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Minnesota Fish-Poaching Cases Going Nowhere

Walleye
Scott Olson, Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Federal officials promised an aggressive crackdown on fish poaching from lakes in northern Minnesota but the cases have languished, raising concerns that unchecked poaching will ruin the catch for law-abiding anglers.

Ten federal indictments were announced last year. Since then, four cases were dismissed, four more were overturned at a judge’s discretion and two remain on hold.

The 10 men were indicted on charges of illegally netting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of walleyes and other fish from the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations.

Former federal prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger says it’s unfortunate that people aren’t being held accountable.

But some tribal members wonder whether the indictments were too heavy-handed. They say they’re happy letting tribal conservation officers handle poaching issues.

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