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WI - 2 men accused of `thrill killing' animals in Wis. counties

2 men accused of `thrill killing' animals in Wis. counties
Associated Press

PORTAGE, Wis. - Two men are accused of "thrill killing" hundreds of wild birds and animals in Columbia and Marquette counties over the course of a year.

"It was just a ridiculous amount of poaching," said Casey Krueger, Portage warden with the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Any time that someone shoots something for the sake of 'a thrill' or 'to look cool' in their mind, you won't find much compassion from the Columbia County public when they shoot an animal and lay it out to rot."

Authorities say Josh Kerl, 21, of Portage, and Adam Stalsberg, 22, of Neshkoro, used a high-powered rifle and spotlight to shoot animals from their vehicle.

Krueger said each man received 82 citations, but there could have been as many as 200 such citations for a multitude of violations of hunting rules. After a certain number is reached, it's not feasible to continue to cite them, he said.

He said each man will face two misdemeanor charges in Columbia County: hunting deer during closed season, and hunting a deer at night with a spotlight. Each charge carries a $2,100 fine, the possibility of 60 to 90 days in jail and a three-year revocation of hunting licenses.

According to authorities, the two killed mostly small game out of season, including hundreds of rabbits, squirrels and raccoons, but they also killed deer, turkeys, crows, snapping turtles, ducks and protected species of owls, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks and sandhill cranes.

Kerl and Stalsberg have preliminary hearings scheduled in August, with Stalsberg facing a $19,000 fine and Kerl facing a $20,000 fine, Krueger said.

If they plead not guilty, they will go to trial.

Krueger called it the biggest poaching case in the area in at least 25 years.

"I hope it outrages people," Krueger said. "There's going to be a lot of questions, and I'm not naive enough to think that there are only two people out here doing this."

No phone listings for the men could be found when The Associated Press tried to reach them for comment Friday night.  

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