BALSAM LAKE, Wis. - A western Wisconsin rancher already charged with animal neglect is now in more trouble, after authorities say he threatened a deputy who was checking up on him with a sledge hammer.
Michael Feist is now charged in Polk County Court with one felony count of bail jumping, and misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and resisting or obstructing an officer.
The criminal complaint details how a Polk County deputy went out to the Otter Creek Ranch on December 27 to conduct a court-ordered inspection of the facility and horses boarded there. The deputy says as he walked up the driveway the 58-year-old defendant approached carrying a sledgehammer, shouting and swearing in a threatening tone. The deputy says he ordered Feist to put the sledgehammer down, and when he refused the deputy drew his gun.
Feist reportedly put down the sledgehammer but continued threatening the deputy. As the deputy approached he says Feist turned to grab the sledgehammer again, at which point the deputy pulled a can of pepper spray and blasted the defendant in the face. Feist was still resisting arrest and fighting the deputy's attempts to handcuff him, so the deputy used his taser. Eventually Feist was brought under control and he was taken to jail.
In November Feist was charged with more than 30 counts involving animal abuse or neglect after dead and emaciated horses were found on his ranch. He was under a court order to allow authorities to inspect the ranch so conditions don't deteriorate even more.