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Deer poachers may face tougher penalties

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  A public hearing is set for this morning on a Wisconsin bill to create much stiffer penalties for poaching trophy deer. Fines would not be increases -- but related surcharges could be hiked dramatically.

Senate Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Assembly Republican Mary Williams of Taylor County are the bill's main sponsors. Lawmakers of both parties have signed onto it.

Under the current law, a wild-animal protection surcharge of almost $44 is imposed on top of poaching fines. The proposed surcharges would range from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on a deer's antler spread.

The bill would apply the surcharges only to deer -- and not to elk and bear, as adopted earlier. Petrowski said the surcharges were only meant to keep trophy deer from being stolen -- and he's not sure how the elk-and-bear got included.