Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Wisconsin: 48 charged in illegal hunting operation

Associated Press

November 10, 2005

MADISON, Wis. -- Forty-eight hunters from 11 states were charged with illegally hunting white-tailed deer and turkey in southwestern Wisconsin, including a man authorities alleged Wednesday recruited the hunters and acted as their guide.

Officers seized 30 mounted trophy deer, turkey mounts, numerous rifles and compound bows, which the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources described as the biggest display of seized evidence in the state's history of wildlife law enforcement.

Prosecutors said Adam Lawinger of Blue River through a company he owned called Blue River Outfitters served as a hunting guide for white-tailed deer and wild turkey on land owned and leased by Lawinger and an unindicted co-conspirator in Richland and Iowa counties.

Authorities say the hunts violated numerous Wisconsin laws, including killing deer and turkey without licenses and shining and shooting deer at night.

"The message to all hunters is clear. If you violate the law, you will be held accountable,'' Iowa County District Attorney Erik Peterson said in a statement.

Authorities scheduled a news conference Thursday to discuss details of the investigation.

According to documents filed in federal court in Madison, state wildlife officials received several tips that Lawinger was running an illegal hunting operation. One man told authorities Lawinger had everything he needed to hunt turkey in Wisconsin, even though he had failed to get a license by the required deadline. The Minnesota man contacted wildlife officials in his home state after becoming upset with the way Lawinger conducted the hunt, according to court records.

Following an anonymous tip and other complaints, wildlife officials went undercover.

Lawinger, 27, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of two federal counts filed against him. They allege he conspired to sell wildlife, deer and turkey that were hunted illegally and taken across state lines.

Lawinger was not listed in Blue River, and a phone number for his business listed in court records had been disconnected when The Associated Press attempted to reach him for comment.

The hunters face charges that range from failing to properly tag and report turkey and deer they killed to hunting without a license.

The hunters charged are from Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Copyright 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved


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