Minnesota Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – September 2, 2022

District 1 – Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on the Roseau River and Lake of the Woods. He provided assistance to the owner of a boat that was found floating down the Warroad River with nobody in it. 

CO Corey Sura (Baudette) completed annual training and also attended a Lake of the Woods Keep It Clean Committee meeting. Time also was spent checking bear baits, patrolling ATV/off-highway motorcycle activity, and checking anglers fishing the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods. 

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) prepared for upcoming instruction at the CO Academy and patrolled for bear-baiting violations. 

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls) spent time monitoring bear-baiting activity and took calls about bear hunting. 

District 2 – Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports teaching an ATV class for law enforcement personnel at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. An input meeting related to CWD in deer was attended at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji) monitored angling activity on area lakes. He also patrolled area ATV trails and checked bear-bait stations.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports continuing background investigations for potential CO Prep candidates, taking calls about injured animals and referring them to the proper division, and presenting the law portion of an ATV safety education class. Beaver and bear problems were addressed.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the weekend working sportfishing and ATVing enforcement. Time also was spent responding to requests from the public for information about upcoming hunting seasons. Enforcement action was taken for possession of an illegal-length northern pike and fishing with extra lines.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on bear-baiting activity. Anglers and boaters were checked for regulation compliance. Warren answered questions and spoke about aquatic invasive species at a pheasant hunting kids’ day near Bejou. Wild rice harvest areas were monitored for activity, and checks were performed.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week following up on wetland cases, checking bear-baiting activity, and following up on other ongoing cases. Time also was spent transferring a forfeited snowmobile to the auction house and providing advice on a variety of nuisance-animal reports. 

District 3 – Fergus Falls area

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked boaters, anglers, and ATV riders. Training at Camp Ripley was attended. 

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and boaters. Additional time was spent teaching at the CO Academy during sportfishing week and attending training. Calls were fielded about upcoming hunting seasons and injured animals.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent most of the week instructing fishing enforcement to cadets at the CO Academy. Many different tactics and techniques were taught as well as different scenarios to help them learn to navigate the expansive field of fishing law enforcement. The CO also set up the TIP trailer at the annual Youth Outdoor Activity Day in Alexandria, where thousands of youth and parents from across Minnesota and North Dakota are exposed to and learn outdoor skills.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the week working on a background investigation and some boating and fishing enforcement. She also assisted with training at the CO Academy. Wood brought one of the TIP trailers to the Traverse County Fair and spoke with people about the upcoming hunting seasons and answered questions.

District 4 – Walker area


District 5 – Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports time was spent instructing at the CO Academy for sportfishing enforcement. Bear baiting was monitored throughout the station, as was ATVing activity. Phone calls about nuisance animals and ATV-related questions were handled as well.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls) reports spending time this past week monitoring bear baits throughout the area and checking shore anglers on the Rainy River. Simonson also worked at the Minnesota State Fair this past week.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) fielded questions and concerns about bear baiting. Slatinski also followed up on an unauthorized trail use complaint and assisted with CO Academy training at Camp Ripley.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes for angling activity. Area forest roads were checked, and ATVing activities were monitored. Bear-baiting activities were monitored as well.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATVing and angling enforcement. In addition, time was spent conducting follow-up investigation on a variety of calls, checking bear baits, and speaking at a firearms safety class in Hibbing.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time attending training at Camp Ripley during the week. He also fielded several trespass-related complaints and continues to work on a background investigation.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, ATVing, and bear-baiting activity. Bear hunters reported little activity at their baits. Broughten also fielded calls regarding nuisance animals and safety education classes.

District 6 – Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports bear-baiting activity in the Ely area continued to increase, as did reports of bears visiting sites as wild foods continue to decrease in abundance. Violations included bear-bait sign violations and commercial minnow violations.   

CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked anglers and boaters this past week. He also completed some training and worked ATV riders. Velsvaag received several calls about fishing regulations and grouse hunting.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) reports checking anglers and ATV riders and responding to wildlife-related calls. He spent most of the week on ATV, checking bear-bait stations.  

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked bear baiting, fishing, and wild rice harvest activities during the week. Bears have plenty of natural foods this year with a bumper crop of blueberries. Murray also attended the Minnesota State Fair, where he answered a variety of game- and fish-related questions and explained the duties of a Minnesota conservation officer.

