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Plans for a fish house buzz go to pot when DNR officers come knocking

Conservation officers rely heavily on the vigilance of the outdoor community to “police their own,” and monitoring social media is a valuable tool.

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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, Feb. 13.

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) assisted in freeing a bear that attempted to come out of hibernation early. Anglers and snowmobile riders were checked on Lake of the Woods. Various minor violations were encountered. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line, nonresident snowmobiles operating without a trail pass and possession of an overlimit of walleyes/saugers.

CO Tony Hams (Warroad North) spent the week checking anglers on Lake of the Woods and attended training at Camp Ripley. Violations encountered this week included angling with an extra line, angling without a license and no shelter tag.

CO Coby Fontes (Baudette East) spent the week enforcing ice fishing regulations and assisting local agencies. Several non-fishing-related violations were encountered during his ice fishing patrol, such as a DWI and several unrelated instances of people possessing controlled substances.

HF 2564 would repeal “the current statutory language connecting the size of Minnesota’s elk herd to elk damage payments, giving the DNR greater ability to manage and grow Minnesota’s elk herd.”

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) attended training, investigated the theft of a portable fish house and monitored ice angling activity during the Lake Bronson ice fishing tournament. Enforcement action included an unregistered ATV, no state park permit, no ice shelter permit when required and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.


CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports checking anglers on area lakes and patrolling area snowmobile trails this past week. Regas noted a good number of anglers taking advantage of the warm weather, with angler success for crappies picking up with the recent warm weather. Snowmobile trails have held up pretty well, with a solid base on a majority of trails. Violations encountered and addressed included angling and spearing license violations and fish house/shelter identification and shelter permit violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports continued success on Upper Red Lake for crappie anglers. Time was spent working angling and snowmobile activity. Enforcement action was taken for numerous license violations, possession of fillets on special regulation waters and possession of marijuana.

Warroad South – vacant.

Baudette West – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking anglers and snowmobile operators this week. Time was also spent investigating a suspected wolf-depredation complaint. Small game hunters were also checked.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Training was attended at Camp Ripley.


CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports attending training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken on a number of permanent fishing shelters, placed on public waters, without clear marking or shelter licenses displayed. Calls of dogs chasing deer were also taken. Social media posts generated nearly two dozen TIP calls between Vinton and CO William Landmark. The callers were concerned by the number of fish seen in a photo with just two anglers. After an investigation, Vinton was able to identify the anglers and determined there was insufficient evidence of a crime. The anglers were from out of the area and had between 11 and 15 anglers in their party. Multiple fish fries were had by the party. Conservation officers rely heavily on the vigilance of the outdoor community to “police their own,” and monitoring social media is a valuable tool. People are reminded that such posts are only a snapshot of the story and when reported to a CO, those TIPs will be investigated.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobilers. Snowmobile trails have started to get rough in areas that see a lot of sunlight, due to the warm weather. Swedberg stopped multiple riders for speed violations on area lakes and wants to remind riders not to exceed the speed limit.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement. Area snowmobile trails are beginning to deteriorate due to the unseasonably warm weather. Time was also spent responding to a TIP overlimit complaint and miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and spearing activity. Snowmobile trails were patrolled, with trails starting to show wear from the warmer weather. Warren attended training.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week finishing a background investigation for the upcoming CO Academy and attending training at Camp Ripley.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week focusing on snowmobile and ice angling enforcement. The warm weather brought out a lot of people, but trail conditions are poor. Fox also attended annual training at Camp Ripley.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, worked fishing shelter enforcement, and checked anglers and snowmobile riders.

Bagley – vacant.


District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) reports attending Enforcement Division training, fielding calls of dogs chasing deer and following up on snowmobile-registration issues.

CO Ryan Brown (Elbow Lake) reports very poor fishing success on area lakes. He continued to monitor coyote-hunting activity and spent time on ongoing investigations. Enforcement actions this week included fishing with an extra line, no fishing license in personal possession and taking fish without a fishing license.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) patrolled station snowmobile trails and lakes as warm weather gripped the area, sinking snow levels. Panfish seem to be hitting the most consistently, with walleyes few and far between. Several anglers were cited for different violations, including using too many lines, not having an angling license and possessing illegal drugs. One group of anglers was found with an overlimit of crappies. They also possessed illegal-length northern pike. A citation was issued, and the fish were seized.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, ATV and snowmobile riders and fish houses. Annual training was attended at Camp Ripley, including a great presentation on autism and how to interact in a law enforcement role.

CO Felicia Znajda (Osakis) spent the week focused on snowmobile and angling activity. Enforcement action was taken for too many lines, unattended lines, drug activity and other various violations.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent time the week focused on angling and recreational vehicle enforcement. With the nice weather, there was an abundance of people out and about. Angling success on area lakes has been low, but that hasn’t kept people from being out and enjoying the weather. She also spent some time at Camp Ripley for annual training.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) helped with miscellaneous district work and attended training.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and snowmobile operators. Baumbarger attended training at Camp Ripley and continued follow-up on cases from deer season.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Corey Sura (Remer) attended annual training at Camp Ripley. Area trails and lakes were patrolled. Large crowds of people took advantage of the unusual February weather over the weekend by getting outdoors. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, fishing with set/unattended lines, and no shelter licenses.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling, snowmobiling and ATV enforcement. Training was attend at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile, big-game, ATV and angling violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports attending training, participating in an outreach event, conducting aerator inspections and checking anglers.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) worked area lakes, attended Division training during the week and put on a firearms safety field day. The warm weather has taken its toll on some of the trails. Enforcement action was taken for fishing after revocation, extra lines, unattended lines, along with various snowmobile violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes and trails for activity. Enforcement time was spent on Leech Lake, and overall, a slow bite was noted. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. She also followed up on ongoing cases.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued to check anglers and snowmobile trails. The bite remained slow, and the warm weather has eroded some spots on the snowmobile trails. Mathy also attended annual training and attended a Bear Committee meeting. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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