Hunters call video depicting dying deer ‘absolutely wrong’
A video that claims to show a deer being tortured has both hunters and non-hunters calling it horrifying, but there are still questions about whether the two teens involved will face criminal charges.
The series of Snapchat videos obtained by News 3 show two young men after shooting a deer. One clip shows a boy attempting to ride the deer as it was dying.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials said they have completed their investigation, and all investigation results have been given to Richland County Health and Human Services to handle the situation.
Richland County Health and Human Services officials said in a release Thursday, “Occasionally, the nature of juvenile offending is so egregious in the eyes of the public that restoration and recovery can be difficult for juveniles to achieve. As such, the law directs that all juvenile matters are sealed to the public in an effort to allow for reparation to occur and further risk of offending to be reduced.”
Richland County’s sheriff said he does not currently have a criminal investigation looking into the matter, and the boys have not been charged with anything.
Steve D’Orazio is an avid hunter and owns Max Creek Outdoors gun shop. He said he taught his children how to hunt safely and with ethics, which is something he said is missing in this video.
“The animal was still alive, the animal was making noise, the animal was trying to get out of there, and was it suffering. Absolutely, it was suffering,” D’Orazio said. “He broke the law, as far as I’m concerned.”
Tim Verhoff, a former assistant district attorney in Dane County, said it’s not clear whether the two actually broke any laws. While animal-cruelty convictions are few and far between, Verhoff said they’re possible in a situation like this if the county DA is willing to take on the case.
“There’s an animal-cruelty statute that allows prosecution when there’s either excessive pain or injury or intentional death,” Verhoff said.
State law also protects hunting, which means hunters are allowed to kill wild animals.
“I think the issue in any case like this is the tension of whether this would be considered legitimate hunting or not,” Verhoff said.
The boys in the video are minors so they technically cannot be charged or convicted of a crime as adults. Minors go through a separate juvenile system and can be assigned to treatment or a form of juvenile prison. Any decision made in juvenile court would be sealed to the public.
For D’Orazio, no matter how the law defines these boys or their actions, he won’t call them hunters.
“I can’t imagine anybody after seeing that video would agree its OK to do what that person did,” he said. “For hunting, as a human being, he was wrong. Absolutely wrong.”