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Chisholm man pleads guilty in trapping case

DULUTH, Minn. — One of two Chisholm men admitted Monday, June 26, to his role in what authorities said was one of the state's largest trapping cases on record.

Douglas Anthony Marana, 70, pleaded guilty to four criminal charges at a hearing in State District Court in Duluth.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials said in March that they seized 638 snares illegally set by Marana and 68-year-old Roderick Robert Kottom during a two-year investigation.

Marana entered the pleas to a gross misdemeanor charge of illegally taking or possessing pine marten, otter, fisher or wolverine; misdemeanor counts of failure to check snares daily and using snares larger than permitted; and a petty misdemeanor charge of using untagged traps or snares.

Senior Judge Peter Albrecht sentenced Marana to 120 days in jail, but stayed the term for two years of unsupervised probation. He was fined $1,260, ordered to contribute to joint restitution of $1,240 and must avoid any same or similar offenses.

Marana did not have any prior criminal record, according to a check of court records.

According to a criminal complaint, the investigation began in December 2014 when Duluth conservation officer Kipp Duncan received a tip about a wolf possibly caught in a trap north of Duluth. Duncan found a wolf in a snare at the location.

In the same area where that snare was found, according to the complaint, Duncan found numerous other snares matching the snare type and bait used to take the wolf.

That eventually led to a lengthy investigation of Marana and Kottom that grew to include a large area of St. Louis County and parts of Itasca, Koochiching and Lake counties. Officers seized 17 foxes, two fishers, five snowshoe hares and one deer illegally trapped on the trap lines, according to the complaint.

During the the investigation, conservation officers obtained a warrant to place a GPS tracking device on Kottom's vehicle, and also executed search warrants at both defendants' homes.

During the search of the Marana residence, the complaint stated, officers seized a GPS device that contained data mapping out the various trapping routes of Kottom and Marana.

Under state law, snares must be checked daily by trappers. It would be virtually impossible for two trappers to check 638 snares daily, said Tom Provost, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids.

"That is such a number that it's unheard of," he said in March. "This number of sets has not been surpassed in Minnesota before. Our average for fail-to-attend traps or snares would be one to 10. Ten would be a big number in any other case."

Kottom, whose case has been delayed due to health issues, is scheduled to make a court appearance on July 27.