- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Two Iron Range men are charged in a large-scale illegal trapping case that natural resources officials say is the biggest they’ve seen in the region.

Sixty-eight-year-old Roderick Kottom and 70-year-old Douglas Marana were charged this week in St. Louis County District Court with illegally taking or possessing pine marten, otter, fisher or wolverine.

Authorities said the men caught the wildlife using wire snares, which are legal in Minnesota. An animal going through the cable loop traps is cinched around the neck.

Kottom and Marana were also charged for failing to tend to the snares, making the loops of the snares too large and setting the snares without putting proper identification tags on them.

The charges follow an investigation that spanned more than two years. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources supervisor Lt. Brent Speldrich told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/2mKgAVO ) it’s the biggest illegal trapping case they’ve seen in the area.

Speldrich said the traps are required by law to be checked daily.

“This way, the animal is not suffering in an inhumane way,” he said.

Complaints filed against Kottom and Marana say a conservation officer, responding to a tip to the department, found a wolf in a snare and numerous other similar snares north of Duluth in December 2014.

This January, investigators seized nearly 640 illegal snares on trap lines allegedly set by the men. The lines were found in Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

Conservation officers located more than 15 foxes, two fisher, five snowshoe hares and one deer illegally taken on the trap lines. Conservation officers suspect another wolf and numerous dogs were also trapped along with the wolf found in the snare north of Duluth.

The men were charged by summons. They’re scheduled to appear in court April 13.

Phone messages the newspaper left with both men in an attempt for comment weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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