Here are highlights from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer (CO) reports for the week ending March 18, 2019. The complete report is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/enforcement/co_report/index.html

Conservation officers report anglers statewide have been working hard to remove ice houses from lakes before the removal deadlines. Snow is quickly turning to slush and water, making conditions difficult.

While on routine patrol, CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls E.) saw dark black smoke billowing from a rural residence. Having just come from investigating an illegal fire, Elwell thought someone was burning prohibited materials. As he pulled into the farm, he saw a shed was on fire. He notified Dispatch and local fire departments responded. The firefighters gained control of the fire before it spread, but the shed and its contents were destroyed. No people or animals were injured.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) reports snowmobile trails are in good condition, but lake travel is difficult. CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports contacting anglers who had difficulty removing their shelters by the southern zone deadline. Vinton worked with several who were making good-faith efforts to remove them after this challenging season.

CO Andrew Goodman reports that the owner of a fish house previously reported as left without IDs on Ten Mile Lake (Fergus Falls area) was identified and the shelter was removed.

In the Walker area, CO Mark Mathy reports those who ventured out onto the ice are finding a 2-4 inch crust of ice on top of 2 feet of water  and slush. Several houses remain on lakes. Those leaving houses after the deadline may be subject to fines and restitution costs two-to-five times the cost of removal. Anyone looking for extra help removing shelters can call Mathy to get contacts of some businesses with specialty equipment.

Mathy reports one call about a deer that was acting aggressively toward a dog. It was probably because the deer was trying to get to food the landowner had put out for the deer. Deer are very hungry and are more aggressive trying to access food and areas free of snow.

CO Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) responded to calls about a deer stuck in a window well and an injured deer. She also assisted with a call of a vehicle off the road.

CO Shane Zavodnik spent time monitoring the Rainy River and its tributaries. He reports the river is wide open to Loman and there are already spots on the Littlefork River that have open water current running. He expects fishing on the Rainy River as early as next week, depending on access sites being cleared out.

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) monitored fish house removal, dealt with a report of a bobcat killed after killing poultry, and worked a snowmobile detail on Lake Vermilion where two snowmobilers were cited for careless operation for water skipping on the lake.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) dealt with a bobcat that killed a pet cat. The CO’s own suet bill is going sky-high due to these critters, which shows animals are having a tough time finding foods in the woods.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled snowmobile trails and assisted an older snowmobiler whose sled had gotten mired down in slush off the groomed trail.

In the Brainerd area, CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) responded to a report of an SUV stuck on a snowmobile in the Foothills State Forest. Contact was made; the subjects involved wanted to do some off-road traveling. Enforcement action was taken, and the vehicle was towed off the trail.

In the St. Cloud area, CO Joyce Kuske took a report of one fish house left out after the deadline on the Mississippi River. When Kuske arrived, she found the fish house owner feverishly working on removing the house from the deep snow.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) handled calls regarding spring runoff. Callers were concerned the runoff contained something more than normal because of the dark-stained water that was entering the lake.

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