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Sentencing in dead cougar case includes fine and restitution

submitted photo A cougar was spotted and killed Sunday night in Round Lake Township after it ran out of a grove and hid in a culvert. The big cat's body in now in the possession of the DNR.

JACKSON -- The Round Lake man charged with the shooting of a cougar in Jackson County entered a written plea of guilty to taking a cougar in a closed season and waived his appearance in Jackson County District Court.

Daniel B. Hamann, 27, was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and another $1,000 in restitution to the state, according to court documents.

In a written plea, Hamann admitted to shooting the cougar Nov. 27, 2011.

"I flushed, with help, a cougar that was hiding in a culvert in rural Jackson County," Hamann wrote. "I shot and killed it. While the cougar was in the culvert, there was no imminent risk of harm. I recognize there is no open season for killing cougars in Minnesota."

The charge he pleaded to is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. The sentencing order states Hamann has until March 30 to pay the total of $2,000.

The shooting of the cougar was reported to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources the day after it happened by the men involved.

Bruce Ihnen, who had spotted the cougar in the glare of his headlights while at his brother's farm, chased it into the culvert and called Hamann, a neighbor.

They flushed the cat out and Hamann shot it.

Even though the cougar didn't get very close and never showed aggressive behavior, Ihnen found the animal's proximity to a farm with livestock and children "too close for comfort."

The corpse of the cat was kept in a cooler overnight, and the DNR picked it up a day later, but not before photos were taken and posted on Facebook, bringing more attention to the case than the men involved could have ever imagined.

According to the DNR, the cougar weighed approximately 125 pounds and was between 1 and 3 years old. DNR Predatory Biologist Dan Stark said the animal was aged based on the condition of a tooth that was pulled and analyzed.

Having the animal stuffed and mounted to use as an educational tool was being discussed by the DNR in early February.

The case against Hamann was filed Jan. 30, and the plea accepted March 1. An affidavit for restitution was filed earlier this week.