Giant poaching ring busted
Following a five year investigation, four Minnesota men have been charged with one of the most extreme cases of deer poaching conservation officers have seen in 17 years. The investigation, dubbed “Operation TIP Works,” is the result of numerous complaints from the public to the Minnesota Turn In Poachers program.
Thanks to the tips, officers searched the residence owned by 37-year-old Joshua Liebl in Dawson, Minnesota last October, seizing 37 guns and 28 sets of deer antlers, which included 11 shoulder mounts, 4 elk and 1 mule deer. Most of the animals seized were trophy class. Agents also found a fully intact piebald deer inside a freezer and a freshly killed eight point whitetail buck in a truck.
"Since 2004, Liebl has registered four deer," Lt. Gary Nordseth, DNR Enforcement district supervisor in the Marshall area, told The Northland News Center.
In fact, Liebl ‘s hunting privileges were revoked in 2013 by the Wildlife Violator Compact, which is an agreement between states that recognizes the suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses in member states, due to a shining conviction in South Dakota.
According to KARE11, evidence collected in the search warrants brought additional charges against three other men:
- Kevin Martinson, 58, of Plymouth, for illegally lending/borrowing a deer license.
- Nate Viesman, 32, of Watson, was charged with illegal party hunting, lending/borrowing a deer license, being over the 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. Lien was a passenger in Liebl's truck when it was stopped on Oct. 21, and he has been charged with gross misdemeanor aiding and abetting unlawful transportation of big game.
Officers also seized a scoped .243 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun, rounds of ammunition for each firearm, and a spotlight. Liebl’s pickup truck was also held during the investigation and will be auctioned off at a later date with proceeds going to the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund.
The Northland News Center reports that Liebl has officially been charged with gross misdemeanor, transporting illegally taken 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.