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Pair plead guilty in Lake Koshkonong fish kill

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David Brazy
June 29, 2011
— Two commercial fishers accused of killing of hundreds of game fish on Lake Koshkonong last fall pleaded guilty to reduced charges Tuesday in Jefferson County Court.

Steven Kallenbach, 54, of Stoddard and John Bruring, 47, of La Crosse were fined $15,477 each for killing an estimated 645 walleye and white bass in September.


The two originally were charged with felony possession of illegal fish, but the charges were reduced to three misdemeanor counts of possession of illegal fish as a part of the plea agreement. Kallenbach and Bruring will also had their fishing permits revoked for the next three years.


Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Shock said the penalty is appropriate because the men had no prior criminal records.


“I think that it is a significant penalty, and I hope it has the desired deterrent effect for the two moving forward,” Shock said. “I think it will also provide a general deterrent for the rest of the community at large.”


Kallenbach and Bruring had the 2010 contract with the state Department of Natural Resources to remove rough fish, such as carp, from Lake Koshkonong. Kallenbach and Bruring paid $53,800 for the contract.


On Sept. 2, their fishing crews removed thousands of fish from the lake and kept them in nets overnight. When they returned the next day, they found a large number of game fish had died. They dug holes along the shoreline and buried most of the game fish.


Kallenbach’s defense attorney, Richard Coad, said his client’s biggest mistake was attempting to hide the fish.


“I think its important to note neither one wanted to remove the abundance of game fish,” Coad said. “It isn’t an exact science when you remove the rough fish.”


Kallenbach said he has had a clean record and felt the penalty was harsh for one incident.


“I’ve done this for 43 years, now, and it was just a bad day at the office,” Kallenbach said.


The 2011 contract to remove rough fish from Lake Koshkonong was sold to Jason Dillon for $116,002, according to DNR Regional Fisheries Supervisor Scot Stewart.


Stewart said the commercial fishers purchase the contracts and then sell the rough fish they catch for a profit.



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