ST. CLOUD – A St. Cloud man has been cited and fined for allegedly shooting and wounding squirrels with a blow gun.

Earlier this year, 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 sticking out of their bodies.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources led an investigation into the incident with assistance from the St. Cloud Police Department.

Joe Albert, Communications Coordinator for the Minnesota DNR’s Enforcement Division, says 26-year-old Shane Barnes has been charged in Sherburne County Court with taking or possessing squirrels in a closed season, which is a misdemeanor.

“People noticed that something was amiss and called to report it,” Albert says. “The eventual call that led to us identifying (Barnes) was from an anonymous individual.”

Albert says at least two squirrels were injured and two were killed.

 

Minnesota’s squirrel hunting season runs through February 28 and requires a small game license. While Barnes reportedly does possess the requisite license, Albert says the weapon, characterized as a dart-firing blow gun, is not considered legal for squirrel hunting in Minnesota by the DNR.

“You can only take squirrels with legal firearms, a bow and arrow or traps,” Albert says. “Blow guns do not fit into those parameters.”

Albert says it’s important to examine DNR regulations and local city ordinances governing weapons before heading out to hunt.

“Those (regulations) govern how you can hunt throughout the state,” he says. “If you’re in city limits, you need to determine if there’s a specific ordinance. For instance, the DNR will have a deer season where you can use firearms, but if you’re within city limits, it’s likely there’s an ordinance that says you can’t use firearms.”

“So, wherever you’re at, you really need to make sure you’re aware of the regulations, and what is and isn’t allowed,” Albert adds.

St. Cloud's city ordinance covering weapon use within city limits does not include any guidance on the use of blow dart guns.

Barnes faces a fine and court fees.

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