District 7 – Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) monitored bear-baiting activity and checked anglers. Enforcement action was taken for various bear-bait violations and ATVing violations. A nuisance-bear complaint was taken, and bear-hunting questions were answered.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and checked anglers, boaters, and ATV riders. Numerous game- and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) monitored bear baiting, checked anglers, and investigated TIP complaints. Fairbanks and his K9 partner, Si, also assisted the police department and provided a K9 demonstration at the State Fair. Enforcement action was taken for illegal bear baits and possession of illegal-length fish.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ATVing and bear-baiting activities in the area. He noticed that bear baits in the area were being regularly visited by bears even though there is plentiful mast in the woods. 

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) reports time was spent handling complaints involving wildlife and littering. 

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked angling, bear-baiting, AIS, and ATV enforcement activities throughout the area. Time also was spent assisting with training at the CO Academy at Camp Ripley.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor bear-baiting activity. Time also was spent at Camp Ripley, attending training to become a field training officer. Several bear baits that were placed illegally were investigated.

District 8 – Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) visited the county fair in Meadowlands and saw a great turnout from the community. A wetland complaint was followed up on and determined to not be in a public water. The incident was referred to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the county soil and water conservation district. Carlton County was assisted with locating registration information for a possible stolen off-highway motorcycle. 

 CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth) spent much of the week working ATV complaints and trails. Nuisance-animal complaints were handled, and Schmidt also worked boating and angling activity. 

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent the week at Camp Ripley for training. Online training was completed as well. Nuisance-wildlife complaints were handled. Bear baits were checked. OHM violations were addressed.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked bear baits and ATV riders as fall seasons approach. State parks calls were handled, and equipment maintenance was scheduled. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.

District 9 – Brainerd area

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) continued patrolling ATV traffic and anglers throughout the week. The majority of her time was spent monitoring bear-baiting activity and taking calls regarding the bear-hunting season. Aquatic plant management complaints also were received and investigated. 

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) attended training at Camp Ripley this week. Time also was spent on ATV patrol in the foothills. 

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) patrolled area trails and forests for bear-hunting-related activity. Baiting has begun, and complaints about nuisance bears have decreased. The bear season starts Sept. 1. Guida fielded a call regarding a bag of dumped, partially cleaned bluegills at the end of a driveway. The caller was disgusted by the waste. A call from a concern citizen who observed individuals cutting a large number of cattails on a property adjacent to public water was fielded. Upon a site inspection, the contractor wasn’t listed on the permit, was observed using an illegal method of cutting, and was exceeding what was originally allowed. A cease-and-desist order was issued, along with an accompanying citation.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) talked with lakeshore owners about aquatic vegetation being removed illegally. He also checked bear baits.

District 10 – Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity and monitored pre-season hunting activity. Assistance was provided at the Enforcement Division’s confiscation auction, and a hunter education class was held.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked boating, ATV riding, and bear-baiting activity. Wild ricing activity was still slow. Training to become a field training officer was completed. Benkofske also spent time talking with the public at Jacobson Landing Days.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) continued to monitor nuisance-bear activity and authorize nuisance-bear permit validations. ATVing activity was monitored, along with bear-baiting activities. An ATV rider was observed riding at a high speed late at night right on divided Highway 169. The ATV rider was going over 60 miles per hour, passing cars, had a passenger, and was driving carelessly. Upon stopping the ATV rider, Starr found a 15-year-old operator to be intoxicated and to have a felony warrant. DUI charges are pending, and the 14-year-old passenger was sent home. 

District 11 – St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and rivers for boating and angling activities, with more people out on the Mississippi River. Time also was spent checking bear baits in the area and taking several phone calls about bear baiting. 

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) worked with DNR Wildlife staff to issue nuisance-bear permits to farmers and hunters in the area. He assisted with instruction at the DNR CO Academy and investigated a burning complaint where enforcement action was taken for burning without a permit and for the burning of prohibited materials.

CO Leah Kampa (Annandale) checked anglers, conducted ATV enforcement, and assisted at the CO Academy for sportfishing week. A complaint of possible poisoning of vegetation and cutting cattails in a public water was investigated. Enforcement action was taken. 

District 12 – Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) received a TIP complaint about someone angling with extra lines and possibly catching an overlimit of sunfish. With the help of State Patrol dispatch and the concerned citizen, Hanna was able to identify the violations of angling with four lines in open water and 53 sunfish over the limit.

CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) spent most of the week training at Camp Ripley. Additional time was spent presenting at a local firearms safety class and handling various phone calls related to hunting. 

