The boater accused of causing a deer to drown in a Minnesota lake has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty.

The Forum News Service reports that Steven Timm, 55, of Moorhead, entered his plea via a letter sent to the judge on Thursday.

Also contained within the letter was a request from his attorney, Jade Rosenfeldt, that the written plea represent his first court appearance, which was accepted by the judge.

According to the Associated Press, he will make his next court appearance on Dec. 10.

The charge relates to an incident on Sept. 6 on Tulaby Lake, in Mahnomen County.

Witnesses told the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that man in a pontoon followed a deer that was swimming in the lake, circled it with his boat and prevented it from getting to shore. The deer then became exhausted and died.

However, Timm has previously said he wasn’t trying to hurt the deer. He told the DNR he had been fishing when he noticed something swimming and went to check it out.

When he got closer to the deer, it began swimming farther out in the lake, so he attempted to turn the deer back towards shore using his pontoon, he told the DNR.

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