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DNR conservation officers' report: Arson fires, Raw sewage into Rainy River etc.

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Conservation officer Stuart Bensen (Erskine) reports that area lakes are ice free. Anglers have taken to the open water. Floodwaters continue to recede and river levels are near normal.

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04-05-10

Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwestern Minnesota for April 5:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) investigated several arson fires in Kittson County. Burn permit compliance was also checked on several other fires. Area WMAs were patrolled. The spring waterfowl migration appears to be in full swing. Many ATVs are being observed on area roads and trails. Riders are reminded to check for current registration and for proper display of registration numbers.

CO Larry Milbridge (Warroad) responded to a snowmobile through the ice call along with numerous other agencies. After an extensive search the agencies involved were unable to locate any missing persons or equipment. A non-permit fire was handled with enforcement action.

CO Jeff Birchem (Baudette) continued to do follow-up on over limit of walleye investigations. Walleye and sturgeon anglers have been doing well on the Rainy River. Several nuisance animal calls were received and handled. Several area beaver trappers were checked. CO Birchem responded to numerous fires with enforcement action taken.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) spoke at a Natural Resources Law Enforcement class at the University of Minnesota Crookston on conservation officer careers. He also investigated a possible wetland violation, issued special beaver permits, and talked to area residents concerning possible rabies issues in the area. Enforcement action was taken for burning violations.

CO Keith Backer (Blackduck) spent most of the week working on the wildfire arson investigative team. Fish run activity was monitored.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Blackduck) monitored area creeks and rivers for the start of the spring fish run. Time was spent monitoring ATV traffic in the Kelliher and Waskish areas. CO Vollbrecht met with the Beltrami County Attorney to discuss a shining case from the 2009 deer season. The Kelliher firearms safety instructor was contacted about an upcoming safety class.

CO Robert Gorecki (Baudette) monitored fishing activity throughout the week. Anglers are reporting good success with walleye on the Rainy River, and numerous 28+ inch fish have been caught. CO Gorecki investigated a complaint of sewage being pumped into the Rainy River. When CO Gorecki arrived he witnessed a septic tank being pumped into a ravine running into the river. The individual stated that his drain field had not worked for some time, and that "bringing up to code would just cost too much." The individual was stopped, enforcement action was taken, and the incident was forwarded to the Soil and Water Bureau for further action.

Karlstad - vacant.

Warroad #2 - vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Stuart Bensen (Erskine) reports that area lakes are ice free. Anglers have taken to the open water. Floodwaters continue to recede and river levels are near normal. Angling and ATV activity was monitored. Question about Firearms Safety class availability were answered.

CO Dan Malinowski (Fosston) monitored ice out, angling, burning, and beaver trapping activity. Local law enforcement was assisted with several activities, including vehicle crashes with injuries.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked anglers and beaver trappers. Burning activity is being closely monitored, due to the dry conditions. A Use of Force Instructor training course was attended.

CO Mike Hruza (Bemidji) spent most of the week investigating fire related issues. Several fires are suspected arson and several fires were unattended and under investigation. The area lakes are ice free, the earliest date recorded. The officer participated in a radio program speaking about the fishing season.

CO Stacey Sharp (Bemidji) reports the fire danger remains high due to the continued dry conditions. Burning activity is being closely watched. Beaver trapping and ATV activity was monitored. Most area lakes are ice free.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a quick start to the spring fire season. A tree plantation in the Perham area caught fire, threatening several homes. The fire appears to have started from a vehicle traveling on HWY 10. Approximately 10 fire departments responded, along with a DNR air tanker to control the fire before any homes were lost. Several other fires in the area were investigated. Angling, ATV, and beaver trapping activity were monitored. ATV operators are reminded of the ATV operation ban in road ditches in the Agricultural Zone until August 1.

CO Phil Seefeldt (Moorhead) monitored fish run activity. The officer assisted with investigating a TIP call involving northern pike spearing. Anglers and ATVers were checked. The officer spoke to the Dilworth and Hawley Firearms Safety classes about laws, safety, and ethics. Violations detected: operate ATV on the road and persons under 18 on an ATV without a helmet.

CO Joe Stattelman (Detroit Lakes) assisted with a fire investigation in Kittson and Roseau counties. A TIP call about taking fish out of season was investigated. Angling and ATV activity was monitored. A complaint of horse riding in a closed WMA was investigated. The officer assisted the State Patrol with a DWI arrest. During the stop a large Red Tailed Boa snake was found. The USFWS was notified. Burning and ATV complaints are above average.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) assisted investigating a TIP call about taking fish out of season. One person possessing a spear and northern pike was turned over to tribal wardens for prosecution. The officer assisted Becker County deputies with emergency calls and DNR Forestry with fire calls and unpermitted burning. Enforcement action was taken for four deer, still hanging in a tree, that were taken during the 2009 Deer Season.

CO Gary Forsberg (Pelican Rapids) reports most lakes are ice free. Complaints of docks and lifts froze in the ice and floating away from shore were investigated. The wooden dock sections floated across the lake and were retrieved. Two boat lifts floated out and then broke free from the ice. The lifts sunk, one had a boat on it. Fish run, angling, and ATV activity was monitored.

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