Here are highlights from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer (CO) reports for the week ending March 16, 2020. The complete report is available at

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on Lake of the Woods. Many pike anglers were checked, but their success was low and sporadic. Anglers are reminded that dead smelt and herring need to be VHS disease-free certified. Anglers are reporting pike biting on dead bait, live suckers and hotdogs. Violations for the week included possession of non-VHS certified bait, angling with an extra line, expired ATV registration and no angling license.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) patrolled the station for angling and recreational vehicle activity. Snowmobile trails are deteriorating quickly, with some trails in the station being closed for the season. Check with local snowmobile clubs for trail updates before you ride. Elwell and CO Jeremy Woinarowicz responded to a call of an injured sow bear with cubs. The sow was deceased upon arrival, so the two COs secured the cubs and transferred them to area Wildlife staff. The cubs will be placed with a collared, currently hibernating sow with cubs of the same approximate body weight.  The sow will accept the two cubs as her own when she wakes from her winter slumber.

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports most fish houses have been removed from area lakes. Time was spent checking anglers and a few recreational vehicle operators. Various deer-related complaints were received.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) assisted with a big-game complaint and monitored fish house removal.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Anglers are having success with perch and burbot. He checked perch anglers on Leech Lake with CO Patrick McGowan.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) primarily focused on late-season angling activity. Most anglers in the area removed their shelters from the ice over a week ago, but a few remain. Remember the removal deadline for houses north of Highway 200 is March 16. Mishler also spent time training with K9 Storm.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers. The panfish bite slowed down with the cold weather but some anglers were still having luck finding the fish. Other time this past week was spent assisting Becker County with several calls for service and checking area lakes for ice shelters. Enforcement action for the week included fishing without a license, taking largemouth bass out of season, underage consumption/possession of alcohol, and possessing wild game without a permit.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked angling enforcement inside and outside of the BWCA, as well as snowmobile enforcement. In one noteworthy contact, Bermel was observing a group of anglers in the BWCA from a long distance when one member of the group began drinking from a prohibited beer can. He and another member made a big joke of it by posing and taking pictures. When the angler finished he sank the can in the lake. He had also ridden his snowmobile beyond the BWCA line. Appropriate enforcement action was taken for the violations.

CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) patrolled angling activity and checked anglers. Area snowmobile trails are deteriorating rapidly and snowmobile activity is minimal.  

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) patrolled for angling activity throughout the week. Time was spent on Leech Lake and the Whitefish Chain patrolling for angling activity. McGowan also spent time following up on ice shelters being left on the ice after the legal deadline.  

CO Chelsey Best (Crosslake) worked ATV, snowmobile and fishing activity in the area over the St Patrick’s holiday weekend. Enforcement action was taken for no helmets on juveniles, registration issues on ATVs, and for feeding deer in a CWD zone. The feeding violation carries a nearly $300 fine and is really becoming an issue in the area because it creates environments for deer to congregate and potentially spread disease. Individuals are encouraged to remind each other to take precautions against the spread of CWD.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled station lakes for angling activity. New 2020 angling licenses were checked. A call of a suspected poached deer was fielded and investigated in a neighboring station. It turned out to be just a wolf kill. Dog owners in the area were cautioned.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling activity and a complaint of dogs chasing deer.


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