WDNR and Team Up to Improve Wisconsin Hunter Education

May 9, 2012

Wisconsin residents can now complete the first part of their hunter education certification using the leading online hunter education course, This new option improves the interactivity and convenience of online hunter education in the state.

In Wisconsin, anyone born on or after January 1st, 1973 must obtain a certificate of hunter education before purchasing a hunting license. With the introduction of, aspiring hunters in Wisconsin can register and complete the classroom portion of their course online. After passing online quizzes, students print a Field Day Voucher that admits them to the hands-on portion of the hunter safety course.

Fresh Air Educators, the developers of, worked closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to launch this new online option. Jon King, Hunter Education Administrator at WDNR, said of the partnership, “People are trying to fit hunter education into a busy schedule. provides a highly interactive and engaging learning experience that students can complete at their own pace. Combined with the hands-on Field Day, it is a very effective way for new hunters to get safety certified.”

To start studying for their hunter safety certification, Wisconsin residents can now visit  Students are also encouraged to register for a Field Day before finishing the online course to ensure there are spaces available. Students will find a list of Field Days by visiting WI.DNR.GOV and searching Hunter Safety and doing a “Find a Class” search on “HUNTER ED CD/INTERNET.”

Finally, students who complete their Wisconsin hunter education with have the additional benefit of being automatically entered into the Jim Shockey Dream Hunt. Visit to learn more about this exciting contest for new hunter education graduates and instructors.

For more information about the Wisconsin launch of, please contact:

Greg Gulliver
Product Manager & HE Tools
1-877-722-8838 x250

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Changes in the Wisconsin Wolf Depredation Payment Program

April 17, 2012

Recently enacted legislation has changed the process and timeline and may impact the compensation schedule for livestock, hunting dogs and pets proven to have been killed or injured by gray wolves.

With the removal of the wolf from the federal endangered and threatened species list, the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources will no longer be paying for wolf depredations.

New guidelines for wolf depredation payments will be developed over the next few months. However, several changes in wolf depredation payments will go into effect immediately including the following:

  • Reimbursement payments will be made only once a year, normally after December, when funds will be available in the wolf payment accounts.
  • If funds are not adequate DNR will pro-rate payment among all those with wolf depredation losses, including livestock producers, owners of hunting dogs not being used to actively hunt wolves, and pet owners.

You can find more details in the DNR news release.

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Wisconsin Upholds Ban on Firearms for Non-Violent Felons in Deer Hunting Case

April 12, 2012

Wisconsin Upholds Ban on Firearms for Non-Violent Felons in Deer Hunting Case

A Wisconsin court ruled that a ban on felons who are convicted of non-violent crimes (in addition to those convicted of violent crimes) possessing firearms is constitutional yesterday.

Thomas Pocian was the subject of the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruling. Pocian, 44, of Hartford was convicted of forging checks more than two decades ago in 1986, a felonious, non-violent crime. In November of 2008 he wanted to go hunting and so he used his father’s gun to shoot two deer. The deer were registered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, at which time officers discovered he was a felon and he was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In the Washington County Circuit Court, Pocian asked Judge Todd K. Martens to dismiss the case because Pocian was not a violent felon and he felt that the ban is unconstitutionally broad and shouldn’t apply to him.

Martens denied his claim and so Pocian took his arguments to an appeals court. He made a comment that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has used stricter standards to determine whether weapons restrictions are legal since a U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down handgun bans in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

The court still said tougher analysis of Pocian’s case was applied, but Wisconsin’s ban was in line with the government’s responsibility to keep the public safe.

The ruling stated that if Pocian wanted to change the law, a proper route through the legislature is necessary.

Pocian’s attorney says he still has a strong case and Pocian and he are discussing appealing to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

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Repeat Wisconsin Poacher Caught and Convicted in Crawford County

April 4, 2012

A former Crawford County man who lost his hunting license for six years in 2009 was back in circuit court a second time Monday when he was convicted for illegally killing a 10-point buck and more deer later that same year.

Tyler Gray, 25, was convicted in Crawford County Circuit Court on eight counts involving hunting after revocation, hunting without a license, using or possessing another’s tag. The charges stemmed from Gray’s hunting of deer and coyotes in Crawford County in 2010 which was after his hunting license was revoked.

Gray’s total penalties ordered by the court on Monday were $3,709.05. Judge James P. Czajkowski also extended the revocation of Gray’s hunting privileges until 2018, three years longer than the original license revocation until 2015.

This was the second time Gray had been convicted. In 2009, Gray was ordered by a Richland County Circuit judge to pay $5,113 and surrender his hunting gun, his bow and his hunting license for six years. That year he was convicted on 20 counts related to shooting multiple deer from the roadway during December 2008 and January 2009.

