District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports the fall goose and early teal season started over the weekend, which brought questions and a few complaints. All were handled with education, not citations. Bear hunting continues, along with people still out trying to fish and boat on Rainy Lake over the holiday weekend. People are reminded to make sure their ATVs are currently registered and displayed before hitting the trails and woods.
CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending the majority of the week checking bear hunters and bear-baiting activity. ATV traffic was also monitored in the area. Enforcement action taken this week was for transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, operating an ATV without lights, youth with no helmet on an ATV, and failure to display registration on an ATV.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports as summer winds down and kids return to school, fall activities are beginning to ramp up. Bear-hunting reports were positive with the season off to a strong start. Early season waterfowl opportunities were monitored. Anglers are still out in strong numbers, with less-than-positive reports heard on that front. Boating and ATV traffic continues to be up as well. Preparation for seasonal changes is well underway.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring the start of the fall seasons, including bear hunting, goose hunting, wild rice harvesting, fall fishing and ATV riding. Numerous phone calls on a variety of subjects were dealt with. Forest roads and access sites were checked. Equipment was worked on and administrative reporting completed.
CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked bear-hunting activity and investigated ongoing bear-hunting violations. Larson also worked a busy holiday weekend resulting in a large amount of ATV traffic.
CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked big-game, waterfowl and ATV activity. Time was also spent speaking at a firearms safety class, investigating a wetlands violation, assisting local law enforcement agencies, and responding to calls.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) checked bear baits and hunters over the busy weekend. Goose hunters reported fair success opening day and teal hunters were scarce due to lack of ducks. Zavodnik assisted with a two-vehicle crash, during which both drivers sustained minor injuries. A number of boating safety violations were also encountered over the week.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating, ATV riding and hunting activity. Anglers reported moderate success. Boating and ATV activity increased over the Labor Day weekend.
Bear hunters reported moderate success, whereas waterfowl hunters reported poor success. Broughten observed few hunters in the field during early goose opener and the early teal season. Hunters who were encountered reported seeing very few geese and teal.
Broughten fielded calls regarding nuisance bears and ATV complaints. Broughten also investigated a public waters violation.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports the bear-hunting season is off to a successful start. Several impressive bears were checked on opening day and most hunters contacted said they were still seeing a lot of activity at their baits. Violations included operating an off-highway motorcycle on a roadway and failure to submit water-related equipment for inspection.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and bear hunters. He followed up on several litter calls and questions on the pike regulations. Velsvaag also took calls on the new ATV trails in the area.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked bear hunters and bait stations. Most hunters had good success over the weekend. Nuisance-animal complaints were handled. Enforcement action was taken for big-game, ATV and firearms violations.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) spent a busy week working bear hunters and checking bait stations. Most stations were clean, but some trash and animal carcasses were located and numerous ATV violations were noted. Manning also checked anglers and boat accesses and continued to enforce the current burning restrictions.
Nuisance-beaver complaints and bear-related complaints continue, including one bear that managed to lock itself inside a truck.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent time checking bear baits and working bear-hunting enforcement. Time was also spent on the early teal season and angling enforcement. Bear hunters were having some success but goose and teal success was very limited.
Enforcement action included failure to have bait drum surcharge; numerous bait sign and baiting violations; taking closed season waterfowl; no state stamp; no small-game license; and litter.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked a busy weekend with bear-hunting activity and angling activity. Time was also spent checking boating and ATV activity in the area.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports an exciting week of bear hunting, angling, and ATV contacts. Bear hunters reported excellent success during the first few days of the season with some 300-plus-pound bears checked.
Hill dealt with multiple hunters illegally concealing loaded handguns. A reminder to follow all handgun laws as there are serious consequences if you are found without a carry permit.
ATV traffic is getting busier as the hunting seasons have arrived. Enforcement action was taken on a group of riders after Hill determined they illegally drove through a lake that had recently fallen victim to low water levels, leaving mud and sand exposed.
