A Merrill man was one of 4 people pleading guilty to participating in illegal black bear hunting operations.
Fifty three year old Michael Renken was found guilty of violating the Lacey Act last month. The more than 100 year old act prevents the trade of wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold.
The multi-year investigation included several of the men arranging for the sale and transfer of a bear license to an undercover officer, along with providing guide service and processing of an illegally taken bear. Incidents occurred in 2009 and 2011.
Renken pleaded guilty to 1 misdemeanor violation. He was sentenced to 3 years of probation and a five year revocation of hunting, trapping and fishing privileges. He will also have to make a $3,000 contribution to the DNR and US Fish and Wildlife service conservation.
In addition to federal violations, the DNR officials documented multiple state wildlife violations. State cases are still pending on other defendants connected.