Conservation Officer

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) worked lake activity where algae and weed growth appears to be peaking. He assisted with an aquatic check where several boats were observed with dangling vegetation. He also attended training, checked bear-baiting activity, and answered questions at Game Fair.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) patrolled fishing, big-game, and ATV enforcement. She spent time giving presentations on hunting regulations and hunting safety at two local firearms safety classes. Whiteoak also worked at the TIP booth at Wahkon Days and worked at Game Fair, answering many questions regarding the upcoming hunting seasons.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on equipment issues, attended training, and continued recruitment efforts for possible future CO applicants. Bear baiting has started with trespass and WMA issues addressed. Starr also coached an elderly lakeshore owner who became upset with people fishing near his dock. The dock owner brought rocks in his hand to possibly defend his property from being damaged by large lures. Luckily, the situation came to a peaceful end.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) spent much of the week handling bear-hunting questions and checking on bear-baiting activity. There were also quite a few calls handled involving coyotes and wolves harassing livestock. One farmer had a 650-pound heifer calf that was taken down. The 650-pound calf was torn apart and surrounded by wolf tracks. Time was also spent assisting the sheriff’s office with multiple pursuits in which suspects bailed out of their vehicle and fled into the woods.

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) checked anglers for the last time on Mille Lacs Lake with CO Verkuilen. Fishing was fairly slow, which it should be for August. Croatt ran into an angler who said he had been fishing Mille Lacs for 40 years and this was only the second time he had ever been checked. He was grateful for Croatt and Verkuilen being out and working the lakes, which was nice to hear. This was Croatt’s last week after nearly 32 years in law enforcement.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time speaking at multiple safety classes this past week. COs Whiteoak, Kyllo and Karon took part in Wahkon Days, sitting at the TIP trailer answering questions. Time was spent checking boaters around Mille Lacs Lake for AIS violations.

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