CO Blong Lor (Center City) spent the week working anglers and boaters. Time also was spent assisting with training at Camp Ripley for the current CO Academy.

CO Clint Fitzgerald (Buffalo) spent the week attending specialty training at Camp Ripley. Fitzgerald also checked anglers during the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, a catfish overlimit, fishing without a license, ATV youth helmet violations, transporting a loaded firearm, and watercraft-related violations. 

District 13 – West Metro area

CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) checked shore anglers and monitored ATVing activity. Fogarty made stops of ATV operators for youth helmet violations and no registration. Fogarty also assisted with CO Academy training at Camp Ripley and spent time at the Minnesota State Fair. 

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking anglers and following up on complaints. He also helped with the current CO Academy at Camp Ripley. 

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) spent most of the past week at Camp Ripley, participating in training. A firearms safety presentation was given to future young hunters. 

District 14 – East Metro area

CO Garrett Thomas (Eagan) attended field training in Little Falls. Time also was spent on an ongoing background investigation for a new applicant. Additionally, Thomas assisted with a firearms safety class and handled numerous nuisance-wildlife-related calls. 

CO Scott Arntzen (Forest Lake) spent most of the week patrolling area lakes, checking anglers and boaters. He also spent time at Camp Ripley, assisting with Academy training. Arntzen also attended a meeting regarding public water and wetlands violations, patrolled the Carlos Avery WMA, and fielded calls about waterfowl hunting.

CO Tony Salzer (Ham Lake) patrolled Anoka County for angling and boating activity. He fielded several call regarding wildlife and hunting. 

District 15 – Marshall area

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Redwood Falls) spent time this past week at a K9 conference held in Maine. Time also was spent conducting K9 demos at the Minnesota State Fair and meeting with the public.

CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week checking anglers on lakes and streams. Local goose and dove numbers look fair to good. Hunters are scouting small grain and silage fields. 

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) focused enforcement of fishing, boating, ATVing, and state park activity during the week. Assistance was given to other DNR divisions. The law and ethics portion of a firearms safety class was taught in Granite Falls. Most of the questions this week dealt with the upcoming dove, early teal, and early goose openers. 

District 16 – New Ulm area

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar) spent time working angling and boating activity. He continued work on CO Academy background checks. 

CO Cassie Block (Willmar) spent time this week checking anglers on area lakes and working boating activity. She also spent time monitoring ATVing activity in the area. Block would like to remind folks to have the required safety gear with them whether in a boat or on an ATV. 

CO Brett Wiltrout (Hutchinson) spent time this week on big-game investigations. Additional time was spent attending field training officer training at Camp Ripley. The end of the week included time assisting a neighboring officer with a public water access parking issue. 

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls regarding small-game and waterfowl-hunting regulations, and boating regulations. He also spent time working angling, boating, invasive species, and off-highway vehicle enforcement activities. 

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) focused efforts on ATVing activity, WMAs and WPAs, and AIS enforcement. Complaints about littering continue to be worked, along with investigations related to angling. 

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) checked shore anglers and boaters at accesses. AIS education continues at accesses. 

District 17 – Mankato area

CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) continued a background investigation for next year’s CO Academy. Numerous questions regarding the early teal season were answered. Please remember duck identification is a big part of this season. If you’re not sure of the species, don’t shoot. Also be aware of the shooting time changes for the early season.

CO Chris Howe (St. Peter) reports spending time answering questions at the DNR building at the State Fair this week. Howe also assisted a prospective waterfowl hunter who was out on the water, scouting. When the man returned to the landing, a floating bog was largely blocking the access. Swan Lake is in a drawdown phase and water is very low. Your favorite access likely has more mud than water, so some pre-season scouting may be in order. 

CO Tyler Lusignan (Faribault) reports working boat and water safety, AIS, and checking anglers on local lakes. An AIS check station was conducted that resulted in multiple violations. 

District 18 – Rochester area

CO Mitch Boyum (Rushford) reports checking anglers on the Mississippi River and local trout streams. Calls about trespass and questions regarding the upcoming hunting seasons are coming in.

CO Kevin Prodzinski (Wabasha) reports several TIP calls were investigated and violations uncovered. Fall hunting questions continue to come in, and folks were found out scouting for the early goose and teal seasons. Violations this week involved some fish overlimits along with some license and registration issues.

CO Tom Hemker (Winona) found a vehicle parked in a rural area. He monitored it, only to find the owners were picking decorative rocks. He explained that permission was required to enter private property, even to gather rocks.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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