Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Five charged with poaching of fish

Staff Report

Milwaukee,Wis. – A 21/2-year investigation that included
undercover work and search warrants resulted in criminal charges
against five Milwaukee residents for poaching and selling fish.

Potential jail sentences range from six to 15 months, and fines
could total more than $27,000. In addition, the defendants face a
total of more than 60 years of license revocations for the poaching
and the illegal sale of bluegills, crappies, bass, and other
panfish and game fish from Wisconsin lakes. Also, the law provides
for the court to impose a wild animal protection surcharge, which
in this case could add more than $18,000 to the total
penalties.

The investigation started in 2003 after DNR conservation wardens
began receiving calls from citizens about poaching and the sale of
panfish and game fish in Milwaukee. It is illegal to sell fish from
Wisconsin waters without a commercial license, according to DNR
chief warden Randy Stark. The daily bag limit for most panfish is
25.

Conservation wardens involved in the case noted that good
communication within the DNR led to the successful
investigation.

“We started noticing trends in overbagging citations on several
lakes around the state, including Fox Lake, Beaver Dam Lake, and
the Madison area lakes in Dane County,” said Jeremy Plautz, a
warden supervisor with the Southeast Region. “About the same time,
we were receiving complaints from Milwaukee-area residents that
these same species of fish were being sold here.

“Our job is to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources, in this
case game fish and panfish, from those who attempt to profit by
illegally selling the public’s natural resources,” Plautz said.
“The goal of efforts like this is to ensure that future generations
have the same fishing opportunities that we have today. Massive
overharvest by a few individuals can threaten the quality of the
fishing in area lakes and rivers.”

In commenting on the case, Milwaukee County district attorney E.
Michael McCann said that as a result of the investigation and
search warrants, criminal complaints have been filed against Olivia
Bradley, Ray Bradley, Thomas Green, Melvin Perkins, and Brian
Hopkins for the illegal sale, or possession for the purpose of
sale, of non-commercial game fish. In addition, Ray Bradley was
charged with three counts of fraudulently obtaining fishing
licenses and trout/salmon stamps after his fishing privilege had
been revoked by the court for prior violations. The accused are
presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

The illegal fish found their way to their freezers on the north
side of Milwaukee, officials said. Most prominent among these
locations was a north-side Milwaukee tavern, The Place. Execution
of a search warrant there in August produced more than 800 panfish
alone, along with individual or smaller quantities of other fish
species. The total value of those fish was well into the thousands
of dollars, Plautz said.

“Wisconsin’s natural resources belong to all of its people,”
McCann said. “Our taxes and permit fees pay for the people and
materials necessary to support and protect them, whether they be
the forests, the marshes, the uplands or lakes or rivers, or the
many and varied forms of wildlife that inhabit them. They are to be
enjoyed, not taken and sold. The wardens who conducted this
investigation did an exemplary service to the community and are to
be commended for the thoroughness throughout its course and
completion.”

Plautz noted that in addition to potential fines and revocations
of hunting and fishing privileges, the wardens seized in excess of
2,000 fish during the course of the investigation.

“This was a cooperative effort with D.A. McCann and his office,
the Milwaukee Police Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, and the Michigan DNR,” Plautz said. “We are especially
grateful to the citizens who notified us of these violations and
their contribution to protecting the great fishery in
Wisconsin.”

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