Federal and state agents marked the closure of a long-running bear poaching case in Wisconsin this week, as defendants in the case were sentenced.
The heart of the case involved illegal guiding and other deceptive practices which were documented over the course of the investigation. United States Attorney James L. Santelle for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced January 29, 2013 that John J. Kellogg (age 48) of Gillett, Christopher Halfmann (age 41) of Green Bay, Michael Renken (age 53) of Merrill, and Mark Barlament (age 53) of Mint Hill, North Carolina, were convicted of violations of the Lacey Act. All of the defendants entered guilty pleas to violations of the Lacey Act related to the trafficking of black bears that were illegally killed in Wisconsin. Kellogg, Halfmann and Renken were also charged with a violation of the Lacey Act that had occurred in September 2011. Kellogg again arranged for the illegal sale and transfer of a Class A bear license to an undercover officer, in violation of Wisconsin law.
Despite having his hunting privileges revoked by the State of Wisconsin, Kellogg illegally guided others on a bear hunt on September 9, 2011. During the hunt, Halfmann shot and wounded the bear that then attacked him. Kellogg later killed the bear and Michael Renken of Merrill illegally transferred his Class A bear license to Kellogg to tag the bear. Kellogg directed an undercover officer to transport the bear for processing of the bear meat and the creation of a bear rug.
Michael Renken pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act and was sentenced on January 2, 2013, to two years of probation with conditions, including a $3,000 contribution to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conservation accounts and a five-year revocation of his hunting and trapping privileges.