Post Updated August 30 WDNR proposed Policy Change– scroll down–
This is sad story, with plenty of wrongs on all sides. Watch the initial WISN 12 ” Armed Agents Raid Animal Shelter for Baby Deer” news story here. It started when a good intentioned Illinois couple mistakenly thought they were rescuing an abandoned baby deer close to the Wisconsin / Illinois border. They compounded the problem by crossing a state line with a living wild animal in order to bring it to Wisconsin based St Francis shelter for “rehabilitation”.
- The first mistake, a fawn left alone is rarely, if ever “abandoned” by its mother. Does frequently leave their young fawns alone for extended periods of time. One can only imagine the panic the doe experienced when she returned to find her fawn gone. Many times I have watched does dash madly about to find wayward fawns that had wandered out on there own. The giggling sound made by the fawn which led to its name Giggles was the fawn calling out for its mother. In this case the fawn was removed when it should have been left alone.
- Second mistake, St Francis should not have taken the fawn in without contacting the WDNR within 24 hours to apply for a permit as Wisconsin law requires.
Regarding – “The Armed Raid” - It’s quite clear WDNR law enforcement overreacted, although I can find no evidence of any illegality on the part of law enforcement. I have corresponded with some of those involved and law enforcement friends who were not involved. On the condition I not reveal their names here is what I found.
- Prior to a search warrant St Francis refused a request by a couple of wardens to search and take custody of the fawn. They did not sneak around and spy first as reported in the news. St Francis was within their rights to refuse a warrantless search.
- 16 government agents and employees came back to serve the search warrant. 10 Conservation Officers dressed in regular duty uniform with the prescribed sidearm. One Deputy Sheriff dressed in regular duty uniform and normal sidearm. Two plain clothed detectives with concealed arms. Three WDNR wildlife staff, presumably the ones who tranquilized Giggles. The Wisconsin Reporter confirms my information above.
Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer did the WDNR no favor in her interview with WISN 12 News where she said:
- “the law requires the DNR agents to euthanize animals like Giggles because of the potential for disease and danger to humans.” charlie says: Actually that is not true as it is not a blanket kill requirement the law allows for the issue of permit for rehab purposes.
- “These are always very difficult situations for both parties involved, and we are empathetic to the fact of what happened because we know in our heart of hearts they tried to do the right thing,” Niemeyer said. charlie – Yes, correct, sensitivity and common sense should have entered in this situation. WDNR used neither.
- “Could you have made a phone call before showing up, I mean, that’s a lot of resources,” WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry asked.
- Niemeyer continued “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,”
Niemeyer’s last statement is really over the top. There is no comparison or moral equivalence between a drug raid and a 35 lb. fawn. This case clearly demonstrates the problem with the “letter” of the law and the spirit of law. Or as most citizens think of it – common sense. In the sad case of Giggles the ability and the power of the position overruled compassion and common sense.
Deer who have found their way into life threatening predicaments such as stranded on ice flows or bucks with locked antlers are routinely saved when found. Further those who engage in saving them are given accolades not citations.
In the case of Giggles the fawn WDNR claimed the risk of CWD as the excuse to kill her. But it is well documented fawns do not have CWD nor are they carriers of CWD in their first 9 months of life. In this case the DNR could have issued a permit and allowed the fawn to return to an Illinois shelter as was the plan before they interfered.
Fortunately, Governor Walker agrees this WDNR enforcement action was uncalled for and over the top. He is demanding major changes in procedure.
Proposed Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources policy change August 30, 2013
Immediate reintroduction of wild animals into the wild
After voluntarily collecting an illegally captured wild animal, DNR staff would reintroduce the animal to the wild if it does not pose a threat to public health, the health of wildlife, or to the animal itself. In the case of deer, if a deer originates in a Chronic Wasting Disease zone, it could only be reintroduced in a CWD zone.
•Ability of a licensed rehabilitator to rehabilitate wild animals for reintroduction to the wild If a wild animal cannot be immediately released into the wild, but could be safely released after rehabilitation, it would be taken to a licensed rehabilitator. In the case of deer, following rehabilitation, a deer which originated in a CWD zone could only be reintroduced into a CWD zone.
•Restricted use of euthanasia DNR staff would only euthanize a wild animal if it is sick, highly likely to be diseased, or a threat to public health or the health of other wildlife. Additionally, the proposal calls for the following change which would require action by the state legislature to change state law:
• Ability of an individual to care for a captured deer with proper health and disease protections Individuals who illegally hold a captured wild deer would still face citations and penalties for illegally possessing the deer. They may be able to keep the deer if they meet a series of regulations to ensure the health of the deer and the state’s deer population as a whole. These include, but are not limited to, specific size and space requirements for an enclosure, health tests administered by a licensed veterinarian, and a notification process to both DNR and DATCP.
We are still waiting for changes in their law enforcement procedures. Sending 16 government agents to deal with one small fawn and 6 animal shelter employees is ridiculous. It is not the same as a drug raid.