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Illegal bear kill in Wisconsin may send Minnesota man to jail

An illegal bear kill in northern Wisconsin could land a Minnesota man in jail for two years.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for western Wisconsin, Walter Palmer, 48, Eden Prairie, Minn., pled guilty today (Tuesday), in U.S. District Court, to making a false statement to a federal agent

That statement was in connection with the hunting of a black bear in September 2006 near Phillips in Price County.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, hunting of black bears in Wisconsin is regulated by state law and allowed only in specific geographical areas.

When a licensed hunter kills a bear, Wisconsin law requires the hunter to immediately tag the bear and transport it to a registration station located within the zone or sub-zone in which the bear was killed.

Officials say Palmer purchased a license authorizing him to hunt and kill a black bear only in sub-zone A1 in northern Wisconsin.

However, on Sept. 30, 2006, Palmer, with the assistance of others, hunted and killed a black bear near Phillips, approximately 40 miles outside of that zone.

After the bear was killed, members of the hunting group noticed that Palmer's tag was for sub-zone A1 and that the bear had not been killed in that zone.

The members of the group, including Palmer, agreed that if any authorities were to ask where the bear had been killed, they would say it had been killed off Taylor Lake Road, south of Minong, a location in sub-zone A1.

Palmer and others transported the bear carcass to a registration station in sub-zone A1.

At the registration station, Palmer filed a bear registration Stub, falsely certifying that the bear had been killed in sub-zone A1. Palmer later caused the bear carcass to be transported from Wisconsin to Minnesota.

On Oct. 15, 2006, and again on Oct. 25, 2006, a special agent of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service interviewed Palmer. In those interviews Palmer falsely stated that he believed he had shot the bear off Taylor Road, and that he thought the bear had been killed legally.

A sentencing hearing has been set for July 15 in Madison. Palmer faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources investigated the case.