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Prep for upcoming firearms deer season dominates DNR conservation officer workloads

Anglers continued to do well along the south shore of Lake of the Woods between Zippel Bay and the Lighthouse Gap.

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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, Nov. 1:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) investigated complaints of hunter-harassment and trespass. Other various preparations are underway for the rifle deer season.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) attended a meeting of the Lake of the Woods “Keep It Clean” campaign and took care of miscellaneous vehicle and equipment maintenance. Sura checked waterfowl hunters and anglers on Lake of the Woods. Anglers continued to do well along the south shore between Zippel Bay and the Lighthouse Gap. Enforcement action was taken for possessing a small amount of marijuana and possessing an overlimit of walleyes/sauger.

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CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) monitored angling and hunting activity in the area. He fielded calls relating to the upcoming rifle deer season.

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CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) monitored area trapping and small game activity. He also participated in a call-in radio program, with questions and answers on the upcoming deer season. Enforcement action included unlawfully leaving hunting equipment in a state park, no helmet on a juvenile ATV passenger and ATV-registration violations.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) checked waterfowl hunters and investigated big-game-hunting violations this week. Elwell also conducted inspections of several white-tailed deer farms in the northwest. Waterfowl hunting continues to be good for those who’ve scouted and timed their hunts right. Watercraft-safety and ATV violations were dealt with this week.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports checking grouse hunters, archery deer hunters and anglers this past week. Time was spent issuing car-killed deer possession permits, patrolling area recreational vehicle trails and assisting firearms safety instructors with a firearms safety field day. Enforcement action for the week included people shining for deer from two hours after sunset to sunrise and hunting/taking deer with the aid of bait.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports small game hunters have been successful around the area. Time was spent working small game and deer-hunting activity.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports responding to various big game-related complaints this week. Time was also spent checking duck hunters and small game hunters. Fall anglers were contacted on area lakes.

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CO Tim Gray (Bagley) prepared for the upcoming firearms deer season.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) patrolled area lakes for angling and waterfowl-hunting activity. He worked shining activity and worked with a neighboring officer on a case involving an individual archery hunting for deer over bait.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports working with area DNR hydrologists to inspect and close out a number of open wetland and lakeshore violations. He also patrolled for ATV and small-game hunters on area trails and wildlife management areas. Vinton and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers dealt with an abandoned vehicle on a federal waterfowl production area. Several TIP calls were taken relating to trespass, deer shot and not recovered and hunters being harassed.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking duck hunters and small game hunters. There are not many ducks in the area, but with cold weather and a strong north wind, a few more showed up. Other time was spent following up on some Wetland Conservation Act violations and assisting the county with calls for service.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted on a trespass and theft case, worked a baiting TIP that was unfounded, took enforcement action on a dogs-chasing-deer complaint and started an investigation of a deer hunter using a rifle during the archery season.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working archery deer, waterfowl and small game hunting enforcement. Time was also spent working the Buffalo River State Park youth deer hunt.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on small game and waterfowl hunting activity, with pheasant hunters finding a few birds. Angling activity was worked. Open investigations of illegal activity in WMAs were continued. Warren patrolled her station for shining activity.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) checked anglers, waterfowl and pheasant hunters and monitored deer-hunting activity prior to the upcoming firearms season. Landmark also completed a background investigation for the upcoming CO Academy and assisted local law enforcement with two horse riders who were bucked from their horses in Maplewood State Park. The northwest winds on Saturday ended up finally pushing some ducks and geese into the area and should provide more waterfowl opportunities this week. Anglers willing to brave the cold are finding cooperative walleyes on area lakes. Landmark received several calls this week regarding what deer hunters could legally buy at the store to hunt over. If the item purchased contains any liquid or solid food product, it is illegal to place in front of your stand and hunt over.

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Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) continues following up on deer hunting and trespass complaints. She finalized a background investigation for the upcoming CO Academy. Plautz checked pheasant hunters and a few anglers during the week as well.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) spent the week checking waterfowl, pheasant and deer hunters. Questions about retrieving wounded game and trespass were fielded, along with many inquiries about CWD testing. Deer hunters in the Elbow Lake and Fergus Falls areas are encouraged to participate in the voluntary CWD sampling. Many drop locations are signed, and further information on the different CWD zones is available on the DNR website. Enforcement action for the week included transporting loaded firearms, various waterfowl-hunting violations and no license in possession.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, ATV riders and waterfowl and pheasant hunters. He investigated whole deer that were dumped after the youth and early antlerless seasons. The deer were shot, field-dressed and tagged, but then later dumped after the season with no meat being taken.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) prepared this week for the upcoming firearms deer season by getting station equipment prepped, answering numerous phone calls from people with questions about the season and monitoring public land activity. A case was worked after a report came in of a hunter shooting a pheasant out of the truck window. Also, a business owner was cited for burning a large pile of trash and brush without a permit. Two deer were found dumped on a rural Osakis road after being shot and field-dressed. The suspect had hung them up for several days and then decided they were of no use, so they were wasted. Any information on this case can be anonymously called into the TIP line. Butchered deer carcasses are starting to show up on roadsides and field edges, giving all hunters a black eye.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the week assisting on an interview panel interviewing potential conservation officer candidates.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working small game, waterfowl and recreational vehicle enforcement. Multiple trespass complaints were handled, one of which included an individual hunting after revocation. It resulted in multiple citations issued and the seizure of a firearm and game. Douvier also spoke at a local snowmobile safety class.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and pheasant and waterfowl hunters. Additional time was spent checking deer hunters and performing maintenance on station equipment. Calls were fielded about the use of AR pistols in the shotgun zone and nuisance-animal complaints.

Osakis – vacant.

Fergus Falls – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports finalizing a background investigation. He answered numerous calls from people regarding trespass, injured animals and other illegal activity. Now is a great time to check your deer stand to ensure it’s safe and read the regulations book in preparation for the upcoming deer season. Enforcement action was taken for failing to validate a deer license, hunting within a public water access site, unsigned federal stamp, no license in possession and several WMA violations. Wildlife-possession permits were also issued.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked hunting and fishing activity. Multiple calls were taken on the upcoming rifle season and other hunting questions.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for small game- and big game-hunting activity. He took enforcement action for various violations involving burning without a permit and operating a motor vehicle on a closed trail.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking small game and waterfowl hunters. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV in a wildlife management area, failure to have life jackets in a duck boat and no license in possession. Kunst also received multiple questions about the upcoming deer season.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on equipment maintenance in preparation for the upcoming winter season. Time was spent on nuisance-animal complaints, illegal-burning reports and preparation for the upcoming firearms season.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked waterfowl and big game hunters throughout the past week. Numerous waterfowl hunters were checked on Leech Lake, with most hunters reporting slow success. Enforcement action was taken for hunting waterfowl without a license, stamp violations and an overlimit of ducks.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked hunting activity. Two deer-related complaints and a trapping complaint were investigated. A littering case where fish carcasses were dumped was also checked. Mathy attended a Bear Committee meeting. Enforcement action was taken for waterfowl- and grouse-hunting violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

What to read next
A range of options being studied for the park include new and improved visitor centers in both the north and south units as well as at the Painted Canyon overlook.
Some of the research confirmed details that anglers have long suspected.
To get an event in the Outdoors Calendar, contact Brad Dokken at (701) 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1148 or by email at bdokken@gfherald.com. Deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesdays.
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Conducted every five years since 1990, the survey originally was scheduled for the summer of 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.