DNR Conservation Officer weekly report for the week of December 28

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) spent the past week focusing on angling and snowmobile enforcement. The snowmobile trails in the Ely area are still poor to fair, but most are useable. Violations included angling without a license in possession and operating a snowmobile with no trail sticker.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) reports a relatively quiet end to the fisher/pine marten season. The area finally got enough snow to allow for snowmobile operation, although riders should use caution on rougher sections of trail as the base layer is sufficient to conceal but not fully cushion some rocks. Manning worked with DNR Parks and Trails staff to improve signage on snowmobile trails, followed up on ATV issues, and answered questions about snowmobile operation, registration issues and angling.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked angling, snowmobile, and trapping enforcement. Several snowfalls brought the snowmobiles out, although more snow is needed to get trails in good condition. Enforcement action was taken for possession of drug paraphernalia and operating a highway vehicle on a snowmobile trail. Reminder: Altered snowmobile exhaust that increases the volume and produces sharp noises is illegal in Minnesota.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area trapping and angling activity. Time was also spent checking snowmobile riders ready to hit the trail, only to find out that the trails were ready to hit back due to lack of snow.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports the fisher and pine marten season came and went with extremely low activity despite Hill seeing decent critter sign leading up to the season. Cross-country ski enthusiasts were out in force taking advantage of the nice weather and trail conditions throughout the holiday weekend. Ski pass compliance was overall pretty good, but a fair number of people took to the trails without buying their pass. Hill expects the skiing activity to ramp up after the new year and suggests people get out early in the day to avoid large crowds and cramped parking. Snowmobile activity is beginning to rise and enforcement action was taken for registration and safety certification violations.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked trapping and angling activity during the past week. Snowmobiles were starting to show up on lakes and ditches but trails in the area are still ungroomed. Enforcement action was taken for licensing violations and a case of burning prohibited materials is being investigated.

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the pine marten and fisher trapping season came to a quiet close with fewer trappers observed out in the woods compared with previous years. Injured-animal complaints were also handled throughout the week. People are reminded with the new snowfall to use caution when snowmobiling as accidents have already been reported.
CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports anglers are having some success in the area. Simonson would like to remind people to think twice before driving vehicles onto the ice. It is still early in the ice-making season. Simonson reports trappers having some success with the fisher/martin season coming to a close this weekend. Enforcement action taken this past week consisted of angling without a license in possession and untagged traps.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports additional snowmobile traffic was noted in the area although the trails could use a good dose of snow to make them ridable. There are several ice heaves that have formed on the local lakes, creating hazards for unsuspecting riders as well. The final days of the marten and fisher season were monitored and it appeared most trappers were done earlier. Questions were received in regards to the northern pike regulations and the differences from zones to border waters and angling to spearing.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring area lakes and angling activity. Fishing success remains overall poor. Snowmobile trails lack sufficient snow. Area forest roads were checked and public access sites monitored.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) reports that with the recent snowfall, an increase in snowmobile activity was observed on the lakes, but the trails are still lacking adequate snow cover. Zavodnik checked a number of permanent fish houses with anglers in violation, including unattended lines, extra lines, and taking walleyes within the protected slot limit. One individual who admitted he had three lines out, stated, ?Good thing you checked me now, because I was just about to put three more tips ups outside.? During the incident, the angler also stated that he thinks everyone should be able to have an unlimited number of lines out in order to catch the first fish. He was informed of the rules and regulations and enforcement action was taken. Zavodnik wants to remind snowmobilers to follow the staked trails due to pressure ridges forming on the lakes.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) spent a majority of his time patrolling for fisher- and pine marten- trapping activity during the short nine-day season. Very little activity was noted. Recent snowfall instantly brought out snowmobile activity. Enforcement action was taken for operating unregistered snowmobiles and allowing illegal operation of a snowmobile by a juvenile. The recent snowfall also brought slush to area lakes.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring fishing, trapping, and snowmobile activity. Fishing success still remained limited. Recent snowfall created some slush on local lakes but still isn?t quite enough for the snowmobile trails. Broughten also fielded calls regarding dogs chasing deer and vehicles operating on snowmobile trails.