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Authorities offer reward in bear-poaching case

A decapitated black bear was found in the Town of Somerset in February. No suspects have been identified as of yet. <i>Submitted photo</i>

The Star Prairie Fish & Game organization is offering a $500 reward to the person whose tip results in the conviction of the person or persons responsible for a Feb. 24 black bear poaching incident.

Mike Kelly, a member of the SPFG, said the non-profit group feels strongly about the protection of wildlife resources and felt led to step forward.

"The club decided to offer an award to help in the apprehension of the violator or violators," Kelly said. "One of the missions of the club is to protect important wildlife for the benefit of all who enjoy an outdoor experience."

Kelly said the tip must be made to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the identity of the caller can remain anonymous. The award will be made through the DNR warden's office.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens received a call about a found dead bear Feb. 24.

According to Warden Paul Sickman, the bear was found freshly killed with its head cut off and the body was in the ditch off of Rice Lake Road in Somerset Township.

From the evidence collected at the scene, it appeared the person(s) cut the head off in the middle of the road. This bear was illegally shot while hibernating inside a culvert in St. Croix County, west of Star Prairie on County Highway H, was dragged out and transported to another location where the head was removed.

The bear was estimated at 250 to 300 pounds and would have required multiple people to drag and handle, Sickman said.

This crime gives all legal and ethical hunters and sports people a bad name, Sickman added.

The Wisconsin DNR is requesting help from the public with any information on who may have committed this act and can call 1-800-TIP-WDNR with any information. This tip number is confidential and callers can remain confidential.