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Thick foliage limits grouse hunting success on opener, DNR conservation officers report

A rainy small game opener kept some hunters out of the woods, but others were able to locate birds.

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Contributed / Minnesota DNR
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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, Sept. 19:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) conducted field training with COC Anthony Hams. They spent the week working ATV enforcement and checking small game hunters, anglers and goose/crane hunters. It was a slow small game opener with reports of little success.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) assisted with training at Camp Ripley and participated in a firearms safety class where 15 youth received their safety certificates. Time was spent checking bird hunters and bowhunters.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) conducted field training with COC Paavola. They attended a public showcase event in East Grand Forks, taught the law and ethics portion of the Grygla firearms safety class, investigated complaints of unlawful bear baits and checked small game hunters during the small game opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for unplugged shotgun, no waterfowl stamps, no helmet on juvenile ATV passenger and ATV light and registration violations.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports checking anglers and goose, bear, archery deer and small game hunters this past week. Regas noted there is still a lot of low cover for the game birds to hide. He received similar comments from grouse hunters, who did report seeing a few birds but were not able to get shots on the birds. Time was spent handling assorted wildlife-related calls, answering questions from the public regarding the upcoming seasons and opener of the small game and archery deer seasons, following up on TIP information and patrolling area recreational vehicle trails.


CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a rainy small game opener kept some hunters out of the woods, but others were able to locate birds. Time was spent working big- and small-game activity as well as ATV activity.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports working bear hunting activity this week. Time was also spent working on commercial enforcement activities. Anglers were contacted at area lakes and rivers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) began field training with a conservation officer candidate. Time was spent patrolling area ATV trails and lakes. Grouse hunters struggled over the weekend, as the foliage is still thick and very few leaves have fallen in northern Minnesota.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking goose hunters and small game hunters. Lots of squirrel hunters were checked, with most having good success. Swedberg also attended training for ATV and patrol truck operation. Other time was spent following up on aquatic plant management complaints, checking anglers and following up on complaints about lake service providers. Enforcement action for the week included burning without a burning permit and operating an aqua thruster without an APM permit.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked bear hunters, small game hunters, anglers and ongoing cases. He also started an investigation on a complaint of dead and injured sheep.


CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, early goose hunting and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent working the small game and archery deer openers over the weekend. Chihak gave a law and ethics presentation to a firearms safety class in Hawley. He attended the Clay County Chapter of Pheasants Forever youth hunt near Downer.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on angling and AIS compliance. Wild rice harvest was monitored. Wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas were worked for early goose hunters, archery deer hunters and small game hunters. Patrol was conducted for off-road vehicle activity. Follow up was conducted on open cases. Online training was completed. Miscellaneous wildlife-related questions were answered.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) worked angling and AIS enforcement throughout the week, in addition to attending training at Camp Ripley. Hints of fall have begun to change fish and wildlife patterns and gotten people thinking about the many upcoming seasons. Goodman encourages folks to grab an updated regulations book when they obtain their licenses to stay current on regulations.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) attended mandatory training at Camp Ripley and worked opening day of the small game and archery deer hunting seasons. Plautz spent time on the lake working fishing and boating and took a high school student who is potentially interested in working for the DNR on a ride-along.

CO Ryan Brown (Elbow Lake) continued to monitor angling and ATV activity throughout the week. Brown also presented for area fifth-graders about mammals of Minnesota and checked small game hunters who ventured out this weekend. Waterfowl-related questions were received and answered.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers and small game and archery deer hunters. Emergency vehicle operations training was completed at Camp Ripley. A fishing overlimit complaint was investigated.


CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent a large part of the week on an enforcement detail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with CO Bermel. Boaters and anglers alike were checked and enforcement action was taken in several instances. Small game hunting and opening weekend of bowhunting were monitored, with a few hunters checked out in the field.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) attended EVOC training this past week and spent time wrapping up her background investigation. Time was also spent on ATV enforcement and checking hunters out during the last weekend of the early goose season.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports helping the training staff with different tasks around Camp Ripley. Douvier also continues to work on a background investigation for the Division.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers, boaters and ATV operators. Additional time was spent attending training, fielding calls about the upcoming waterfowl opener and answering ATV-related operating questions. An overlimit complaint was investigated, as was an incident that occurred at the state park.

Osakis – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacqueline Hughes (Longville) checking hunting and ATV activity. She also investigated a waterfowl-related complaint. Enforcement action was taken on a juvenile without a helmet on an ATV.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports patrolling public lands and lakes/rivers for seasonal activity. Some enforcement action consisted of off-highway vehicle passengers under 18 years old without helmets, registration violations, no license in possession and resort requirements for watercraft rentals. He also received miscellaneous animal-related complaints and responded to a wanton waste goose-dumping complaint.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) began training a new conservation officer candidate who graduated from the CO Academy. The officers worked Cass County-area lakes and forest roads throughout the week. Area activity has increased with a decent early fall fishing bite and the start opener of the small game and archery deer hunting openers. Enforcement action was taken for numerous boating and angling violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) began field training with COC Znajda. Time was spent working the archery deer opener and small game opener, as well as related OHV enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for ATV registration issues and hunting big game without a valid license. A dog-chasing-deer case was investigated.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked big game hunting, angling, ATV traffic and invasive species. He also responded to calls for service. Significant time was spent conducting a background investigation. Cross reminds boaters and anglers to pay special attention to boat trailers for hidden invasive species such as zebra mussels, which can be hard to see – especially on carpeted bunks.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers and boaters. A fishing TIP was investigated. Mathy also checked hunting, ATV and AIS-related activities. Enforcement action was taken for angling, boating and AIS violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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