The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning drone pilots that interfering with firefighting efforts is illegal.

Because drones fly at the same altitude as wildfire suppression aircraft, they pose a risk of collision.

When a drone is flying over a wildfire, the DNR has to ground its firefighting aircraft, said Casey McCoy, the agency’s fire prevention supervisor.

Last year, DNR pilots had to land firefighting helicopters during a wildfire near Little Falls because a drone was buzzing overhead. Even a small drone could cause a crash if it collided with a firefighting craft.

Authorities may impose temporary flight restrictions within a 5-mile radius of a wildfire. Even if those restrictions are not in place, drone pilots should expect to be penalized if their drone is caught near a wildfire.

John Reinan


A sucker sale that’s become a ritual

While some anglers turn up their noses at snagging a sucker, others line up each spring to buy 100 pounds of the bottom feeder.

The Vermilion Lake Association sells suckers trapped during Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ walleye egg harvesting operation at the Pike River Hatchery near Tower. The idea started 50 years ago when some people thought Lake Vermilion’s walleye population could be improved if there were fewer suckers.

That’s proved not to be the case, said Jeff Lovgren, a longtime Vermilion Lake Association board member. “The ecosystem is in balance, and removing the suckers isn’t going to help the walleyes,” he said.

But the annual sucker sale continues. “The old-timers look forward to this,” Lovgren said. They pay $10 for 100 pounds of suckers that nearly fill a 35-gallon garbage can. Most smoke or pickle their haul.

Mary Lynn Smith


4 groups must change security cars’ paint

Four organizations in St. Cloud that have security vehicles with illegal paint schemes are being given two months to come into compliance.

The notices came after the city received a complaint that the Islamic Center of St. Cloud’s security vehicle looked similar to a police car.

The city found that three other organizations also weren’t compliant — St. Cloud State University, CentraCare Health and the Crossroads Center shopping mall.

Minnesota law states that all vehicles used by security guards can have any color other than those specified for law enforcement vehicles.

Associated Press