Local priest repeatedly harassed while hunting, files police report
DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A Norbertine priest says he’s been forced to file a police report after continued harassment from the public for bow hunting on the St. Norbert Abbey grounds in De Pere.
Father Jordan Neeck’s love for the outdoors can be traced back to his childhood in Phillips, Wisconsin.
“It’s kind of a way of life and a rite of passage to hunting if you live in Wisconsin, especially in the northwoods,” says Father Neeck.
After entering the Norbertine order in 2013, Father Neeck discovered the 160-acre Abbey property, split between Allouez and De Pere, full of wildlife, including dozens of deer.
“One of our members reached out to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2016 and just said, he had a passion for hunting as well, and asked, hey the herd seems pretty large and the conservation warden said yeah, Green Bay has a problem with over-population of deer and so we began in 2016, just Norbertines hunting the grounds. And when we started in 2016 there were no problems at all, but this year has been, a year of many problems,” says Father Neeck.
Problems that began the minute he picked up his bow this fall.
“First hint was probably opening weekend of bow hunting in which people have approached me and said shame on you and I’m thinking I’m on my own private property, given permission to do this and following all the regulations provided by the Wisconsin DNR, I’ve checked the City of De Pere regulations and ordinances, and Village of Allouez ordinances, everything I’m doing is legal,” stresses Father Neeck.
Despite the opposition to his hunting, Father Neeck has harvested four deer this fall.
“I’m very thankful for the life of the deer and have been able to provide the venison for the hungry, been donating to Paul’s Pantry of families I know are hard up in this moment of time because of Covid, have job loss and everything like that,” says Father Neeck.
But as he’s continued to hunt, tensions have increased.
“If I’ve been coming in or out of the woods, harassed, or even in my stand, people have walked out into the woods and into the fields and have harassed me. Things have escalated within the last week of spray painting of trees, so damage to property, damage to my tree stand and even theft, theft of trail cams trying to capture who’s been vandalizing our property here at the Abbey,” says Father Neeck.
Both De Pere Police and the DNR are now investigating this hunting conflict, and while they won’t comment on the case, those harassing Father Jordan could face charges.
“We do have hunter harassment laws and what hunter harassment is is intentionally interfering with the lawful hunting being done by another, and it is a citable offense,” says DNR Conservation Warden Amanda Kretschmer.
Decades of allowing the public to enjoy the Abbey property trails could be in jeopardy.
“It could potentially wreck the opportunity for other people to be on this property,” says Father Neeck.
With three more deer tags in his possession, Father Neeck says he plans to keep hunting.
But he admits, this fall’s hunt has taken a toll.
“It does hurt, I’m not going to lie, every morning I wake up sick to my stomach thinking about the hatred towards me,” says Father Neeck.
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