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Second man charged poaching case

Dennis Cook

A Bloomington man has also been charged in a big game poaching case in which conservation officers discovered pot growing on leased hunting land in Hubbard County.

Dennis Michael Cook, 61, faces four charges in connection with the game violations near Badoura State Forest, and a Third Degree Controlled Substance Crime.

Cook and Stephen Donald Battin, 60, Big Lake, are charged with growing 42 pounds of marijuana at their hunting camp site.

The investigation into the game violations 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.

Battin was the leaseholder, according to the criminal complaint.

"Hunter observed a tarp or blanket cover near a deer stand indicating to her that someone was concealing a baiting area," the complaint states.

Hunter 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, Cook allegedly told investigators he witnessed Battin poach the deer from a vehicle and helped him 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."

Both men are charged with Transporting Illegal Big Game outside the season. The charge carries a maximum of 1 year and/or a $3,000 fine. Cook 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. Both men faces the Controlled Substance crime, , which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and/or a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Authorities discovered drying marijuana buds in Cook's trailer, the complaint states.