(Brandon Greeley poses with one of the bears that was recovered from his freezer during a search. The DNR said he didn't have a valid license for the bear.)

After a multi-year investigation, a Minnesota bear guide faces nearly $4,000 in fines and restitution after recently pleading guilty in Cook and Faribault county district courts to illegally hunting bear, deer and other animals.

Brandon R. Greeley, 28, of Blue Earth and a licensed bear guide in Tofte was convicted of several gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges, fined nearly $4,000, and his hunting privileges were revoked for three years.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, conservation officers began investigating Greeley in 2012. The DNR said his illegal activities with clients included reports of not having the proper zone license to hunt bear in a given area, illegally transferring a bear tag, failure to register a bear, and lending a bear license. Multiple other bear violations, committed by other hunters, were also detected during the investigation.

Greeley was also accused of shooting two bears in 2012 without a license and using a client’s bear tag. DNR records indicate that the client’s tag had been used to register four bears from 2007-2011, but the client had only taken two bears and couldn’t account for the registration of the additional bears.

Greeley convinced four clients, including two juveniles, to buy tags for the wrong zone when they weren’t drawn for the zone Greeley guides in, according to the DNR.

Three search warrants executed at properties owned by Greeley and his parents in Blue Earth, Winnebago and Tofte uncovered a bevy of illegal game, the DNR reported. This evidence provided investigative leads from the Iowa border area to northern Minnesota to Mississippi, and involved multiple emails and pictures of unlawful natural resources activities.

Investigators seized more than 100 items during the searches, including over 150 traps, six black bear hides, multiple deer quarters, fish and other furbearing animals. Officers worked with prosecutors in both Cook and Faribault counties to have Greeley charged.

During recent sentencing in Cook County, Greeley was convicted of a gross misdemeanor involving the unlawful transportation of wild animals and ordered to pay fines and restitution of $2,420. Greeley was also convicted of a misdemeanor involving the illegal take of deer without a hunting license. In both instances he was ordered by Cook County District Court Judge Michael Cuzzo not to be present in any hunting camp; not be in the field or accompany or assist any other hunters, including but not limited to, guiding, transporting, baiting, scouting, or possession of big game; and not to engage in any hunting, guiding, or outfitting activities. Greeley will also lose hunting privileges for three years.

In Faribault County, Greeley was convicted of misdemeanor illegal taking, buying, selling, transporting, or possessing of protected wild animals and faces $1,495 in fines and restitution.

“Poachers steal from honest hunters, anglers, and all of us who responsibly enjoy our state’s natural riches,” Ken Soring, DNR enforcement chief, said in a news release.

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