Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer ReportsHere are this week's reports filed by conservation officers across Northeastern Minnesota.
District 5 - Eveleth area
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports working on storing watercraft, spent time on ATV issues, deer hunting activities were monitored, public access sites checked, phone calls were returned, administrative items were completed.
CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reports checking numerous whitefish nets for non-target fish last week. A few were observed in the nets, however, after watching the netters check their nets from a covert location, all were released alive. The firearm deer season began with the same issues dealt with every year, including trespass, shooting from the road, wanton waste, and the baiting of deer complaints.
CO Dan Starr (Tower) had a fairly mild deer opener with folks behaving fairly well. A baiting case was made, in which a deer camp of 3 hunters faced losing guns and over $2500 in fines and restitution. Numerous tagging issues were addressed. A father was cited for shooting an antlerless deer and having his youth son tag it. The youth is now restricted to a buck only, which will decrease his odds of getting his first deer. The law clearly states you cannot party hunt with a youth antlerless tag. Many fishermen were out over the week, with some walleye biting. One boater was found to be intoxicated and charged accordingly. All three of CO Starr’s state parks were monitored for various different issues. A reminder to deer hunters that your carcass tag MUST be validated before moving the deer.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) worked balsam bough cutters, a number of baiting complaints prior to and during the deer rifle opener and the deer rifle opener. An individual involved in a firearms violation was seen again about 2 hours later after he hit a guard rail on a bridge with his car. He was turned over to the sheriff’s department and arrested for DWI. An individual purposely trapping owls was investigated and charges will be forthcoming. Aircraft was used to aid in baiting cases and a deer shining complaint with one person cited for using artificial light during the restricted times. Enforcement action was taken on possess firearm 5 days prior to season, hunt deer over baited area, transport loaded firearm, insufficient blaze orange, and driving after suspension.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) observed another busy opening weekend of firearms deer season. The most common complaint that was dealt with was trespassing. Other issues that were dealt with included hunters arguing with each other about who can hunt where on public land. CO Frericks would like to remind hunters that just because you have hunted in an area for 30 years does not give you any more rights to hunt that land than anyone else. Numerous hunters received citations for hunting deer over bait. Each of the hunters’ firearms was seized. One of the hunters who received a citation for hunting over bait had previously received a citation from CO Frericks for the same offense in 2007. Upon conviction the hunter’s big game hunting privileges will be revoked for 3 years.
CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) had a busy week starting out with coming upon a vehicle in the ditch and the driver arrested for DUI with preliminary breath test more than 3 times the legal limit. Deer opener started out with hunters calling the sheriff's office reporting someone was shooting at them while they were in their stands. Deputies, State Trooper, local PD Offices along with the CO responded to this “shots fired” call. Both hunters stated they believed shots were fired in their direction and the shots were coming from a residence playing loud cartoon music over speakers. A call was placed to the residence and the owner came and met with the CO and stated he did not shoot toward the hunters but in the air to scare the deer away from his home so no one will shoot his home when the deer are there. He also stated he likes cartoon music and feels he can play it however he wants. A search of the home found a loud speaker attached to the garage and pointing out into the woods with deafening music and empty shot gun shell casings. The homeowner was charged with hunter harassment. Other hunters in the area inquired what the deal with the load music was. Hunters who had bait documented where checked and found resulting in citations and firearms seized. The award for most unethical activity goes to a man who was with his two kids stopped on the road and had his 15-year-old daughter take three shots from the road at a group of deer in a hay field while the landowner watched from his stand.
Ray - vacant.
I. Falls # 2 - vacant.
District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked deer hunters this past week and received several complaints including hunting deer over bait, shooting from the road and trespassing. He also checked whitefish netting activity and followed up on some trapping complaints. CO Velsvaag had several calls on trapping, nuisance animals and an injured timber wolf.
