ice before the deadline. The owners were contacted, a plan for removal was determined, and enforcement action was taken. Snowmobilers were out enjoying, most likely, the last good weekend for trail conditions. A snowmobiling/trout fishing detail was worked in Lake and Cook counties with CO Bermel. Hundreds of riders were contacted, with only a few enforcement contacts for minor riding and equipment violations. Injured-animal calls were also fielded.

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CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working fishing and snowmobile activity. A background investigation for the Division was wrapped up.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and ATV operators. Additional time was spent on injured-animal complaints and following up on a complaint of snow being piled up to prevent access to Lake Leven. Whoever is responsible is reminded that lakes in Minnesota aren’t private, and the use of lakes in Minnesota where there is legal access to the water is open to all, not just those who own property along the shore of the lake.

Osakis – vacant.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County for snowmobile and angling activity. He also attended training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continues to primarily check anglers and snowmobile trails. Trails remain in good condition, and fishing success, as well as overall lake travel, remains difficult. Time was spent working on a public water alteration case that resulted in enforcement action for failing to comply with a restoration order. Mathy also completed training and worked on testing the new enhanced bear bait registration website. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) verified all station lakes had been cleared of fish houses by the deadline. Snowmobile trails are still in good condition. Training was completed and big-game cases were followed up on.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled area lakes and snowmobile trails. Baum made contact with anglers taking advantage of nice weather. He was also able to check a few snowmobilers out for possibly the last ride of the year. Baum wants to remind everyone of the upcoming deadline for fish house removal in the northern part of the state.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for taking fish without a license, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and for speeding on a snowmobile.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) followed up with open cases. She also assisted with vehicle stop resulting in a DWI arrest.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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