DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is investigating the death of a large buck that grew tired and eventually drowned after being followed and harassed by a pontoon boat driver.
The incident happened Sept. 6 on Tulaby Lake, which is in both Becker and Mahnomen counties in northwest Minnesota.
"It was out swimming in the lake, towards the north end of the lake on the Mahnomen County side," said Ray Thorkildson, who sits on the Tulaby Lake Association Board.
"The (guy) gets between the deer and land to block it and it turns away. Ultimately he ends up chasing it, according to a witness, and it ends up drowning - a beautiful big buck."
Thorkildson said his son dragged the deer's body to shore, where they helped load it into a pickup truck driven by DNR Conservation Officer Angela Warren, who confirmed there is an active investigation into the case. She could not be reached for further comment.
"I'm really upset and I sure hope something is done to the perpetrator," Thorkildson said.
The owner of the pontoon is known, he added, and it's also known that the person who chased the buck was visiting the owner of the pontoon. He declined to release any names, but said the information was given to the DNR.
Thorkildson said several people saw the incident and were sickened by the sight.
"One guy went out there and confronted the guy, asking 'What are you doing?' He got a photo of the pontoon and the registration number."
Col. Ken Soring, DNR Law Enforcement Division director in St. Paul, said he could not comment on the specific case until he reviewed the file.
But in general, in addition to whatever fine is imposed in district court, restitution for an illegally killed deer is $500, and that doubles if it is found to be a trophy animal according to the Boone and Crockett Club score chart, he said.
"It had a rack on it," Thorkildson said. "It was just absolutely a gorgeous buck."
Animal harassment incidents are unusual in Minnesota, Soring said.
"It's more of a rare occurrence; it's not real common," he said.