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Wisconsin Wildlife Federation wants charges refiled in Waupaca County deer killings

October 17, 2010

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation wants charges refiled in Waupaca County deer killings Judges dismissed case after DNR filed citations against 3 defendants

APPLETON - A group representing outdoor sports participants has asked a state appeals court to re-issue felony animal mistreatment charges against three men charged with the "thrill kill" killings of deer.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and attorney Michael J. Cain filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Madison-based Fourth District Court of Appeals at the request of the three-judge panel. The appeals court is handling the cases of Rory Kuenzi, 25, his brother Robby Kuenzi, 24, and friend Nicholas Hermes, 23, on charges related to the January 2009 killings of several deer in Waupaca County.

Waupaca County judges dismissed felony charges against the men after the state Department of Natural Resources filed citations charging them with several conservation violations.

The judges ruled the men cannot be prosecuted on both types of charges for the same crime. They said if the men are cited by the DNR with violating the state's hunting laws, which explicitly exempt hunters from animal mistreatment charges, then the criminal animal mistreatment charges cannot be pursued.

The state and attorneys for the men will be allowed to file responses to the Wildlife Federation brief, the court has ordered.

No deadline has been set for a ruling by the court.

Cain said members of the federation, which represents more than 100,000 hunting, fishing and trapping sports participants in the state, did not believe the men should be treated as hunters.

"The federation has found that virtually all hunters found the alleged acts of the defendants in this matter appalling and their characterization as 'acts of hunting' to be demeaning and inaccurate, he said.

"It is safe to say that Wisconsin sportsmen and women do not consider such conduct to be forms of hunting."

While the definition of hunting is broad in state statutes, it does not cover acts such as hitting a deer on a highway with a vehicle or chasing a mourning dove at a bird feeder, Cain argued.

"The alleged acts of the defendants in this matter are relatively unique and far distant from those actions that most citizens and arguably the Legislature would consider 'hunting,'" he said.

Protection that keeps hunters from animal cruelty charges apply "only in situations when they are in full compliance with the state hunting regulations."

The three defendants, he said, "hunted" the deer with snowmobiles, killed them at night, did not have a license, failed to attach tags and failed to register the deer.

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