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Minnesota seizes 37 guns, 28 sets of antlers in Lac qui Parle deer case

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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers seized 37 guns and 28 sets of deer antlers from the residence of Joshua Liebl in Dawson. He is one of several violators being charged after a five-year deer investigation by the DNR. Submitted photo
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MADISON, Minn.  - Charges have been filed against a number of violators following a five-year deer investigation recently completed by conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

According to a news release, conservation officers on Oct. 21 executed a search warrant in Dawson in far west-central Minnesota in a home owned by Joshua Liebl, 37. Simultaneously, other conservation officers conducted a traffic stop near Dawson on a pickup owned by and being driven by Liebl and executed a second search warrant on the truck.

Officers seized 37 guns and 28 sets of deer antlers from the residence, which included 11 shoulder mounts, most of which were trophy-class animals, the release states. Also seized were four sets of elk antlers and a set of mule deer antlers. In a freezer, officers also discovered a fully intact piebald deer, which was untagged and had been killed with a high-powered rifle. Piebald deer have a spotting pattern of large, white and black patches.

"Since 2004, Liebl has registered four deer," said Lt. Gary Nordseth, DNR enforcement district supervisor in the Marshall area, in the release.

Seized from the truck was a freshly killed, eight-point whitetail buck, which investigators determined had been killed with a high-powered rifle.

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At this time, Liebl's Minnesota hunting privileges are revoked by the Wildlife Violator Compact due to a shining conviction in South Dakota in 2013.

The Wildlife Violator Compact is an agreement between states that recognizes the suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses in member states. Minnesota and South Dakota are among the 43 states that participate in the compact.

Also seized from the truck was a scoped .243-caliber rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, numerous rounds of ammunition for each firearm, and a spotlight.

Other evidence collected in the search warrants resulted in charges being filed against:

  • Kevin Martinson, 58, of Plymouth, charged with lend/borrow a deer license.
  • Nate Viesman, 32, of Watson, was charged with illegal party hunting, lend/borrow a deer license, over limit of deer (one of which was a trophy-class buck) and two counts of failure to register deer.
  • Daniel Lien, 33, also of Dawson, a passenger in Liebl's truck when it was stopped Oct. 21, has been charged with gross misdemeanor aiding and abetting unlawful transportation of big game.

Liebl has been charged with gross misdemeanor transporting illegally taken big game, gross misdemeanor use of an artificial light to take deer, hunting during prohibited time, gross misdemeanor trespassing and two counts of failure to register deer.
The investigation also resulted in the seizure of Liebl's pickup truck, which will be auctioned off at a later date with the proceeds going to the DNR's Game and Fish Fund.

"This case is the result of numerous Turn In Poachers (TIP) complaints from the public," Nordseth said.

The public complaints were calls placed to the TIP program, which was formed in September 1981 by a group of concerned citizens and conservationists to initially curb the illegal harvest of game and fish in Minnesota. Calls today also include wetlands, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile violations.

The deer investigation case was coined "Operation TIP Works."

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Minnesota conservation officers were assisted in the investigation by the Lac qui Parle Sheriff's Office, Chippewa County Sheriff's Office, Montevideo Police Department, Dawson Police Department, and the South Dakota Department of Game and Fish.

"Cases such as these go to show the importance of TIP in protecting and preserving our natural resources," Nordseth said. "They also show how invaluable TIP, its programs and its volunteers are to our field officers, and the importance of law-abiding outdoorsmen and women willing to make the calls.

"I would bet that you couldn't find a more dedicated group anywhere in the state," he said.

The conservation officer encourages anyone who witnesses a fish or wildlife violation to contact the 24-hour, TIP hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.

The Lac qui Parle County Attorney's Office will be prosecuting the case. Court dates have not been set.

Related Topics: DAWSONMADISON
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