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Shoeless wilderness wanderer arrested after capturing fawn, keeping it 3 days

ELY, Minn. – A homeless man who was arrested by Canadian authorities one year ago after wandering the Quetico lakes wilderness with no shoes, no food and no passport is back in jail again — this time in St. Louis County after capturing a live fawn deer.

Aaron Nathaniel King, 27, was arrested Saturday in Ely by the Ely Police Department and remains in the St. Louis County Jail.

King had been arrested and released in August on a charge of trespassing at an Ely grocery store.

Meanwhile a warrant was issued Sept. 12 for King's arrest for illegally possessing big game out of season.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Lake County, King was seen carrying a live fawn deer in the area of Tin Can Mike Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Sean Williams spoke to witnesses who said they saw King sitting on a bench at a campsite on the lake "holding a live fawn deer."

The next day, Williams and two other conservation officers canoed into the BWCAW and spoke with other campers who reported seeing King with the deer, sometimes attempting to hide the deer from campers.

On June 9, Conservation Officer Anthony Bermel found King at the Ely Public Library. According to the complaint "the defendant indicated that he had jumped on the fawn deer because he planned to eat it but was unable to do so because he was full." King told conservation officers that he kept the fawn for three days.

King then told officers that he later decided to keep the fawn as a pet but what that it got weak as he walked toward Ely and that he left it alone near Low Lake. He said he believed it later died. Conservation officer couldn't locate the carcass.

According to the complaint, King was arrested and booked the week of Aug. 15 on the grocery store trespass charge but was apparently released and did not appear in court as ordered. The warrant on the deer charge was issued Sept. 12. The complaint says King is homeless.

"It took them a while to figure out how to process someone who doesn't have any address,'' Bermel told the News Tribune on Monday.

Bermel said King has been seen in and around Ely for months, scrounging food, panhandling and living in "stash camps" in and just outside town. He was a frequent visitor to the Ely library.

"I think he had a certain number of people in town (Ely) who would help him out, give him food. He'd go knock on doors at all the churches. ... But I think it was also getting old for some people," Bermel said. "He did spend a lot of time in the Boundary Waters. He goes in there for days at a time, then comes back to town."

According to a Boundary Waters blog site, King was seen by several people walking or camping in the Horse Lake area in July and asked people for food on another lake this summer.

King spent several weeks in a Fort Frances, Ontario jail in August, 2015, after being arrested for illegally crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. He was apprehended in Quetico Provincial Park, across the border from the BWCAW, where he had been reported wandering for several days.

Reports of his confronting campers to ask for food and fishing gear prompted Ontario authorities to close part of the park for several days until he was found. He was described by campers as both behaving unusually and as an "extreme survivalist" out testing his mettle.

King had no permit to camp in the park, officials say, and had never cleared customs to enter Canada.

Canadian officials refused to make public information on charges against him or his incarceration, although he was eventually set free and returned to the Ely area.

Ely Police last year said they had been asked to check on his welfare but that King had been doing nothing illegal.

King appears to have no previous criminal or civil court cases in Minnesota, records show, but was arrested on minor charges in Florida several years ago.

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