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Minnesota DNR - News Releases

June 16, 2007
Press Release

Minnesota DNR - News Releases

DNR issues safety reminder for boaters to stop that prop

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boat operators to make sure they turn off their engines when people are in the water near the back of the boat. This safety message comes after an accident on Monday in the Twin Cities where a man was injured by a boat propeller.

"Even a slowly turning propeller can inflict serious or fatal injuries to anyone caught by its spinning blades," said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. "Sometimes the propeller can be turning even when a motor is in neutral, or someone can bump the shift lever into gear accidentally, and injure or even kill anyone in the water near the stern of the boat," he said.

The DNR has a new sticker available that warns boaters to shut off their engines when picking up or dropping off skiers or tubers.

A "Stop that Prop" sticker can be obtained for free by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Computer users may e-mail the DNR at

Conservation officer tales - June 2007 (2007-06-05)


While checking a boat, CO Mike Lee (Isle) asked if they had kept any fish. A very excited female party in the back of the boat stated, "Yeah, you gotta see!" Before Lee could advise her that she only needed to open the livewell cover, she reached in and held up a very nice walleye that was flopping and wiggling in her hands. Before her husband or the officer could tell her to put the fish back in the livewell it flopped out of her hands, onto the top of the outboard motor, and, well, you all know where the walleye went from there. At that point, her husband expressed how, let's just say, unhappy he was with the situation.


CO Neil Freborg (Lake George) received several calls about a skunk with its head stuck in a tin can. He located the skunk and debated on how to handle the situation. "With a good 20 mph wind at my back, I got a hand on the can and pulled, dragging the skunk with me, but the can was on much tighter than I thought," Freborg said. "I let go of the can and quickly retreated as the skunk spun around and sprayed the area. I waited about ten minutes and quietly approached the skunk. This time when I took hold of the can I gave it a good quick jerk, a definite "pop" followed freeing the skunk. We both retreated, unharmed."


CO Dan Book (Rushford) spoke to a turkey hunter who told the following story. He and a friend had hunted a parcel of state land without success and left the area in mid-morning. The hunter returned to the area in mid-afternoon to take advantage of the recent law change that allows turkey hunting all day. Upon driving into the empty parking area, he said he couldn't believe his good fortune when he saw a shotgun lying in the gravel. Upon closer examination, he realized it was his own firearm. Apparently he had set the gun down while loading his other gear. While lost in conversation with his friend had forgotten it when he drove away!


CO Mike Shelden (Alexandria) handled a call in town about an individual who shot a hen mallard to death as she sat on her nest incubating seven eggs. The individual said he saw the hen mallard cross the road and noticed she had an injured leg. He got his gun and shot the duck on her nest, which was right next to the front step of the neighbor's house.


CO Larry Francis (Remer) reported a party couldn't believe he was getting a citation for not having his boat lights on almost an hour after sunset. His excuse was he was talking on a cell phone to his brother.


CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reported a local bait shop owner refused to sell walleye and northern bait to a few anglers who told him they planned on doing a little "fishing" prior to the legal fishing opener. The bait shop owner knew this activity was illegal and did the right thing.


CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) reported a man living next to a state park logged off two acres of timber to get better satellite reception and to make the area look better.


CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) was trying to stop two ATVs in Aurora when both took off at a high rate of speed and a short chase ensued. With help from eyewitnesses, the two juveniles were later identified. They called in a short time later after thinking about their actions and knowing they would be found. Both face felony fleeing charges and both ATVs impounded and subject to forfeiture.


CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) found an angler had not checked his line on the dock for 12 hours. In the meantime, a 21-inch walleye was caught and eviscerated by turtles. When awakened by the officer, the angler was shown the walleye. The CO seized the rod and cited the man for leaving an unattended line.


Upon checking a group of campers and asking them where they had thrown their cleaned walleye entrails, CO Tom Sutherland (Hill City) walked with one individual to the waters edge where he could see many walleye remains floating out in deep water. A boat was used to gather the remains and to Sutherland's surprise there were three walleyes from within the protected slot, including a 23-inch walleye that was cut into three pieces to make it look like it was a smaller fish. The remains were perfectly matched up and presented to the group of campers. The campers admitted to keeping the protected fish and were issued citations.


CO Nikki Shoutz (Pine River) reported a grandpa was "busted" by his young grandson when the boy told Shoutz that grandpa's big fish were "over there" in the nearby weeds. The boy said, "Grandpa said that he could get in trouble if he put them in his bucket since they were largemouth bass." A citation was issued for taking bass in closed season.


CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) found an unlicensed angler hiding two preseason walleyes that he had "forgot" about.


CO Alex Gutierrez (Metro Rec Specialist) reported rescuing 10 mallard ducklings with the assistance of the local police and fire departments. The ducklings had fallen into a storm drain and were unable to get out. They were spotted when a true outdoorsman saw the hen mallard not leaving the area of the storm drain and heard the ducklings chirping .


CO Cary Shoutz (Crosslake) reported a reckless ATV operator was stopped and cited for no valid driver's license. During the stop, alcohol was detected and subsequent testing revealed the operator was just over the legal limit of .08. The ironic thing is the road he was operating on was named Old Whiskey Road.


CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) arrested one angler for two outstanding warrants and possession of drug paraphernalia. The angler stated he was really "bummed out" because he would be spending his summer in jail. The surprising part was the angler did have a valid fishing license.


CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reported a group of anglers reported stopping at an access for lunch and letting their dog run loose. They were startled by a yelp from their dog and noticed the dog running with a timber wolf in hot pursuit. The dog made it to the owners safely and the wolf ran off. The dog was missing a little hair on its hind leg, but was no worse for the wear. The officer also encountered five timber wolves during the week with only two showing any real fear of humans.


CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) reported a largemouth bass was seized when it was discovered in a bucket while checking a boat that had expired registration. The individuals stated they had a call into the "fishing expert" in the family to see if they could keep it but hadn't heard back from him yet.


While CO Mike Hruza (Bemidji) was checking anglers, a fisherman pointed toward the shoreline where a dog was carrying a fawn by the neck. The officer and angler were able to get the fawn away from the dog. The bleating fawn was taken to shore and released. After a short time the doe came to the fawn and herded it into the woods. The dog owner could not be located.


After seizing a walleye that was clearly under the 15-inch minimum size limit for the St Louis River, CO Randy Hanzal (Brookston) asked the angler what he used to measure the fish. The angler showed the officer his size 14 boot and stated he stepped on the fish and could see walleye sticking out from each end of his boot so he figured it must have been at least 15 inches.


While watching shore anglers along the Mississippi River over Memorial Day weekend, CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) saw a couple people drinking beer and throwing their cans in the rocks along the river. This went on for some time. When the anglers packed up to leave, Kuske met them in the parking lot to issue them tickets for littering. To Kuske's complete surprise, the anglers had picked up all their cans and more. Kuske then gave them the option of having someone give them a ride home or a DWI. They immediately called for a ride.


CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) encountered a person with two smallmouth bass on his stringer. The suspect didn't know it, but Sladek had been watching him for some time. He then approached the individual and said he would need to measure the fish. When Sladek returned with the tape measure there was only one bass on the stringer. The individual was adamant he had only one bass. Sladek then advised the violator he had left the legal fish go and kept the illegal bass. Enforcement action was taken.

Fur trapper receives hefty state sentence, now faces federal charges

A northeast Minnesota trapper's legal nightmare may just be beginning. Roderick "Rick" Kottom, sentenced June 4 in St. Louis County District Court on a bevy of state charges for illegal trapping activity, now faces federal charges.

The long-time trapper from Chisholm was found guilty of state charges of possession of a prohibited wild animal, misdemeanor failure to check traps/snares, petty misdemeanor failure to provide identification of traps/snares, and misdemeanor unlawful storage of protected wild animals.

State conservation officers had been tracking Kottom's activities since 2002. In 2004, conservation officers using a search warrant seized a number of fisher and pine marten pelts from his home.

Kottom was convicted of possession of a prohibited wild animal and received one year in jail, $3,000 fine, two years supervised probation, $962 fine and surcharge, $200 restitution (two fisher at $100 each). Kottom also agreed to report as directed to probation authorities, remain law abiding, and be subject to random searches.

For the misdemeanor failure to check traps/snares, Kottom was fined $320. Kottom was also fined $132 for petty misdemeanor failure to provide identification of traps/ snares and $362 for misdemeanor unlawful storage of protected wild animals. Both are to run concurrent to the $962 fine and surcharge.

However, Kottom's legal problems may be far from over. A 2003 Internet sting lead a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent to an advertisement on the Web placed by someone calling himself "Papa Fisher." The person was offering to sell fisher and pine marten pelts that had been trapped in Minnesota.

E-mail and telephone calls led the agent to Kottom, who now faces federal charges of illegally buying and selling animals over the Internet and a violation of the endangered species act for possessing a Canada lynx. The federal court proceeding is scheduled to begin in July in Duluth.

Floodwood man pleads guilty to killing a federally protected wolf

Steve D. Bailey, 49, of Floodwood, recently pleaded guilty to killing a wolf that was, at the time, on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected species list.

State conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a call from Bailey on Nov. 7, 2004, who stated that he was deer hunting in a ground blind near Floodwood when the wolf approached his son's location. Concerned for his son's safety he said he fired several shots to scare away the wolf. When the wolf continued toward his son, Bailey said he killed the animal.

The officers reconstructed the scene, mapping the location of the deer blind, the wolf's travel route, where the wolf was shot at the first time, the location of the wolf after it was killed and an area where deer were seen near the Baileys' location. An agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided assistance with ballistics. When presented with the evidence, Bailey plead guilty to shooting the wolf, which was a protected species at the time of the incident.

Now sentenced, Bailey will pay a $500 fine, $2,000 restitution, and lose his hunting privileges in Minnesota and other Wildlife Violator Compact states for one year.

The Wildlife Violator Compact includes a reciprocal agreement that license suspensions in one state will be honored in other states. Losing license privileges in Minnesota are extended to other member states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Minnesota's wolf population was officially removed from the federal endangered species list earlier this year and is being managed by the DNR.

Based on Minnesota law, the state wolf plan is designed to protect wolves and monitor their population while giving owners of livestock and domestic pets more protection from wolf depredation. It splits the state into two management zones with more protective regulations in the northern third, considered the wolf's core range.

The endangered species act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure that recovery continues.

The state wolf plan has new provisions for taking wolves that are posing risks to livestock and domestic pets. Owners of livestock, guard animals or domestic animals may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to their animals, on property they own or lease in accordance with local statutes. "Immediate threat" means the observed behavior of a gray wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock, a guard animal or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner.

Additionally, the owner of a domestic pet may shoot or destroy a gray wolf posing an immediate threat on any property, as long as the owner is supervising the pet. In all cases, a person shooting or destroying a gray wolf under these provisions must protect all evidence and report the taking to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours. The wolf carcass will be surrendered to the conservation officer.

In the southern two-thirds of the state, a person may shoot a gray wolf at any time to protect livestock, domestic animals or pets on land they own, lease or manage. The circumstance of "immediate threat" does not apply. A DNR conservation officer must be notified within 48 hours. The wolf carcass will be surrendered to the conservation officer. Also in this area, a person may employ a state certified predator controller to trap wolves on or within one mile of land they own, lease, or manage.

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