Down for the count

 Vandals knocked over this tree stand near Prairie Farm earlier this month, according to information from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department. The damage is believed to be linked to other incidents in nearby Dunn County. Photo contributed

Authorities in Barron and Dunn counties are investigating a possible link between an extremist animal rights group and a series of vandalized deer hunting stands in both counties, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, press release.

The sheriff said the two departments are comparing notes about incidents in which a tree stand was torn down and vandalized in the Prairie Farm area, and “several other cases in Dunn County” involving the destruction and/or vandalizing of hunting stands and trail cameras.

“There may be a possible connection to a group called Animal Liberation Front ... an international, leaderless resistance (organization) that engages in direction action in the pursuit of animal rights,” Fitzgerald said.

As Wisconsin’s gun deer season approaches, “we are asking hunters, trail riders and the general public” to report acts of vandalism and/or suspicious activities by calling 911, he added.

Dunn County authorities are investigating similar occurrences in the towns of Sheridan (near Ridgeland), Sherman (south of Wheeler) and Dunn (about 10 miles south of Menomonie), according to Marshall Multhauf, chief deputy, Dunn County Sheriff’s Office.

In an email sent Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, Multhauf said “There has been a rash of cases involving criminal damage to hunting stands and trail cameras” in Dunn County.

Multhauf said his department “continues to investigate these cases” along with authorities in Barron County.

Dunn County “urges the public to provide any information on suspicious activity directly to the Sheriff’s Office or anonymously through the Dunn County Crime Stoppers Program at dunncocrimestoppers.com,” he added.

Multhauf said his department “ask(s) that all hunters examine their hunting stands prior to utilization to determine that no damage has occurred affecting its structural integrity that could lead to personal injury to anyone.

“We also ask that the Sheriff’s Office be contacted regarding any information or observations related to these cases and that no one ‘take matters into their own hands,’” he added.