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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

13 cited for hunting violations

By Brian Bridgeford - BARABOO - Game wardens cited 13 men including residents of LaValle, Wonewoc and Hillsboro for hunting violations after wardens say they shot deer and turkey illegally in five counties.

The men involved are all friends who met informally to go hunting, sometimes violating the law in the process, said John Buss, a Department of Natural Resources warden based in Prairie du Sac. Their violations include hunting at night with a spotlight and shooting from a vehicle, which puts the public at risk, he said.

The bust is the second set of group-poaching allegations made by Buss and fellow wardens in about a month. In early March they cited four Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells men on allegations they used a silenced rifle to shoot deer at night and out of season. Possible charges are still being considered by the Sauk County District Attorney.

In the most recent case, several bucks were shot near Dutch Hollow Lake in northwest Sauk County, an area closed to hunting because of the many homes there, Buss said. The violators took some of the unusually large bucks which had grown in the area because it was free of hunting pressure, he said.

"Some of them were involved deeper in the violations than others and they'd go out and do it," he said.

In one incident, three of the men went to Taylor county where they owned a cabin, said Warden Mike Nice of Richland Center. There, they shot a deer with a rifle at about 3 a.m., then registered it as an archery kill in Taylor County. They brought the deer to Richland County where they removed the tags and each man registered it as having been taken there. As a result of falsely registering the Taylor County deer, the three received permits to shoot bucks under the Earn-a-Buck program, he said.

According to the DNR the men cited are: Walter G. Gnirk, 23; Kenneth L. Johnson, Jr., 25; William L. Johnson, Jr., 25; Jeffrey D. Frey, 29, Michael L. Johnson, 20; Andrew D. Erickson, 24, and Matthew M. Erickson, 26, all of Hillsboro; Wonewoc residents Daniel N. Phillips, 24; Justin R. Phillips, 22; Adam L. Griffa, 21; Kyle J. Phillips, 19; and Brogan H. Boldon, 19; and Nathan Phillips, 21, of LaValle.

Efforts to reach several of the men by phone were unsuccessful Friday evening and messages were not returned.

Buss said he worked with Nice and Warden Mike Green of Wisconsin Dells on the two-year investigation which included gathering information and surveillance. Beginning in January they contacted suspects and confirmed 37 incidents of illegally shooting deer and turkeys.

However, it was information from the public that really helped break the case, he said. Citizens assisted with the investigation because their property was trespassed on and wildlife they feel ownership of was taken without permission.

"We got tips from citizens, and we just started piecing the puzzle together, gunfire at night, evidence of deer being dragged out," he said. "A lot of the property owners felt just like their house had been burglarized."

Charges against the men are being filed in circuit courts in Richland, Vernon, Sauk, Juneau and Taylor counties, according to the DNR. They face penalties that range from $437 to $7,000 per violation for a total of about $36,400 in fines

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