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Conservation reports: Fire burns snowmobile and frozen pizza, five vehicles get stuck on snowmobile trail

Here are weekly area activity reports from conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, released Feb. 1, 2022.

Conservation reports from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
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Here are weekly area activity reports from conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for Feb. 1, 2022.

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CO (Conservation Officer) Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) responded to a call of a snowmobile that was on fire on the trail. Luckily nobody was injured but the snowmobile had been torched so badly that it hardly resembled a snowmobile anymore. The only thing that was recognizable was a frozen pizza that the operator was carrying on the back of the snowmobile and was going to cook for dinner after his ride.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) attended fur registration and assisted with five vehicles that attempted to drive down a snowmobile trail and got stuck.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking snowmobiles and patrolling for angling activity. Krauel also assisted a neighboring officer on a stop of a snowmobile with expired registration operating in the median of a divided highway. The operator stated he was unaware he could not operate in the median and also stated he had not taken the required DNR snowmobile safety training. If the operator had taken the required safety training, he would have learned about registration and the correct places to operate a snowmobile.


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District 16 - New Ulm area, including Willmar Lakes Area

Last updated: 2022-01-31

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar-West) spent time working ice angling and snowmobile activity. He followed up on deer hunting violation from the 2021 deer season. CO Vernier also followed up on a trapping violation.

CO Cassie Block (Willmar-East) focused efforts this week on angling activity across area lakes. CO Block spent time working snowmobile and ATV activity. CO Block also spent time speaking to a group of students at a snowmobile safety class.

CO Brett Wiltrout (Hutchinson-West) spent time this week on snowmobile and ATV enforcement. Additional time was spent on the Luce Line Trail due to increase of snowmobile traffic. The end of the week included time spent at Fort Ridgely State Park and checking ice angling activity.


CO Zachary Larson (Hutchinson-East) focused patrol efforts on snowmobile and ice angling activity throughout the week in McLeod and Sibley counties. Angler success on area lakes has been poor with most local anglers traveling north to find better success.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls requesting information about lake aeration systems, lake management, and shelter questions. He worked angling, snowmobile, and predator hunting enforcement activities. Fishing success remained slow but predator hunting success was very good.

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) worked ice anglers over the past week with large amounts of anglers being contacted on local lakes and having success. Violations encountered were related to extra lines, unattended lines, and no angling licenses. Numerous calls were fielded related to wildlife questions and possession tags issued. Snowmobile use continues to be seen at high levels with good snow.

CO Mike Gruhlke (Jackson) reports that he worked snowmobile, ATV, public access, and angling enforcement. He noted continued snowmobile activity in the county as the groomer has been active in the county. The Des Moines River is seeing some snowmobile use. CO Gruhlke completed a radio program with KKOJ discussing snowmobile safety.


CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) conducted angling and shelter inspections as well as completing aeration system inspections. ATV?s were checked and assistance was given to law enforcement relating to multiple weather related vehicle accidents. Assistance was also given to Madelia Wildlife Research for the retrieval of a GPS deer collar on private property.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking ice fishermen and snowmobilers. Some violations observed were no angling license, no license in possession, extra lines, and one angler with a warrant for his arrest. CO Klehr also followed up on a trapping violation for failing to register otter by the deadline.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

Last updated: 2022-01-31

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes for angling activity and snowmobile traffic. Officer Westby assisted with traffic control with Morrison County Deputies, and area fire departments who welcomed home troops from overseas. Officer Westby also spent the weekend on Red Lake, and Lake of the Woods assisting the area CO with heavy angling activity.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) along with CO Westby assisted with escorting and welcoming our brave men and women of the 1-194th Armor Regiment of the Minnesota National Gard home from their deployment overseas. Fishing and snowmobile activity has picked up with the recent warmer temperatures. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, no license in possession, and various registration violations for ATVs and snowmobiles.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) worked angling activity in the station throughout the week. A modest bite was seen with a few anglers finding some luck. Collector snowmobile permits were issued for a vintage sled run and area trails were patrolled.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) attended training this week. Questions concerning fishing regulations were fielded. Fishing shelter issues were addressed as well.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked anglers, and snowmobile activity. Time was spent on deer season investigations. Assistance was given to State Patrol on accidents on I-94. Enforcement activity included angle with extra line, fish on suspended license, angle with no license, expired ATV registration and no fish house license.

CO Leah Kampa (Annandale) continued to work on a pre-employment background investigation for the next academy in the spring. Time was spent conducting snowmobile enforcement and attending a career fair at St. Cloud State University.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking fishermen and snowmobilers. Enforcement action was taken for no license, no registration, unattended line, over limit of crappies and operating an aeration system w/o ?thin ice? signs. Snowmobile trespass complaints were also worked.

St. Cloud vacant.

District 15 - Marshall area

Last updated: 2022-01-31

CO Daniels (Lake Benton) primarily worked angling, snowmobile, and coyote hunting enforcement this past week. Trespass complaints were investigated. An ice-fishing tournament on Lake Benton was held by the local sportsman?s club with over 700 anglers in attendance. Background investigations continue for a 2022 Conservation Officer Candidate.

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Redwood Falls) spent time this last week working on a background investigation. Time was also spent checking ice anglers. Enforcement action was taken for unattended lines.

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) Spent the week working ice fishing, snowmobile, and coyote hunting enforcement. Extra time was spent on Lake Benton and Dell Clarke Lake over the weekend for community fishing tournaments. Most of the questions answered during the tournaments dealt with shelter license and shelter ID requirements. Both tournaments saw a lot of youths with smiling faces trying to catch the big one. Most snowmobile trails are in poor condition with the lack of fresh snow.

Slayton- Not Available

Ortonville vacant.

Benson vacant.

Madison vacant.

Montevideo vacant.

District 13 - West Metro area

Last updated: 2022-01-31

CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) checked ice anglers in Scott, Hennepin and Carver Counties. Plenty of angling activity was observed throughout the metro area. Very few anglers were observed with fish in hand. Fogarty checked anglers in ice shelters with extra lines. Fogarty also observed several ice shelters without proper identification markings. Enforcement action was taken on angling with extra lines and failure to properly mark ice shelters.

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking fisherman and following up with complaints. Grewe also travelled to lake Mille Lacs assisting officers with the busy lake during the week. Violations this week included angling with extra lines and minor in possession of alcohol.

CO Mike Lerchen (Bloomington) spent time working ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Lerchen also continued work on a background investigation. Enforcement action was taken for angling with an extra line.

CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Mound) focused on angling and snowmobile activity during the week. Area snowmobilers had good riding on area lakes but some area trails were in poor condition due to lack of significant snow. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations, license violations, and rec-vehicle violations.

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) spent the past week working snowmobile trespass issues and other follow up work. Aerator inspections were completed in the station. Please remember in the Seven County Metro; if it is not a marked trail, frozen public waters, or property you have permission to be on then everything else is considered trespassing on a snowmobile. Simply following others? tracks is not an excuse for trespassing.

CO Thephong Le (ELCOP) patrolled Metro area for fishing, snowmobiling activities and Fort Snelling State Park for cross-country skiing. He spent times on performed maintenance on issued equipment and other administrative works.

Osseo vacant.

Ft. Snelling vacant.

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