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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division

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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Enforcement Division
AbbreviationMN DNR
Agency overview
Formed1887; 134 years ago (1887)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMinnesota, United States
USA Minnesota location map.svg
State of Minnesota
Size87,014 square miles (225,370 km2)
Population5,197,621 (2007 est.)[1]
Legal jurisdictionState of Minnesota
General nature
  • Civilian police
HeadquartersSt. Paul, Minnesota

Conservation Officers149 (as of 2017)
Agency executive
  • Colonel Rodmen Smith, Enforcement Division Director
Parent agencyMinnesota Department of Natural Resources
Patrol Districts18
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Division of Enforcement

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Enforcement is the law enforcement division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the State of Minnesota's Natural Resource Management State agency. The main focus of the Division of Enforcement is public safety and enforcement of the state's laws and regulations pertaining to wildlife, fishing, outdoor recreation, hunting, All-terrain vehicles, and boating throughout the state. In addition, officers patrol Department of Natural Resources lands and public waters, including Minnesota State Parks, Minnesota State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, and Scientific & Natural Areas. Law enforcement officers in this division are called Minnesota State Conservation Officers, and are fully licensed state peace officers that have jurisdiction throughout the State of Minnesota to enforce state laws.


On March 20, 1887, Governor Andrew McGill hired W. Fred Swickey, the Sheriff of Polk County as the state's first Game warden for the entire state. At that time he was not given a salary or reimbursed expenses, only an additional task to protect the resources and game species of the state. In 1892, Game wardens were given $50 per month in salary. By 1925 there were 135 Game Wardens in the state. In 1940, 3 Game Wardens were killed conducting a commercial license check and were shot to death by a commercial fisherman on the shores of Lake Sakatah in Waterville. After killing the Wardens, the gunman turned the 12-gauge shotgun on himself. In the 1940s all game wardens were issued uniforms and a duty belt with a .38 caliber handgun. In the 1970s, the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board was founded. Officers are issued Peace Officer licenses with a mandatory 48 hours of continuing education every three years. In the 1980s, four wheel drive pick-ups are replacing sedans as patrol vehicles across the state. In the 1990s a K-9 (police dog) program was established and the program continues today[when?]. The Wetland Conservation Act brought large changes to the division. Conservation Officers were given the authority to issue cease and desist orders for the draining or filling of a wetland. The introduction of Aquatic Invasive Species into Minnesota’s waters, also brought large changes to the division. Officers are given inspection training and civil citation authority to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species. Today there are 149 conservation officers throughout the state.[2][not in citation given]


The Enforcement Division is grouped into four regions within the State of Minnesota. Each Region is under direction of a Captain who oversees each of the districts located within their region. Each patrol district is led by a Lieutenant who oversees typically 7-9 conservation officers within the district.[3][not in citation given]

Northwest Region (Region 1)[edit]

Region 1 is headquartered in Bemidji and oversees the following Patrol Districts:

  • District 1 - Baudette - covers Roseau County, Kittson County, Marshall County, Lake of the Woods County, Pennington County, and Beltrami County (part).
  • District 2 - Bemidji - covers Beltrami County (part), Polk County, Norman County, Clearwater County (part), Otter Tail County (part), Clay County and Becker County.
  • District 3 - Fergus Falls - covers Otter Tail County (part), Grant County, Douglas County, Todd County, Traverse County, Stevens County and Pope County.
  • District 4 - Walker - covers Hubbard County, Clearwater County (part), Wadena County, Cass County, Beltrami County (part), Todd County (part), and Morrison County.

Northeast Region (Region 2)[edit]

Region 2 is headquartered in Grand Rapids and oversees the following Patrol Districts:

  • District 5 - Eveleth - covers Koochiching County, St. Louis County, Minnesota (part), and Itasca County (part).
  • District 6 - Two Harbors - covers St. Louis County (part), Lake County, and Cook County.
  • District 7 - Grand Rapids - covers Koochiching County (part), Itasca County (part), Cass County (part), and Aitkin County (part).
  • District 8 - Duluth - covers St. Louis County (part), Carlton County, and Lake Superior Marine Unit.
  • District 9 - Brainerd - covers Crow Wing County, Cass County (part), and Aitkin County (part).
  • District 10 - Mille Lacs Lake area - covers Aitkin County (part), Pine County, Mille Lacs County (part), and Crow Wing County (part). Covers Mille Lacs Lake.

Central Region (Region 3)[edit]

Region 3 is headquartered in St. Paul and oversees the following Patrol Districts:

  • District 11 - St. Cloud - covers Stearns County (part), Morrison County (part), Wright County, Todd County (part) and Crow Wing County (part).
  • District 12 - Princeton - covers Stearns County (part), Benton County, Isanti County, Sherburne County, Mille Lacs County (part), Wright County (part), Chisago County, and Kanabec County.
  • District 13 - Metro Area - West - covers Carver County, Hennepin County, and Scott County.
  • District 14 - Metro Area - East - covers Anoka County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, and Washington County.
  • District 18 - Rochester - covers Goodhue County, Wabasha County, Olmsted County, Winona County, Fillmore County (part), and Houston County.

Southern Region (Region 4)[edit]

Region 4 is headquartered in New Ulm and oversees the following Patrol Districts:

  • District 15 - Marshall - covers Big Stone County, Swift County, Lac Qui Parle County, Chippewa County, Lyon County, Lincoln County, Redwood County, Murray County, Nobles County, and Rock County.
  • District 16 - New Ulm - covers Kandiyohi County, Meeker County, McLeod County, Brown County, Nicollet County (part), Cottonwood County, Jackson County, and Martin County.
  • District 17 - Mankato - covers Le Sueur County, Nicollet County, Rice County, Blue Earth County, Faribault County, Watonwan County, Steele County, Dodge County, Mower County and Fillmore County (part).

Specialty Units[edit]

  • K-9 Unit - Several Conservation officers are paired with police dogs to assist in enforcement duties, including search and rescue operations, handler/public protection, evidence recovery and game and fish detection.
  • Water Resource Enforcement Officers - Focus on enforcement of the Wetland Conservation Act and Aquatic Invasive Species Laws and regulations.
  • Aviation Unit - Conduct flights for law enforcement purposes, wildlife surveys and fish stocking.[4][not in citation given]
  • Lake Superior Marine Unit - patrols Lake Superior within Minnesota's jurisdiction, including harbor patrol in the ports of Duluth, Two Harbors, and Grand Marais.

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic United States : American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story, Hospitality (FIlm), Gullah Gullah Island, Helluva Boss, Oakwood Adventist Academy, Technodrome, Martin Muoto
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  • List of law enforcement agencies in Minnesota
  • Minnesota State Patrol


  1. 2007 Population Estimates Archived 2008-09-18 at the Library of Congress Web Archives, U.S. Census Bureau
  2. "Minnesota Conservation Officers Association History". mncoa.org. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  3. "Conservation Officer Patrol Areas - Minnesota DNR - MN Department of Natural Resources". dnr.state.mn.us. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  4. "Minnesota Conservation Officers Association Specialty Units". mncoa.org. Retrieved 2018-08-07.

External links[edit]

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