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Christmas Eve stop results in 11 counts for illegally taking deer

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 recovered.

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 deer.

Poitra's court date has been set for July 29 in Scott County District Court in Shakopee.



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