Duluth man convicted in headless-bear case

Aaron Alan Horn was given probation and ordered to pay $540.

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DULUTH — A man has been convicted of two crimes in the high-profile September killing of a black bear that was dumped along a parking lot near popular hiking trails in the city.

Aaron Alan Horn, 29, of Duluth, pleaded guilty and was convicted Jan. 27 of illegal transportation of big game and wanton waste in the case.

Horn was sentenced to unsupervised probation and was ordered to pay $540 in fines, court fees and restitution to the state for the value of the bear. Both crimes were considered misdemeanors. Horn also forfeited the bow he used to kill the bear.

Two additional charges, littering and violation of bear hunting regulations, were dismissed by Senior State District Court Judge Mark Starr in Duluth.

The case was first reported in the News Tribune in September and circulated widely on social media after several people saw the bear carcass, which had its head cut off, along a city-owned parking lot near Amity Creek, just off Jean Duluth Road.


Details remain unclear how or where the bear was killed.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Kipp Duncan was called to the scene Sept. 17. According to the criminal complaint, Duncan investigated and quickly surmised the bear had been shot with an arrow, probably somewhere else, and then dumped at the site, because there were no drag marks where the bear torso was located.

The complaint notes Duncan received numerous tips, interviewed numerous people and that Horn eventually confessed to shooting the bear with a bow and arrow Sept. 14 outside his father's house not far from where the carcass was found. Horn also admitted that he did not have a valid bear hunting license at the time for that permit area. According to the complaint, Horn and several friends tracked the wounded bear and eventually found it dead, but didn't attempt to retrieve it until the next day. High temperatures that day reached 81 degrees and dropped to just 60 degrees at night, which would cause the bear's meat to spoil within hours.

Horn brought the bear to Chalstrom's Bait and Tackle on Sept. 15 for registration and to have the meat processed there, but was told immediately the bear was spoiled and unusable. According to the complaint, Horn initially denied dumping the carcass on the city property near his father's house, but later admitted to it.

It's unclear why the head had been removed from the body, although it's not unusual for hunters to keep the bear skull as a trophy.

Duncan thanked the public for following up on the News Tribune article, saying numerous people provided information that helped solve the case.

One year after the Lake County wildfire, the scorched Superior National Forest, cabin owners and McDougal Lake Campground all show resilience.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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