But that conviction didn’t stop him. But concerned citizens did.

Conservation wardens in the area started getting citizen reports that Gray was back out hunting later that same year. Warden Supervisor Tyler Strelow of Dodgeville took the lead on the case that involved several other DNR conservation wardens.

“He (Gray) told me he could not give up hunting even though he knew he was revoked. He said it twice,” Strelow said in his report of the conversation he had with Gray about the citizen tips. “He (Gray) admitted to killing four deer in 2010 and one of those was a large 10-point buck. He shot it with his bow.”

Strelow said the investigation revealed hunting done with gun and bow by Gray after his license revocation, and that he shot a coyote in 2010.

“He (Gray) thought he was doing everything legal except that he did not have a license and could not hunt,” Strelow said. “This man just simply didn’t care about the law or the fact that he was breaking the law and stealing opportunity from law-abiding hunters.”

“The conservation wardens investigating this case did an outstanding job identifying and citing this repeat offender,” Crawford County District Attorney Tim Baxter said. “Offenders like Mr. Gray need to be brought to justice for the benefit of both the resource and for the rest of Wisconsin’s law – abiding sportsmen and women. These wardens should be commmended for their efforts.”

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No Contest Pleas Entered in 2009 Wisconsin Deer Thrill Kill Case

April 3, 2012

The third defendant in the 2009 deer-snowmobile thrill kill case that sparked interest from citizens and various organizations statewide today entered no contest pleas in Waupaca County Circuit Court to three felonies of mistreatment of animals and causing death.

Robby Kuenzi, 26, also entered a plea agreement for three Department of Natural Resources misdemeanor charges of hunting deer during closed season. Other forfeiture citations against Kuenzi were read into the record, but dismissed.

Kuenzi will be sentenced for the three felonies and three misdemeanors on May 24, when his DNR privileges also will be discussed. Today’s proceeding was before Judge John Hoffmann.

The incident occurred in the Town of Lind in Waupaca County in January 2009, and involved several deer which were repeatedly run over by snowmobiles and in some cases mutilated by use of the machines.

The other two men involved in the incident, Robby’s brother, Rory Kuenzi, and Nicholas Hermes already have been sentenced.

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Holiday Poaching Spree Reveals Illegal Killing of Up to 100 Wisconsin Deer

March 28, 2012

Holiday Poaching Spree Uncovers Illegal Killing of Possibly 100 Wisconsin Deer Since 2011

Wardens in Wisconsin were witness to an unprecedented case of poaching. One individual involved said this was a one-man contest to see who could get the most deer. A total of four individuals are being charged for illegally poaching about 100 deer since the start of 2011. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking to revoke hunting rights for 21 years, restitution, jail time and confiscation of three weapons for the crime.

The man claimed that “poaching is not illegal until you get caught.”

Original press release issued by Wisconsin DNR on March 28th, 2012

A Hillsboro man kicked off the Twelve Days of Christmas with two days of poaching.

From the night before Christmas to the holiday night, the 20-year-old roamed the roads shining and shooting bucks and does as they stood blindly in the light. “This guy wasn’t hunting. He was poaching,” Conservation Warden Mike Nice of Richland Center said of the suspect who is alleged to have illegally taken approximately 100 deer since 2011.

“In my 22 years as a conservation warden, I have never seen another individual come close to that total. The suspect didn’t care,” Warden Nice said of the multi-county case he investigated with Deputy Warden Mike Williams and Warden Cody Adams of Prairie du Chien.

The suspect, along with two other young adult males and one juvenile male, face criminal charges stemming from the eight poaching cases — four in Richland County and four in Vernon County — that were documented by the investigating wardens. Twenty one years revocation of hunting rights is being sought along with restitution and jail time for the Hillsboro man. Confiscation of three rifles used to shoot the deer is also being requested.

Criminal charges were filed in the counties in March. Court proceedings are expected this spring. Nice said the wardens were helped in their investigation by Richland County District Attorney Jennifer Harper, who, by sheer coincidence, herself received information from a tipster. “District Attorney Harper relayed the tip, but, just as importantly, she has done an outstanding job in prosecuting criminal DNR violations in her capacity as the district attorney,” Nice said.

Assistant District Attorney Stacy Smith will be prosecuting the charges in Vernon County. A total of four individuals are being charged in the case.

