USA Today reports that deer, elk and even raccoons have a new type of predator to worry about: Poachers who kill for the thrill of it. Scott Talbott, a Wyoming game warden, calls it “wanton destruction” that goes beyond shooting. Poachers run down deer with cars or snowmobiles, and chase raccoons, then beat them to death with clubs. They also shoot deer, elk and antelope, sometimes removing valuable antlers but often leaving the carcass to rot on the ground.
In Wisconsin, state wildlife officials are teaming with university researchers to study the trend, which they said has emerged in recent years. The thrill killing usually involves youths ages 14 to 23, who gather in groups with the intent of killing as many animals as possible, said Chuck Horn of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Last April, Wisconsin wardens apprehended a group of 15 youths, five of them juveniles, who were running down raccoons, muskrats and possums, then clubbing them to death with spiked clubs and baseball bats, Horn said.