July 12, 2005
A Minnesota man faces thousands of dollars in fines and lengthy jail time for
allegedly poaching deer in 2004.
During the winter of 2003-2004, Minnesota Valley Park manager Frank Knoke
noticed a number of dead deer in the metro area park. Most had been shot in the
back of the head or neck with a single shot. The deer were left where they fell
within 100 yards of a roadway.
From January 2004 to December 2004, conservation officers (CO) from the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) worked an intensive stakeout
project. Between Jan.13 and April 6, officers found nine deer and recovered four
.22-caliber slugs. Officers did not have another incident until December, when
two deer were found shot in the park and two more .22-caliber bullets were
Late Christmas Eve 2004, CO Thephong Le was on duty when he noticed a vehicle
approach the park and stop. He then heard a single gunshot from the vehicle.
Officer Le stopped the vehicle driven by Reed Joseph Poitra, Jr., 22, of Jordan.
Le saw an uncased .22-caliber rifle behind the driver's seat; unloading the gun
he ejected an empty shell casing. Le also found .22-caliber rifle ammunition in
the vehicle and empty .22-caliber casings on the floor.
Le and DNR Enforcement District supervisor Lt. Scott Carlson returned to the
location where Poitra had stopped his vehicle and discovered a freshly killed
doe in a nearby field. Poitra was transported to the Scott County jail where he
denied any knowledge of the shootings.
The officers determined that the ammunition found in Poitra's vehicle, and the
bullets recovered from seven of the deer, were the same type and not commonly
used in Scott County. They sent the casings and bullets to the Minnesota Bureau
of Criminal Apprehension Laboratory for testing, which confirmed two of the
bullets had been fired from Poitra's rifle. Tests of other bullets were
inconclusive, but based on class characteristics, neither could those bullets be
eliminated as having been fired from the rifle.
Poitra was charged June 22, 2005, with three counts of taking deer out of
season, three counts of taking deer without a license, three counts of taking
deer with an illegal firearm, one count of transporting a loaded/uncased firearm
in a motor vehicle, and one count of discharging a firearm at a wild animal from
a motor vehicle. Poitra faces maximum penalties of $23,000 in fines and seven
years in jail. He could also be responsible for $1,500 in restitution for three
Poitra's court date has been set for July 29 in Scott County District Court in