A competition of one

The investigation began after citizens alerted officials to gunshots heard and deer being taken from private property in northern Richland County where hunting is not allowed. A vehicle and a dead deer were found that night. And that’s all it took for the wardens to get going on the case. The wardens ended up at registration stations in Richland, Juneau, and Vernon counties. Four deer racks were confiscated as part of the investigation. While the wardens had several persons of interest, the evidence kept coming back to the Hillsboro man. One of the man’s partners who was involved in the poaching during the last two years told Nice the suspect had taken more than 70 deer last year and 30 so far this year. “He shined and shot, or shot off the road 100 deer in the last two years,” Nice said.

The suspect eventually was brought in for questioning.

“Why are you doing this?” Nice said the suspect was asked.

“It is kinda like a contest to see who could get the most,” the suspect said, according to Nice.

“Well, who is in second place?” Nice said the suspected was asked.

“Nobody. It’s just me,” the suspect said, according to Nice.

Bucks disappear from landscape

While the suspect rode with wardens to the various locations deer were poached, the suspect described scenarios when he shot at a 16-point buck and a 10-point double drop-tine buck seen numerous times. But the bucks were never seen again after the suspect said he took shots at them — but didn’t think he hit them.

“This is what happens,” Nice said. “A hunter or landowner sees the bigger bucks on their land and suddenly they’re gone. Or, after the season, hikers will find these large bucks dead in the forest.”

Landowners, hunters and non-hunters alike will find this case disturbing, Nice said. “The people who try to do the right thing – sound land and wildlife management, hunt with the principles of fair chase and respect for the resources – everyone is harmed by a situation like this.”

Nice said what drew the wardens to the suspect was the fact he was known as always having a lot of deer. “He had no rhyme or reason why he was going where he was. He was shooting deer at night at a rate I’ve never seen,” he said. “The suspect would use other’s tags and register them at different places so he would not tip off the wardens.”

Nice said the main suspect talked of getting his start poaching at age 12 when he shot a deer from the road with his uncle. The suspect also told the wardens poaching is not illegal until you get caught. One of his partners admitted having to take a break to get some sleep because the suspect was out every night.

Tips matter: Contact the DNR Violation Hotline

“A case like this shows why the tips matter,” Nice said. “Maybe it’s a tip about hearing a gunshot here or something doesn’t look right. It may seem like a small tip. But, they can add up and a case can be made. And that is exactly what happened with this case,” Nice said. “The citizen tips help us protect the deer and the turkeys and all the wildlife, and public safety.”

Nice also noted shooting deer at night is a dangerous and senseless public safety risk. “It violates the cardinal safe hunting rule of knowing your target and what is beyond it. We are fortunate no one was shot with all this going on,” he said.

To report a suspected violation involving wildlife, recreational activities or the environment, please call the DNR Violation Hotline. It is staffed all hours of every day. You may remain anonymous.

Call: 1-800-847-9367, 24 hours a day.

Text: TIP 411 (847411). Text: TIPWDNR [space] followed by the tip.


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Wolf Hunting Legislation Finds Opposition from Native Americans

March 13, 2012

Wolf Hunting Legislation Finds Opposition From Native Americans

“It’s like they want to come in here and shoot my brothers and my sisters,” Mary Favorite, a member of the Ojibwe tribe of Native Americans, told Minnesota Public Radio when asked about her thoughts regarding wolf hunting in Wisconsin.

Favorite’s statement is one echoed by many Great Lakes area Native Americans. According to the New York Times, “The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Game Commission which represents 11 tribes of the Ojibwe (also known as the Chippewa or Anishinaabe) in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan opposes the hunt on the basis of religious principle and tradition.”

Some tribes have already taken steps to prevent wolf hunting. In 2010, the Red Lake Band of Ojibe declared almost 850,000 acres of land as a wolf sanctuary. Other tribes have banned wolf hunts except for specific ceremonial purposes, or if the wolf is a threat to livestock or humans.

In a written letter to both Wisconsin legislative houses, James Zorn, executive administrator wrote “In the Anishinaabe creation story we are taught that Ma’iingan (wolf) is a brother to Original man.” He continued, ‘The health and survival of the Anishinaabe people is tied to that of Ma’iingan.” This belief is one that is common among many Native American tribes.

While the legal systems of state governments and tribal governing bodies are completely separate land ownership would complicate the enforcement of any law passed, in the Great Lakes states many tribal lands have a “checkerboard pattern” that could make determining whether or a not a wolf could be taken difficult for hunters.

Advocates of wolf hunting argue that wolves can be a very damaging species if not adequately controlled. Wolves prey extensively on other wild animals like elk and the reintroduction of wolves in several western states has had a corresponding (some would say unnatural) negative effect on the populations of other species in their ecosystems. Proponents of wolf hunting also point to the attacks perpetrated on livestock by wolves as evidence that they need to be controlled.

