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2 charged with illegally shooting bear in Roseau County

Two men have been charged in Roseau County for taking a bear illegally.

Thor Vettleson, 25, Wannaska, Minn., was charged with aiding and abetting using artificial lights to locate animals, taking and possessing big game out of season, aid and abet transporting illegal big game and taking big game without a license.

Adam Solberg, 23, Salol, Minn., was charged with using artificial lights to locate animals, aiding and abetting taking and possessing big game out of season and transporting big game illegally.

According to court records:

Roseau County sheriff's deputy Kyle Mlynar stopped Solberg and Vettleson early the morning of Aug. 25 after receiving a citizen complaint of shots being fired. The two men told the deputy they had shot and killed a bear that was destroying a beehive box.

Solberg worked for a beekeeper having problems with bears.

That evening, the deputy and Ben Huener, a conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, went to Vettleson's home. He told the officers he'd accompanied Solberg, who had a broken collarbone, to fire the rifle. Vettleson brought his Browning BLR .270 rifle to shoot the bear and said the two used a spotlight belonging to Solberg to locate the animal.

Vettleson said he stepped out of Solberg's pickup truck and shot the bear twice. He and Solberg then loaded the dead bear into the pickup and left. Vettleson said Solberg had told him this was legal.

Huener then went to Solberg's house. Solberg said he and Vettleson had patrolled the area for bears the previous night, just as they had done many times before, and that two other area conservation officers had approved this, telling him he could buy a no-quota license that would allow him to kill a nuisance bear before the start of hunting season.

The two officers, Larry Milbridge and Jeff Birchem, later denied ever giving Solberg permission to take a bear at night using a spotlight.

Solberg said he met up with Vettleson before sundown, and they spotted a bear with the spotlight shortly before 10 p.m. He then stopped the truck, and Vettleson got out and fired twice at the bear, hitting the animal both times and killing it.

Solberg said he didn't have a license or have one signed by a conservation officer. The bear also was killed in a permit area where a no-quota license wouldn't be valid.

Solberg also denied tagging the bear or notifying a conservation officer he had shot the bear, all of which are required by law.

He said they then loaded and transported the animal to a residence in Warroad, Minn., where Milbridge later seized a portion of the bear meat.

Solberg made his initial court appearance Oct. 19 in Roseau County District Court, and the case was continued to Nov. 16, court records show. Vettleson is scheduled to make his first appearance Monday.

The charges are gross misdemeanors except taking big game without a license, which is a misdemeanor.