Weekly DNR Enforcement report: Lake of the Woods fishing guide investigation, sloppy waterfowl opener etc.
Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas for Monday, Sept. 23:
District 1 - Baudette area
CO Ben Huener (Roseau) assisted CO Benjamin on a complaint of illegal activity by a fishing guide and commercial fish packer. Duck hunters were checked on the Thief Lake and Roseau River WMAs. Duck-hunting violations for the week include failure to retrieve ducks, hunting with an unplugged shotgun, transporting a loaded firearm, no federal stamp and operating a motor vehicle in a prohibited area.
CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked OHV (off-highway vehicle), big- and small-game and waterfowl enforcement. A fishing guide and fish packer complaint was investigated with numerous charges pending. ATVs are not a means of transportation on public roads or road right of ways for anyone without a valid driver’s license, regardless of age. Enforcement action was taken for transporting a loaded firearm in an ATV, taking/possessing an overlimit of walleyes, taking illegal-length walleyes, operating an ATV on a public road without a valid license, allowing illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile, and hunting without a license in possession.
CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) checked hunters during the opening weekend of the waterfowl season and continued monitoring bear-hunting and small-game hunting activity. Enforcement action for the week included failure to register bear bait, operating an ATV in a WMA, unplugged shotgun, transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, waterfowl stamp violations and baiting bear without a valid license.
CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) saw mixed results on the opening weekend of the waterfowl season. Some hunters who were in the right spots did well on local birds, while others had less success. Strong storms and heavy rains made for difficult hunting, especially for hunters trying to get into flooded and muddy fields. Lots of local geese are around and some new birds are starting to filter in. A decent number of mostly green-winged teal are still in the area. Wetlands and potholes have filled up, which will bring more opportunities for hunters to bag birds once the migration kicks in. Enforcement action was taken for an unplugged shotgun, no small-game license, no small-game license/stamps in possession, no federal waterfowl stamp, and no HIP certification.
CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) worked the waterfowl opener as well as small-game hunting and angling activity throughout the past week. Time was spent wrapping up a pre-employment background investigation and hosting a DNR safety program instructor banquet for the area instructor group. Enforcement action for the week included hunting license/stamp violations and transporting zebra mussels and aquatic macrophytes. Regas reminds boaters and anglers to use due diligence inspecting and removing invasive species and aquatic macrophytes (weeds) from boats, trailers and equipment whenever removing them from the lake or water.
CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a lot of ATV and small-game hunting activity over the past week. Prachar talked to a few grouse hunters who had good luck even with the difficult weather. ATV activity was worked near Kelliher and Waskish.
CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) spent the past week checking anglers, small-game hunters and archery deer hunters. ATV enforcement was also a focus. Commercial minnow complaints were also handled.
Baudette West – vacant.
Warroad South – vacant.
Karlstad – vacant.
District 2 - Bemidji area
CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) contacted duck hunters during the opening weekend of the season. Time was also spent checking bear and archery deer hunters, and anglers on area lakes and rivers. Various duck hunting-related violations were encountered.
CO Tim Gray (Bagley) finished up a bear-hunter complaint and checked a few duck hunters who came out after the lightning storm opening morning.
CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) and COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Calie Kunst worked multiple lakes in the Bemidji area. They found violations including angling with two lines and various boating safety equipment. ATV enforcement on various trails was worked as well. Kunst and Vollbrecht attended training at Camp Ripley and finished the week with waterfowl opener enforcement.
CO Chris Vinton (Perham) and COC Jordan Anderson worked the waterfowl opener. Hunters took a limited number of ducks partially due to poor weather conditions as heavy rains and warm weather were present during the day. During the week, sport fishing, small game, and ATV activity was worked. A trumpeter swab accidentally caught in a legally set beaver trap was released. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV without lights and on a state highway, no PFDs in a waterfowl boat, an unplugged shotgun, no hunting license in possession and operating a motorboat in a WMA.
CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week working anglers and small-game and waterfowl hunters. As the leaves start to fall and the weather cools, more grouse hunters are coming out. Some birds are being shot, but hunters have to be willing to put in the work. Fall fishing seems to be in full swing but lakes warmed up, which seemed to push the fish deeper than normal for this time of year. Mixed weather brought mixed results for waterfowl hunters, but most groups had a couple birds. Teal, mallards and wood ducks were the most common. Swedberg also assisted the county with multiple calls over the week and worked on a deer investigation.
CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked duck hunters and handled calls about a solid waste dump, a dog kill, and hunting trespass. Peterson also followed up on ongoing cases and completed a background investigation.
CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working anglers and small-game and archery deer hunters. Enforcement efforts over the weekend focused on the waterfowl opener. Rain and windy conditions appeared to have discouraged some hunters from getting out into the field. Sunday brought near-perfect conditions, and most hunters checked had good success. Mallards, teal and wood ducks made up the majority of game bags. Chihak also attended the sixth-annual NDSU Criminal Justice Career Fair.
CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling and boating activity and performed AIS checks. Areas were worked for small-game and archery hunting activity. Warren worked the waterfowl opening weekend. Most hunters checked were able to find a few birds to take home. One waterfowl hunter informed Warren that he had fallen from his boat and was able to push from the bottom of the lake to get back up to the boat. When asked about a PFD, he stated he wasn’t wearing one but wished he had been. Trails were worked for off-road vehicle activity.
CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week checking archery deer hunting, angling, AIS, and waterfowl-hunting activity in the Pelican Rapids Station. Fewer hunters were observed afield on waterfowl opener compared to previous years. It is likely that the thunderstorms on opening day kept some hunters out of the sloughs. Those who hunted had mixed success, with some groups doing well, but most only shooting a duck or two. Calls from the public included nuisance-beaver complaints; permits were issued. Enforcement action was taken for no state waterfowl stamp, hunting ducks out of a permanent artificial blind in public waters, transporting a loaded firearm, and a juvenile under 18 without a helmet on an ATV.
Headwaters – vacant.
District 3 - Fergus Falls area
CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) checked good numbers of waterfowl hunters over the season opening weekend. Despite a thunderstorm rolling through at the start of legal shooting hours, many groups neared their bag limit on Saturday. Blue-winged teal were the most common ducks found on open water while mallards stuck near flooded fields. Additional time was spent checking anglers, following up on trespass complaints, and assisting the Grant County Sheriff’s Office with a pursuit and search perimeter.
CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the past week were concentrated on checking anglers, ATV operators, dove hunters, and waterfowl hunters. The latter group had varied success over the weekend, with teal and wood ducks being the most common birds found in the bags. Abundant water created flooded field conditions across the station, which scattered the birds and made access a challenge. Complaints of early shooting, late shooting, and use of motors on WPAs were investigated.
CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports preparing for and working the waterfowl opener. Duck numbers were down considerably from previous years and hunter success was marginal. Richards spoke with fifth-graders about various wildlife species for the Wilkin County Conservation Day during the week. Time was also spent checking anglers out enjoying the nice weather.
CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) attended mandatory training this past week and spent time working fishing and boating activity. Plautz worked a slower duck opener, finding hunters having minimal success in the blind. Wildlife management areas were patrolled for illegal activity and ATV enforcement was monitored. Archery deer hunters are abundant and having good success in the area.
CO Brian Holt (Osakis) worked anglers and small-game hunters throughout the past week. Time was also spent checking duck hunters over the opening weekend. Complaints were received regarding WMA and waterfowl-hunting violations. Enforcement activity related to hunting license violations and waterfowl hunting.
CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked a busy waterfowl opener this past weekend, contacting lots of hunters both young and old. Compliance was good for the most part, with the exception of a few groups. Enforcement action was taken for waterfowl license and equipment violations as well as no PFDs.
CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked waterfowl and dove hunters and anglers. Assistance was provided to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office with a fleeing subject. Waterfowl-related hunting complaints were received and investigated, including trespass.
Morris – vacant.
Wheaton – vacant.
District 4 - Walker area
CO Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) continued to check ATV riders, small-game hunters, and anglers. She checked waterfowl hunters over opening weekend and responded to a call about an injured eagle that was hit by a car. Enforcement action included operating an unregistered ATV, no license in possession, failure to display ATV registration, and a juvenile without a helmet riding on an ATV.
CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked on fishing enforcement this past week. Anglers are out and the fall bite is picking up. The waterfowl opener went well, with good numbers of hunters and a fair number of ducks. The most common ducks in the bag were wood ducks, with mallards a close second. Posner checked grouse hunters and the report was poor. The hunters explained there are still too many leaves on trees to see all of the birds they flush. The archery hunters report the deer are becoming more active. Posner also worked on complaints of litter and animal-carcass dumping.
CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked duck and grouse hunters. Duck hunters had moderate success, with a mixed bag of mallards, wood ducks, and teal seen. Training was attended at Camp Ripley and time was spent on Bear Committee items. Enforcement action was taken for duck-hunting and ATV violations.
Lake George – vacant.
Park Rapids – vacant.
Walker – vacant.
Remer – vacant.