Paul Srubas, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone who has fatally poisoned hunting dogs and wildlife in the north woods, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The incidents occurred over the past year in Forest, Marinette and Florence counties. At least five domestic dogs and seven or eight wild animals, including coyotes, wolves and weasels have died, according to Lt. Bryan Harrenstein of the DNR’s Tomahawk office. Most recently, two hunting beagles died around Christmas after ingesting poison in Forest County.
Investigators don’t know whether it’s a single suspect going around spreading the poison, an organized effort by a group or just coincidentally similar incidents, Harrenstein said.
But in most of the cases, the suspect or suspects loaded poison into ground meat and put it near a roadway in remote rural areas, he said.
And in all of the cases, the poison seems to be the same, a fast-acting, powerful toxic that Harrenstein said investigators don’t want to identify publicly.
“It works crazy fast,” Harrenstein said. “In one of the cases involving domestic dogs, the owners unfortunately had to witness it, and it was 15 to 20 minutes between the animals ingesting it and dying.”
In one case, a raptor was found dead on the roadway near the carcass of a coyote, suggesting the bird died feeding on the dead coyote.
Harrenstein couldn’t speculate about a motive.
“It’s hard to fathom someone just not caring about anything,” he said.
Investigators are looking for public help.
“We’re reaching out,” Harrenstein said. “If guys are out walking their dogs or hunting and see anything suspicious or see critters by the roadway, or anybody has any other information, call our tip line.
“And be careful. Don’t handle them or touch them. Give us a call.”
You can call Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement office at (608) 221-1206. Or you can call or text the DNR hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367, or go online at dnrx.wisconsin.gov/rav/+