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MN DNR Weekly Report for May 7, 2018

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports a busy weekend with sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River. ATV activity in the area is increasing as many people were out enjoying the nice weather. Enforcement action for the week included ATV and sturgeon fishing violations. People are reminded that fire danger remains high.

CO John Slatinski (Ray) checked on a complaint of a deer carcass in an individual’s backyard that appeared to have been taken down wolves. Sturgeon activity continues to be in full swing, with the catch rate being inconsistent. Spring fish runs on area waterways were checked and monitored. Several groups of people were catching suckers and red horse are now showing up. Invasive species compliance was checked, along with fire activity. ATVs continue to be seen more frequently.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area forest roads and seasonal closures. Some area lakes have opened, fire danger in the area remains high and ATV activity has increased. Seasonal equipment preparation is ongoing.

CO John Velsvaag (Cook) checked anglers and ATV riders this past week. Panfish activity was up and the spring fish run is in full swing. Beaver trapping enforcement work was also done and litter complaints were handled.

CO Marc Hopkins (Tower) reports outdoor activities picked up with the nicer weather. Enforcement action was taken on a number of spearing activities, including violations in a walleye spawning area. Enforcement was taken on an individual driving an ATV on a state highway. Lake Vermilion still has ice as of the day of this report. Pike Bay is three-quarters open, while Big Bay was still ice-locked. With the warm weather and wind, hopefully the big water will be ice-free by the opener.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked anglers, ATV riders, the state park, aquatic invasive species enforcement, prepared course material for a course to be taught at the CO Academy and attended a meeting in Tower. Some lakes were completely ice-free during the latter part of the week. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and taking fish in a closed season.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spoke at a firearms safety class in Cherry and attended a meeting with COs from Bois Forte and 1854. All Virginia-area lakes are ice-free and docks at accesses hopefully will be going in over the week. Frericks monitored spring fish run activity on area streams and rivers. He also investigated a TIP call of anglers keeping walleyes at an area dam. After checking the registration of the license plate number provided, it was determined the anglers were members of the Fond du Lac band. The anglers were legally harvesting the walleyes according to their treaty; their season does not close. Many boaters were seen preparing their equipment before the opener. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and having a passenger under 18 on an ATV without a helmet.

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) heard a call go out on the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office channel of a vehicle involved in a hit and run. Fredin observed the vehicle with an elderly driver at a gas station and pulled up to the pumps. As CO Fredin walked up to the driver’s window, the driver said, “Filler up, please.” An investigation in birch trees being cut as decorative poles on public lands resulted in three individuals charged and birch trees seized. Ice is off area lakes.

International Falls #2 – vacant.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports extreme fire conditions continued over most of the north with a combination of very dry fuels and strong winds. He and local officers spent the week investigating several fires in the region. He also attended training in St. Paul for the state’s updated computer dispatching system.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) was called out to investigate a series of wildland arson fires from north of Lake Winnibigoshish all the way back toward Grand Rapids. If you saw anything suspicious north of U.S. Highway 2 in Itasca County from the late afternoon of April 29 to the early morning hours of April 30, you are urged to call the arson hotline at 1-800-723-2020. You may be eligible for a reward for information leading to the identification of those responsible. Wildland fires can lead to catastrophic consequences for firefighters and emergency responders, as well as property and home owners. If you saw something, say something.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked area lakes and patrolled area forest roads. Ice is melting and things are looking promising for opener, although some road washouts may be problematic. The officer assisted with ATV safety field day for area students, checked steelhead anglers and issued a possession permit for a road kill bear. A lost ATV operator was guided back to his cabin after being stopped for no registration on his machine. He tried dropping the name of the local officer, whom he didn’t realize he was speaking with, before being issued a citation and sent on his way.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked ATVs, trapping, and the spring fish run. Enforcement action included allowing illegal juvenile operation of an ATV and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) saw tributary river activity explode during the week. Area lakes are still ice-covered but wind and heat are doing their jobs. The area is very dry, and windy weather makes for prime spring fire danger.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) monitored spring beaver trapping and stream trout fishing activities. Fire danger remains high in the area until significant rainfall occurs. Some larger lakes are still holding ice while smaller lakes and ponds are now ice-free.

Ely #2 – vacant.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Big Fork) worked ATV activity, fishing, small game enforcement, fire enforcement and state parks. Violations included burning without a burning permit, burning outside of permit hours, no firewood cutting permit, no horse pass, dogs off leash, and failure to pay for a campsite.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, investigated fires, responded to OHV accidents and assisted the county with a search warrant. Enforcement action was taken for illegal operation of an ATV by juveniles, failure to control a permitted fire and arrest for outstanding warrants.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked illegal fire activity over the past week with fire dangers being very high.  Enforcement action was taken for not having a burning permit and negligent fires. Most area small lakes are open and ice-free and the larger lakes should be open by fishing opener.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked angling, ATV, fire, AIS, and boating enforcement. The warm weather has been expediting the ice-out dates on many area lakes. Van Asch assisted and investigated several grass and wildfires. Use extreme caution while burning. Enforcement action was taken for several fire violations.

Hill City – vacant.

NE ATV Officer – vacant.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) reports considerable ATV activity in the area with the warmer weather. Fire activity was high as well with the current dangerous conditions. Enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, failure to obtain a burn permit, operating an ATV in a wetland, and operating an ATV on the shoulder of a trunk highway.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working shore anglers along Lake Superior and rivers. The smelt run has begun and there’s plenty of activity around the rivers at night. Time was spent working ATV complaint areas and complaints of trespassing were investigated. Calls about nuisance animals are ramping up and equipment maintenance was handled in preparation of fishing opener. 

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) handled an incidental otter take and followed up on a trespass complaint, responded to several wildfires in the Duluth area, and worked the North Shore fish run, which resulted in several smelting and fishing violations, including illegal equipment and taking in the rivers. Duncan fielded questions on fishing laws for the upcoming opener.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked angling, OHV, turkey hunting and wildfire enforcement throughout the week. Patrols were conducted in area state parks, WMAs, and the Fond du Lac State Forest. Calls were received and investigated on the unlawful taking of fish, netting, trespassing, and burning. Humphrey, along with other local officers and EMS, responded to an injury crash involving two off-highway motorcycle operators in Cloquet. Turkeys were active during the week with lots of gobbling reported. Hunter success varied. Violations for burning, angling without a license, possession of marijuana, and OHV operation/registration were encountered.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) responded to several wildfires over the past week where enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, careless negligent fire, unauthorized incinerator, and no burning permit. Conditions in the area are extremely dry and people are reminded to take extra care when having campfires. An investigation was conducted on a complaint of beaver traps not being tended in the area. An investigation also is underway where two turkeys were shot north of Cloquet and the carcasses dumped on private property. Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the Turn in Poachers hotline. Any information that leads to an arrest in this case will be up for a reward.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports the North Shore fish and smelt run has picked up. The warmer weather has spiked the river temperatures to optimum spawning run levels. Area rivers were checked with multiple TIP reports fielded for various fishing violations. The warmer weather and windy conditions created dangerous fire conditions in the Duluth area. Olson responded to a fire that resulted from failing to put out a previous night’s campfire.  Surveillance details on area North Shore rivers also conducted.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked smelters and shore anglers. Trout stamp issues were unusually common; anglers were reminded that it is their responsibility to make sure they purchase the correct license and not the responsibility of the gas station worker who sells them a license. Burning violations were located and multiple boats were checked at public accesses during a nice weekend day. Enforcement action was taken for angling, boating, and burning violations.

Lake Superior Unit – vacant.

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