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DNR report: Man cited for burning down fish house near Grand Rapids

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of March 27, 2023.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports people are already attempting to fish the Rainy River by boat; however, none of the ramps are officially open for bigger boats. People are reminded to have your boat currently registered and all safety equipment on-board. Ice fishing and snowmobiling continue as well in the area. CO Kittelson also responded to a snowmobile accident in the Ash River area. Enforcement action for the week included expired snowmobile registration and no current fishing license.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working area lakes and rivers checking fisherman and patrolling snowmobile trails. Time was spent monitoring area forest roads for ATV and spring beaver trapping activity. Issues dealt with this past week consisted of registration violation and angling license violations. As the Rainy River begins to open up, Simonson would like to remind people to make sure they double check registration on their boats and to be sure all the required safety equipment is on-board their boats.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports that just as snowmobile riders began to see the efforts of spring, mother nature blessed us with another douse of snowfall. The fresh snow renewed the enthusiasm of snowmobilers who were quick to take advantage of refreshed trail conditions. As the snowpack regresses, watch for the effects of water beginning to move beneath the surface of waterways which causes deterioration of ice conditions.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes for angling activity — snowmobile trails have rapidly deteriorated with dirt and rocks now exposed. Area forest roads continue to be monitored. Equipment work is on-going; administrative tasks were completed.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and snowmobile enforcement. In addition, time was spent training at Camp Ripley, responding to calls, and preparing station equipment for the spring. Violations encountered included operating a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail, littering and snowmobile speed and registration.


CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time helping the latest graduating CO academy at Whitewater State Park for Duck School. Ducks on the wing, waterfowl identification, regulatory checks and boating operation were taught throughout the week. CO Zavodnik spent the rest of the week attending a four-day Home, Boat and Travel Show held in Virginia. Many questions pertaining to youth safety classes, angling, small game and big game were answered, and approximately 150 fishing regulation booklets were handed out throughout the event.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Weather forecast indicates the snow and ice are going to be here for a while. Few ice fishermen were encountered on area lakes. Snowmobile trails are still in rideable condition. CO Broughten also fielded calls regarding collector snowmobile registration and safety education classes.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports working with other Officers on the snowmobile trails near Ely to the North Shore. Activity was very high in the warm late season weather and riders from all over the state were contacted. Trail conditions varied widely and made for some long miles. Violations included operating a snowmobile with excessive muffler noise and fail to display state trail sticker.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Trail conditions were good throughout the week but started to deteriorate over the weekend. Trout fishing was good during the middle of the week and panfishing has started improving.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais) spent the week down in the southeast part of the state attending Duck School. The week-long training covered waterfowl hunting enforcement, bird identification, regulations and safety. Ledeen also reports snowmobile trail conditions are fleeting and fishing remains slow.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) investigated a case along with a St Louis County deputy and an Ely PD officer in which an individual hit three deer in the city of Ely with his vehicle. The driver was identified and admitted to hitting them on purpose. A citation was issued for running over the deer with a motor vehicle and restitution was charged for each deer. Time was spent investigating non-resident bear hunters with two or more years of tooth non-compliance, leading to enforcement action taken on several hunters as well as a two bear guides for records violations. Additional enforcement action was taken for snowmobile speed violations. Snowmobile trails were excellent throughout the week, and slush has showed up on many lakes with the deep snow and warmer weather which has hampered fishing efforts.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) attended a work group of the Great Lakes Fishery commission focused on enforcement of commercial and invasive species laws. Questions were received about late snowmobile opportunities and state forest recreation areas. Spring melt is slowly starting, but there is a lot of snow remaining in the woods.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports enjoying nice weather throughout the week as multiple activities were in full force. A snowmobile detail was conducted in western Cook and eastern Lake Counties. Hundreds of machines were contacted, and registration and exhaust violations were documented. Hill, CO Ledeen, and USFS Belmore were riding in tandem on the North Shore State Trail when they were passed by an operator going very fast. To make matters worse, the rider passed Hill as Hill was setting up to take a left corner and had a machine been coming from the other direction, there would have been nowhere to go. The officers followed the rider for multiple miles, and they observed them cut almost every corner, blow through a stop sign, and speed above the speed limit. The subject was cited for careless and reckless operation, and they will be facing a snowmobile operating revocation until they go back and earn their snowmobile safety training. South Fowl was also worked, and reports were mixed, but perch and pike seem to be the better bite at the moment.


CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile activity during the week. Trails were starting to get soft with recent warm temperatures but still have plenty of snow. Enforcement action was taken for licensing violations and a trespass complaint was followed up on.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers and monitored snowmobile activity. Brown assisted with a recruitment presentation at Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College for the CO PREP program and spent time investigating illegal birch cutting activity. Enforcement action was taken for illegal camping at a public access.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended K-9 school with his K-9 partner, Fennec, this week.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity and fish house removal issues. CO Sutherland took enforcement action on one individual who left his angling house out past the removal date and then decided to burn the structure to make it disappear. Remnants of the house were still left on the ice including the vinyl siding. The individual was cited for multiple violations. CO Sutherland also gave a safety talk to a local corporation about boating and ice safety.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) patrolled snowmobile trails and checked anglers during the previous week. Time was also spent trying to locate owners of ice houses left on the ice past the deadline. Enforcement action involved snowmobiling violations and leaving an ice shelter on the ice after the deadline.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to patrol area snowmobile trails. The snow base is still above average for this time of year and snowmobilers are still out enjoying the trails. The panfish bite is picking up and trout anglers are getting out before the close of the winter season. Several wildlife related calls were responded to.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jake Willis (Brookston) fielded complaints about dogs chasing deer. CO Willis is trying to locate where the dogs live so the issue can be addressed with the owner. Dog owners should be aware of statutes and hefty penalties for this action. CO Willis also participated in instructor training at Camp Ripley.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) continues to monitor the last few days of snowmobiling and checking ice anglers throughout the station. The weather has been great, and ATV activity is also starting to pick up. Elwell investigated a non-portable ice shelter that had been left on the ice past the deadline. The owner was contacted, and the shelter was removed cleanly and safely.


CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) continued to work on special projects and spent time at Camp Ripley. A CO Prep presentation and Q&A was attended at FDLTCC. As a reminder, the application window for the CO Trainee (Prep Program) posting closes on March 31, 2023.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) continued snowmobile patrols as the trails were still in great shape. Time was spent at Camp Ripley for training. CO Karon would like to remind the public to please call a non-emergency law enforcement number before taking roadkill animals.

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