After 2 years of investigating, Minnesota DNR conservation officers have charged two men for illegal trapping activities, in what is expecting to be the largest poaching case of its kind in the state’s history.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Douglas Anthony Marana, 70, and Roderick Robert Kottom, 68, both from Chisholm, Minnesota, have been accused of deploying 638 illegally set snares.
It’s hard to even fathom running that many snares, and MN DNR regional enforcement supervisor, Tom Provost, seems to agree.
“That is such a number that it’s unheard of,” he said. “This number of sets has not been surpassed in Minnesota before. Our average for fail-to-attend traps or snares would be 1 to 10. Ten would be a big number in any other case.”
The men were charged with a laundry list of misdemeanors for illegally taking/possessing pine marten, otter, fisher and wolverine. They were charged for failing to tend snare (Minnesota law requires snares be checked daily) and for having their snare loops set too large.
Officers also allegedly seized 17 fox, five snowshoe hare, two fisher, and one deer the poachers had taken illegally. There are also suspicions going around that a number of dogs were trapped as well.
This case dates back to 2014, when a conservation officer received a tip that a wolf had been trapped in a snare. The News Tribune reports the officer responded to the call and came across numerous other snares nearby where the wolf was discovered.
After a little ground work, officers eventually obtained a warrant to track Kottom’s vehicle and also seized a GPS device from Marana’s home that lead the officers directly to all their trap sites.
“That had waypoint data,” Provost told the News Tribune. “(Marana and Kottom) did a good job of marking their trap sites for us.”
Marana had no previous poaching violations on his record, but his buddy Kottom has been down this road before. In 2004, he had fisher and pine marten pelts seized from his home, and was convicted on similar charges of unlawful trapping in 2007 and 2013 – those cases weren’t nearly as significant as this one, however. To add to his criminal resumé, Kottom was also fined and placed on probation in 2008 for possessing a mounted Canada lynx, which is a federally protected species in those parts.
The two men have been ordered to appear in court on April 13 and face a maximum of 1 year in prison for conviction on the misdemeanor charges. They will also be forced to pay costly fines adding up to $3,000.