Felons Fingered Through Hunting Licenses

Here’s some sage advice for felons currently serving probation in Wisconsin: If you’re in illegal possession of firearms, it’s not wise to purchase a hunting license.

As the result of two Wisconsin state agencies sharing their computer databases, a total of 19 convicted felons were arrested in the past month for illegally possessing firearms under terms of their probation.

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After cross-referencing records from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources, state probation agents paid surprise home visits to 62 felons who bought hunting licenses this year.

A majority of those investigated--43 to be exact--did not have guns in their possession.

“This is the first sharing of data of this kind (between the DNR and DOC), and we worked with law enforcement and took folks into custody if we found evidence that they broke the law,” said John Dipko, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The effort was planned by the two agencies to address what is considered by some to be a loophole in Wisconsin law, whereby convicted felons legally cannot possess a firearm but may purchase a hunting license.

Convicted felons in Wisconsin may join other hunters on deer-drives, but they cannot carry firearms in the process.

Though state law bans all convicted felons from ever possessing firearms, the DOC cannot take action against felons who possess guns but are no longer under state supervision.

“The fact of the matter is that felons who are under the supervision of the DOC sign agreements that state very clearly they are not to possess any weapons and that they are also expected to follow the laws,” Dipko told the Wisconsin State Journal this week.