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Turkeys, sturgeon and flooding highlight workload for northwest Minnesota DNR conservation officers

As the weather got better later in the week, so did the sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River.

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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, May 9:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked turkey hunters in Roseau and Marshall counties and northern pike anglers on Lake of the Woods. Enforcement contacts included angling during a closed season, operating an unregistered ATV and possessing a spear on Minnesota waters after sunset.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) checked anglers targeting sturgeon on the Rainy River. As the weather got better later in the week, so did the fishing. Enforcement action was taken when an individual was found with a sturgeon in their possession without the tag attached or validated.

CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) continued to monitor turkey hunting and fishing activity in the area. He received numerous calls regarding deer stands/fish houses floating in the flooded areas by rivers in the area. People should attempt to secure their property to ensure it does not float away into neighboring yards. Enforcement action this week included possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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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.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) responded to calls about angling with extra lines and recreational trespass while hunting. He also issued nuisance-beaver permits and investigated a complaint of a dog caught in a beaver trap.

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CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) patrolled the station for turkey hunting activity and ATV use. Area flooding was monitored and nuisance-bear calls were handled.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports monitoring spring fish run activity and seasonal recreational trail closures. Time was spent assisting with training the Officer Water Survival team and handling reports of incidental catches during spring beaver trapping. Enforcement action for the past week included ATV registration and juvenile passengers on an ATV not wearing helmets.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a busy spring with ATV and fish activity. Time was spent working AIS and fishing. Prachar assisted the State Patrol with a crash near Waskish and Beltrami County with a house fire near Blackduck.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending a firearms safety class in Fertile. Time was also spent working various wildlife-related concerns/complaints. Anglers were checked on area lakes and creeks. Follow-up work was completed on a wetland violation.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored spring fish run activity. He worked a detail on the Rainy River over the weekend and patrolled area trails for ATV activity. He assisted the county with a personal accident injury where the vehicle rolled.

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CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with evidence of illegal trapping on area property, patrolling for ATV activity and monitoring the spring fish run. Ice is gone from area lakes and people are beginning to move boats around. They are reminded to check the registration. A TIP call of a person picking up a young fox kit was taken. People should leave wild animals in the wild.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week at training, completing the NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) Officer Water Survival Course and the “train the trainer” portion of the course. Swedberg will now be able to instruct future DNR academies in water survival tactics. Other time was spent following up on TIP complaints of illegal minnow traps and answering miscellaneous wildlife-related calls.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) handled littering and nuisance-beaver calls, monitored the spring fish run and worked ongoing cases.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, spring turkey hunting and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent responding to miscellaneous wildlife-related calls.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and fish run activity. She patrolled wildlife management and waterfowl production areas for activity. Calls of nuisance-bear activity were worked on with Wildlife and information was provided. An open trespass case was worked. Warren assisted Becker County and White Earth Police with an ATV crash.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent time checking anglers and inspecting shoreline and public waters violations with the local hydrologist. Ice was off area lakes by midweek and the shallow panfish bite has started. As anglers prepare for fishing opener, Landmark would like to remind everyone to make sure they have current registration, a current angling license and proper safety equipment. Calls from the public included numerous nuisance-wildlife complaints, clarifications on regulations, and incidentally taken otters.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

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District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) reports speaking at a handful of events about firearms safety, fishing and hunting outlooks and other hot topics. Additional time was spent handling wildlife-related and incidentally-taken-furbearer calls. Although area lakes are now free of ice, the water temperature remains frigid so Goodman recommends life jackets should be worn, not stowed.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) assisted with a firearms safety field day honoring and awarding two volunteer safety instructors, each with a 30-year teaching award. A job well done for many years by these folks does not go unnoticed.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked fish spawn activity in streams and shore anglers and boaters. ATV and off-highway motorcycle enforcement was conducted in Douglas, Otter Tail and Pope counties. A firearms safety class presentation was given in Starbuck.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) had a busy week with an ATV safety class, where nearly 100 youth from across the state were certified. Numerous calls for service were handled, from submerged watercrafts to fishing within a posted spawning area, to targeting walleyes/bass out of season. Burning restrictions were placed in the recent weeks due to conditions, resulting in a citation for one area landowner who burned a large pile of brush and wood.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the week focused on angling enforcement. She met with sheriff’s offices from Traverse and Wilkin counties, and police departments from Wheaton and Breckenridge to talk about ATV enforcement. She also attended the Alexandria Safety Day Camp to talk to the kids about firearms safety. Investigations into a possible fish overlimit and the killing of a pelican were conducted. Angling activity has picked up with the nicer weather, as has angling success. Docks are now in but the water levels remain very high.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working fishing, small game and recreational enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for illegal operation of an off-highway motorcycle. Multiple incidentally taken otters were seized.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and boaters and monitoring AIS law compliance. Additional time was spent checking turkey hunters and ATV operators. Baumbarger set up a firearms safety class and handled calls about nuisance beavers and injured animals.

Osakis – vacant.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for angling and ATV activity. He found many anglers having varied success around the area. Baum found multiple ATV riders taking advantage of the nice weather. He reminds ATV riders to ensure the trails are open by visiting the DNR website and keeping an eye out for the closed road postings. Baum took enforcement action for various angling, boat safety and ATV violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) conducted equipment maintenance, patrolled area lakes for boating and angling activity, checked turkey hunters and patrolled for ATV activity. Enforcement action consisted of numerous ATV-related violations. Calls from the public included numerous miscellaneous wildlife-related calls and several calls/concerns related to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza-bird flu. He recommends all concerned parties contact nongame specialists unless it’s an emergency.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) reports most lakes are now open in the area. She responded to multiple incidentally taken otters and received multiple calls from people with questions related to wild animals.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for angling enforcement. He also spent time working the Rainy River and attending Division trainings. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked angling and recreational vehicle enforcement. The ice went off many area lakes this past weekend. There are a few patches left on large lakes that will likely be gone by fishing opener. Mathy worked a fishing TIP call, issued a nuisance-beaver permit, and looked into a wetland-filling complaint. Some time was spent working a deer season-related case and readying patrol boats for the season. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations and operating a motor vehicle on closed state forest roads.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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