Four Wisconsin men, including two from Turtle Lake, have been sentenced in federal court for illegally killing a mountain lion in Wyoming two years ago and then lying to authorities about how that incident occurred.
According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Robert Peters, 53, and Steven Reindahl, 55, both of Turtle Lake, and David Johnson, 31, of Barnes, and Darren Johnson, 52, of Deer Park, were sentenced in Madison for their roles in the illegal hunt in January 2017, and for conspiring to obstruct a 2018 federal grand jury investigation of the matter.
Peters and Reindahl received two years of probation, David Johnson three years of probation and Darren Johnson four years of probation. Peters and Reindahl were fined $5,000 apiece, David Johnson $25,000 and Darren Johnson $30,000.
As a condition of their sentences, the men cannot hunt and trap or accompany others hunting and trapping for the next two years. Judge Stephen Crocker also ordered that the men give up weapons used during the illegal hunt along with bobcat and mountain lion hides and a mountain lion skull.
Only Reindahl and Darren Johnson had valid licenses to hunt mountain lions.
Crocker admonished the illegal hunt, saying the four participants were men “who loved and lived to hunt, but they cut corners and cheated. They broke the law knowingly.”
According to court records, the four men hunted mountain lions with their dogs on Jan. 6, 2017, in Mosby, Mont. The dogs trapped a mountain lion in a tree that morning.
Despite not having a valid license, David Johnson used Darren Johnson’s rifle to shoot and kill the mountain lion. Darren Johnson used his hunting tag on the lion.
Darren Johnson then told group members to say that he, not David, had killed the mountain lion, according to witness testimony in the case. Four days later the men returned to Wisconsin.
In May 2018 Peters and Reindahl were notified they were to testify the following month before a federal grand jury about the hunt. On June 21, 2018, Peters and Reindahl told the grand jury Darren Johnson had killed the mountain lion, but they subsequently changed their story, authorities said, and admitted they had lied to the grand jury and acknowledged David Johnson had killed the animal and Darren Johnson tagged it.
The charges were the result of an investigation by special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.