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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

46 Hunters Charged With Illegally Hunting Deer in Richland County

Dozens Busted in Hunting Sting

Updated: 6:32 PM Nov 10, 2005

Zac Schultz

Richland Center: A DNR investigation has resulted in charges against 46 people in 11 states for illegally hunting deer and turkeys.

The alleged ringleader of the group is an outfitter from Richland County. 27 shoulder mounted trophy bucks were on display Thursday, along with confiscated guns, bows, and turkeys.

"When I look at the evidence in this investigation I find it disturbing that these majestic animals were taken for the mere sake of greed and ego," says Nick Chavez with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say the deer and turkeys were shot illegally over the last few years. The hunters came from all over the country to southern Richland County.

According to court documents 27 year old Adam Lawinger is part owner and operator of Blue River Outfitters. "The documents allege that Mr. Lawinger sold guided deer and turkey hunts to individuals from Wisconsin and 10 other states," says DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark.

Lawinger allegedly charged the men between $1-2,000 to take them on guided hunts, often outside the normal hunting season and without a license.

"The charges range from hunting with an improper license, possession of untagged turkeys, possession of illegal deer, hunting deer without a license and a plethora of other charges," says Iowa County District Attorney Erik Peterson.

Besides his property in Richland County, Lawinger is accused of taking hunting trips on leased property in Iowa County. Lawinger himself is charged in federal court.

"Charges are filed in both state and federal courts against 46 people in 11 states," says Stark.

The investigation began two years ago with tip calls. Later undercover agents participated in illegal hunts with Lawinger, and eventually state and federal agents interviewed the hunters, all of whom pointed to Lawinger.

Throughout the court documents there is mention of an unindicted co-conspirator, someone who co-owned the lands and helped run the guide service with Lawinger. Officials would not comment on who this person was or why they haven't been charged.

Lawinger was unavailable for comment.

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