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WEEKLY DNR ENFORCEMENT REPORT: Rainy River dominates workload for many northern Minnesota officers

Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota for April 8:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on the Rainy River. Fishing reports were spotty, but a good number of sturgeon and walleye anglers reported good success. Boating safety violations were encountered as well as a group of anglers in possession of marijuana.  

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked ATV, snowmobile, AIS and angling enforcement. The majority of Benjamin’s time was spent on the Rainy River monitoring angling activity during the catch-and-release season for walleyes/sauger and sturgeon. Anglers were having varied success day by day, but lots of nice sturgeon and walleyes were caught. Enforcement action was taken for angling license violations, leaving a fish house on the ice after the removal deadline date, no throwable lifesaving device, insufficient number of life jackets and boat registration violations.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) taught the law and ethics portion of the firearms safety classes in Hallock and Thief River Falls. Follow up was conducted on a case in which an ice shelter was left abandoned on the ice and identification removed. Local media outlets assisted in getting information out to the public, which resulted in numerous tips that lead to citations issued to the owner for a shelter on the ice after the deadline and no identification on a shelter. Many thanks to the media and sportspeople who assisted with information. Other enforcement action for the week included no ATV registration, no lights on an ATV, and driving after revocation.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) took calls about nuisance animals and patrolled the station for illegal burning and ATV activity. Elwell also spent time on the Rainy River checking walleye and sturgeon anglers. He saw anglers landing large walleyes and big sturgeon. Enforcement action for the week included boat and water safety violations, boat registration violations, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports that most of the snow is gone on the lakes, but people are still venturing out onto Upper Red Lake with recreational vehicles. Even though ice seems thick enough to be on, be cautious because warm weather and rain can deteriorate ice quickly.  

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) focused primarily on angling enforcement and boat and water safety enforcement on the Rainy River. Compliance with the new spring catch-and-release season on the river seems to be very high, with a large majority of anglers only wanting to catch that “trophy walleye” and not looking to keep a limit. Sturgeon fishing is starting to pick up for the season as well, with almost all of the river being ice-free. Mishler and K9 Storm ended the week by certifying at Region 12 K9 Detector Trials.

Baudette West – vacant.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports following up on a wetland case and a litter complaint this past week. Time was also spent checking anglers and ATV-related complaint areas. Wildlife-related calls were also received. Violations encountered included littering and transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) continues with flight training.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes. Ice conditions deteriorated over the weekend with rain, but anglers are still catching panfish on most area lakes. Vollbrecht worked a detail on Leech Lake with CO McGowan and cited an individual for possessing a walleye during the closed season. He answered questions while working the TIP booth at an area sport and travel show. ATV activity was monitored and work continues on removing fish houses left on the lake after the deadline.    

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports addressing firearms safety classes in Perham and Vergas, meeting with local county attorneys and judges and taking calls of people burning garbage. Ice conditions remain fairly good though some lakes are seeing the ice pull away from shore. TIP calls of off-highway motorcycles riding in the ditches were taken.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked on annual training requirements and worked spring forest road closure enforcement. He also followed up on damage to forest road signs.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, spring goose hunting and ATV enforcement. Large numbers of snow and white-fronted geese have been moving through the area. Chihak attended the Minnesota State Community and Technical College Career networking event. He spoke with students interested in a career as a conservation officer. Time was also spent giving a law and ethics presentation to students at a firearms safety class in Hitterdal.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time monitoring area lakes for activity. Follow up was conducted on open cases and complaints of litter left on the ice and public accesses. Warren assisted White Earth Tribal police and the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s office with a call in Waubun. Areas were patrolled for ATV activity.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring angling and ATV violations in the Pelican Rapids Station. Ice conditions over the weekend deteriorated very quickly and the ice-fishing season is pretty much over. Time was also spent completing annual Division training.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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