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Minnesota conservation officer workload shifts to small game enforcement with opening of season

Small game hunters in the Karlstad area reported a low number of grouse being spotted in the area, but some mild harvest success.

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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of north-central Minnesota for Monday, Sept. 20, 2021:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) monitored early goose season-hunting activity and followed up on a large litter complaint in the Lost River State Forest. ATV- and grouse-hunting activity was worked on the opening weekend of the small-game season. Enforcement contacts included operating an unregistered ATV and transporting a loaded firearm.

CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) spent most of his time on small-game and bear-hunting enforcement. Small game hunters reported a low number of grouse being spotted in the area, but some mild harvest success. ATV activity was also monitored throughout the week. He fielded a few calls about injured animals and answered questions about the upcoming firearms deer season.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) worked the small-game hunting opening weekend in the Beltrami Island Forest, monitoring ATV and small-game hunting activity. Enforcement action for the week included transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, no small-game license, allowing illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile, transporting a game bird without a fully feathered wing, no helmet on ATV passengers and ATV/OHM registration violations.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) checked goose, crane and small-game hunters this week. Crane and goose numbers continue to increase throughout the station. A wildlife-harassment complaint was investigated, and calls about nuisance bears were taken. ATV violations were dealt with.


CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working early goose-, bear-, archery deer- and small game- hunting activity this past week. Time was spent checking anglers on special regulation lakes, patrolling area trails and ATV complaint areas, investigating TIP information and issuing car-killed deer possession permits. Enforcement action was taken for possession of northern pike within the protected slot.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports the small-game and archery deer season was successful for hunters in the area. Time was spent working small- and big-game activity.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking early goose, archery deer and grouse hunters this week. Time was also spent following up on some wetland- and public water-related cases. Complaints about stands left out on area wildlife management areas were addressed. A few fall anglers were contacted throughout the week.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy opening weekend of the grouse and archery deer seasons. He assisted the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office with a search for a missing individual on a local lake. An airboat was used for the search. The individual was located and safe. Area lakes were patrolled.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports beginning work on a conservation officer candidate’s background investigation. Vinton conducted the initial interview and began with other reports. He also assisted other officers with annual emergency vehicle operations training at Camp Ripley.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week patrolling area ATV trails, lakes and assisting the county. ATV trails were busy throughout the weekend, with small game hunting open and beautiful fall weather for the riders to enjoy. More squirrel hunters were checked than grouse hunters in the area, and all of the groups had squirrels in the bag. Swedberg also assisted Clearwater County with a report of a lost wild rice harvester. When the person was found, he did not want to be rescued and said he was just taking his time harvesting rice.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, early goose- and small game-hunting activity. Chihak attended the NDSU criminal justice career fair in Fargo. Time was spent speaking to students interested in a career as a conservation officer.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and boating activity. Patrol was conducted for ATVs and off-road vehicles. Early goose season hunters were checked. She also worked the opening of the small game and archery deer seasons. A complaint of a gray wolf depredation of a calf was investigated. Training was attended for emergency vehicle operation certification.


CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week backgrounding a candidate for the upcoming CO Academy and following up on reports of shoreline and wetland violations. Time was also spent assisting the Pelican Rapids firearms safety class and field day.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports that anglers are seeing fish transition into their fall patterns. Duck numbers are lower than they were before the teal season. Richards and CO Wood gave a presentation to Wilkin County fifth-grade students.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) continues to sign up youth for an ATV safety class in Henning. She looked for small-game hunters and bowhunters over the weekend. Plautz spent time on a background investigation and fielded calls of a neighbor possibly poisoning gophers and fox.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) patrolled the station for anglers and dove and goose hunters. He also handled follow up on public water restoration orders and fielded questions about upcoming hunting seasons. Additional time was spent servicing station equipment.

CO Shane Osbourne (Evansville) checked anglers, boaters and small-game hunters. Questions were received and answered about becoming a conservation officer. Osborne worked with Wildlife staff with regard to dead and injured animals in Douglas County.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent the past week patrolling area lakes and fields. Early goose-hunting activity was monitored, with a few groups having good success. Anglers are hoping for the fall bite to switch on with lakes beginning to turn. Muskie anglers are becoming more abundant on lakes Miltona and Lobster, with the water temperatures slowly dropping. Angling without licenses and expired ATV registration were the week’s enforcement activity. A background investigation of an applicant continues to be a priority for Lawler.

CO Hannah Wood (Wheaton) spent the week working on a background investigation for a CO Prep program applicant. She also assisted CO Troy Richards with a fifth-grade conservation day.


CO Brian Holt (Osakis) checked small-game hunting and AIS compliance during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on a public waters complaint and working the opening weekend of archery deer hunting. Holt continued working on a background investigation for an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Dan Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were focused on checking anglers and dove and goose hunters. Additional time was spent answering questions about upcoming hunting seasons and checking WMAs for illegal deer stands prior to the archery season.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports assisting with a firearms safety field day, conducting a background investigation and monitoring archery deer hunters, small-game hunters and early season goose hunters.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) finished work on cases from 2020 hunting seasons and prepared for the upcoming seasons. Time was spent on equipment maintenance and questions were answered on various license and law changes for this year.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling, big game and small game activity. He also assisted the Becker County Sheriff’s Office and spoke at a firearms safety class about the current laws. Baum responded to a call about two bucks locked together, with one buck still alive. Baum safely separated the bucks. The buck that was alive ran off into the woods, while the other was salvaged and given to a family.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked hunting and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time working ATV riders, as well as the small-game and archery deer opener over the weekend. Multiple contacts with hunters were made, with few birds harvested. Enforcement action was taken for transporting a loaded firearm, operating an ATV without headlights and other various ATV violations. Kunst also received many questions about the upcoming deer season due to the changes that were made for the 2021 firearms deer season in the Remer area.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for angling and boating activity. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) checked hunters and anglers. An aquatic plant management alteration was checked and a deer-hunting related complaint was investigated. Enforcement action was taken for removing emergent aquatic vegetation without a permit.

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