This 'game' should end
Let's be clear: The "game" in which a group of young people clubbed to death small wild animals last spring was not a sport or a hunt in the traditional and legal sense by any stretch of the imagination. It was a wanton slaughter of wildlife very...
Let's be clear: The "game" in which a group of young people clubbed to death small wild animals last spring was not a sport or a hunt in the traditional and legal sense by any stretch of the imagination. It was a wanton slaughter of wildlife very close to the thrill killings of deer and ducks by snowmobilers last winter -- and should be punished accordingly.
The Legislature needs to take such killings seriously and criminalize them so that authorities have the tools they need to put a stop to such destruction.
As reported by Journal Sentinel reporter Jesse Garza, 15 young people in rural south-central Wisconsin, including some from Beaver Dam High School, made a game out of chasing down and beating small animals to death with bats and clubs. The 10 adults and five juveniles pursued, shined and killed the animals, mostly raccoons and opossums, the state Department of Natural Resources said. The killings occurred last spring in areas of Columbia and Dodge counties.
The violations are not considered criminal. The citations carry standard forfeitures of about $222, which can be raised by a court to up to about $2,150.
Authorities are doing what they can, but they may not have tools to deal with cases in which people set out to deliberately destroy animals in such a cruel manner. The "game" was at least the fourth similar incident in Wisconsin this year. And none of them bore any resemblance to what Wisconsin hunters do legally every fall.
In separate incidents in January, three Weyauwega men were charged with using snowmobiles to run down and kill five deer in Waupaca County, a snowmobiler was suspected of killing 57 ducks in Fond du Lac, and snowmobilers intentionally or accidentally killed 60 ducks under a bridge on the Rock River in Fort Atkinson.
We have urged support for a bill proposed by state Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, that would make it a crime to intentionally kill, threaten or harass wild animals with motor vehicles and boats. Perhaps that bill should be expanded to include incidents such as the clubbing slaughter, or perhaps separate legislation is necessary to stop such outrages.
In any case, the Legislature needs to stiffen the penalty for such incidents, including criminalizing them if they are serious enough and involve the deliberate slaughter of animals just for the thrill of the kill.
Should the Legislature crack down on thrill killings of wild animals? To be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, e-mail your opinion to the Journal Sentinel editorial department.
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