DNR officers report ideal snowmobile conditions and ‘cavalier attitude’ to safe riding practices – Reuters

District 5 — Sector Eveleth

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports that snowmobiling activity in the area is picking up with the recent snowfall. The trails are in excellent condition, but the surface of the lakes remains uneven. Ice fishing has been slow on Rainy Lake, but that hasn’t stopped people from coming out to enjoy the hope of catching a fish or two. Enforcement action has been taken for excessive snowmobile speed and snowmobile registration issues.

Commander John Slatinski IV (Ray) spent time watching snowmobile, angling and spearfishing activities. With the cold weather and increasing ice thickness, spearfishing activity has slowed considerably. Fishermen began to disperse along the ice road on Kabetogama Lake and a few fish were picked up. The snowmobile and trespassing complaint areas continue to be areas of interest.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring of area lakes and related snowmobile activity. Logging roads in the region continue to be monitored, as well as timber sales. The equipment works are in progress. Administrative tasks are complete.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) primarily worked in snowmobile and angling law enforcement. Larson spent time checking in on anglers and people enjoying the snowmobile trails at Tower and Cook resorts. Trail conditions are excellent in both areas.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) mainly worked in snowmobile law enforcement and angling. Fishing activity has been slow and fishermen have reported little success. Violations encountered included operating a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail, speeding the snowmobile, and various registration issues.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports that the snowmobile trails are the best they have been in some time and motorcyclists are taking advantage of the excellent conditions. The majority of the time was spent patrolling the trails and monitoring safe speeds. Zavodnik has taken enforcement action regarding snowmobile riders traveling too fast on the trails. He wants to remind operators to stay in their lane.

Time was also spent investigating a case of deer hunting from the previous season of deer hunting with firearms. Enforcement actions have been taken for several license violations.

District 6 – Two Ports Area

Commander Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports that fishing activity continued to slow over the week and weekend. Although some success was seen on several lakes, overall most reports were poor. Snowmobiling activity was high over the weekend and trail conditions were good, although snowfall reduced visibility.

Violations included angling without a license in possession, failure to display current snowmobile registration, and missing a state trail sticker.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) fishermen and snowmobilers checked last week. Sleet continues to be a problem on many lakes in the region. Velsvaag found several places with waste from fish houses. Velsvaag took several calls about pike regulations.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time in the wilderness of Boundary Waters Canoe Area watching anglers on remote trout lakes. He attended a meeting at Camp Ripley to prepare for firearms training for the upcoming CO Academy. Enforcement action has been taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) anglers, fishing lodges and snowmobile operators in the audited area. She followed up on complaints of snowmobiling and an off-leash dog in the state park harassing skiers. Dog owners are reminded that there is no “free run zone” in state parks. Dogs must be leashed at all times for the safety of other park visitors, deer and the dogs themselves.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) primarily worked snowmobile and angling law enforcement throughout the week. Limited success has been observed for fishermen. Enforcement action has been taken for expired snowmobile registrations, missing snowmobile trail decals, failure to transfer ownership, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) continued to check anglers on area lakes this week. Snowmobiling activity was also very high, with Schottenbauer finding many snowmobilers lost in the woods.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports hitting the snowmobile trails and lakes throughout the week. Heavy snowmobile traffic was seen on Friday as the snowstorm slowed things down on Saturday. Hill received numerous reports of loud exhausts and operators cutting corners on the track. In one instance, Hill had to come to a complete stop in a turn to avoid being hit. The operator was arrested and enforcement action taken for negligent operation and some recording issues to boot. Please slow down and stay on your side of the trail.

Fishing appears to be average and a few anglers have been asked about shelter licenses. Ongoing work was done on a background investigation.

District 7 – Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northhome) controlled anglers and enhanced snowmobile activities. Enforcement action was taken for not having a fishing license in possession and possessing a northern pike of illegal length.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and controlled anglers, snowmobile activities, and small game hunters. Many questions about game and fish have been answered. He also responded to wildlife complaints and assisted other agencies.

Commander Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked out the anglers and patrolled the area snowmobile trails. Trails are in great condition and angler success was good. Enforcement action has been taken for permit issues and snowmobile registration issues.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) ice fishing and snowmobiling during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on a trapping complaint and checking fish houses. Enforcement actions involved violations of fish houses.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports angling, spearfishing and snowmobiling activities. The area’s snowmobile trails are in good condition thanks to additional snowfall over the weekend. Mobility on the ice continues to hamper the success rates of ice anglers.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor snowmobile trails and ice fishing activities in the area. The trails remain in good condition and have seen a lot of traffic over the past week. Violations included both snowmobile and ATV registration issues, angling without a license, extra lines and no trout stamps.

District 8 – Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) snowmobile trails patrolled throughout the district. Registration issues still abound – timed out, no registration, and incorrect display. One of the most common violations is affixing the year sticker and nothing else (and usually in the wrong place). It would be like driving your car without license plates and just sticking the tabs sticker on the bumper. Be sure to review your regulations for legal posting of recording.

CO Andy Schmidt (West Duluth) spent much of the week snowmobiling in the area. Lots of activities and trails have been in great condition, but more snow would help as the turns get a little skinny and icy. Registration violations were numerous, as well as modified exhaust systems. Complaints about pests were handled and a vehicle on a snowmobile trail was investigated.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) prepared reports and a brief for the county attorney’s office. He worked on his snowmobile to check out the lakes and trails in the area. Fishermen were checked on the region’s lakes and numerous contacts with snowmobilers were established throughout the week. Loud snowmobile calls and trespassing were investigated.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked enforcing snowmobile trails and checking area lakes for angling. Humphrey helped with a detail of snowmobile work with other district officers. Trail conditions varied from bad to good. Humphrey investigated a trespassing complaint involving a fisherman. Various angling and snowmobiling violations were noted.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) tracking equipment maintenance items in Grand Rapids and checking out snowmobile trails and angling in the Duluth and Two Harbors areas. In conjunction with AC Schmidt, enforcement action was taken for a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail. Several complaints of injured deer have been followed up. Fishing remained slow, but area snowmobile trails were active and busy.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked on ice fishermen near Lake Superior waters where coho salmon, brook trout and round whitefish were biting.

The snowmobiles were worked on the North Shore State Trail. The snowmobile operators seemed to have a rather cavalier attitude to follow traffic signs and general safe driving practices. Each of them, when contacted, blamed the other riders for the trail issues. Enforcement actions taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

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