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Northern Minn. Hunter Faces Fine For Killing Protected Swan

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 26-year-old northern Minnesota man faces a fine of almost $400 after admitting to shooting and killing a tundra swan, a federally protected bird, last month, the Department of Natural Resources says.

Steven L. Theis, of Baudette, has been charged with shooting a nongame migratory bird, a misdemeanor. If convicted he faces fines and restitution of $375. DNR officials learned of the shooting on Oct. 23 after a Turn in Poachers call informed them that hunters shot a swan on Four Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods.

Capt. Jim Dunn met the hunters, one of which was Theis, on the lake's shore and asked them about the swan. Theis then admitted to shooting it and throwing it in the weeds after realizing it was federally protected.

Theis said he thought the swan was a snow goose.

"There's really no excuse for shooting one," Dunn said, in a DNR press release, "because Minnesota hunters won't encounter any other waterfowl as large as a trumpeter or tundra swan, two of the largest waterfowl in the world."

Tundra swans weigh 16-23 pounds and have wingspans over 5-feet long, as well as a long neck, the DNR said. Tundra swans are also all white, with black bills.

Snow geese, on the other hand, are much smaller. They, too, are mostly white, but they have black wingtips and a pink bill. They also weigh only 6 or 7 pounds.

"It's like comparing a Volkswagen to a Cadillac," Dunn said.

The DNR says that it warns hunters every fall to avoid making such mistakes. Notices are printing on hunting regulations and signs are posted near lakes frequented by the swans.

Despite those warnings, swans are still shot and killed every year, the DNR said.

If you see someone kill a tundra swan, or any other protected animal, call the Turn in Poachers line at 800-652-9093.

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