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Chronic poacher faces nearly $4,000 in fines, restitution in Minnesota

BLUE EARTH, Minn. -- A Minnesota bear guide who the state Department of Natural Resources called a “chronic poacher” has been placed on probation for two years and must pay almost $4,000 in fines and restitution.

Brandon R. Greeley, 28, of Blue Earth and a licensed bear guide in Tofte, is well known to DNR conservation officers in northern and southern Minnesota as a chronic poacher with previous fishing, trapping and hunting violations, said the agency.

After the latest investigation wrapped up, Greeley was convicted of gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges, fined and had his hunting privileges revoked for three years.

As conditions of probation, Cook County District Court Judge Michael Cuzzo last week also ordered that Greeley not be present in any hunting camp; not be in the field or accompany or assist any other hunters — including but not limited to guiding, transporting, baiting, scouting or possessing big game; and not engage in any hunting, guiding or outfitting activities.

He was fined and ordered to pay restitution of $2,420 by Cuzzo for his latest violations which were for unlawful transportation of wild animals and illegal take of a deer without a license.

Conservation officers began investigating Greeley in 2012, and it became apparent that he violated game laws involving bear, deer, furbearing animals and fish.

Greeley’s illegal activities with clients included reports of not having the proper zone license to hunt bear in a given area, illegally transferring a bear tag, failure to register a bear, and lending a bear license.

Greeley was also accused of shooting two bears in 2012 without a license and using a client’s bear tag.

He also was convicted in Faribault County last year of misdemeanor illegal taking, buying, selling, transporting, or possessing of protected wild animals. He was sentenced to a year of probation then and nearly $1,500 in fines and restitution in that case.

The charges in both counties stemmed from a multiyear DNR poaching investigation

Three search warrants executed at properties owned by Greeley and his parents in Blue Earth, Winnebago and Tofte uncovered a bevy of illegal game, according to the DNR. Investigators seized more than 100 items during the searches, including more than 150 traps, six black bear hides, multiple deer quarters, fish and other furbearing animals.

Multiple bear-hunting violations committed by other hunters also were detected during the investigation. Greeley allegedly convinced four clients, including two juveniles, to buy tags for the wrong zone when they weren't drawn for the zone Greeley guides in. Another client without a bear license videotaped himself shooting a bear and bragging about it. That bear was tagged by the hunter's father. Officers obtained a search warrant on that hunter's residence and seized a bear rug.

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