CO Marty Stage (Ely) worked the deer opener and arrested several people for baiting violations. All the bait users were aware that it was illegal to use bait, but gambled that they would not be checked or caught. Firearms were seized in all instances and the time it took to investigate and watch the bait sites took away from the time the officer had to work other activities and complaints in the area. If you don’t want to lose Grandpa’s family heirloom rifle, don’t use bait. However, that being said, it did seem to appear that bait use might possibly be down in the local area just a little bit from last year. Help keep deer hunting an honorable and worthwhile tradition based on skill, patience, and perseverance. Baiting erodes all these virtues, changes natural deer movements, spreads disease, and hurts the hunting camp (that isn’t baiting) just over the next hill. Please let us know if you encounter any illegal use of bait for deer hunting by calling the TIP line at 1-800-652-9093. All information will be kept confidential.
CO Dan Thomasen (Two Harbors) worked with other area officers in preparation for deer season, checking into baiting and deer shining issues. Nice weather greeted all hunters, but some hunters, who were hunting over bait, were greeted by the COs. Many hunters were found to be not validating their site tags as well as not placing the tag on their deer as required. Two complaints of shooting deer from the roadway are being investigated as well as some trespassing issues.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked archery and firearms deer hunters. Manning also responded to reports of portable stands left in area WMAs prior to season and reminds hunters that they must be removed each day. The officer flew the area with CO Pilot Buchert looking for baited hunting sites, and she worked areas of past deer shining complaints.
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) issued citations for deer hunting over bait and seized the hunters’ rifles for forfeiture. Several deer hunters were encountered operating their ATVs outside of legal hours for licensed hunters. The CO took calls of stolen traps and trap tampering.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) spent time checking deer hunters on the opening weekend. Wahlstrom reports fewer hunters out trying their luck in the area than in past years. He worked with area officers on complaints with assistance from DNR Enforcement aircraft. Wahlstrom handled several hunting violations with the Superior National Forest officer.
Babbitt - vacant.
Silver Bay - vacant.
District 7 - Grand Rapids area
CO Randy Patten (Northome) investigated calls on timber theft, ATV trespass, chasing wildlife with a motorized vehicle, early trapping, baiting deer, trespass, car-killed deer, and answered about 30 calls relating to the deer season. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy opening weekend of firearms deer season with many sportsmen out enjoying the nice weather. Enforcement action was taken for shining deer during closed hours, failure to tag a big game animal and trespassing. Citations were also written to three individuals who decided to place bait in an attempt to attract deer.
CO Gary Lefebvre (Pengilly) worked ATVs, state parks, bough cutters, trappers and deer hunters. He responded several tip and trespass complaints during the week.
CO Jeff Koehn (Grand Rapids – OHV Specialist) patrolled for OHV activity. He gave a wildlife law enforcement presentation at Vermillion Community College in Ely. CO Koehn investigated a report of a group of deer hunters operating ATVs in a wetland to access illegal tree stands on a DNR wildlife management area. He worked the deer hunting opening weekend. Enforcement activity for the week included, hunt from a permanent tree stand on a WMA, failure to validate deer tag, loaded uncased rife and loaded uncased handgun in motor vehicles.
CO Sarah Sindelir (Grand Rapids) checked deer hunters this past weekend. The weather was warm and possibly played a fairly large role in the number of deer that were shot in the area, though some parties found better success. She assisted a US Forest Service officer with a complaint of permanent stands and ATV trails constructed on public property, where several violations were found. Enforcement action was taken for untagged deer, no license in possession, and illegally transporting a deer.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked the firearms deer opener, worked trapping activity, monitored ATV activity and checked waterfowl hunters. Area whitetail success was on the low side. A few new ducks have moved into the area. Enforcement action was taken for fail to display registration on ATV, transport loaded firearm, no hunting license in possession, hunt over baited area, fail to wear blaze orange during the firearms deer season and take deer without firearms license.
Water Resource Enforcement Officer Tony Arhart worked angling, duck hunting, trapping and netting activities at infested and at other station waters. Duck hunting was reported as “the poorest in 30 years.” Arhart also worked the firearms Deer Opener. Success appeared moderate. Enforcement action was taken for license and for deer stand violations. Arhart also continued Wetland Conservation Act case work, issuing more restoration orders, and filing deed restrictions on wetland impacts. He also attended the invasive species annual meeting at Camp Ripley.
Bigfork - vacant.
