Imagine sitting in your stand and witnessing a crime in progress. It doesn’t happen to many hunters, but one bowhunter who was hired by the city to cull deer in Valley Park in Mendota Heights, Minnesota was waiting for some deer to walk by, when instead he saw two teenagers walk to a patch of marijuana plants ready for harvest.
The hunter sat just 15 feet away from the two teenage boys, observing them for a few minutes as they harvested the plants. He then called the police who came to question the teens. The boys, Jorge Devalerio, 19, of Savage and a 17-year-old minor from St. Paul were the second group of people caught cultivating marijuana plants in the past few weeks by a hired bowhunter.
“It’s drawn a lot of attention to the deer hunting operation,” Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener said. “That’s good and bad.” This was actually the third operation to be uncovered recently, but only two have been with the help of a bowhunter.
The other bowhunter to help bust a growing op was not named, but he is a member of the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base in Minnesota. On Thursday, September 20, he was only on the first day of the cull when at 6:30 p.m. he witnessed two teenagers harvesting marijuana leaves from an eight-foot tall plant in the park.
Mendota Heights is a suburban city near St. Paul and Minneapolis. While there are a few large parcels of land, the majority of the city is residential. The deer culling program started in 1995 so that the deer would not be killed by cars in an urban and residential area where hunting is not permitted. The park the boys were growing marijuana is a 260-acre green space in the city. It is open to the public, but not in active use, therefore their operation went undetected for the entire summer.
Aschenbrener said the boys, who are cousins, were cited for possession of marijuana. Aschenbrener believes they were the ones to plant them there originally and that they had been growing all summer. “They didn’t just come across this,” Aschenbrener said.