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Pine marten, fisher, bobcat trapping season begins

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Dec. 20, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports the trapping season for bobcats, pine martens and fishers opened this past weekend, which brought a few people into the woods. Spearing continues on Rainy Lake and Lake Kabetogama, and few ice anglers have been out on the Sand Bay area of Rainy Lake. People are encouraged to use caution when venturing on to the ice.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports checking ice anglers this past week on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River. Trapping activity was monitored throughout the area with the fisher and pine marten season in full swing now. Simonson would like to remind people to use precautions and take safety measures while participating in the early ice activities.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) continued to monitor spearing and angling activity along with associated snowmobile and ATV use. The recent unseasonably warm weather melted most of the snow on ice surfaces, resulting in standing water on top of the ice. The snow that followed resulted in slush covering most areas that did not get windswept, resulting in a diminished spearing and angling activity. Slatinski followed up on a litter complaint and ongoing cases. A reminder that ATV registrations with a 2021 decal will expire at the end of the month.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports heavy rain followed by freezing temperatures have coated trees and resulted in numerous trees down on trails and roads. Some snowmobile trails have yet to be cleared and swamps are not frozen and have exposed dirt and rocks in some area. Ice conditions remain questionable in some areas. Little trapping activity was observed. Equipment work continues, as does administrative reporting.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling and trapping enforcement. Larson came across violations related to trapping and use of ATVs on snowmobile trails.


CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and trapping activity. A storm that brought 2 inches of rain significantly reduced recreational activity. Standing water was seen on most lakes and much of the snow accumulation on local trails was lost to the rain. Anglers are reminded to remain extremely cautious if heading out onto the lakes.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time investigating a timber-trespass complaint involving several hundred dollars’ worth of merchantable timber being destroyed on state land. He also assisted with the operating portion of a snowmobile safety class. Approximately 25 students attended and completed the class.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and trapping activity. Ice conditions vary from lake to lake and some deeper lakes are still open. Broughten fielded calls regarding trespass and littering. He also arrested an individual with an outstanding warrant.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports warm and rainy conditions early in the week stalled out much of the angling activity. Over the weekend, trapping and fishing activity was good and some early snowmobiling activity was again seen.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers, netters and trappers this past week. Ice conditions improved considerably this past week, but the ice is still relatively thin on the main portion of some of the larger lakes. Anglers did better at the end of the week and Velsvaag got several calls on the pike regulations.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked an Upper Red Lake detail with COs Lawler and Sura. Fishing was slow but violations were very plentiful. An extraordinary number of extra lines were detected. Time was also spent working the pine marten-trapping opener and other local work duties. The ice conditions are greatly improving in the area. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, fishing without a license, possession of dressed fillets on a special regulations lake, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, unattended lines, expired snowmobile and ATV registrations, and an untagged trap.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area ice anglers this week. Time was also spent preparing for a work detail next week.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports checking traps on the opening weekend of the fisher and pine marten season. Multiple sets were seen, but they came from only two trap lines. Hopefully activity picks up the second weekend of the season.


CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled area forest roads and snowmobile trails. Rain negatively affected trail conditions and riders were scarce; plowed stretches of trails are very icy. Manning took reports of a bobcat killing pet rabbits and a bobcat inside a bird enclosure. Trappers and trap sets were also checked.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked trapping and angling activity this week. Ice conditions deteriorated a bit this week with warm weather and rain making travel difficult on some lakes. Murray assisted volunteer safety instructors with a youth snowmobile safety course where 39 students earned their certifications.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers and monitored trapping activity. Time was also spent patrolling lakes and trails on snowmobile and assisting with search and rescue efforts for a missing individual on Upper Red Lake. The individual ended up being found safe. Two anglers were found fishing without fishing licenses and numerous anglers were fishing without licenses in possession. One angler was caught in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Enforcement action was taken for the above offenses and the marijuana and paraphernalia items were seized.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity with many people out on the area lakes. Ice conditions are improving and it seems most of the snow blew off the lakes with the high winds. Snowmobile activity is picking up with some enforcement action taken for failing to have current registration. Be sure to check your snowmobile for current stickers before your first ride of the season.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on ice angling activities throughout the surrounding areas. Time was also spent following up on big-game cases from the firearms deer seasons. Enforcement action was taken for several angling violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored trapping activity with the opening of the fisher, pine marten and bobcat season. Little snow accumulation so far this season made the forest roads passable with pickup trucks and trappers had no problems getting to their trapping spots.

District 8 — Duluth area

Conservation Officer Jacob Willis (Brookston) worked on administrative details and fielded phone calls in the station. Ongoing cases continue to be worked. Willis also assisted a Wisconsin conservation warden with an interview of a person of interest in one of his cases.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working ice anglers and archery deer hunters. Some nice fish have been seen and anglers have been reporting improving ice conditions after the warmup. Maintenance on equipment was handled and deer-dumping complaints were investigated.


CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) checked area lakes for ice conditions and angling activity. He patrolled Moose Lake State Park, followed up on a wolf-depredation investigation and handled multiple nuisance- or injured-wildlife calls. A resource protection notification was issued on a wetland violation involving a logging company. Humphrey spoke to two snowmobile safety classes in Cloquet put on by the Wood City Riders Club. He also completed annual first aid/CPR training.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ice anglers during the week. ATV and snowmobile operators are on the area lakes north of Duluth, with 8-10 inches of ice being reported. Remember that ice is never safe, and conditions can be different within short distances on area lakes and rivers.

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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