Conservation Officer

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked what were likely the last ice anglers of the season as a lot of shores have open water. ATV traffic was monitored and busy due in part to rights-of-way being nearly clear of snow.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time maintaining equipment, working on office work, and followed up on various calls.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled local state parks. A reminder to park users that dogs must be on a leash at all times. She also patrolled state forests and local trails for recreational vehicle operation. Several warnings for operating ATVs without required equipment were issued. Time was also spent checking local rivers for anglers.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on equipment, late-season ice fishing, and recreational public areas. Incidental fur catches were reported. He issued a deer-possession permit. State forest roads are closed due to bad conditions. State parks were also checked.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) spent time checking area creeks for trapping activity. Trappers who were out setting traps for beavers were having very good luck. Lake ice has pulled back quite a distance from shore and ice was dark and very unsafe for foot travel. Rivers were ice-free and had shore anglers and a few boaters trying their luck fishing. A few grass fires also popped up as conditions were dry enough to cause some spring burning to get away from homeowners.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) reported trapping, ATV, and burning activity this past week. There has been noticeable beaver activity. Likewise, trappers have been observed tending beaver traps. ATV activity was steady this past weekend on the Soo Line Trail. It should be noted that burning in Aitkin County is currently “restricted” and limited to variance permits. For more information on burning, visit the DNR’s website with the keywords “burning permit information.” Enforcement action was taken for failure to display ATV registration, operating an ATV without lights, operating an ATV without helmets on juvenile passengers, operating an ATV without an ATV safety certificate, and failure to obtain a burning permit.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) started out the week checking late-ice anglers and a couple who were trying to get on the river but found the water to be too high and fast to launch. Ladd also worked ATV activity in the area and followed up on some big-game cases from last fall.

Isle – vacant.

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