Another local lake is seeing high numbers of fish in the cooler. Because Hill promised the anglers he wouldn’t divulge the name of the lake, all he can say is that the bite has been superior.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked bear-hunting, ATV and early goose-hunting activity over the busy holiday weekend. Bear hunters were reporting good success on the opening week of the season. Wild rice harvesting was in full swing this week with several harvesters checked. Murray also assisted with Greenwood Fire duties again this week.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week focusing primarily on bear-hunting activity. He also spent time on ATV enforcement and checking anglers and teal hunters. A hunter was assisted with tracking a bear that was harvested, which resulted in a successful recovery.
Enforcement action was taken for youth operating ATVs without helmets; bear-bait sign/registration violations; transporting loaded firearms; illegal party hunting; using artificial lights to take wild animals; and taking a bear without a license. A bear and firearm were seized as a result of several bear-hunting violations.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, big game, waterfowl, watercraft and ATV riders. Numerous game and fish questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints and assisted other agencies.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked the early teal/goose opener, monitored ricing activity, checked bear hunters and assisted with a personal watercraft that washed up on shore. Lots of teal were seen in the area with a few hunters.
Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Si also, provided a demonstration and searched for a possible firearm thrown during a pursuit. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession, no Harvest Information Program certification, taking wood ducks in a closed season and illegal bear baiting.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked the early goose and teal season, with very limited success had by hunters. Enforcement action was taken for hunting without the appropriate licenses. Sutherland also worked bear opener activities with a very good success rate had by area hunters. Despite the hunter harvest looking good, Sutherland still took multiple calls of bears destroying bird feeders and garbage cans.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on big-game, migratory waterfowl, angling, and boating enforcement. Bear hunters in the field reported high success rates throughout the area. Waterfowl hunters were also contacted participating in the new early teal season. Teal and goose hunters were found having moderate success.
Enforcement action was taken for baiting bears with materials that are not readily biodegradable; untagged big-game animal; unregistered bear baits; taking ducks in a closed season; unsigned federal stamp; and no Harvest Information Program certification.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) talked with a lot of folks who were headed to either the woods to try their hand at bear hunting, or to the water for the early teal and goose seasons. Success for both bear hunters and waterfowl hunters was moderate. ATV activity in the area was way up with great trail conditions.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw heavy ATV activity over the holiday weekend and bear hunters were active as well. ATV operators with children along are reminded that youth under 18 need helmets that are Department of Transportation-approved, and bike helmets do not meet the requirements of the law.
Enforcement action was taken for operating without ATV headlights illuminated; failure to display ATV registration; over-passenger capacity on an ATV; and juveniles without a helmet on ATV.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time working past problem areas for illegal bear and deer baiting. He worked ATV complaint areas and checked many ATVs and off-highway vehicles throughout the week. He spent time on Lake Superior checking anglers and watercraft for safety equipment. Duncan worked different areas for the early teal and goose seasons. Duncan also spent time following up on office work, emails and phone messages.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked bear, early goose, and teal season openers. Humphrey also continued to check wild ricing activity. Off-highway vehicle traffic was very busy throughout the holiday weekend. A wetland restoration order was issued and follow up on other cases was conducted. Various hunting and off-highway vehicle violations were encountered.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked recreational angling, commercial netting and boating safety on Lake Superior in the Duluth-Two Harbor waters. Inland work was focused on bear hunters in the Duluth and Two Harbor stations, as well as ATV enforcement over the Labor Day weekend. Bear hunters have been having a high rate of success during the first couple days of season.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked teal and goose hunters on the opening weekend of the early season. Many types of waterfowl were seen in the area, and quite a few hunters were out making use of the extra days of hunting. Complaints of sky-busting and early shooting were worked. One hunter failed to read the regulations and assumed that shooting hours were the same as the regular season. Several boats were found to be deficient of proper personal flotation devices.
ATV violations were a constant, with machines operating on state highways and carrying juveniles without helmets. Enforcement action was taken for waterfowl and ATV violations.