Thursday, June 26, 2008

Minnesota Conservation Officer Tales - June 2008

Fishing Minnesota Boat's For Sale Crestliner, Lund, Ranger, Skeeter

Cat Calls

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) received a number of cat calls. One caller asked if a lion escaped from a zoo because a cat as tall as the hood on his pickup, paws the size of footballs, and a large brown head ran across the road in front of him. Another caller reported seeing a large Black Panther cross their field.

Mail call

CO Tom Sutherland (Hill City) received a call on an unidentified furry animal in an individual's mailbox. After driving to the individual's home, Officer Sutherland opened the mailbox to see a beady eyed creature looking him in the eyes. After examining the creature it appeared some young pranksters had placed a deceased woodchuck in the mailbox to gain a laugh. The owner of the mailbox didn't see it that way. They thought they were going to have a heart-attack when they casually opened their mailbox to retrieve the morning paper.

A conservation officer with another set of eyes

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports a concerned sportsman with a sharp eye noticed three deer with polished antlers being transported to the local dump. Investigation found that two people had legally taken the deer last muzzleloader season, had never processed them, let them hang in their attached garage for five months to rot, and had now taken them to the county dump for disposal.

This guy should have known better

CO Tim Collette (Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area) came across an angler that told the officer that he did not have a current license, but planned to get one when he went to work that day. When asked where he works, the man said he worked in the fishing department of a local sporting goods store! When asked how many times people had asked him when a new license was needed, the man admitted that he had answered that question many times and knew exactly when it was. Appropriate action was taken.

It was hard for these guys to give you a straight story

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) responded to a fire call at just after midnight and found two individuals watching an old, run-down house burn. The individuals tried to explain how they were trying to tear apart the house and burn it a little at a time when the burn pile got too close to their house. It was a challenge for the two to get their story straight, or even stand up, due to the case of beer and bottle they were into.

Boater education

CO Randy Hanzal (Brookston) stopped a boater just minutes before he was about to launch a boat carrying a livewell full of potentially contaminated water from a known infested waterway. The boater was educated both verbally and by written paper about the potential harmful effects of careless oversight.

A snack before I go

CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) had a report of a bear treed by a yellow lab in the Zimmerman area. CO Sladek advised the concerned citizen to remove all food, garbage and bird feeders, and then remove the dog from the area. The citizen complied but forgot a bag of dog food. The bear did come down from the tree, but proceeded in eating the bag of dog food before leaving the area never to be seen again.

How a misdemeanor becomes a gross misdemeanor

CO Adam Block (Prior Lake) reports an angler was arrested after giving his brother's name and date of birth to the CO. The angler did not have a fishing license but he knew his brother had recently purchased one. After the CO looked at the driver's license photo on his squad computer, of the name given to the officer, he pointed out to the angler that he had falsified his identity. The angler stated he was not aware COs could look up driver's license photos online in their patrol squads. The angler indicated someday technology is going to ruin the world. The angler became angry when he was informed he committed a gross misdemeanor crime by trying to elude a misdemeanor offense.

He came up with the same measurement

CO Alex Gutierrez (Forest Lake) checked an angler coming off the St. Croix River with two walleye, which have to be a minimum of 15 inches. CO Gutierrez had the angler measure the fish himself with one of the walleye measuring about a quarter inch short of 15 inches. The angler got upset stating, "It's just barely short." The angry angler then called a nearby angler to come measure the fish. CO Gutierrez allowed this, in attempt to diffuse the situation, with the same result, a short fish. A citation was issued.

Always ask for permission first

CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) assisted a Blue Earth County deputy in locating a group of teens that were trespassing and managed to get their vehicle stuck in the mud. The juveniles stated they were scouting for good catfishing areas. When asked if they knew they were trespassing one individual stated "Yes," but the group planned to find a good spot by the river, build a fort, and then find out who owned the land to ask permission. After some discussion, everyone agreed it would be more logical to get permission prior to entering the land and building a fishing fort.

