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DNR Conservation Officers' report: Deteriorating ice conditions, fish house removal etc.

Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwestern Minnesota for March 15:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) prepared equipment for spring flood response. Anglers and fish houses were checked on Lake Bronson and Lake of the Woods. Reports of illegal deer baiting were investigated. Enforcement action was taken on anglers found in possession of marijuana, angling with extra lines, angling without license, and leaving lines unattended. While reeling in lines that were left unattended on Lake of the Woods, CO Huener noticed a bobber that was down and reeled and released a nice walleye.

CO Larry Milbridge (Warroad) found conditions on Lake of the Woods have deteriorated fast and made travelling very tough. Ice houses were coming off as fast as anglers could access them. Northern pike fishing is in full swing with many tip-up anglers along the south shore. Snowmobiling events were cancelled. Anglers are reminded to clean up litter around exiting houses.

CO Angie Warren (Thief River Falls) worked access enforcement and monitored fish house removal efforts. Preparations for upcoming ATV safety classes were performed. Miscellaneous wildlife complaints were handled. Area snowmobile trails have eroded from the warm weather and rains. Equipment maintenance was performed.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Blackduck) monitored angling activity on panfish lakes in the Blackduck area. A Red Lake Technical meeting was attended in Red Lake. CO Vollbrecht also investigated a wetland violation and issued a CDO.

CO Robert Gorecki (Baudette) monitored fishing activity throughout the week. Anglers continued to ice fish on Lake of the Wood despite the deteriorating conditions. Anglers also started fishing in boats on the Rainy River, and are having fair success. CO Gorecki continued to receive and investigate several littering complaints. Violations encountered throughout the week included fishing and littering violations.

Karlstad - vacant.

Warroad #2 - vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Stuart Bensen (Erskine) reports most fish houses have been removed from the lakes. Coordination with local officials regarding flood issues is underway. Some flooding is occurring and sandbagging operations have started. A few anglers are out and catching some sunfish. Calls about Firearm Safety Class availability were received.

CO Dan Malinowski (Fosston) monitored fish house removal. Flood water levels are being monitored. Game farm issues were addressed.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) reports a few anglers out. Fish house removal activity was monitored. Nuisance animal calls have started.

CO Mike Hruza (Bemidji) monitored fish house removal activity. Some shelters have been marked and documented. A TIP Call regarding wanton waste was investigated. An interview was done with a local television station about fish house removal and debris clean-up on area lakes.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports ice conditions are deteriorating on area lakes. Some access points have poor ice, water, and mud. Anglers are reminded to carry personal rescue items (ice picks, flotation) and let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Tip calls about taking bass during the closed season were investigated, as was a wanton waste complaint about a deer still hanging in a tree from last fall. As the ground thaws, there is potential for ATV damage to ditches and driveways, so use good judgment and respect other's property.

CO Phil Seefeldt (Moorhead) reports over land flooding issues along the Buffalo River and flooding concerns on the Red River. Several residents have left their homes due to flooding. Dike building and sandbagging operations is underway. Area lake ice is starting to deteriorate. ATVs and walking are the common modes of travel for anglers.

CO Joe Stattelman (Detroit Lakes) checked anglers and a few snowmobiles. ATV activity is on the rise, and driving complaints are starting to come in. Two fish houses were left on public accesses and were removed by officers. A TIP call regarding an over limit of fish was investigated. The officer testified in court during a hearing, and preparation was done for pending cases.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended a public input meeting on proposed hunting changes. The officer assisted with answering questions and public relations at the MN Deer Classic. There were many questions about the "Cannon Falls Buck". Enforcement action was taken for shelters left on the ice after the deadline, no identification on a shelter, and no shelter license.

CO Gary Forsberg (Pelican Rapids) checked anglers and ATVers. Anglers are still venturing onto the ice. Caution is urged as the ice conditions deteriorate. A complaint of people keeping walleyes was investigated.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) worked on the DNR Aviation training manual and administrative duties while poor weather canceled flying activities.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

Water Resource Enforcement Officer Traci Hanson (Warroad) worked on invasive species planning, including upcoming training sessions for bait dealers, watercraft inspectors and officer training sessions. Officer Hanson gave a presentation to the Detroit Lakes Middle School students on career day. Officer Hanson also responded to a wetland violation complaint in Becker County, patrolled Pelican Lake area for invasives planning for spring work, and assisted local officers with fishing complaints.