Here are highlights from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer (CO) reports for the week ending March 4, 2019. The complete report is available at

Conservation Officers statewide report anglers are having difficulty getting their ice houses off lakes. The deadline for removal in the southern two-thirds of the state was March 4, while the northern one-third has until March 18.

In the Baudette area, CO Eric Benjamin assisted the sheriff’s office in locating and helping anglers on Lake of the Woods after blizzard conditions caught some off-guard. Many thanks to the resorts and their staff who worked around the clock to open the roads and get anglers off the lake.

In the Bemidji area, COs report deep pockets of slush on most lakes that is making removal of shelters difficult.

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports most fish houses have been removed in his work area and thanks anglers for being responsible and getting them off before the deadline. It is very hard work and sometimes expensive, as specialized equipment may be needed.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) was approached by citizens concerned about winter-killed fish and pheasants. Although this is nature’s way, it is helpful to report larger die-offs to the appropriate DNR division for assessment and monitoring.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) received many phone calls and other reports of fish house owners struggling to remove their houses from area lakes. On Lake Winnibigoshish, anglers were stuck with a large fish house and a plow truck. With assistance from an area resort, the anglers were transported from their fish house to a friend waiting on shore. The house and the truck remain stuck. Several other stories were received of stuck fish houses, and many are finding it hard to stomach the cost of hiring specialty removal services because of the cost.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Intl. Falls 2) overheard a radio call about a person who had overdosed on heroin. Zavodnik and local law enforcement officers arrived on the scene to find the individual unconscious and gasping for air. Emergency medical responders arrived and brought the man to the local hospital.

In the Grand Rapids area, CO Taylor Hochstein reports many snowmobilers are seeing wildlife on snowmobile trails. With deep snow, a lot of animals are using the trails because they have a more compact walking surface. Please slow down and respect the wildlife if you encounter them on trails.

In the Duluth area, CO Scott Staples conducted extra patrols at area state parks. Enforcement action was taken for having no ski pass and having a dog off-leash.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) checked area lakes for remaining shelters and spoke with people who were struggling to remove theirs, due to lake conditions. He also fielded calls about deer struggling in the deep snow.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) assisted the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office in helping people who were stranded on Mille Lacs Lake.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) took several calls from concerned landowners who reported deer found dead, that looked like they were killed by predators. Deep snow makes it difficult for deer to escape from predators like stray dogs, wolves and coyotes that can move faster over the top of crusted snow.


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