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DNR Report: Burning restrictions change due to drought conditions

Feb. 29—Conservation officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports ATV activity has increased over the past week as the snow is all but gone, however, the forecast is calling for more snow. The annual awards and training event was attended at Camp Ripley. People are still reminded that the designated snowmobile trails are off-limits to ATVs and the ice conditions are very questionable, so please use caution.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) attended training at Camp Ripley. Equipment maintenance issues were tended to. Anglers were contacted on area waterways, with moderate success reported. Large ice ridges have again formed at various locations. Forest roads and trails were monitored as daytime temperatures and sunshine start to soften the surface.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) monitored area lakes and checked angling activities. Area forest roads were checked for ATV activity. Local streams were monitored for trapping activity. Fondie continued work on equipment prep for storage. Administrative tasks were completed and training was attended.

CO Sean Cannon (Cook) spent time this week checking anglers and monitoring area forest roads. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley for training. High winds over the weekend have rapidly changed ice conditions on Lake Vermilion, with ice heaves and open water appearing where there was solid ice the rest of the season. Cannon responded to a report of a Class 2 ATV going through the ice. Everyone made it out fine, albeit wet and cold, and assistance was rendered. There were rumors of others going through in other areas of the lake as well. If venturing out on the lake, please exercise extreme caution.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) spent time primarily checking anglers in his station. Ice conditions remained fairly good through the weekend. Anglers were finding mixed bags of walleyes, perch, crappies and tullibee. Larson spent most of his time of Lake Vermilion and on the trout lakes in his station. Violations were related to ATV registration, angling licenses and state park permits.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATV and angling activity. In addition, time was spent at Camp Ripley attending training and maintaining station equipment. Anglers continued to find little success on local lakes and recreational activity as a whole remained limited.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time attending the annual awards and training event at Camp Ripley during the week. Zavodnik also attended the funeral of Jim Crawford, the founder of Minnesota's Law Enforcement Memorial Association.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and ATV activity. Lake ice has deteriorated in some areas. Anglers reported limited success. Anglers are reminded to check ice shelter removal dates, but due to warmer weather, it may be necessary to remove them early. Broughten also fielded calls regarding ATV trails and injured animals.

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports he's investigated several complaints of ATV traffic on grant-in-aid snowmobile trails. ATV riders are reminded that many portions of the trails cross private property and all GIA snowmobile trails are closed to ATV use regardless of snow conditions. Violations included angling without a license in possession and possessing an illegal-length northern pike.

CO Brent Ihnen (Ely 2) spent the week patrolling his station for fishing and ATV activity. Ihnen also responded to an injured-animal concern.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked anglers on area lakes and monitored ATV riders. Enforcement action was taken for multiple angling violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais 2) spent time patrolling area lakes for angling activity. Success has slowed, but lake travel remains in great shape. Ledeen and CO Anderson assisted with a snowmobile safety class at Cook County Junior High School. Enforcement action was taken for unattended lines; no license in possession; expired ATV registration; no required ATV safety certificate; and littering.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) attended training; assisted on a house fire; and checked anglers and recreational vehicles. Enforcement action was taken for no helmet on juvenile ATV operators and an illegal-length northern pike. Extreme caution should be used as several very large swaths of open water appeared on Birch Lake on Feb. 24.

CO Trent Anderson (Tofte) attended annual training and focused on angling enforcement for the week. Time was spent answering questions about the area and assisting local agencies. Area trails are still not ridable due to the lack of snow. Various angling violations were encountered.

Silver Bay — vacant.

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) attended training at Camp Ripley, monitored ATV activity, and answered questions related to trapping, forestry and fishing. Anglers were checked and equipment maintenance was completed.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) worked ATV riders and small-game and fishing activities. He patrolled campgrounds and trails. Numerous game- and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended the annual safety training, checked anglers and monitored off-highway vehicle activity. Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Fennec, also provided a meet-and-greet at the Safari Club International Expo. Enforcement action was taken for license issues.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice anglers during the last week of northern pike and walleye season. With limiting ice conditions on area lakes, anglers still ventured out to try to catch some late-season fish. Enforcement action was taken for trapping violations, shelter tag issues and ATV licenses. Sutherland also attended yearly training at Camp Ripley.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working angling, dark house spearing and ATV activities throughout the surrounding areas. Miscellaneous angling- and wildlife-related complaints were fielded and addressed. Division training was attended at Camp Ripley as well.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time investigating potential wetland violations. Time was also spent in Wisconsin at

ice rescue training.

Members from the DNR Marine Unit and the Water Survival Team received training with other first responders from around the country in ice rescue techniques.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked anglers and recreational vehicles throughout the previous week. Time was also spent attending training at Camp Ripley. Holt investigated a trapping complaint and followed up on wildlife management area violations. Enforcement activity involved trapping violations.

NE ATV officer — vacant.

CO Derek Peterlin (Brookston) attended the DNR Enforcement annual awards and training event. He monitored angling activity on area lakes and responded to the report of a possible wetland violation that escalated into a neighbor dispute when the reporting party confronted the suspect. Together with the assistance of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, everything was sorted out.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) spent much of the week working angling activity and monitoring ice conditions. He attended the annual awards and training at Camp Ripley, attended Honor Guard training and time was spent dealing with a call of an ATV through the ice and trespassing calls related to snowmobile trails.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time at Camp Ripley for an annual training and awards ceremony and time was also spent on equipment maintenance and office work. Calls were answered involving ice fishing questions and fish house removal. Duncan also checked Lake Superior shore anglers during the week.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) spent the week checking ice anglers. A timber theft investigation was concluded and a litter complaint involving an ice shelter that was cut off at the base was investigated. Time was spent at Camp Ripley for training; assistance was given during a wildfire this weekend; and various Turn in Poachers calls were taken.

Conditions are prime for wildfires.

Please use good judgment and check burning restrictions before doing any burning.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Carlton) spent time this week working on special projects and attending annual training at Camp Ripley. Burning restrictions are quickly changing throughout the state. Review current fire danger and burning restrictions on the DNR website before burning.

CO Aimee Hand (Willow River) attended the division's awards and training event this week. She also checked ice anglers and responded to a call of an ATV through the ice on a lake. Anglers are reminded their licenses expire soon and to get a new one before heading out on the lakes. Small-game hunting was still abundant in the station with many having success. Enforcement action for the week included failure to display ATV registration and illegally set traps.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this week checking anglers and monitoring ice conditions. With the warmer weather please continue to use caution when venturing onto the ice. Patrols were conducted in area state forests. Overall activity is slow. Training was attended at Camp Ripley over the week as well.

Hinckley — vacant.

CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Marine Unit — Metro) focused on training during the week. He attended training at Camp Ripley. He also attended ice rescue training in Wisconsin with several other officers.

CO Matt Miller (Marine Unit Duluth) worked on commercial enforcement items related to the Great Lakes fishery. Ice rescue training was attended along with members of other law enforcement and fire agencies. Shore anglers are starting to find some steelhead and coho salmon when the wind cooperates. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.