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MI: Hunters shoot dogs

September 29, 2009 07:20 am

DNR investigates hunting dog shootings

Two die in Kalkaska County

KALKASKA -- State authorities are investigating the shooting deaths of two hunting dogs owned by a Kalkaska man.

Jon Otto was hunting on state land in southeast Kalkaska County Saturday afternoon, listening as his seven hounds barked, bayed and chased coyotes through the woods. He heard two gunshots and thought another hunter nabbed the coyotes his dogs were chasing.

But Otto's dogs turned quiet and when he found them, two were dead. He called authorities and the incident is under state investigation.

"Dogs are protected. They are somebody's property," said Lt. Creig Grey, conservation officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

DNR officials will continue to probe the shooting and already have suspects.

Otto was able to provide a partial license plate and description of a truck he saw in the woods near the area where his dogs were killed, just south of CCC Bridge in the Pere Marquette State Forest.

A couple of bear hunters in the area who heard about the shooting on a two-way radio also spotted the truck. They supplied part of a license plate and authorities put it together with Otto's observation to track down the suspects, Grey said.

The bear hunters also snapped photographs of the truck and the driver, Grey said.

Authorities interviewed four men from southeast Michigan who were in the truck. At least some of them are suspects, Grey said.

It's unclear whether the shooting will warrant misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. That won't be known until the investigation is completed, said Kirk Metzger, chief assistant prosecutor in Kalkaska County.

"This is rare that somebody who is lawfully hunting with their dogs loses them in this manner," Metzger said.

Otto could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Michigan's poaching hot line at 1-800-292-7800. Tips can be made anonymously, Grey said.

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