Its Time for Wisconsin’s Wolf Poachers to Lose Their Hunting Privileges

ONEIDA COUNTY DEAD WOLF

Wolf illegal killed by Stephen Kohl during Wisconsin’s 2017 deer season.

Earlier this year, Wolf Patrol reported on the upcoming Oneida County court case of Steven Kohl, a Manitowoc, Wisconsin hunter who knowingly shot and killed a federally protected gray wolf during Wisconsin’s 2017 firearms deer season. Wisconsin conservation officers investigating the wolf killing also cited Kohl for violating deer baiting regulations.

Wolf Patrol encourages supporters of wolf recovery in the Great Lakes to write letters to the Judge in Kohl’s criminal case, asking that if convicted, Kohl lose his hunting and trapping privileges for at least 3 years, and not be returned the rifle he used to kill the wolf. We believe such a punishment would help deter future acts of wolf poaching more than any prison sentence.

A preliminary hearing in Kohl’s case is scheduled for 11:00am, May 30, 2018, Br I Courtroom, 3rd Fl, Oneida County Courthouse, 1 South Oneida Ave, Rhinelander, WI 54501.

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The following is from the report written by Wisconsin DNR conservation officers. These are not our exaggerations, they are the words of licensed law enforcement officers responding to the increase in violence directed towards the wolves of Wisconsin. Kohl shot the wolf in question in its rear legs and she dragged herself 35 yards before she died from her gunshot wound.

FROM WISCONSIN DNR CONSERVATION OFFICER CASE ACTIVITY REPORT 11/22/17:

“Once we got as close to the wolf as we thought we could get, we proceeded on foot to a large marshy swamp and located the deceased wolf very close to the location provided by the GPS collar. I saw that the wolf was generally black in color and lying on its left side in a patch of brush. Upon closer examination, I saw significant trauma to the left and right rear legs. Based on experience and training the trauma appeared consistent with a gunshot wound. One or both of the rear legs appeared to be broken. Based on training and experience, I did not believe the wolf could have traveled very far after being shot. I was able to back track the wolf’s movement by following what appeared to be a drag trail of flattened vegetation and blood, approximately 35 yards to where the wolf was when I believed it was shot.”

Once Wisconsin conservation officers located Steven Kohl, who had been deer hunting from a deer stand overlooking where the wolf was shot, he denied killing the animal,

“I told Kohl we had a mortality signal on a wolf that was shot and it was found in front of his deer stand. Kohl stated that none of the wolves he saw appeared to be wounded and he did not shoot it. I explained the evidence to Kohl and suggested perhaps he made an error in  judgement and took a shot at the wolf. Kohl then admitted he ‘shot to keep them going’ and that he doesn’t shoot to kill. Kohl stated that he took one shot at the black wolf when it was out in the swamp straight east of him. After shooting at the wolf, Kohl stated he didn’t see the wolf again. Kohl stated he shot the wolf about 930am on November 18, 2017.”

“Warden Ebert then instructed Kohl that we would be seizing his rifle and trail camera. Kohl was informed he’d be receiving a citation in the mail for the illegal bait placement (WP note, Kohl and others on the property were using corn as deer bait, in violation of a baiting ban in Oneida County.) and that additional charges would be sought through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the WI DNR for the illegal harvest of a wolf.”

REPORT VIOLATIONS

The Oneida County Clerk has told supporters that the judge in this case will not read any letters that are only written to him alone, you must cc copies to the District Attorney, and Kohl’s attorney. The clerk said letter-writers could send all 3 letters in one envelope to her office, and she would give the copies to the judge, DA and Kohl’s attorney. If you would rather send individual letters to the parties concerned, Here are the addresses.

Oneida  County Clerk (If sending all three letters):

ATTN: Judge Patrick F. O’Melia, Oneida County Courthouse P.O. Box 400, 1 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander, WI, 54501

The DA’s address is:

District Attorney, Michael W. Shriek, P.O. Box 400, 1 S. Oneida Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501

Kohl’s attorney’s address:

Steven Michael Lucareli, Lucareli Law Offices, LLC, Steven M. Lucareli, 433 East Sheridan St., Eagle River, WI 54501

Several points should be included in your letter:
  • Why wolves are important to you
  • Wisconsin residents support wolf recovery
  • Wisconsin residents want poaching laws to be upheld
  • Following the March 2018 court ruling that leaves wolves federally protected in Wisconsin, many irate hunters have stated their intent to continue killing wolves illegally. Let the judge know that his sentence is a deterrent against future wolf poaching.
We need to be polite when writing to the court; not demanding, but merely provide reasonable suggestions for Kohl’s punishment, such as loss of hunting and trapping privileges, confiscation of hunting equipment used in his crimes and a stiff fine in accordance with the law.
SAMPLE LETTER TO ONEIDA COUNTY COURT:
State of Wisconsin vs. Steven R. Kohl, Oneida County Case Number: 2018CF000014

It is my understanding that Steven R. Kohl has confessed to killing a federally protected wolf on 11/18/2017. I believe that Wisconsin is a special place because of wolves. Wolves provide many ecological benefits, and are revered by myself and many other residents. Wolves help control beaver populations, thus minimizing the damage they cause through construction of their dams. Research also suggests that wolves may limit the spread of CWD by removing diseased deer from the herd.

Unfortunately, a small segment of society, when it comes to wolves, believe in “SSS”, (shoot, shovel and shut up) and will illegally kill a wolf, either because of a long-held hatred or simply because they believe they won’t get caught. Since a federal court ruled in March 2018, to continue federal protections for wolves in Wisconsin, many hunters are encouraging each other to take matters into their own hands, and illegally kill wolves. Kohl’s actions, that include not only the wolf killing, but a violation of deer hunting regulations through the illegal use of bait, demonstrate that he is unwilling to adhere to state and federal laws governing hunting in Wisconsin.

Mr. Kohl should also be reminded that as a federally protected species, he could have been federally charged with civil and criminal penalties far greater than state guidelines. In addition to any fines you deem appropriate, I ask that Mr. Kohl lose the privilege of hunting or trapping for the next three years, as well as forfeiting the rifle he used in his illegal acts.

I do not believe jail time would serve any purpose however, I do ask that the court consider that Mr. Kohl attend a wolf education program.  Although their 2018 programs have not yet been announced, The Timber Wolf Alliance offers several programs throughout the year https://www.northland.edu/sustain/soei/twa/wolf-workshops/

Thank you for any consideration you give to my suggestions.

Sincerely,

END OF SAMPLE LETTER

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