An Indiana couple is in hot water with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources after they “rescued” a whitetail deer fawn in violation of state regulations.
Jeff and Jennifer Counceller of Connersville, Ind., more than two years ago helped a fawn recover from what they say was a coyote attack. Jeff, a police officer, found the fawn while on patrol. Jennifer helped nurse it back to health and they kept it in a pen during the period in question.
Indiana law prohibits possession of some wildlife, including whitetail deer. Following a six-month investigation by DNR officials, the couple was charged with a misdemeanor. State wildlife officials ordered the deer to be killed instead of being returned to the wild.
The deer was missing on the day DNR officials say it was to be euthanized. The Councellers say they don’t know how it disappeared. They also say they were unsuccessful in attempts to place the deer in a petting zoo or similar facility.
Indiana DNR officials have not issued a statement about the case.
The Councellers admit breaking the law but say their efforts at doing something positive for the deer should be a factor in the current situation. State wildlife officials say the possible introduction of disease, parasites or other problems by releasing a captive deer into the wild – along with a deer that has no fear of humans – outweighs the rescue and euthanasia is department policy.
The case has even reached the Indiana governor’s office.
Most, if not all, state wildlife agencies have laws or prohibitions about possession of wildlife without permission from the agency. The Indiana DNR said it denied the Councellers permission to keep the deer.
The firestorm of outraged citizens has hit the social media websites in support of the Councellers and against the DNR.
The couple has been charged with illegal possession of a deer and have a March trial date. The charge, against each of them, is a misdemeanor but the maximum is 60 days in jail and fines of $500 each.
Outdoor writer Will Brantley offered a balanced look at the situation in this blog.
What do you think? We’d like to hear your thoughts.