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Cameras were installed near the site, leading authorities to the culprits.
By Trevor Squire
Two northern Minnesota trappers were charged with setting illegal wire snares and neglecting to check them, taking bears, wolves, deer and other wildlife over the course of two years.
Brad Dumonceaux, 44, and Stephen Bemboom, 60, face over $70,000 in potential fines and jail time if found guilty to charges filed in Itasca County District Court last Friday.
The snares used during the two-year investigation were larger than the state regulated 10-inch diameter and also lacked tag identification. State law states snares not capable of drowning the captured animal must be tended daily.
According to charges filed against Dumonceaux and Bemboom:
The investigation began after a conservation officer received a tip from the Department of Natural Resources that two wolves were snared on public land south of Alvwood in April 2015. The officer met with a forester, who led him to a bait site that contained “rib cages and other bones from what appeared to be more than 30 butchered whitetail deer,” the complaint said.
On a nearby trail, a live wolf was extremely skinny and teeth had been damaged from biting the snare. The officer put down the wolf as it wasn’t in the condition to be released. They came across two other dead wolves before finding one that was originally reported.
A month later, authorities returned to collect additional evidence and found a dead beaver with a bullet hole in its head. Four wolf corpses were dragged and hidden under conifer trees, and several of the snares were removed from the area. A conservation officer came across a dead deer while leaving the scene. Cameras were installed near the bait site in December 2015.
In June 2016, an officer returned to the site and found six snares, two which contained wolf remains. The cameras didn’t capture any human activity at the site until late November that year, when Dumonceaux and Bemboom were photographed resetting the traps.
A year later, authorities returned to the site to pull the cameras and found the remains of a sow black bear and a cub. After reviewing photos on the cameras, the mother bear’s paw was snared and she lived at least 19 days after being trapped before dying.
After an officer filed a search warrant and approached Dumonceaux, he admitted to not checking the traps daily. In total, the traps took seven gray wolves, two black bears and two deer out-of-season, along with other wildlife over the course of a two-year investigation.
The bait site was approximately a mile from Dumonceaux’s cabin, which is the closest dwelling to the site. The two had registered gray wolves they trapped five years ago before the season was closed from 2015 to 2017.
Dumonceaux and Bemboom, both natives of Foley, were convicted of failure to tend traps in Becker County in 2016, where they left beaver carcasses for several weeks.
Their first appearance in court is scheduled for May 21.
Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.