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Weekly DNR Enforcement report for northwest Minnesota: Weather puts damper on muzzleloader deer opener etc.

Area snowmobile riders are reminded to check their registration prior to riding on the fresh powder, noting the expiration date June 30 of the year shown.

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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 Monday, Dec. 2:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked OHV (off-highway vehicle), sport fishing and big- and small-game enforcement. Time this past week was spent following up on and closing out cases from the firearms deer season. On the lake, spear and tip-up enthusiasts have been taking to the ice in some of the bays where the ice is between 8 and 11 inches. ATVs and snowmobiles are being used. For your safety, check with the resorts for ice updates prior to going out. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license in possession, trespassing on agricultural lands, failure to validate a deer tag at the site of a kill, transporting an untagged deer in a motor vehicle and unlawful party hunting.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) taught the law and ethics portion of the youth snowmobile safety class in Newfolden and monitored area muzzleloader hunting activity. Weather kept most hunters out of the woods on the first day of the season with a few more venturing out on the second day of the weekend. Area snowmobile riders are reminded to check their registration prior to riding on the fresh powder, noting the expiration date June 30 of the year shown.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) spent time patrolling for trapping and other small-game activity. He also checked a few ice anglers. Due to the ongoing drawdown of Thief Lake and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, water levels and currents on the river are higher than normal for this time of year, especially at the confluence of the Thief and Red Lake rivers. Elwell urges anglers to take caution while venturing out onto early ice.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports fishing is well underway on Upper Red Lake. Check with local resorts prior to venturing out. An ATV and equipment went through the ice on Saturday night, and there are areas of open water. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line, expired ATV registration, and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.


Baudette West – vacant.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this past week checking ice anglers. Time was also spent following up on an ATV complaint and a public waters complaint. Muzzleloader deer hunters were contacted during the opening weekend. Possession permits were issued for various wildlife.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) finished up deer season work and answered questions about upcoming game and fish seasons.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked angling activity on area lakes. More activity has been observed as ice conditions continue to improve. Caution is advised, as ice conditions vary greatly, with some open water in some areas. He began Step 4 field training with COC (conservation officer candidate) Kunst. They worked the Remer station so Kunst could get a feel for where things are in her future work station. They spent an afternoon on Red Lake and observed several limits of walleyes. Vollbrecht issued wildlife-possession permits and completed investigations from the firearms deer season.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) began the final step of field training with COC Jordan Anderson. Fishing and muzzleloader activity were slow, with the weather creating difficult conditions. Many lakes in the area have some ice but some still remain open. Due to the amount of snow over the weekend, ice conditions are not likely to improve anytime soon. Snowmobile activity is likely to increase with the snow so remember to check your registration. Enforcement action for the past week included parking in a prohibited area at a public access and no fishing license in possession.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers and working on some ongoing cases. Many small lakes in the area have 4 to 7 inches of ice, while bigger lakes remain open with thin ice along the shore. With about 10 inches of snow coming down this past weekend, ice conditions are not going to improve anytime soon.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked the muzzleloader deer opener. Activity was low, mostly due to weather. Peterson handled calls, followed up on current cases and assisted local law enforcement.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the past week working waterfowl, small-game and archery deer hunting enforcement. The muzzleloader deer opener was worked over the weekend. A few hardy deer hunters were checked as the Saturday snowstorm bore down on the area. Time was also spent responding to miscellaneous wildlife-related complaints.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity on area lakes. Ice conditions continue to vary, and anglers need to use caution when venturing out on the ice. Patrol was conducted for small game hunting activity. The opening of muzzleloader deer season was worked. WMAs (wildlife management areas) and WPAs (waterfowl production areas) were patrolled for activity. With the recent snowfall, the first snowmobile riders of the season were worked.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports goose hunting continues to be the most consistent outdoor activity in the area. Richards followed up on some deer hunting complaints and provided a radio interview for a local station. It was hard to find hunters during the muzzleloader opener due to the weather. Ice conditions will be sketchy at best for some time in the area.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the past week were concentrated on checking pheasant hunters, trappers and deer hunters. Baumbarger fielded calls regarding snowmobile safety requirements and questions about the muzzleloader deer season. Additional time was spent following up on complaints from the firearms deer season.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) finalized some reports from prior deer season cases and investigations. Time was spent monitoring muzzleloader hunters and ice forming on area lakes, with the weekend weather hampering both activities. A background investigation was started on a prospective new employee.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) completed investigations from deer season. Equipment maintenance was performed and seasonal equipment was stored. Calls about licenses and baiting were received during the week.


CO Brian Holt (Osakis) monitored pheasant hunters and trapping throughout the past week. Time was also spent checking recreational vehicle activity and following up on a case from the firearms deer season. Calls were received regarding car-killed animals and deer-possession permits. Ice conditions are still dangerous throughout the area; any form of travel on the lake is not advised.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked the muzzleloader deer opener this past weekend, but severe weather kept most people indoors. Snow piled up across the station, which made it possible for the first few snowmobilers to make their way out. A few ice anglers are cautiously walking out onto small lakes, but extreme caution must be taken as ice conditions are not good. A background investigation was started on an applicant with interviews and contacts made.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) reports checking anglers and muzzleloader deer hunters over the weekend. Blizzard conditions limited activity but brought out the first few snowmobile riders of the season. Additional time was spent following up on complaints and handling calls about injured wildlife.

Morris – vacant.

Wheaton – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked the muzzleloader deer hunting opener. He checked a few hunters, but most stayed in because of the winter storm. Complaints of deer-carcass dumping and unregistered deer were investigated. A complaint of road hunters in the Pillager area was also received. Ice anglers were out and are catching some fish, but the ice conditions are poor and dangerous as most area lakes still have open water. He checked snowmobilers riding the ditches trying to get in their first rides of the season.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked on open deer season cases. Ice fishing was checked in the area. Lake ice thickness is extremely variable with open water showing on many lakes where there was once ice. Some anglers are walking out on foot and finding up to 8 inches on shallow-water lakes that froze early. Safety precautions should be taken if venturing out on the ice. Recent heavy snowfall in the area will prevent the ice from getting thicker for the foreseeable future.

Lake George – vacant.


Park Rapids – vacant.

Walker – vacant.

Remer – vacant.

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