Wisconsin man pleads guilty to illegal wildlife trapping

gavel_rgbABERDEEN — A Wisconsin man has pleaded guilty to taking illegally harvested wildlife pelts out of Mississippi.

Peter Jesunas, 32, of Shiocton, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate David Sanders in Aberdeen. He was fined $10,000 and ordered not to hunt or trap anywhere worldwide for three years while on probation. He was also ordered to forfeit the 354 pelts to the state of Wisconsin.

Jesunas came to Mississippi to trap in spring 2012, though barred from buying a license because of previous wildlife-related offenses, a press release states. Jesunas illegally trapped 14 gray foxes, 88 raccoons, 16 bobcats, 20 muskrats, 25 otters, 10 coyotes and 181 beavers, his criminal charges state.

He took the pelts back to Wisconsin to sell them, enlisting his brother, Patrick Jesunas, to buy a Mississippi trapper’s license. That was done so Peter Jesunas could obtain tags regulating trade in endangered species required to take bobcat and otter skins out of Mississippi.

Patrick Jesunas pleaded guilty earlier and was fined $1,500.

Of Peter Jesunas’ fine, $8,000 will be paid to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation, while $2,000 will be paid to the federal Lacey Act fund, named after the law Jesunas violated.

“Our collective efforts help ensure that these resources will be here for future generations of fair chase hunters, trappers and outdoor enthusiasts,” Luis Santiago, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent-in-charge for the Southeast Region, said in a statement.

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