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This week’s Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

EMMA was wondering where the snow was on December 12, 1994, the last time the area went this long without snow. Photo by Nancy McReady.

District 6 - Two Harbors

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports noticing that angling activity was steady throughout the week until the arrival of warm weather late in the week. Days of above-freezing weather mixed with rain seemed to slow lake use as already questionable ice conditions in some locations deteriorated. Anglers are reminded that early ice is always especially dangerous and warm weather has only multiplied that danger.

CO Brent Ihnen (Ely #2) patrolled for fishing and ATV activity this week. He also monitored small-game hunting and trapping activity.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) reports checking trapping activity and ice conditions on area lakes. Conditions vary greatly as some lakes are still completely open. Time was also spent responding to wildlife-related complaints.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Hovland) spent the week monitoring trapping activity throughout the area. With recent rainstorms, ice conditions are rapidly changing and people are advised to use extreme caution. Time was also spent fielding calls and answering questions about the upcoming BWCAW trout opener.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) checked traps and trappers during the fisher/marten season and checked spear and ice anglers. Most ice is safe for walking, but there are areas of inconsistency, especially on large, deep lakes or places with any current. Enforcement action for the week included careless driving, operating a snowmobile on a paved county road, juvenile snowmobile operation without a helmet, public access parking violation, improperly marked fish house, and no vehicle placards displayed on a commercial minnow dealer vehicle.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports finishing up an extensive deer tag lending and borrowing case. Multiple citations were issued and multiple deer were seized. Hill also patrolled for traps during the fisher, pine marten, and bobcat seasons. However, Hill was surprised to see that trapping activity was very minimal despite nearly every road being accessible to travel due to lack of snow. Ice conditions are highly unsafe due to recent wet and warm weather.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked on decorative material harvesting activity and trapping activity. Ice conditions still vary greatly in the area with some areas able to support ATV travel and other deep lakes are still not safe for foot travel. Check ice conditions frequently this time of year and have ice picks with you and accessible.

District 5 - Eveleth

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the pine marten and fisher trapping season came to a close. There were few trappers, but the trappers were overall very successful. Trappers are reminded of the fur registration coming up tomorrow. With the warm conditions, people are reminded to use cation when venturing onto the ice as conditions can change within the day.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports spending time monitoring trapping activity throughout the area during the fisher, marten and bobcat seasons. ATV activity was monitored on area forest roads and trails. Ice fishing activity remains low in the area due to ice conditions remaining unsafe in most areas.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports trapping and spearing were the popular activities in the area this past week. Both groups reported success, with spearing still ramping up as ice conditions improve, and the marten/fisher trapping season winding down. No snow is putting a damper on many outdoor activities for this time of year, but on the bright side slush has not invaded the lake surfaces.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports unseasonable warm weather and weekend rain have rapidly changed conditions. Angling, trapping and small-game activities were checked, with little activity noted. Area forest roads continue to be monitored. Weekend rain resulted in little angling activity and standing water on area lakes. Bare ground throughout the work area was noted and no snow in the forecast.

CO Sean Cannon (Cook) spent time this week checking trappers, small-game hunters and ice anglers. Fishing was slow and ice conditions varied greatly with the warmer weather again this week. Contact was made with an individual driving an extensively modified and unlicensed Chevrolet Aveo on the roadway. The driver stated that they were turning it into an off-highway vehicle. Enforcement action was taken, and the operator was advised on what is needed to operate a vehicle on the roadway. They were also advised on ATV and ORV laws. Time was also spent investigating the sale of an ATV that was reportedly stolen.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily ATV, angling, and trapping enforcement. Larson spent time checking anglers on Lake Vermilion, which has seen deteriorating ice conditions with rains and warmer weather. Larson came across violations throughout the week pertaining to state park laws and illegal snowmobile trail use. Wildlife-related calls were also fielded, as were hunter and angler harassment complaints.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling, trapping, and small-game activity. Little activity was observed through the week and rain over the weekend created dangerous ice conditions on local lakes, keeping many anglers from venturing out. Seasonal maintenance was also completed on station equipment.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time investigating a reported stolen ATV with a neighboring CO. He spent the remainder of the week working on a background investigation for the upcoming CO Academy. Over the weekend, Zavodnik assisted with a snowmobile safety class that was fortunate to take the hands-on portion of the class on real snow. Approximately 20 students attended and completed the class. Great job!

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring trapping, hunting, and fishing activity. Recent warmer weather and rain limited ice fishing activity. Several of the deeper lakes remain ice-free. Grouse hunters were still observed taking advantage of the warmer winter. Snowmobile riders are going to have to continue to wait as the area has yet to see rideable snow. Broughten fielded calls regarding trapping and ATV regulations.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Bob Geving (Mankato) assisted with ferrying helicopter pilots to/from maintenance facilities. Geving also worked on administrative and training tasks.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) prepared for upcoming wildlife flights, followed up on aircraft in for maintenance, and worked on instrument proficiency and training curriculums.   

CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew for ice fishing activity and ice conditions in the area.

NR Pilot Gracie Zeller (Brainerd) continued work on updating helicopter lesson plans and developing training material. She also tested for her sUAS certification.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) continued monitoring helicopter maintenance issues. He also moved a helicopter to an airport for maintenance, and flew a new biologist on a test flight in the helicopter to see if they are airworthy for the moose survey crewmember duties.

Enforcement Education

Please check the DNR website at for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Education Courses and instructor training sessions.


If you missed a fall class and are over 18, check online for the online course information. (It’s also at

Please check the DNR website for a current class listing of all DNR Enforcement Youth and Adult Snowmobile Safety Courses and instructor training sessions.

Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.

Reminder: Anyone born after December 31, 1979 cannot purchase a license to hunt in Minnesota without first taking a DNR Safety Training Course and receiving a certificate. In addition, many states have even more stringent mandatory Hunter Education requirements. Check before you go!

Reminder: Any resident born after December 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota must possess a snowmobile certificate. Two options are available to complete certification. Ages 11 and older can take the online course and hands-on day or attend the traditional youth course. Those 16 or older can take the online course.

Reminder: Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands and waters in Minnesota must successfully complete the ATV Safety Training online course. People under age 16 must complete the ATV online course and riding component before riding on public lands. Please direct questions to 1-800-366-8917 or 1-888-MINNDNR.


If you are 18 or older and would like to become an instructor for Snowmobile Safety, ATV Safety, Firearms Safety, Trail Ambassador or one of the Advanced Hunter programs, contact your local conservation officer or regional safety training officer. Instructor clinics are scheduled throughout the state and are listed on the DNR website.

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