NB: Wisconsin man gets probation, fine for illegally hunting in Nebraska



A Wisconsin man was sentenced in federal court in Omaha for illegally hunting in Nebraska.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha, Duane S. Mulvaine, 40, of Fox Lake, Wisconsin, violated the Lacey Act, which is a U.S. conservation law from 1900 that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.

Mulvaine was convicted of six misdemeanor counts of the illegal taking of wildlife in interstate commerce. He was sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson to five years’ probation on each count to be served at the same time.

Nelson also ordered Mulvaine to pay $50,000 in restitution and a $45,000 fine. As part of his probation terms, Mulvaine shall not hunt, guide, outfit or otherwise engage in any activities associated with the hunting, guiding or outfitting business.

Mulvaine forfeited four scoped rifles, three suppressors, a compound bow and a crossbow used in numerous unlawful hunts conducted by Mulvaine and Hidden Hills Outfitters, a commercial big game guiding and outfitting business near Broken Bow. Mulvaine also surrendered and abandoned 13 wildlife trophy mounts, including three white-tailed deer, five mule deer, three pronghorn, a wild turkey and a badger unlawfully taken at Hidden Hills Outfitters.

Between 2012 and 2017, Mulvaine traveled to Hidden Hills Outfitters to conduct guided hunts for white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn and wild turkey. An investigation determined that during a number of these hunts, Mulvaine engaged in hunting activities that included hunting over bait, hunting from a public roadway at night or without a permit and hunting with prohibited weapons, all of which are in violation of Nebraska law or regulation.

An investigation determined that Mulvaine was associated with at least six specific illegal hunts.

n In August 2015 and September 2016, Mulvaine unlawfully killed two pronghorn in Custer and Keith counties with a suppressed .17 caliber and .223 caliber rifle during the archery season. Nebraska law prohibits the possession or use of firearms to take deer or pronghorn under the authority of an archery permit.

During firearm deer season in November 2015, Mulvaine unlawfully killed a 6-by-5 mule deer in Blaine County without a valid permit and while using a rifle borrowed from a Hidden Hills Outfitters client.

n During the archery deer season in September 2016, Mulvaine unlawfully killed a 6-by-6 mule deer with a suppressed Howa .223 caliber rifle while seated in a vehicle parked on a roadway in Custer County and contrary to Nebraska law.

n During the muzzleloader deer season in December 2016, Mulvaine unlawfully killed a 5-by-5 white-tailed deer with a suppressed .308 caliber DPMS AR-style rifle while seated in a vehicle parked on a roadway in Sherman County and with the aid of a high-powered spotlight at approximately 3:45 a.m.

In October 2017, Mulvaine killed a 6-by-6 white-tailed deer with a crossbow in Blaine County. Mulvaine knowingly positioned himself in a vehicle located approximately 50 yards from a Hidden Hills Outfitters bait site and shot the deer standing not more than 15 yards from the bait site. Nebraska law prohibits establishing baited areas for the purpose of hunting or taking big game or turkeys. The law prohibits hunting or taking deer or turkeys within a baited area within 200 yards of any location where bait is placed for the purpose of hunting or that may serve as an attractant for big game or turkeys.

During each of these hunts, Mulvaine was accompanied or assisted by a Hidden Hills Outfitters owner or guide. Mulvaine transported the unlawfully taken wildlife in interstate commerce back to his Wisconsin residence or taxidermist.

Mulvaine provided Hidden Hills Outfitters vehicles from his Wisconsin car dealership for use in the unlawful hunting operation. He exchanged his service, valued at approximately $10,000 annually, for the hunting and guiding services.

Mulvaine also participated in the establishment of a “Gun Trust” and providing Hidden Hills Outfitters owners and guides various suppressed firearms. He knew they were routinely used for the unlawful taking of wildlife and protected migratory birds, specifically hawks or other raptors by Hidden Hills owners, guides and clients.

Mulvaine assisted Hidden Hills Outfitters with establishing and maintaining bait sites closely located and generally within direct view of Hidden Hills Outfitters client hunting locations. Mulvaine and Hidden Hills Outfitters used locally sourced bait products named “PrimeTine” and “Hard Rack Candy” at the bait sites and placed electronic game cameras over the bait sites in order to identify and locate target deer, position the target deer at close range to the client and improve the odds of hunting clients successfully killing their target deer.

To date, 29 defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced and ordered to pay a total of $343,048 in fines and restitution for underlying violations related to Lacey Act violations through Hidden Hills Outfitters.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Law Enforcement Division investigated the crimes.


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