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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Small game overlimits plea costs man $6,560, privileges

Posted on Sat, Jun. 18, 2005

 BY MARK STODGHILL

NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

A Soudan man, whose attorney says is "too good a trapper for his own good," pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of small-game gross overlimits.

Fred Paul Precht, 50, admitted in St. Louis County District Court in Virginia that he took more than his legal limit of pine marten and fisher.

Under the terms of a plea agreement negotiated by Eveleth defense attorney Bruce Williams, five other counts of small-game gross overlimits and a count of failure to comply with game and fish laws were dismissed.

Judge James Florey ordered Precht to pay $5,660 in restitution to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a $900 fine to the St. Louis County court administrator.

Precht also loses his hunting and trapping privileges for five years.

"That will have a significant impact on Mr. Precht's life," Williams said. "Mr. Precht has no prior record, he is remorseful and accepts responsibility for his actions."

The charges resulted from a December investigation into Precht's trapping activities near Isabella, Minn., according to DNR. DNR conservation officers Marty Stage of Babbitt and Kipp Duncan of Two Harbors encountered Precht in the woods near Isabella checking traps.

Upon discovering that he had more traps out than he initially acknowledged, they followed Precht to his home in Soudan and obtained a search warrant to check for furs.

The officers found 44 pine martens, 13 fishers, eight otters, 12 mink, 85 packages of beaver (some with more than one beaver), 31 muskrats and two raccoons, the DNR said. A trapper may take only five pine martens and fishers combined in one season. The limit on otters is four. There is no limit on beavers, muskrats, mink or raccoons.

"Fred's going fishing this weekend, and he doesn't want me to tell anyone where," Williams said and laughed.


MARK STODGHILL reports on legal affairs and public safety. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 723-5333 or by e-mail at mstodghill@duluthnews.com .

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