Long time Ojibwe tribal activist Bob Shimek believes opposition to wolf hunting laws will only get stronger— at least in Minnesota. However, he doesn’t believe Native American opposition will change the minds of law makers. “I honestly believe that a thousand Indians could show up in St. Paul to testify against this wolf legislation and it would not matter one single bit in terms of the outcome,” Shimek said to Minnesota Public Radio, “that’s just the nature of politics.”

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Repeat Wisconsin Poacher Gets Jail Thanks to Alert Citizens

February 20, 2012

Repeat Wisconsin Poacher Gets Jail Thanks to Alert Citizens

It was déjà vu all over for Warden Mike Stahl of Oconto Falls in the case of the deer poacher with the familiar name.

Stahl got a call around 4 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2010, from the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department after they took a call the Brown County Sheriff’s Department concerning a citizen call about Daniel Nelson of Pulaski.

“This was an anonymous complaint about deer poaching in the Pulaski area. The caller said two bucks were untagged at a residence in the Town of Chase in Oconto County,” Stahl said. “We’ve heard these types of things before. But this was specific as to who it was and the truck description.

“The caller also said this person had shot seven deer in the same area in the last two weeks – that’s the southwest corner of Oconto County.”

Plus, Stahl had heard this name before.

“This was the same guy who was shooting deer and lost his privileges (hunting and fishing licenses) for nine years. That was in 1994,” Stahl said of Daniel Nelson of Pulaski. “I also dealt with him when he was in prison and trying to buy fishing licenses while he was revoked on the 1994 charges. Nelson was in prison serving a sentence for a felony charge at the time.”

Stahl enlisted the help of fellow Warden Mark Schraufnagel of Shawano and the two headed for Nelson’s home. The wardens got the property owner’s permission to search the garage. That’s where they found the illegal deer.

“We found three deer under a tarp – and two partially butchered,” Stahl said. “And there was one more in the freezer – ready for a mount.”

Of the six found, one had an archery tag. There were no registration tags on any of them.

Eventually the two wardens were able to speak with Nelson and Dillion Muth, who also participated in the poaching.

The suspects offered different stories, recanted those and offered new ones about what eventually totaled 10 different bucks that were subjected to illegal shining — and then illegal poaching. The wardens found gut piles from deer – right where the suspects told them they’d be. While the wardens never recovered the firearm, there was enough evidence to charge Nelson for illegal possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

When it was all over, each man was charged with 16 criminal deer counts plus a charge of obstructing a conservation warden with false statements. Nelson also faced the additional firearm count for a total of 18 criminal charges.

The poached deer were taken in two counties – Oconto and Shawano. Robert Mraz, an Assistant District Attorney with the Oconto County District Attorney’s office prosecuted the case. “He did a great job on this case,” Stahl said, “It was a tough case trying to keep track of at least 10 different poaching incidents.”

Last August, Muth, 19, of Oconto Falls, was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus 3 years of revocation of his DNR privilegs on each of the 6 criminal deer counts for failure to attach a carcass tag. The other 11 charges were dismissed but read into the record. Muth’s sentences are to run concurrently, which means he will serve 30 days in jail and lose his DNR privileges for 3 years. He also was ordered to pay about $1,500 in court costs.

Nelson, 38, of Pulaski was sentenced in January to 180 days in jail – 30 days on six criminal deer charges for failure to attach a carcass tag. Each term is to be served consecutively. Nelson also lost his DNR license privileges for 18 years and was ordered to pay about $1,500 in court costs. The remaining 12 charges were dismissed and read into the record.

“In both instances, it started with a citizen complaint,” Stahl said, emphasizing how important citizen tips are. “I would ask citizens to not wait to call. The longer people wait, the harder it is for us to find evidence. Timely calls makes it easier to investigate. In this case, the callers were dead on – and it made all the difference.”

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Reminder for Michigan Hunters: Entire Carcass of Wisconsin-Harvested Deer Cannot be Imported

October 20, 2011

Hunters are reminded that the entire carcass of a deer harvested in Wisconsin cannot be imported into Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources said today.

According to biosecurity restrictions in place due to the presence of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin’s deer population, hunters importing Wisconsin-harvested deer may only bring the following into Michigan:

  • Deboned meat
  • Antlers (an attached skull cap is allowed if cleaned of all brain and muscle tissue)
  • Hides cleaned of excess tissue or blood
  • Upper canine teeth
  • A finished taxidermic mount

If the harvested deer was tested for chronic wasting disease and tests positive, hunters are required to notify the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory within two business days at 517-336-5030.

These restrictions also apply to deer harvested in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Additional details regarding legal importation of deer carcasses and legal transportation of game can be found in the 2011 Hunting and Trapping Digest, available at any Michigan hunting license vendor or online at

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

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