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Minnesota DNR conservation officers report busy Fourth of July weekend

In most cases, children under the age of 10 are required to wear a life jacket while on a boat in Minnesota. Some exceptions are if it is anchored for the purpose of swimming/diving or it is attached to a permanent mooring/dock. Check the Minnesota Boating Guide for more details.

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Contributed / Minnesota DNR

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

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) investigated two possible wolf depredations and checked anglers on Lake of the Woods. The walleye bite on Lake of the Woods has been slow with the recent mayfly hatch. Enforcement contacts included insufficient life jackets onboard watercraft, angling without a license and possessing an overlimit of walleyes. Huener, along with CO Larson, also worked a joint operations detail that included the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the Fourth of July in support of Operation Dry Water, patrolling the lake and Minnesota/Canada border on Lake of the Woods

CO Aaron Larson (Baudette West) worked primarily angling enforcement. Larson spent much of his time checking anglers on Lake of the Woods, who were finding mixed success. Larson also worked with CO Huener on the Fourth of July alongside the U.S. Coast Guard across much of the lake, ensuring activities on the lake were being conducted safely and in accordance with the laws and regulations so that all could enjoy their time on the water.


CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) spent time on AIS (aquatic invasive species) enforcement and checking boaters and anglers on Upper Red Lake. Fishing was good for folks out on the Center Bar, and pulling crawler rigs was the ticket. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines and possession of an overlimit of walleyes greater than 17 inches in length. Sura assisted CO Simonson with a DWI arrest after an individual was observed crashing their car and trailer into a ditch at a local public access.


CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) reports working fishing, ATV and boating activity in the area. There were a lot of people out on the water enjoying the Fourth of July despite the heat. He reminds boaters that, in most cases, children under the age of 10 are required to wear a life jacket while on a boat. Some exceptions are if it is anchored for the purpose of swimming/diving or it is attached to a permanent mooring/dock. Check the Minnesota Boating Guide for more details. The fishing report for the surrounding area has been slow, with a few groups having success. Various ATV and boat violations were addressed this past week.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) worked the Independence Day holiday weekend in the Lake of the Woods area. High temperatures did not deter outdoor recreationists, with numerous people enjoying Minnesota’s natural resources. Enforcement action for the week included angling without a license, no helmet on juvenile ATV passengers, allowing illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile, exceeding the passenger limit on an ATV, operating a personal watercraft at higher than no-wake speed within 150 feet of shore and various boat/ATV registration violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports steady ATV activity and an increase in water sports as the weather gets warmer. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations, and time was spent working AIS enforcement.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending a firearms safety class in the Fertile area. Various public water-related complaints were checked. Anglers, watercraft operators and ATV operators were contacted throughout the week.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy Fourth of July weekend. The warm and sunny weather brought a lot of recreational boaters out to area lakes. He followed up on wetland complaints and took nuisance-bear calls.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) checked anglers, boaters and ATV riders in the Bemidji/Bagley area. She also worked a BWCA detail with another officer. Assistance was also given by Mishler and K9 Storm to Mahnomen County in the search for a firearm related to an ongoing investigation.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a hot and windy holiday weekend with lots of boating activity. Most boaters observed were enjoying the hot weather responsibly. Area lake accesses have taken a hit with the low water conditions, with several boaters not being able to launch due to the shallow water. Angling pressure over the weekend was light due to the heavy boat traffic and warm conditions. An RPN was issued for fill that was placed in a public water. Enforcement action was taken for operating a weed roller without a permit, ATV in a ditch south of U.S. Highway 10, failure to display registration on a watercraft, no angling license in possession and riding on the gunwale of a watercraft under power.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent a busy Fourth of July weekend patrolling area lakes. Many people took advantage of a perfect weekend of weather to enjoy time on the water. While most boaters were law-abiding, there were several who needed some education on boating laws. Swedberg also worked a couple of details with area conservation officers on Big Cormorant and Pelican lakes over the weekend focused on boating safety. Enforcement action taken for the weekend included boating while intoxicated, insufficient life jackets, operating a PWC outside of legal hours, operating a boat without navigation lights and gunwale riding.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked boat and water safety, anglers and a possible wetland violation. He also assisted local sheriff’s offices with calls.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, AIS and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent working a busy Fourth of July weekend. Enforcement action was taken for various boat and water safety violations. Chihak assisted the Clay County Sheriff’s office with a vehicle theft apprehension.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling and boating activity, with anglers reporting tough fishing. Boating and water sport activity was high, with lots of sun and high temperatures. Trails were patrolled for ATV and off-road vehicle activity. AIS compliance was monitored. A complaint of campers blocking a public access was received.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week focusing on boat and water safety enforcement. Hot weather led to the busiest Fourth of July weekend Landmark has worked. With the high activity came an increase in complaints and violations. Boaters, specifically those operating wakeboard boats, are reminded that it is illegal to sit and lay on the back deck of those boats while underway. Minnesota law requires a railing or adequate guards to prevent occupants from falling overboard. A large number of beer cans were observed in the water at party locations on area lakes. Landmark encourages people to report individuals who are littering on area lakes and provide a boat registration number to area officers. Operation Dry Water was worked with COs Swedberg, Chihak, and Warren on area lakes, and several individuals were arrested for boating while intoxicated. Calls from the public included reports of watercraft harassing wildlife, and injured loons. Enforcement action was taken for unregistered OHM (off-highway motorcycle), OHM operating in a road right-of-way, gunwale riding, PWC after hours, insufficient number of life jackets and multiple other watercraft-related violations.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, boaters and ATV riders. Several contacts were made over the Fourth of July weekend for riding on gunwales and overloaded boats. A detail was worked on the Alexandria Chain of Lakes in conjunction with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) focused on boating safety and AIS compliance during the previous week. Time was also spent checking anglers and following up on a public waters violation. Holt worked a busy Fourth of July weekend in the Osakis area. Enforcement activity involved boating safety and angling violations.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the past week focused on boating safety. Angling enforcement and other recreational vehicle enforcement were also worked. She spent the weekend working with area COs working busy watercraft recreation waterways. She assisted with a TIP call, and minnow permits were issued. There were a variety of violations encountered, including, taking an overlimit of fish, PWC operator without a life jacket and allowing illegal operation of an ATV.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) spent a very busy holiday weekend on the water with heavy boat traffic. Plautz worked a TIP call resulting in an overlimit of sunfish. Violations over the weekend consisted of insufficient PFDs, failure to display boat registration, youth PWC operation, illegal ATV operation, fishing without a license in possession and aquatic plant management violations.


CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were focused on checking anglers, boaters and ATV operators, and monitoring AIS law compliance. Additional time was spent investigating a wetland complaint and handling calls about injured/orphaned animals. Area lakes were busy over the holiday weekend with many people fishing and boating.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked an extremely busy Fourth of July weekend on area waterways. This included a work detail with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on the Alexandria Chain of Lakes, resulting in several arrests for boating while impaired. Additional times was spent working fishing enforcement and following up on APM violations.

CO Emily Leeb (Morris) spent time working fishing, boating and AIS enforcement on and around area waterways. Additional time was spent monitoring ATV activity and following up on calls from the public. Leeb spent time working boat and water enforcement details with other district officers in Douglas and Ottertail counties.

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) worked the busy Fourth of July weekend on area waterways, with numerous violations documented, mostly related to boating activity. Additional time was spent monitoring fishing and ATV activity. Several calls/complaints from the public were received and investigated.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) spent time patrolling Cass and Crow Wing county lakes for boating activity. Enforcement was taken for numerous violations, and two boat operators were arrested for DWI.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled recreational vehicle, boat and water, and fishing activity this past week. Baum took enforcement action for various violations ranging from taking fish without a license, no navigation lights for watercraft, insufficient PFDs, operating PWCs after hours and minor consumption.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked boating and angling activity. She also spoke at a firearms safety class. Enforcement action was taken for a juvenile without a helmet on an ATV and no license in possession.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent most of her time on the lakes in the Remer area over the busy holiday weekend. Time was also spent on ATV enforcement. Various violations were found throughout the week, and enforcement action was taken. Kunst also responded to a deer vs. vehicle crash.


CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports seeing an increase in recreational activity in the area with the holiday weekend and warm weather. He focused enforcement on angling, boater safety and ATV activity. He also reports assisting other agencies, conducting commercial inspections and working a detail for Operation Dry Water.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked on the lakes and trails and investigated numerous calls for service. It was a very busy weekend, with many recreational boaters and ATV riders out. Enforcement action was taken for angling, aquatic plants, invasive species, recreational boating, minor consumption and minor possession violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) worked a warm and dry week on the trails and waters. Enforcement action was taken on various boating/fishing related violations as well as ATV violations. Fire restrictions are in place and will remain unless significant precipitation is received.

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