District 8 - Cloquet area
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) reports working on deer season enforcement throughout the week. Officer Humphrey received many calls and questions about Firearms Deer season, licensing, and firearms safety certification. CO Humphrey reports investigating complaints of illegal deer stands, shooting from roadway, unlawful ATV operation and damage, baiting, trespass, hunter harassment, and theft of property. Violations for failing to validate license and untagged deer were encountered. Several ATV operators were ticketed during the weekend for operating ATV’s during restricted times. A complaint of shooting a deer from the road and illegal trespass are under investigation
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) checked several firearms deer hunters this past weekend. Most hunters were in compliance with the laws. However, enforcement action was taken for insufficient blaze orange. Officer Staples also took enforcement action on no license in possession, and operate class 1 ATV on a county road. One trespass complaint was investigated and turned out to be unfounded. Two complaints on hunters with license violations are under investigation. One complaint of a deer being shot off the road in a wildlife management area is under investigation. Several stands were checked for baiting violations and were found to be legal. Two car-kill bobcats were seized and will be used for educational purposes. Saw several deer taken in the area with many happy hunters.
CO Andy Schmidt (Brookston) investigated baited stands prior to deer season opener. Opening weekend saw mixed success in the area. License validation and tagging issues were prevalent. Officer Schmidt investigated a reckless discharge of a firearm. One bullet passed thru several walls in the house before lodging in the closet wall. The case was turned over to the St Louis County Sheriff’s Department. Several shining and trespassing complaints were investigated. Officer Schmidt took enforcement action on license validation, untagged big game, hunting over bait, and shooting from roadway.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) reports a busy week of tip complaints and hunting activity. Officer Duncan investigated several illegal deer baiting complaints and investigated a complaint of illegal ATV operation on snowmobile trail. Officer Duncan worked to solve several license issues and worked the Two Harbors area CO Dan Thomason. Officer Duncan took enforcement action on untagged deer.
CO Randy Hanzal (Duluth) reports deer numbers appear to be very healthy this year with lots of nice deer seen in various deer camps throughout the area. Baiting complaints seem to be down this year; however, contacts were still made with a few individuals and all weapons were seized for participating in this illegal activity. Several citations were issued for failing to validate their deer tag. Some hunters purposely skip this step in an effort to illegally shoot extra deer during the season. These tags must be immediately validated at the site of kill before moving the animal. Registering deer by phone was a big hit at most camps which allowed hunters to process their animals more quickly during the warm weather opening experienced this year.
Water Resources Enforcement Officer Mike Scott closed out several wetland cases. Officer Scott attended an aquatic invasive species meeting with ecological resources services. Officer Scott worked with Officer Hanzal over the weekend for the 2010 Minnesota deer opener. Lots of hunters talked to and several new hunters, 12 and 13 years of age out with their father for their first deer hunts. Three of the 4 young hunters encountered harvested their first deer. Their excitement in re-telling their story to us was overwhelming and with that we have 3 more confirmed hunters for the future. Enforcement action was taken for failure to validate deer tag, fail to tag deer, hunt over bait and operate ATV with our current registration
CO Troy Ter Meer (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports working commercial fishermen and investigating potential commercial fishing required paperwork and reporting. Officer Ter Meer assisted district officer with the deer opener. Officer Ter Meer also worked big game enforcement throughout the week. Officer Ter Meer took enforcement taken for big game violations
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) assisted district officers with shining complaints in the West of Duluth area. Watercraft maintenance was preformed. Officer Olson checked small game hunters in the Duluth/Two Harbors area. Shore anglers are still targeting kamloops along the North Shore. Officer Olson worked with fellow officers in the Duluth and Floodwood stations. The mild temps kept many hunters in the woods and deer stands. A decent harvest of deer was observed opening weekend. Numerous questions and comments fielded during the week. Several hunters helped with licensing issues.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked commercial herring anglers and deer hunters. Turbid water from recent storms has netting activity rather low for the time of year. Deer hunters are repeatedly forgetting to tag their deer and register their ATVs. Officer Miller took enforcement action for hunting over bait, tagging, and ATV violations.