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
"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
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
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