Mom gives a lesson in taking responsibility for your actions

CO Gary Forsberg (Fergus Falls) received a call from a mother reporting that her 10-year-old son had shot a mallard duck with his pellet gun. The boy claimed he was trying to scare it and accidentally killed the mallard. He, along with his friends, wanted to hide the duck, but mom insisted that the proper thing to do was report it. A talk with the young boys about laws and waterfowl took care of the situation. The mother was given credit for taking responsibility and doing the right thing by calling to report the incident.

Anglers iced on opening day

CO Gary Sommers (Walker) reports a bit of a conflict with the ice on Leech Lake during the fishing opener. As the wind shifted at one point during the day, some ice shifted and blocked the main public access on the west side of Leech Lake for about 6 hours. Of course this occurred just prior to raining, leaving those who wanted to get out of the elements quite surprised, only to learn they had a bit of a walk to get back to the landing. Two resorts allowed those stranded to use the resort boat ramps for loading. At least two boat operators sustained extensive propeller damage as a result of trying to drive through the ice to the landing.

Designated driver to the rescue

CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reports working on fish run activity throughout the week. Numerous conversations were overheard about netting a bunch of these spawning fish so they could finally tell their wives that they caught fish when they went north for the fishing opener. Every time, the designated driver piped up and ordered his passengers into the truck before they did something "stupid."

Propeller helps wrap up case

While checking an angler fishing off his dock, the dark water prevented CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) from seeing the fabric that the angler had laid on the lake bottom to kill aquatic vegetation. However, the prop from the outboard found it. The fabric had to be cut off the prop, which was followed by enforcement action.

You owe me a million dollars!

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) witnessed a possible "once in a lifetime" event from an up and coming youth female bow hunter. The youth female finished a bow hunter class last month and was practicing at a local archery range with her new bow while her father and a friend watched. Officer Duncan overheard her friend say, "I'll give you a million dollars if you robin-hood an arrow today." Officer Duncan walked into the range area and watched her shoot an arrow into the bullseye. The officer said, "Now the pressure is on because I'm watching." The next arrow was a bullseye and also a robin-hood, which means the arrow stuck into the previous arrow perfectly. The girl started jumping around yelling to her friend, "You owe me a million dollars!"

Fishing for pictures

CO Brent Speldrich (McGregor) received a call of an angler that had caught and kept bass out of season. After locating the suspect vehicle on a nearby township road, and after a consent search, it was determined that, yes, they had caught and kept the bass, but only long enough to take a photo of them before returning them to the water.

You make the call

An angler told CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) said he wasn't using an extra line but just trying to keep the minnow alive. The extra hook and minnow was ten feet out from the boat and suspended 8 feet deep under a bobber.

Species challenged

CO Luke Croatt (Wealthwood) handled a call where a man believed that he had found a rare yellow-billed woodpecker. The Officer informed him it was a common coot.

This is nothing to fight over

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) had a call concerning two anglers fighting for a fishing spot on opening night. The anglers were reminded that there are 10,000 lakes in Minnesota with over 5,000 with fishing opportunities, not to mention miles and miles of river angling available.

Over the limit and behavior out of bounds

CO Mike Martin (St. Cloud) discovered an angler with 12 crappies in his bucket and still fishing (two fish over). Several of his friends saw the angler about to receive his summons and became vocal about the officer "picking on" their friend. The other anglers also said that the first guy was fishing with them so he wasn't over-limit. After investigating that they were in fact fishing together the 3 men were issued summons for the 21 crappies (un-cleaned) they had in addition to the 30 cleaned crappies in their cooler (21 fish over limit).

A short-lived celebration

CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) checked a gentleman for a fishing license on the Crow River. The guy said he had it up at the house so CO Sladek had him run up to get it. The gentleman returned 20+ minutes later minus a license. He said he had one but couldn't find it. CO Sladek called ELS and they informed him that the gentleman did indeed have a license. The gentleman jumped up and down in celebration. CO Sladek then asked the ELS agent when the man had purchased the license. The agent said, "About 10 minutes ago." The celebration was short-lived.

