High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

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Ben Sobieck
 
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High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby Ben Sobieck » Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:05 am

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press

Where there are urban deer, there is deer poaching.

That's true even if the deer is standing along the shoulder of one of the Twin Cities' busiest freeway intersections at interstates 35E and eastbound 694 in Little Canada.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers say the Nov. 6 shooting of a 15-point trophy buck with a crossbow just a stone's throw from morning traffic highlights a growing problem: Deer are being shot illegally in urbanized areas, often dangerously, right under the public's nose.

The case involving Robert Mereness, 59, gets more bizarre. The Little Canada man told a DNR officer he shot the deer and pleaded guilty on Christmas Eve before Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch.

But Fetsch dismissed the charges for lack of facts and wished Mereness a "Merry Christmas," said attorney Kevin Beck, who prosecuted the case for the city of Little Canada.

"We're considering re-filing the case," Beck said Tuesday. "We weren't happy with (the decision), but I wasn't going to get into an argument with a judge on Christmas Eve."

A hunter who has followed the case said she wasn't happy with the judge's decision, either.

"I'm glad to hear they're looking at (the case) again," said Deb Luzinski, of Woodbury, a director for the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base, a nonprofit group that culls deer for municipalities.

"He (Mereness) may not understand what the consequences are of shooting a crossbow and hitting someone driving on
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the freeway that morning."

According to the DNR complaint, Mereness was letting his dog out when he saw the buck standing near a stop sign at Big Circle Drive and County Road D, a few hundred feet west of I-35E.

It was 9:30 a.m. when Mereness, who has a disability permit to hunt deer with a crossbow, went back inside his home for his crossbow. By the time he walked across County Road D, the buck had jumped the freeway fence and was walking uphill near the southbound ramp of 35E from eastbound 694.

The deer was 25 feet from the 35E shoulder when Mereness shot it, according to his statement to DNR conservation officer Greg Salo. The buck jumped back over the fence and died in a nearby parking lot. A passer-by helped Mereness load it into the trunk of his car.

A tip and subsequent investigation led Salo to Mereness. The Little Canada man told the DNR officer he thought he had killed the deer legally because it was standing in the freeway right of way, which is state property.

Salo cited Mereness for firing a weapon across a road right of way. The misdemeanor carries a $300 fine and $500 civil restitution penalty for the deer.

When I called Mereness for his side of the story, he refused to comment.

Salo could have charged Mereness $1,000 because under state statute the deer qualifies as a trophy buck and carries a higher fine. But Salo said he did not because Mereness lives on a fixed income and was cooperative.

And here is where empathy comes into the story: Knowing Mereness wanted some venison, Salo later gave him several packages of processed venison from a confiscated deer from a different poaching case.

"He lives in a trailer, has had a couple of strokes and doesn't have a lot of money," Salo said. "He's a decent guy, and he made a dumb mistake. I gave him the biggest break I could give him on the ticket.

"But when he got to court, he got a better deal than I thought."

Mereness promised Salo he would plead guilty, and he did when he appeared before Fetsch. But according to attorney Beck, Fetsch didn't have the full investigation report and wanted more facts before accepting the plea. Without the additional facts, Fetsch dismissed the case.

On Tuesday, Salo returned Mereness' confiscated crossbow and arrow, but he won't return the deer. Someday, it may be displayed in the DNR's traveling Hall of Shame poaching display.

When Little Canada Mayor Bill Blesener learned about the case Monday, he said he, too, was disappointed the charges were dismissed. Blesener said he sent an e-mail to the city attorney to find out why. Hunting is prohibited in Little Canada, and despite some complaints about the city's growing deer herd, the City Council is reluctant to issue any hunting permits, Blesener said.

"He (Mereness) certainly didn't have a permit to hunt," Blesener said. "You can't hunt in residential areas."

Salo said shooting a crossbow near freeway traffic posed a huge safety issue. Luzinski, a bowhunting expert, said a crossbow arrow easily could pierce a windshield.

Safety aside, urban deer poaching is a problem and easier to get away with than one might think, authorities say. Poachers sneak into woodlots under the cloak of darkness or shoot tame deer near feeders in back yards. And desirable trophy deer are more common in urban areas because of the lack of hunting.

"It happens a lot more than people think," Salo said. "The temptation is huge."

Luzinski said she sometimes finds hidden deer stands and poachers' arrows during organized bow hunts sanctioned by local communities. She has spotted camouflaged poachers stalking deer in no-hunting areas of Woodbury

"Nothing surprises me anymore," she said.

