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Teens investigated for killing of at least 40 deer, 1 horse in Clark County

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CLARK CO., Wis. (WAOW) — A group of juveniles could be facing charges related to reported poaching activity in Clark County.

Our sister station in Wausau WAOW spoke to Lt. Robin Barnhardt, a conservation warden team supervisor in Black River Falls. He says that conservation wardens began their investigation weeks ago after reports came in from community members who were finding dead deer that had been shot and left in fields.

"During the course of that investigation, the wardens contacted students at several high schools and several communities in Clark County," Barnhardt said. "[They] made the determination that several groups of juveniles had been involved in these activities at night for several weeks. These juveniles were going out, spotlighting deer, shooting them with firearms and just leaving them to rot in the field."

According to Barnhardt, the juveniles broke at least two Wisconsin statutes: hunting of deer with the aid of artificial light and hunting outside of the designated gun deer season, both Class A misdemeanors.

Barnhardt says between six and eight juveniles are responsible for killing around 40 deer and a horse in Clark County.

"These types of incidents are not common, but they're not uncommon. They happen in a variety of locations around the state in the fall and game wardens use the term 'thrill kill' for these types of incidents," Barnhardt said. "Typically they involve groups of young males, usually folks in their late teens, general of legal driving age, or early 20s."

Wardens are in the process of compiling all the case reports, and once the case is closed, they will confer with the Clark County District Attorney's Office to "reach an appropriate and fair level of enforcement."

It could take months to reach a point of prosecution in the case.

Barnhardt stresses that this is not legal and ethical hunting and that those who take part in these illegal activities don't understand the risk of shooting a moving target at night.

"Legal and ethical hunters absolutely, positively divorce themselves from this activity. This is not hunting, this is...this is wanton and random killing," he concluded.

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