ST. CLOUD – A St. Cloud man has been cited and fined for allegedly shooting and injuring squirrels with a blowgun.
Earlier this year, the St. Cloud-based organization Central Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation received reports of injured squirrels on the city’s southeast side.
Callers reported seeing squirrels with darts coming out of their bodies.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources led an investigation into the incident with the assistance of the St. Cloud Police Department.
Jose Albertocommunications coordinator for the Minnesota DNR Division of Enforcement, says a 26-year-old shan barnes has been charged in Sherburne County Court with taking or possessing squirrels in a closed season, which is a misdemeanor.
“People noticed something was wrong and they called to report it,” says Albert. “The eventual call that led us to identify (Barnes) was from an anonymous individual.”
Albert says that at least two squirrels were injured and two died.
Minnesota’s squirrel hunting season runs through February 28 and requires a small game hunting license. While Barnes reportedly holds the required license, Albert says the DNR does not consider the weapon, characterized as a dart-firing blowgun, legal for squirrel hunting in Minnesota.
“You can only hunt squirrels with legal firearms, a bow and arrow, or traps,” says Albert. “Air guns don’t fit those parameters.”
Albert says it’s important to review DNR regulations and local city ordinances that govern guns before you go hunting.
“Those (regulations) govern how you can hunt statewide,” he says. “If you are within the city limits, you need to determine if there is a specific ordinance. For example, the DNR will have a deer season where you can use firearms, but if you’re within the city limits, there’s probably an ordinance that says you can’t use firearms.”
“So wherever you are, you really need to make sure you are aware of the regulations and what is and is not allowed,” adds Albert.
The St. Cloud city ordinance covering the use of weapons within city limits does not include any guidance on the use of dart guns.
Barnes faces a fine and court fees.