District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports the opening weekend of waterfowl hunting was relatively uneventful in the area as the nice blue-bird days don’t go hand-in-hand with good duck hunting. A few birds were seen in the bag.
Annual in-service training was attended at Camp Ripley. A few animal-related complaints were handled as well. Enforcement action for the week included license and waterfowl stamp issues.
CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending the week checking small-game hunters, ATV activity, sturgeon anglers and duck/goose hunters this past weekend during the opening weekend of duck season. A goose carcass-dumping case was investigated as well.
Lots of people have been out enjoying outdoor activities this fall. Enforcement action taken this past week was for failing to validate sturgeon tags, fishing without a license, and not having a fire extinguisher onboard watercraft.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) continued work on a background investigation, fielded various animal-related calls and attended Division training at Camp Ripley. He checked hunters on the waterfowl opener. They reported limited success. Most commented on how great the weather was, but not the best for waterfowl hunting.
Violations encountered included transporting loaded firearms on ATVs, taking/possessing nongame migratory birds, and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling, boating, small-game and big-game hunting and ATV activity. Area forest roads and public access sites were checked. Equipment work was tended to. Administrative tasks were completed. Numerous phone calls and inquiries were responded to.
CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily small-game and waterfowl enforcement. Waterfowl hunters had success over the opening weekend finding limits of ringnecks. Grouse hunters were still having difficulty finding shots at birds with much of the foliage still hanging on.
CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) worked ATV enforcement, small-game activity and waterfowl opener. Time was also spent returning calls regarding hunting regulations, responding to Turn in Poachers information, and nuisance bears. Most waterfowl hunters reported seeing few ducks and having fewer shots. Many grouse are being seen, despite a lot of cover remaining along trails.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports that while on boat patrol, he addressed a person angling with an extra line. The individual in violation was also found to be in possession of an overlimit of fish back at their residence. Zavodnik continues to address trespass complaints and spruce top theft cases.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring hunting, fishing and ATV activity. Small-game and waterfowl hunters reported limited success. Many ponds, rivers, and creeks that usually hold ducks are dry. Fall anglers reported moderate success. Broughten also assisted with law enforcement at the Greenwood Fire.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports warm, dry weather made for a slow and poorly attended waterfowl opener. Some ducks were found in the area. including ringnecks and wood ducks, but overall they weren’t seen in any numbers. Violations included small-game hunting with no blaze orange, operating an unregistered ATV and no registration displayed on an ATV.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked small-game hunters, duck hunters and anglers this past week. He also received several calls about nuisance animals and trapping regulations, and attended training at Camp Ripley.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked anglers, small-game hunters and waterfowl hunters. He spent time at Camp Ripley armoring Division-issued rifles.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked small-game hunters and archery deer hunters. Anglers fishing Lake Superior tributaries were also checked as the pink salmon move in. Manning also took calls about firearms deer licensing, nuisance bears and property stored on state land. She also attended annual training at Camp Ripley for first aid and defensive tactics.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked waterfowl hunters, grouse hunters and a spruce top-cutting complaint during the week. Some hunters did well while others struggled. A habitual spruce-top violator was charged again for cutting without consent and also providing false documentation after being found cutting on Minnesota Power-controlled land.
Other enforcement action for the week included transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, possession of lead shot, no personal flotation device and litter.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area small-game activity this week. Calls were taken about tribal moose hunts and background work continued.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports seeing a large number of harvested grouse in the station throughout the week. There’s a lot of traffic on the roads with leaf season in full swing, so if you plan on hunting, the earlier the better. One hunter was cited after they were observed shooting a grouse from their truck window. Had they taken the time to step out of the truck, they wouldn’t have received a few-hundred-dollar ticket.
Reports of anglers illegally snagging pink salmon in the local tributaries are starting to come in with the ongoing run. A few duck hunters were checked and, oddly enough, they harvested more grouse than ducks.
Other violations for the week include an unsigned federal duck stamp and an ATV headlight violation.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Vinny Brown (Northome) stayed busy with small-game, bear-hunting, angling and waterfowl-hunting activities taking place. Some duck hunters had good success over opening weekend while others didn’t fare as well. Some hunters report a decent number of teal still in the area.
Enforcement action was taken for expired ATV registration, transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and taking a non-game migratory bird.
A campsite was checked after grouse hunters had vacated the area and their fire was found still smoldering and smoking. The hunters were contacted and enforcement action was taken for failing to extinguish the fire.
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, big-game and small-game hunters, watercraft operators 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) checked anglers, worked the waterfowl opener, monitored off-highway vehicle activity and checked small-game hunters. Hunter success was good this week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and stamp violations.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked waterfowl opener with many ducks and hunters present in the area. Dry conditions in the Dakotas have seemed to push ducks east. Hunters had mostly teal and wood ducks in their bags, with a smattering of other species also present. A group of young hunters was observed shooting cripples while driving around the marsh with loaded guns. Enforcement action was taken and a lesson in firearms safety was given.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on migratory waterfowl, big-game, ATV and small-game activities. Hunters participating in the opening weekend of the waterfowl season reported steady success despite low water conditions. Blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and wood ducks were among the most common ducks hunters had in the bag. Enforcement action was taken for several waterfowl-hunting violations.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) focused efforts on checking duck hunters over the waterfowl season opener. Several hunters reported having a difficult time navigating to their traditional hunting spots due to low water levels. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) conducted and attended training at Camp Ripley at the beginning of the week. Willis fielded multiple questions via email and by phone. An ongoing trespass complaint was further investigated, and waterfowl opener was worked with very good regulatory compliance as well as quite a few birds in the bag.
Willis also assisted with a search and K-9 track in Cloquet for a wanted person who fled from local police.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) attended annual in-service at Camp Ripley for use of force and first aid. He worked the waterfowl opener and saw one lucky crew with a limit of ducks, but most others were reporting high-flying ducks and poor shooting as reasons for a lack of success. ATV-related complaints, illegal camping/dumping, and an assist to the Cloquet Police Department with a person with a warrant rounded out the weekend.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent a couple days at Camp Ripley for annual training and a refresher in first aid. ATV riders and small-game hunters were all over the woods throughout the week. The waterfowl opener had plenty of hunters on area lakes. Duncan continued to work on a possible black bear-poaching incident.
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 forest lands. He worked waterfowl opener, with most hunters having some success bagging birds. Humphrey and other area COs assisted with the search for a suspect who fled from local police.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) attended in-service training during the middle of the week and checked waterfowl and small-game hunters during the weekend. One group of bear hunters was assisted in looking for a bear after legal shooting hours.
He and other District 8 officers assisted the Cloquet Police Department with the search for a wanted fugitive in the area of Highway 33.
The milder weather had anglers out on Lake Superior trying to catch lake trout before the season closes Sunday.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked duck and grouse hunters on a beautiful fall weekend. ATV riders were out in force and boaters were able to troll in more protected areas of the lake. Calls were received regarding nuisance bears and injured hawks. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.