DNR Report: Numerous deer baiting complaints investigated

Conservation Officer Scott Staples (Carlton) issued permits for car killed deer and bear over the past week. Time was spent preparing and working complaint areas over the firearms deer season opener. Several hunters were checked and success varied. Most hunters saw deer in the stands but several decided to pass on what they saw. Compliance with the law was good overall.

Enforcement action was taken on transporting loaded firearms in a motor vehicle, operate ATV during prohibited hours and failing to validate deer tag.

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a very busy week leading up to and during the firearms deer opening weekend. Many hunters were afield, but CO Willis didn’t see a lot of deer taken. Turn in Poachers calls were fielded, and many not about deer hunting despite that being the most prominent activity.

Enforcement action was taken for hunting with the aid of bait; transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; operating an ATV outside of permitted hours; operate ATV without headlights on; and no license in possession. As a reminder, in order for a firearm to be considered unloaded for transport the magazine must also be empty or removed from the firearm.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked the firearms deer opener. Humphrey assisted CO Speldrich in Pine County with deer baiting violations. Several checks of hunters resulted in violations for no license in possession, failing to validate licenses and untagged deer. Calls and complaints of shooting from the road, deer baiting and trespass were investigated. Hunters reported a fair to good opening weekend compared to previous years.


CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) prepped and worked firearms deer opener. Baiting issues were handled and violations encountered were for operating ATVs during closed hours, loaded firearms and licensing issues. Calls regarding trespass, posting property of another, hunter harassment and stand tampering were handled. The officer also worked shining details with district officers.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) and COC Mikeena Mattson worked nuisance animal and wetlands enforcement, deer baiting, big game hunting and trapping activity. Multiple baiting complaints were investigated and enforcement action was taken this week for hunting deer over bait; untagged deer; failure to validate deer tag; direct/allow youth to violate game and fish laws; and violate feeding and attractants ban. Additionally, enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) spent the firearms deer opener taking enforcement action for hunting deer over baited areas. Other violations included improper validation of deer tags; no license in possession; operating ATVs during closed hours; and operate an ATV without required equipment. Several trespassing disputes and questions were handled as well as complaints of putting stands too close to property lines.

Officers Speldrich and Humphrey stopped to verify that the tags were on four deer that were hanging at a deer camp. One deer was a 110-pound dressed adult with white spots throughout the coat. A hunter in the party was a little disappointed the COs wanted a photo of the spotted deer and not his huge buck.

Katie Rohman has served as the managing editor of the Duluth News Tribune since 2019. She started with Duluth Media Group in 2017 as regional editor of the Superior Telegram, Pine Journal, Lake County News-Chronicle, Eastern Observer and Western Weekly. She has worked in newspapers around the Midwest since 2004.
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