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Minnesota conservation officer tales - April 2006

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From the Minnesota DNR


Officer Tim Gray (Blackduck) reported an angler on Red Lake was leaving his shelter to get his license in his van when he cut the extra line near the shelter door. Unfortunately for him, his line was floating just a foot under the water. Gray just reached in and got the line, with hook and minnow attached.


A local bait shop received a call from a Walker resident on Leech Lake who became lost while attempting to drive to shore during a snowstorm. When the man came upon another fish house, he called the bait shop to see if they could run the tag number for an owner. The bait shop contacted Officer Gary Sommers (Walker), who was able to get the owner's name. He relayed it to the lost person, who called the owner by cell phone. The owner of the fish house happened to have a GPS, located the lost angler, and got him to shore safely. The lost angler was advised to invest in a compass.


CO Bruce Lawrence (Pine City) was showing a group of snowmobilers how a hand-held radar works when a snowmobile operator drove by exceeding the 50 mph speed limit. The snowmobile operator noticed what Lawrence was doing, stopped, drove up onto the road and then went back in the other direction. However, the snowmobile operator soon returned jumping over driveways. Lawrence followed the snowmobiler, but the operator did not want to stop. The snowmobile was located a short time later behind a garage in a back alley. A citizen identified the driver.


CO Tim Jenniges (Windom) reported one angler, who has an interest in walleyes and a love of flying, put the two together by landing his airplane on a lake between the rock hard snow drifts. He then broke out his fishing gear, which created quite a stir among the locals.


CO Kevin Prodzinski (Zumbrota) reported checking an ice house that reeked of marijuana when he opened the door. Prodzinski secured numerous pipes and containers of marijuana. While verifying identification, Prodzinski discovered one of the subjects had an active warrant for felony burglary. This discovery was all the result of an unlicensed fish house.


CO Mary Manning (Hovland) was working a snowmobile detail with two other officers in the Tofte area. The officers spread out to check each group of sleds and drivers coming through at a road crossing. During a check of one such group, Manning noticed a rider opening the hood of his sled, gesturing toward the hood, and one of the other officers looking on and shaking her head. Officers completed all checks and the group departed leaving one officer still shaking her head and laughing. What was so funny? The driver had placed his state trail permit sticker "under the headlight" inside the hood of his machine.


CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) reported many snowmobilers were written citations for excessive speed. One snowmobiler questioned if there was a senior citizen discount on the $177 fine!


CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) reported an angler, using two extra lines, threw the lines down the hole before letting the officer inside his fish shelter. While the officer did the inspection on the fish and licenses, the angler thought he got a bite on his other line only to reel up not one but both of his extra lines! He later admitted to throwing the lines down the holes to avoid a citation. Enforcement action was taken.


CO Scott Staples (Carlton) took enforcement action on burning violations in the area. One violation was of a person who started an abandoned house on fire and blocked the road so the fire department could not get in to put the fire out. The fire department did get access, but not until the house burned to the ground. The property owner is facing charges of burning a large amount of prohibited material and numerous PCA violations.


CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reported a group was living the good life, sitting back in lawn chairs with sunscreen on and watching tip-ups. Nearby were some eagles sitting on the ice thankful for the good luck the anglers had the previous day.


CO Brad Schultz (Center City) contacted an angler on an area lake, noted a good number of sunfish in his take and inquired as to the number in possession. The angler replied, "I've got 25 (actual count was 26), and I guess the limit is 20 so this is not a good thing is it?" It wasn't.


Lt. Rod Smith (New Ulm) organized the rescue of two fishermen who had driven their snowmobile into open water at the mouth of a river of Lake Winnie. Smith was on time off at his cabin when he heard people yelling for help. When he walked around to the front of the cabin he could see two people in open water about 200 yards from shore. He called 911, grabbed two ropes and ran across the frozen river towards the two fishermen. At that time several other fishermen, coming off the lake, saw what was happening and ran over to help. One of the fishermen had an aluminum ATV ramp. Smith tied his rope to it and walked out closer to the open water. He was able to push the ramp to the fishermen and directed them to pull the ramp into the water and put their feet on the bottom bar of the ramp. The group then pulled the fishermen out one at a time. The group then carried the two men to a nearby cabin where they had all their wet clothes removed, were wrapped in blankets, sat in front of a fire and waited for EMS. One man was transported to a nearby hospital; the other was airlifted to a hospital in Duluth. Both parties were treated and later released.


While on patrol near Minnesota Valley State Park recently, CO Adam Block (Prior Lake) observed a small cloud of smoke over a residence. Further investigation revealed a building on fire with several puppies inside. Discovering no one home, Block used an axe to break the lock on a horse stable door allowing access to the puppies. A passing motorist assisted with pulling nine, 7-week-old yellow labs from the burning building. Only one puppy couldn't be rescued. One puppy was named "Lucky." The name seemed fitting for all nine puppies. A heat lamp was determined to be the cause of the fire. The 5,000-square-foot building was a total loss.


CO Stuart Bensen (Erskine) received a complaint of a horse injured by a "mountain lion." The "mountain lion" was videotaped the following night. It turned out to be a dog.


While Officer Pat Znajda (Karlstad) checked a fish house, an occupant said he was going to get a beer from a fish house a distance away. As the man got closer to the house, he started walking faster until he reached a jog. Znajda headed toward the house on snowmobile and met the man as he arrived at the fish house. The fish house door opened showing one fisherman and seven fishing lines occupying the house.


CO Dale Ebel (Duluth) cited an individual for leaving his fish house on the ice after the legal deadline. When asked why he didn't move his fish house, the owner said someone had stolen it back in February. When asked where he left it, he mentioned a particular lake. CO Ebel told him he had marked the fish house in question back in January and it hadn't moved.


Thanks to a call from a concerned citizen, CO Bret Grundmeier (Mora) found an angler keeping largemouth bass out of season. When the angler denied having any bass in possession, a quick search of his pickup turned up a 16 1/2 inch bass wrapped up and hidden inside a half-empty 12-pack of pop.

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