May 13, 2014


A 17-year serial poacher from Minnesota was sentenced in federal court today after pleading guilty to a Lacey Act violation for transporting wildlife that was unlawfully taken in violation of federal law. In October 2013, William Robert Welsh, age 41 of St. Cloud, Minnesota pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

In October of 2011, Welsh shot and killed a deer in the closed area of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The following day, Welsh sawed off the deer’s antlers and transported them to his residence, leaving the remainder of the carcass in the field. Welsh later transported the antlers and other evidence to another person’s residence and instructed them to hide the items.

Welsh is barred from hunting “big game” anywhere in the United States for five years, banned from entering Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge for five years and forfeits his seized firearm and hunting equipment, along with trophy deer mounts and antlers from seven illegally taken deer. Welsh is also on two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, and banned from hunting small game during that time.

“This investigation revealed at least a decade of egregious poaching on the refuge and other areas throughout the state,” explained U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Zone Law Enforcement Officer Brent Taylor.

During an interview in December 2011, Welsh told investigators that, in 1998, while his hunting license was revoked, he hunted using his wife’s deer license and killed a deer and tagged it using his wife’s deer tag.

The investigative team discovered that Welsh illegally killed eight white-tailed deer in the closed area of the refuge from 2006 to 2011. Welsh also admitted to killing three other deer off the refuge in violation of state law near St. Cloud, Minnesota.


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