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Teens plead guilty to killing 109 American Coots

PARK RAPIDS -- Two juvenile teen brothers from Laporte and another juvenile teen from Akeley have been fined $1,600 and placed on probation after pleading guilty on Feb. 4 to killing 109 American Coots.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced the sentences Friday.

The American Coots are defined as migratory game birds and protected by both state and federal law.

Often mistaken for a duck, the American Coot is a common waterbird. Its all black body and white chicken-like beak distinguish this swimming rail from ducks.

Acting on a phone call, DNR Conservation Officer Paul Parthun recovered 109 dead coots from the Hart Lake near Laporte in northwestern Minnesota last October. He also found shell casings for both 12-guage and 20-guage shotguns and shotgun shell boxes with identification that they were purchased from a local sporting goods store.

A DNR waterfowl specialist confirmed the coots were shot and did not die of disease.

During an interview with Parthun and another officer, one of the teens confirmed that his brother and a friend were duck hunting on Hart Lake the morning of Oct. 12. They observed a large flock of coots on the water and "shot quite a few out of that big flock." He also admitted they left lots of birds on the water, and told the group that "We're going to get in trouble for this."

"It's an unfortunate incident, but hopefully a learning experience for these young men," Parthun said.

Anyone witnessing wildlife or fishing violations is encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer, law enforcement agency or the toll-free Turn-In-Poacher (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093.