According to a press release from the Pine County Sheriff’s Department the official search efforts for missing hunter David Lee Peltier were suspended at dark on November 7. Peltier had been reported missing on November 4 by members of his deer hunting party. The group was hunting in the Nemadji State Forest along the Gandy Dancer Trail near “Belden.” Peltier was reported missing after he did not return to the group’s cabin on the evening of November 3. Since receiving the report on November 4, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by multiple agencies as well as family and friends of Mr. Peltier, searched the area with no sign of him. Over 100 volunteers, along with personnel from: Minnesota DNR-conservation officers, Minnesota DNR-Forestry, North Star Search and Rescue K-9, and St. Louis County Search & Rescue worked along with family to search by foot, ATV, swamp accessible machinery and aircraft-including drone.
"The search efforts are not called off, and we will be continuing to check the area and any new information we receive," said Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson. "Based on the information we have and the weather during the week it was determined the likelihood of him surviving was extremely low to none. We had multiple people cover the area on foot and with various types of vehicles (ATV, tracked vehicles and helicopter). At this time, I think we have covered the places we expected he might be, and there is no good information that would push the ground effort in a new direction. We do have a volunteer group that will be out there through Friday continuing with the ground search. I plan on asking for continued flights over the area and K9 teams to assist with searching in an ongoing effort to bring closure to the family."
Sheriff Nelson added, "This is one of the most difficult decisions that I have had to make, in that I feel I have taken someone’s hope from them. It was not easy to draw back some of our resources, but I feel it was necessary at this point. The family was understanding of that decision as we talked. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and we will continue to work with them to bring them closure."
The Sheriff’s Office will continue to follow up on any new information received. Mr. Peltier had rode to the area with friends and no vehicle is being looked for. Hunters who will be in the area these next few weeks are asked to keep watch and report anything found to the Sheriff’s Office. The Nemadji State Forest encompasses nearly 92,000 acres in both Pine and Carlton County.
Thank you to all involved in the search effort.
According to a family member there is a private search team out today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday). They are welcoming well equipped volunteers for tomorrow (Friday) only (people with ATVs, GPS, proper waterproof gear and blaze orange). They are currently waiting to hear on a start time for tomorrow's search. We will post any information in the comments.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) organized a search party Tuesday morning at the Askov Community Center for David Peltier, age 59, who was hunting in the Nemadji State Forest Saturday. The Sheriff’s Office was notified he was missing late Sunday morning.
Sheriff Jeff Nelson said his department and Peltier’s family and friends searched Sunday until dark, then North Star Search and Rescue and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined the Sheriff’s Office and friends and family, approximately 25 in all, in a search of the Belden area of the state forest Monday from early morning to dark. A drone was also used in the search; however, the densely wooded area made drone use a bit difficult, Nelson explained.
Unfortunately, Nelson said, there is no air support available for the search due to the rainy and cloudy weather.Nelson said Tuesday he had enough volunteers, around 50, searching the forest. Adding to the search crew from Monday was St. Louis County Rescue, more DNR personnel, Forestry as well as Conservation officers, and more of Peltier’s family and friends.
According to Tom Provost of the DNR, the Nemadji State Forest is about as “remote as you can get in this part of the state”. There are square miles with no roads, blowdown is present, and everything is wet now, making a search in this area particularly challenging. Ground searching with dogs and humans on foot is likely the most effective for now.
“Time is a challenge,” he said due to the danger of hypothermia.
One device Provost is hoping they will get a chance to use aerially, if the weather clears, is called FLIR, for forward looking infrared. It captures differences in heat, so a warm body will stand out from the cool background. It is especially useful from the air but is only helpful as far forward as one can see in a dense forest.
If anyone sees Peltier or signs of his whereabouts, call the PCSO right away at (320) 629-8380 or call 9-1-1..