Outdoors editor Chris Niskanen can be reached at cniskanen@pioneerpress.com.

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dtrain56
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby dtrain56 » Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:01 pm

This is a problem but so is the lack of avalible hunting in urban areas,
 
which is a bigger crime??? poaching or not allowing hunting in city limits???
 
I live in Menter ohio, which does not allow hunting with in city limits, it has a metropark and a nature perserve along with several huntable tracks of land for a limited number of bow hunters but there is absolutley no hunting,
 
When my girl and i go for walks or bike rides we see deer almost everytime looking around for food, they are out almost anytime of the day and i can only imagine how many starve in the winter do to over population.
 
this year alone i have seen 4 pope and young bucks along with countless does and smaller bucks
 
the average person thinks it is cute to see the deer walking around in the middle of the day while i wounder; Is the competition for food so great that these deer are constantly searching to fill their hunger?
 
to bad to.. the ODNR could use a lottery system and charge big bucks for the right to hunt these areas for the chance, or nearly a garentee of a trophy whitetail..heck you could do it like an outfitter and charge $10,000 for a hunt and allow for as many doe as you can kill.
 
poaching is the lowest form of cockroach but keeping good hunting areas away from the public stinks just as bad especially when these towns hire "sharp shooters" in to do the job later in the year
 
 
 

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DeerCamp
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby DeerCamp » Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:07 pm

Salo cited Mereness for firing a weapon across a road right of way. The misdemeanor carries a $300 fine and $500 civil restitution penalty for the deer.

 
 
Im not sure if this makes any sense but I know in Michigan.. You can shoot a gun down a road way at a deer. However if you hurt someone you are then charged for it.( I found this out from a dnr officer here.) I think all these law's are stupid. Keep the guns as far as possiable from the road!
"If I pull the hammer and shoot this young buck, he's dead. But if I pass on him, the next hunter might not shoot so straight."

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dtrain56
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby dtrain56 » Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:17 pm

I don't think guns in an urban area are very safe, but a bow...which  has a limited effective range\, you are usually shooting down hill via a tree stand, and you need to clearly identify your target to shoot.
 
WHY are sharp shooters allowed but bow hunting not????

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buckhunter21
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby buckhunter21 » Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:41 am

poaching is poaching...no excuses.  but yes, maybe they should do something about that urban deer population in the twin cities and other cities.  i work in st. paul and almost see more deer in the burbs on the way to work than i do in the country in wi where i live!
QDM!

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Patriot
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby Patriot » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:20 am

Wow!  I just read this article.  I know exactly where this took place since I commute that way every day.
 
[:'(][:'(][:'(] to both the poacher and the judge.
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nayrfj
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby nayrfj » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:11 am

So this senior citizen kills a deer on a public right-of-way. How about reading between the lines a little bit. This guy was killing to eat. He should have received a warning from the DNR or the police and let it go at that. Be thankful for a judge who not only showed common sense, but compassion also.
....And in reply to dtrain56..Bowhunting is not used to cull urban herds because you can't have little Johnny on his way home from school, running home to mom screaming about "bambie with the arrow in his chest!" in the park. These types of things put the antis off their afternoon snack.

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fasteddie
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby fasteddie » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:17 am

They cull deer in Irondiquoit , NY by using bowhunters . The town used to pay off duty cops to shoot them over bait piles but it was costing the town too much . If they got the deer numbers down too quick , there goes the gravey pay . I always thought they should have paid the cops only when they shot a deer .
Anyway , they opened it up to Bow Hunters a few years ago . You need to shoot a special score to get certified and you are placed in a designated spot . I think (but not sure) that the bowhunters are allowed to hunt between 8 am - 12 noon .
It has been working for the town ..........
Semper Fi !

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Patriot
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby Patriot » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:18 am

If he was killing to eat, he could very easily apply for one of several controlled metro hunts very nearby this same area.  I am aware of specific areas nearby.
 
I completely agree that we can't have folks running around with bows in metro areas, unless it's under controlled conditions.
 
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fasteddie
 
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RE: High urban deer numbers tempt poachers

Postby fasteddie » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:33 am

And if I am reading nayrfj right , he thinks it's okay to break the law if someone is hungry . [8|]
There are a lot of food pantrys around the country . And if the guy was on welfare , maybe he should get rid of his cable tv and use the money for food . We donate 1 or 2 deer to Hunter's for the Hungry each year and donate food weekly at church for the food pantry .
Semper Fi !

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