IRONY: Police attribute a dozen marijuana plants at the West Duluth substation to a joker.

Like all good reporters, the News Tribune's Janna Goerdt has learned to keep her ears and eyes open for whatever might be encountered on an assignment.

Goerdt accompanied law enforcement officials Saturday as they searched for people illegally using all-terrain vehicles in Duluth. She wrote a story about the enforcement campaign for Sunday's newspaper.

Goerdt also uncovered a dozen marijuana plants growing in western Duluth.

The pot wasn't growing off an ATV trail. And she didn't find it in the woods.

Goerdt found the marijuana growing in a planter near the front door of the West Duluth police substation.

You might say she was paying attention.

During law enforcement's briefing on how they were going to conduct the ATV sting Saturday, Goerdt heard two members of a rival news team talking about "something interesting" in front of the police station at 5315 Grand Ave.

Eavesdropping like a good reporter, Goerdt filed the comment away in her memory bank and accompanied law enforcement on the ATV crackdown.

When that assignment was over, Goerdt returned to the police station and took a walk around the building. She found the marijuana plants. Although she said she didn't know that they were marijuana plants.

She plucked one of the leaves and brought it back to the newspaper. "I needed some evidence," she said. "I didn't know if anyone would believe me. I didn't think it was a big deal. I just thought it was rather amusing."

Duluth City Gardner Tom Kasper was given the leaf for inspection Monday and confirmed that it came from a marijuana plant.

Kasper immediately traveled to the West Duluth police substation to inform neighborhood supervising police Lt. John Beyer of the pot growing in the front-yard planter.

Beyer pointed out that he, his police officers and the public use the backdoor entrance to the police station. The front door just off busy Grand Avenue is usually locked and not used.

"The only thing I can say is somebody has a sense of humor," Beyer said. "Now they'll read about it in the paper and say, 'Yeah, that was me.' "

Goerdt provided the scoop and Kasper did the scooping.

The gardener dug out the 12 marijuana plants by their roots and presented them to Beyer. They were 4 to 6 inches high and Kasper estimated they had been growing about three weeks.

Beyer said the plants will be placed in a paper bag and destroyed when the next batch of police-confiscated drugs are gotten rid of.

Kasper said this is the first marijuana found growing in Duluth that has been reported to him in 10 years.

But this isn't the first time marijuana has been discovered growing in a public place in Duluth. In 1990, a citizen pointed out to police that a 3-foot marijuana plant was growing in the northern corner of the Civic Center courtyard near City Hall.

For a day at least, Goerdt is known around here as "Janna The Snitch." She said she can live with it.