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Man charged in poaching, pot operation

Stephen Donald Battin Sr.

A Big Lake man faces a litany of hunting violations after DNR conservation officers raided a hunting camp weeks before deer season opened.

Stephen Donald Battin Sr., 60, also faces a Third Degree Controlled Substance charge when the officers found 42 pounds of pot growing adjacent to the camp.

He is scheduled for an omnibus hearing this winter in Hubbard County District Court.

The investigation began in October when CO Sam Hunter requested a DNR plane to take her up in the air to look into a tip that a suspected deer baiting operation had been set up on Potlatch-leased forestland near Badoura State Forest.

Battin was the leaseholder, according to the criminal complaint.

Hunter observed a tarp set up near a deer stand. She then got a call about a deer head left near the camp and ATV tire tracks running in and out of the area.

When Hunter and CO Colleen Adam returned to speak to the leaseholders, they discovered marijuana growing near a trail and called the Drug Task Force, the complaint states.

During the investigation of the hunting incidents, a witness told them he saw Battin poach the deer from a vehicle and helped the defendant drag the animal to a spot where the head was removed and left.

According to Hunter's report, Battin did not attend a meeting "to clear up this misunderstanding."

He was subsequently charged.

"I would imagine he's lost his lease," Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said of the property. The state is awaiting test results to proceed further.

Battin is charged with Transporting Illegal Big Game outside the season. The charge carries a maximum of 1 year and/or a $3,000 fine. He is also charged with Discharging a Firearm at a Wild Animal from a Motor Vehicle, Discharging Firearms and Bows and Arrows on a public highway and Wanton Waste of a deer. Each of those charges carries a maximum of 90 days and/or a $1,000 fine upon conviction.

He also faces loss of his hunting privileges.

The stiffest penalty could come from the drug charge. Batting faces a Third Degree Controlled Substance crime, for allegedly growing 42 pounds of marijuana on the site. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and/or a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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