Leader of 2007 BWCAW Terror Spree Arrested in Wilderness Again

Barney Lakner in 2007
Barney Lakner in 2007

The man who was identified as the leader of a group of men who spread terror on Basswood Lake in 2007 was recently arrested violating wilderness regulations.

Barney Lakner, 44, of Ely was arrested January 11th with Edward Zupancich, 26, of Babbitt, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The incident again occurred on Basswood Lake.

Lakner and Zupanich led three Department of Natural Resources officers on a high-speed chase before being apprehended, with speeds reaching 80 miles-per-hour, the Star Tribune reported. Lakner is also accused of ramming officers’ snowmobiles with his own as he tried to evade them.

In 2007, Lakner led a group of younger men into Basswood Lake illegally on motorboats. They terrorized people camped there over the course of several hours, targeting the campsite of Emmerich Koller’s family. They fired automatic weapons and yelled threats to campers.

The group was apprehended as they attempted to leave the wilderness. Lakner was ultimately banned from the Boundary Waters for five years and sentenced to three years in jail.

Not including the 2007 incident and the Jan. 11 arrest, Lakner has been charged with illegally snowmobiling in the wilderness at least two other times.

Capt. Thomas Provost, northeast enforcement manager for the Department of Natural Resources, told the Star Tribune that Lakner’s violations are related to his feelings about the Boundary Waters’ protected status, saying, “We perceive he has an issue with the guiding legislation covering the BWCA — no question about it.”

In addition to the snowmobiling charges in the recent case, Lakner and Zupancich have been charged with littering and possession of beverage cans. Both men were released on $20,000 bail and are due back in court on Feb. 3.


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