Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) say a Mahnomen County man faces charges of animal cruelty after he allegedly used a pontoon boat to harass a large buck in Tulaby Lake early in September, which resulted in the deer drowning.
According to DNR investigators, 55-year-old Steven Timm intentionally drove the deer further into the lake and used his pontoon boat to prevent the animal from reaching shore. Conservation officers were called to the scene by a witness, but by then the deer had already expired.
When confronted, Timm claimed that he was attempting to save the deer, not harass it. The boater later told officers that he spotted the deer swimming in the lake and attempted to turn it back to shore, but the animal ignored him and instead went deeper into the lake.
David Kvidt, a nearby resident who saw the entire scene unfold, described a different set of events. Kvidt said that the deer was already heading toward a public landing when Timm spotted the animal, and the boater circled the animal several times. At some points, it looked as if Timm was using the pontoon boat to block the deer from heading to shore. When it looked as if the deer was in trouble, Kvidt said he got on his own boat and tried to intercept Timm.
“It probably took 20 seconds to get to him,” the witness told The Star Tribune, “but by then, the deer had turned upside down.”
Timm denied harassing the deer when confronted, telling Kvidt, “What do you think I am, a deer killer?”
Photographs taken by Kvidt were later submitted to the DNR. During questioning Timm said that he may have accidentally put his boat between the deer and shore. Officials said that regardless of intent, it is always best to leave wildlife alone. Deer may not look like the most graceful swimmers, but they are actually quite capable of crossing small bodies of water without any help. It is only when humans harass them that the animals get stressed and run into problems.
“As the state’s wildlife management agency, we have a responsibility to protect the wildlife resource,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR enforcement director. “Chasing wildlife with any type of motorized vehicle is unacceptable.”
Timm is charged with one count of animal cruelty and one count of using a motor vehicle to chase wildlife. Each charge carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and 90 days in jail if convicted.
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