Authorities say poachers killed at least 40 deer and one horse in Clark County.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a doozy of a poaching case on their hands involving six to eight juvenile suspects in Clark County believed to be responsible for a poaching spree that left 40 deer and one horse shot dead and left to rot.
News 9 WAOW.com reports the suspects are all teenagers from in or around Loyal, Wisconsin. The killings started a few weeks prior to the beginning of Wisconsin's storied and anticipated firearms deer season. Residents started finding and reporting dead deer in area fields and yards.
For DNR officials, it's one of the worst poaching cases they have ever seen. DNR Warden Supervisor Robin Barnhardt explained more of what the DNR believes happened in a phone interview.
"These juveniles were going out, spotlighting deer, shooting them with firearms and then just leaving them to rot in the fields," Barnhardt said. "The game wardens use the term "thrill kill for these types of incidents."
Officials did not detail exactly how their investigation led them to look at the teens as possible suspects, but they did mention they worked with the Clark County Sheriff's Department and the Loyal Police Department in the investigation, which is still ongoing. That's also why they are declining to give many details at this point in the case.
The DNR did mention that the horse was owned by an Amish family and that the shooters knew the creature they were shooting was a domesticated animal. In another interview with 7 WSAW News, Barnhardt said there's another factor of this case that's concerning to authorities.
"There is a great concern for public safety in this case," he told reporters. "These people didn't give a lot of thought as to what was behind what they were shooting."
Officials are now teaming with the Clark County District Attorney on the next steps. For now, they are saying the group committed at least two misdemeanors for "hunting with aid of an artificial light" and "hunting outside of designated gun deer season."
Right now, the DNR is anticipating it may take months of investigation and prosecution before there is any enforcement.
Here at Wide Open Spaces, we wouldn't expect them to name any suspects in this case. As we have seen in the past with wildlife crimes involving juveniles, authorities generally do not name suspects under 18 years of age. We are also guessing that locals in Clark County, Wisconsin are not happy about this killing spree.
We will keep an eye on this case and bring you more details as the story develops right here at Wide Open Spaces.