A two-year investigation has resulted in charges being laid against two Minnesota men in what is believed to be the largest and most extensive illegal trapping cases the state has ever seen.
Douglas Anthony Marana, 70 and Roderick Kottom, 68 have since been charged with four counts of illegal trapping after Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers seized a total of 638 illegal snares.
“That is such a number that it’s unheard of,” Tom Provost, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids told the Duluth News Tribune. “This number of sets has not been surpassed in Minnesota before. Our average for fail-to-attend traps or snares would be one to 10. Ten would be a big number in any other case.”
The two-year investigation was spurred back in December 2014 after a tip was received about a wolf caught in a trap. Responding officers not only recovered the trapped wolf but also uncovered multiple similar snare sets and matching bait piles.
The investigation involved approximately 20 conservation officers spread across four counties who ultimately recovered 17 foxes, two fishers, five snowshoe hares and one whitetail deer caught across the trap lines.
A warrant to place a GPS tracking device on Kottom’s vehicle was eventually acquired by investigators, giving authorities all they needed to eventually serve and execute search warrants at both of the men’s residences.
In addition to the previously listed animals, officers also uncovered and seized five frozen red foxes and a frozen fisher, all with untagged snares still attached to the carcasses.
The defendants are now awaiting an April 13 court appearance where they face gross misdemeanor charges of illegally taking or possessing pine marten, otter, fisher or wolverine; misdemeanor charges of failure to check snares daily; misdemeanor charges of using snares larger than permitted; and petty misdemeanor charges of using untagged traps or snares.
The two men could face up to 12 months imprisonment and a $3,000 fine for conviction on the gross misdemeanor charge along with other fines for additional charges.