SHERIDAN — Two Wisconsin men will have to pay fines totaling more than $20,000 for using hunting licenses transferred to them by local property owners on whose land they killed three buck mule deer in October.
Bob Schneeberger and James Kafka were each ticketed for knowingly taking antlered/horned trophy game with licenses illegally transferred to them. Schneeberger faced just one count of the crime while Kafka faced two.
Schneeberger must pay $5,040 in fines and fees for the one deer he killed. In addition, he must pay $2,000 in restitution for the animal. Kafka will pay $10,080 in fines and fees, plus $4,000 in restitution. Both men also lose their hunting privileges for three years.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman said Wednesday morning that the two men drove to Sheridan knowing they didn’t have licenses, planned and conspired to take the trophy animals.
WGFD was tipped off to the crime when the men tried to ship the animal heads back to Wisconsin. The shipping company thought it was odd and called the WGFD. Seeman said that officials often get tips from area residents and protecting Wyoming’s resources is a joint venture with the public.
“These kinds of crimes are so serious because they are taking the animals from all of us,” Seeman said. “Even if you aren’t a hunter, people live in Wyoming because they like to see the wildlife. (Schneeberger and Kafka) stole these animals from all of us.”
The two Wisconsin men did not receive the maximum penalty. Each animal taken could have cost them $16,000 — $10,000 in fines and fees and $6,000 in restitution — for a total of $48,000.
Chuck and Debra Belus, the ranch owners who transferred the licenses to the Wisconsin men, pleaded guilty in Sheridan County Circuit Court to illegal transfers. In total, the couple was ordered in December to pay approximately $400 in fines. The couple’s hunting privileges were also suspended for three years. Their ranch is located in southern Sheridan County.