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Illegal-hunting probe involves Iowa wrestling coach

[ 2 ] November 16, 2010 |

Iowa conservation officers seized deer and beaver hides, as well as a handgun, during a search of buildings last week at the home of Mike Zadick, an assistant wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, according to public records.

The officers seized the hides and other hunting equipment during a search at Zadick’s home in Solon on Nov. 10 as part of an investigation into illegal hunting, Johnson County District Court records show.

Zadick, 32, is under investigation for harvesting wild animals out of season and without a license, the documents say. He is an interim assistant coach on the Iowa wrestling staff.

The records allege Joshua Dziewa, a freshman wrestler from Yardley, Pa., participated in an illegal hunt for raccoons in late October with five or six other individuals whom he refused to name to investigators.

State law forbids hunting animals out of season and prohibits collection of hides and pelts without a license. Hunting out of season is a simple misdemeanor, but state law requires one count for each animal taken out of season.

Conviction of a simple misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. State law also requires imposing fines for each killed animal and each antlered deer killed. Fines for illegally killed antlered deer range from $2,000 to $20,000, depending on the size of the antlers.

Zadick could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness also could not be reached for comment. Court records filed with the Johnson County clerk of court’s office disclose that Lyness approved the request for the search warrant Nov. 10.

Fred Mims, an associate U of I athletic director, said athletic department officials were aware “that something is going on.”

“But until and unless charges are filed, there is nothing that we can say,” Mims said.

Erika Billerbeck, a conservation officer for 10 years with the state Department of Natural Resources, obtained the search warrant for Zadick’s property as part of an investigation that began Oct. 25 when U of I public safety officers notified her that carcasses of skinned raccoons had been found at Hillcrest Residence Hall.

“Dziewa admitted to us that he had transported the raccoon carcasses from the field to the dormitory,” Billerbeck’s affidavit said. “He stated that he had been raccoon hunting with dogs with a group of five or six friends.”

Billerbeck’s statement pointed out that open season for raccoons started Nov. 6 and that Dziewa “did not possess a hunting or fur harvester license.”

“Because this incident happened prior to raccoon season, anyone (including licensed hunters) would be in violation of possessing a game animal out of season,” the affidavit says.

Dziewa also acknowledged hunting for raccoons for the second time on Nov. 6, the affidavit says.

“His assistant coach, Michael Zadick, is a known sportsman and has been described as an avid hunter by the Associate Athletic Director Fred Mims,” the affidavit said.

Billerbeck said the visit to Zadick’s home on Nov. 10 to discuss the matter led to the discovery of a “chain hoist hanging from the rafters” of a shed and a blue tarp that “appeared to be covered in a large amount of blood or blood-like substance.”

Billerbeck said she found dried blood and hairs “similar to the color of deer hair” in the back of a pickup truck registered to Zadick. She also found a bucket with “pooled ‘blood’ (that) looked black in color and to still be tacky and somewhat fresh.”

An inventory of property seized from Zadick’s home included a whitetail deer hide, a beaver hide, an eight-point whitetail deer rack, a 10-point whitetail deer mount, a .22-caliber handgun, seven rounds of ammunition and a blue spotlight. Hunting with the use of a spotlight or other artificial light also is illegal unless used by a legally blind person or under the direction of a local deer population control plan.

Zadick was a three-time All-America wrestler at Iowa, winning the 149-pound Big Ten title in 2002. He earned a spot on the 2008 Olympic wrestling team at 132 pounds.

Iowa’s wrestling season is scheduled to begin Friday against Iowa Central Community College and Coe College.

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