Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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WI: Federal charges brought in case of bear mauling

Green Bay, Wis. – Undercover wildlife officers who were with a
bear-hunting group when a De Pere man was mauled by a wounded black
bear helped bring wildlife charges against the group’s leader, John
J. Kellogg.

A federal criminal complaint filed Oct. 3 in U.S. District Court of
the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Green Bay states that Kellogg,
47, of the Gillett area,, has been charged with two counts of
violating the Lacey Act. The charges stem from alleged violations
observed by two undercover game wardens from Kentucky who hunted
with Kellogg in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

In 2009 and 2011, Kellogg allegedly arranged for the two undercover
wardens to buy Class A Wisconsin bear kill tags for $1,000 each
from people who had drawn kill tags for those seasons. He also was
charged with hunting without a license while guiding, and shooting
or taking game without a license while guiding, according to the
complaint.

Sources also say that Kellogg’s state DNR hunting licenses were
revoked on state charges prior to the 2011 bear season. Court
records show that Kellogg appeared in Oconto County Circuit Court
on Feb. 22, 2011, and was convicted of deer-hunting violations from
2009. According to the federal complaint, Kellogg hunted for, and
shot, a bear on Sept. 9 while revoked and providing guiding
services.

According to sources, that Sept. 9 incident is the same incident in
which Christopher Halfmann, of De Pere, was mauled by a wounded
black bear while hunting in Lincoln County. That bear eventually
was tagged by a Merrill man who had a kill tag after the bear was
killed, but the bear was not initially shot by a person with a
Class A kill tag, as is required by the new state law that allows
for a backup shooter.

On several instances during the three seasons of federal
surveillance, Kellogg directed the transport of bear carcasses for
meat processing and pelt handling, the report says.

Sources say that federal agents and state conservation wardens
executed search warrants on several homes and businesses in the
Gillett and Oconto Falls area the week of Oct. 3. The agents and
wardens were said to have confiscated at least one truck, several
trailing hounds, guns, and other hunting gear related to the
alleged violations.

Kellogg appeared in federal district court in Green Bay on
Wednesday, Oct. 5. He was released on his own recognizance with an
order to not hunt or engage in any guiding activity. His
preliminary hearing was to have taken place on Wednesday, Oct. 19
before U.S. Judge James Sickel.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William
Roach.

Sources say Kellogg also faces state charges of trespassing.
Allegedly, on Sept. 10, a private landowner who was checking a
trail camera on his bear bait found a photo of Kellogg and a dog on
the camera.

According to the federal criminal complaint, state and federal
wildlife officers started investigating reported illegal hunting
activity in Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, and Wyoming by Kellogg
and some of his friends in 2005. By that time, Kellogg already had
been cited several times for hunting violations.

The investigation gained some ground beginning in July 2009 when
two wildlife investigators from Kentucky contacted Kellogg and
arranged to buy some trailing hounds from him.

According to court records, Kellogg invited the Kentucky wardens to
bear hunt with him during the training season to watch the hounds
perform before the agents bought them.

On Aug. 1, 2009, Kellogg asked the wardens if they wanted to hire
him as a guide. They said they didn’t have a kill tag, but Kellogg
offered to sell them someone else’s tag for $1,000, but he warned
them that they’d have to be careful not to get caught. According to
the complaint, the wardens worked out an agreement with Kellogg to
come back in September, when they would buy the tag for $1,000.
Kellogg said he would get the tag from a friend of his in North
Carolina, who had drawn a Wisconsin bear kill tag.

On Sept. 11, 2009, Kellogg’s six dogs treed a large male bear. The
undercover warden shot the bear and Kellogg got a tag from his
friend from North Carolina, who was present, to tag the bear, the
complaint says. Kellogg validated the time and date on the tag,
then directed the warden to take the bear to a locker plant for
processing and the hide to a taxidermist for a rug. The undercover
warden paid Kellogg $1,000 for the tag, and $400 for a guide
fee.

The first set of federal charges stem from the 2009 investigation;
the second set from the 2011 bear season. During this year’s
incident, Kellogg was assisted by two friends, one from the Gillett
area and one from the Merrill area. The two men are only identified
by their initials in the criminal complaint. During the hunt, the
Merrill man told the two undercover wardens to refer to Kellogg as
“Bill,” since his licenses were revoked, the complaint says.

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