District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) spent time this past week checking bear baits and hunters. With the small-game opener this weekend, a lot of people hit the trails. Hunters reported seeing low numbers of birds. The high winds and green forests were factors in hunters not having much success in the area. ATV activity was monitored in the area as well.
Simonson also worked the Rainy River this past week checking sturgeon anglers.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) attended training and began a background investigation of a potential candidate for the next Conservation Officer Academy.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) checked ATV, small-game, archery deer and boating activities. Grouse hunting was a non-event, with few hunters observed. Public access sites were checked and area forest roads were monitored. Equipment work is ongoing. Additional time was devoted to administrative tasks.
CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily small-game and ATV enforcement. Larson attended an ATV rally over the weekend that had a large turnout. Over small-game opener, fewer-than-expected hunters were out and about. Many of the hunters were finding limited success.
CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATV activity and the small game/archery deer opener. Time was also spent attending training at Camp Ripley and investigating a wetlands/shoreline complaint. Hunters experienced mixed results over opening weekend, with lots of cover remaining in the woods.
Violations encountered included transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; driving after revocation; expired ATV registration; and operating an ATV without headlights on.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent the majority of the past week training for Honor Guard duties with the Law Enforcement Memorial Association at Camp Ripley. Time was also spent checking grouse hunters and returning phone calls. Enforcement action taken over the week included several ATV and angling violations.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports the small-game opener was well attended with higher-than-normal numbers of hunters seen in the Ely area. Although drought conditions made for less-than-usual underbrush for the small-game opener, very few grouse were reported taken by hunters. Violations included hunting without a license in possession, operating an unregistered off-highway motorcycle and operating an OHM on a roadway.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and small-game hunters this past week. He also attended training at Camp Ripley. Velsvaag also did some ATV and boating enforcement and took several calls about nuisance animals.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked with area officers during the small-game opener. Trails were busy with ATV riders and hunters. Small-game hunters overall had moderate success. He also attended training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for hunting and ATV violations.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked a busy small-game opener. One pair of hunters tried telling Manning that “we just got checked yesterday” as a way to avoid being checked in the field. Both were transporting loaded shotguns on their ATV.
A pair of juvenile ATV operators drove past Manning without helmets on, but had them on when stopped a couple minutes later and tried to play it off as if they had them on the whole time.
She also discovered an unattended and unpermitted burning brush pile on recently cleared parcel of land. The fire was extinguished by the local fire department and the property owner was educated when he returned.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent time primarily on small-game and ATV enforcement. There were a large number of ATVs in the area for the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota event, including a big crowd for the Big Air show in Babbitt. Ely’s Public Safety Day was also attended.
Enforcement action included numerous ATV operational violations and transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked a slower-than-expected small-game opener. Still, there were a fair number of firearms transportation issues. Time was also spent starting work on a background investigation.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a great week of outdoor activity in the station. The pink salmon are hitting the rivers hard with anglers reporting multiple fish throughout the day. A reminder to have all licenses and stamps and to use legal tackle. Grouse hunters saw great success as Hill checked multiple groups who were close to a limit.
A few hunters were cited for transporting loaded shotguns on ATVs. Two in particular also had juveniles without helmets on. One ATV operator had three juveniles under age 10 (one in a car seat) without helmets and seat belts on. A hunter was spoken to about using an unregistered motorcycle/off-highway motorcycle on the road.
Hill continued working on a background investigation.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked busy small-game and deer archery openers. Hunters were reporting seeing birds and deer as well as enjoying the fall colors. ATV use was high in the area, with many riders out enjoying the trails. Early goose hunters and bear hunters were still reporting a good harvest.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Vinny Brown (Northome) continued monitoring bear-hunting/baiting activity and patrolled ATV trails. Brown worked small-game and archery deer-hunting opening weekend and saw smaller numbers of grouse and deer hunters in the area than he anticipated. The remains of a bird of prey were seized from a small-game hunter who said he thought the bird was a grouse. Hunters are reminded to know the species you are hunting before heading to the field.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, big- and small-game hunters, boaters and ATV riders. Numerous game and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints and assisted other agencies.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked the small-game/archery deer opener, investigated a forest fire, monitored off-highway vehicle activity and assisted the county with a motor vehicle accident. Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Si, also assisted in searching for a firearm that was thrown as a suspect evaded law enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for license issues, youth under 18 without helmets on ATVs and insufficient number of personal flotation devices.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked the small-game and deer archery opener over the past weekend with quite a few hunters out and about. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, aiding and abetting hunting deer over bait and for operating ATVs in closed areas. With hunters seeing many young grouse over this past summer, early success seems good and may lead to a very promising fall for hunters.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working small-game, angling, ATV and big-game enforcement activities. Several grouse hunters were contacted during the opening weekend of the small-game season. Enforcement action was taken for taking grouse in a closed season, unlawfully transporting game birds, no blaze orange and several ATV-related violations.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored the opening of small-game and archery hunting. Hochstein responded to a large fire that required several aircrafts to assist with containment of the flames. ATV traffic in the area remains high with good compliance rates among riders.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) fielded calls regarding regulation questions and gave advice on nuisance-wildlife issues in the station. Training was attended at Camp Ripley for new Honor Guard members. Follow up was conducted on wetland violations with enforcement action to follow. Enforcement action was also taken for operating an ATV without headlights illuminated and no license in possession. Various Turn in Poachers calls were followed up on.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) attended Honor Guard training at Camp Ripley during the week. Schmidt also worked areas of heavy small-game hunting activity, with moderate success observed. A case regarding camping on state land was also followed up on.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time investigating a netting violation that resulted in many turtles dying. Another ongoing investigation involved a bear being killed and dumped. The bear was field-dressed and headless. No meat was taken. The small-game opener was very busy. Many people were walking and riding ATVs on area trails looking for grouse.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) continued working on hunting and off-highway vehicle enforcement throughout the week. Humphrey patrolled the Fond du Lac State Forest, wildlife management areas, and county forests during the small-game opener. He also checked a few anglers during his travels. Humphrey investigated a wetland complaint and followed up on a variety of other cases. A nuisance-bear permit was issued at a farm with crop damage.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) instructed the current State Patrol class of new recruits with other members of the Water Survival Team. He checked numerous ATV riders and grouse hunters over the opening weekend. The beautiful weather and decent numbers of ruffed grouse produced many smiles and happy hunters. Anglers on Lake Superior were also enjoying catches of salmon and lake trout throughout the week and weekend.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked anglers and boaters on Superior. Salmon are starting to gather and enter rivers with the recent rain. Early goose hunters have seen some success, with more birds on the move following recent cool nights. ATV-related complaints and issues are continuous, but more use is starting to be seen in the woods as hunters prepare for fall seasons. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and public access violations.