Soaked in gratitude

CO Aaron Kahre (Minnetonka) and CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) checked a boat on the eve of the fishing opener that contained two men and a very heavy black lab. As the two CO's were checking fishing licenses the black lab became curious about the CO's boat. A second later, the boats were pushed apart and CO Kahre was splashed by the dog taking an accidental midnight swim in the lake. Thanks to CO Kahre's quick actions, the dog was lifted into the CO's boat. The friendly pooch showed his gratitude for the rescue by shaking himself dry on everything in the boat, including CO Glaser. The dog was returned without incident to a very grateful and embarrassed owner.

The race was on for helpful anglers

CO Doug Lage (Marshall) was pulling into the parking area of a very popular fishing spot the eve of the fishing opener, when a sharp object punctured the squad's front tire. Five anglers came to the officer's aid, "Working in almost NASCAR speed." At 11 PM the anglers stated, "We have to have the tire changed before midnight," so the race was on. The tire was changed with pit crew efficiency, and much thanks by the officer.

The long reach of the law

CO Pilot Don Murray (Grand Rapids) assisted with a fleeing case involving an ATV operator that fled into the woods trying to avoid a State Patrol officer. After a short search the operator eventually decided to give himself up when he heard the sound of Murray's search aircraft flying overhead.

Permission denied

A landowner asked CO Greg Oldakowski (Wadena) if he could shoot a nuisance pheasant. When the officer inquired into why the pheasant was a problem, the man replied that it crows at about 4:40 AM interrupting his sleep. In addition, after hearing strange tapping noises in the basement, the landowner found the rooster in a window well tapping at the windows trying to get at bugs behind the screens, which were eventually torn off by the pesky rooster. The landowner stated that he fed the pheasants behind his house all winter, and now its time for them to go. Permission denied.

Gas prices lead to new use for boat

An angler let CO Scott Staples (Carlton) know that he was now fishing from shore because of the high gas prices. The new plan for his boat was to put it in the front yard, fill it with dirt, and plant flowers in it.

Boating and driving while intoxicated

CO Gary Forsberg (Fergus Falls) assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office with an intoxicated boater. The party had been involved in a motor vehicle rollover earlier in the evening. Upon returning to the cabin he was advised to wait for the deputy to arrive, instead he took the boat and went out into the lake. The party was found in the boat with no navigational lights on and was arrested by for Boating While Intoxicated and an outstanding warrant for Driving While Intoxicated.

Surrounded by timber wolves?

CO Greg Oldakowski (Wadena) responded to a call of a man and his dog being surrounded by timber wolves. The pair was uninjured in the attack, yet the man stated the wolves followed him down the road while he was in his car. Upon investigating the area, the only canine found was a single longhaired, shepherd type dog, which was found within feet of the area where the alleged wolf attack had occurred.

You could lose more than a boat cushion

CO Larry Francis (Remer) encountered a father who was following his 11-year-old son in a van, while his son operated his off-highway motorcycle on a state highway. When asked why, the father said they were looking for a boat cushion they had lost while towing their boat. After questioning, he agreed that his boat cushion was not worth his son's safety.

Stop tampering with the signs

CO Colleen Adam (OHV Recreation Officer - Park Rapids) reports in preparation for the Memorial Day Weekend trails and signs were checked only to find once again that several important trail closure signs had been removed. New ones were put in place Friday evening only to discover they were once again missing Saturday morning! Additional signs were put in place. All of this was done at the expense of the OHV accounts and potential for additional damage to the state forests and trails. Please stop tampering with the signs: you may be putting someone else at risk of danger or closed trail violations.

It's not broken, but you're busted

CO Aaron Kahre (Minnetonka) approached a man that told him that he was playing a "supporting role" to his friends who were fishing. CO Kahre asked the man what was on the fishing pole he had next to him. The fisherman stated, "Nothing, the pole is broken." CO Kahre offered to reel in the line for him and caught a nice bullhead with the fisherman's "broken" pole

Angler flunks spelling test

CO Tom Hemker (Winona) reports a situation where a fisherman attempted to give a false name for a fishing license but was found to be lying as he struggled with the spelling of the last name of his friend.
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