“It’s not hunting. It’s just killing:" One arrested, two sought in Green Lake County deer "thrill kills"

GREEN LAKE COUNTY (WITI) – An investigation is underway into alleged "thrill killings" of deer in Green Lake County.

“It’s not hunting. It’s just killing,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Warden Supervisor Andy Lundin said.

One man has been arrested following a high-speed chase. As law enforcement officials look for answers, they are also looking to talk to two others who may be involved.

“This is a situation that is quite frankly sickening -- where you have individuals that instead of working hard, legally, ethically to harvest whitetail deer, it appears that they’re just out in the evening time shooting these animals and leaving them to waste in a field,” Lundin said.

DNR wardens say 10 deer, maybe more were shot Saturday night, November 29th along a stretch of Highway J in Green Lake County.

Neighbors heard shots and called the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies spotted what they called a suspicious truck pulling into a field. Officers say 18 year-old Cody Johnston drove off when deputies got close.

“Involving some excessive speeds up to 90 miles per hour, and subsequently the vehicle ended up crashing just outside the City of Princeton,” Mark Putzke with the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.

Officers found two shotguns (one of them loaded) and a rifle in the cab -- and a tagged buck in the bed of the pickup truck.

Johnston is charged with eluding officers -- a felony.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnston said he “panicked,” and said he “didn’t know what he was doing.”

The complaint goes on to say Johnston told officers two of his friends got out of the truck before the chase, and got away.

“Evidence shows that there’s certainly more than one person that’s involved. One was taken into custody, and there are a couple of other suspects,” Lundin said.

At this time, Johnston is not charged with poaching, but authorities say they are working out the details.

“There is strong evidence that exists, and other evidence that is being developed that will tie all of this together,” Putzke said.

Putzke says he expects the investigation to last several weeks.

“They’ll have their day in court, but for the rest of us that are in legitimate pursuit of Wisconsin’s big game animal if you will, it’s really a slap in the face to everyone that participates,” Putzke said.

If you have any information about this case, you are asked to call the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office at (920) 294-4000, or the DNR Tip Line, at 800-TIP-WDNR.

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