DNR reports: Loaded gun driving mishaps, bear in corn chopper and more

As a new hunting season begins, officers report hundreds of leftover casings, unsafe shots and loaded guns in cars
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If you're not familiar with them (or our near-weekly series), the Minnesota DNR issues every week a list of reports from its dozens of conservation officers patrolling the state.

The reports can often be fairly run-of-the-mill – issuing citations for fishing without a license, for example – but quite often they feature something unusual, or downright delightful. There's also the occasional pertinent PSA. 

Here's a look at some of the stories that stood out from reports from the last two weeks:

Hunters: No loaded guns in cars, pick up your casings, and  WATCH YOUR AIM

A "popular and disturbing violation" has been hunters keeping their firearms loaded when in their cars, CO John Slatinski IV says. 

"In one instance, the individual had a loaded shotgun in the cab of their pickup with the safety in the fire position with an excited dog also in the cab stepping on the gun. Situations like this are prime for a bad ending to a good day," he wrote. 

The same violation was noted by officers across the state. In addition, unsafe shots have been reported. 

In Hovland, CO Mary Manning took a call from someone who watched a hunter shoot from his Jeep window at a grouse near a residence. Things were worse in Winona, where CO Tom Hemker says a group of waterfowl hunters accidentally shot someone sitting on her screened porch

Also, don't forget to pick up once you're done, CO Ben Karon writes: "Yes, this includes the hundreds of shells and spent casings you leave behind." 

Illegal spruce top harvesting

While being stopped for a traffic violation, a man was found to be illegally transporting 1,000 spruce tops, often sold to retailers as decorations

This is fairly common in the northeastern part of the state, though 1,000 is a "noteworthy volume," said Joe Albert, communications coordinator with the Minnesota DNR. 

When told his car would be towed, he deflated the tires and dissembled the lights, CO Shane Zavodnik writes. Zavodnik stopped the same man in a different pick-up truck the following week, and again seized his illegal spruce tops. 

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Bear tragedy

In Long Prairie, a bear was "apparently spooked" by a corn chopper, and ran into the machine while it was running. 

"I wouldn’t say it’s common for this to occur, but it does happen from time to time," Albert said. "Bears in some places find good cover in corn fields, but when it comes time for farmers to harvest there can be issues."

With severe injuries, the bear managed to run away to a nearby swamp, CO Keith Bertram reports. Because of its injuries, the bear was euthanized and its meat was salvaged. 

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