Two Men Sentenced in Federal Court for Wildlife Offenses
United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced today that two Milwaukee area men have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced in federal court for criminal violations of the Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372 (a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(2). The violations related to the unlawful importation into the United States of wildlife that had been killed in Ontario, Canada, in violation of Canadian law.
United States Attorney Haanstad explained that in 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) began an investigation into the illegal hunting activities of Reid Viertel (41) of West Allis, Wisconsin, and various associates, including Terry Schmit (43) of Franklin, Wisconsin. With assistance from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the OMNR determined that despite not having an Ontario license, Viertel had shot and killed a timber wolf in February 2012. Authorities also determined that in August 2013, Schmit traveled to Ontario with Viertel, where he shot and killed a black bear while hunting without a license. In both instances, Viertel falsified export documents from Ontario for the purpose of importing the animal carcasses into the United States.
Schmit pleaded guilty to a single offense on June 16, 2016, and was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, the forfeiture of the black bear, and a ban on hunting, fishing, and/or trapping in North America until January 1, 2019. Viertel pleaded guilty to two offenses on June 21, 2016, and was sentenced to 3 years’ probation to include at least 25 hours per year of environmental community service, forfeiture of the wolf and black bear, and a ban on hunting, fishing, and/or trapping in North America until January 1, 2021. Viertel also was ordered to serve the 2016 dear gun season (November 19 – 27) in the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons and to pay the cost of his incarceration. Both Viertel and Schmit also were convicted in Ontario, Canada, for their illegal hunting activities.
United States Attorney Haanstad explained that the prosecution of offenders who intentionally violate wildlife laws helps protect and preserve natural resources both within and outside the United States. United States Attorney Haanstad thanked the OMNR and the USFWS for their work and cooperation on this and similar investigations.
The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Kanter.