Death sentence for baby deer seized at animal shelter

Staff Report

KENOSHA, Wis.–WISN 12 News is investigating an operation that called out government agents to enforce a Wisconsin state policy that resulted in the death of a fawn.

The Society of St. Francis is a no-kill shelter on the Kenosha-Illinois border. Two weeks ago, shelter employee Ray Schulze was working in the barn when a group of squad cars arrived, and officers descended on the premises with a search warrant. Schulze said it was “like a SWAT team.”

Nine Department of Natural Resources agents and four deputy sheriffs arrived after two anonymous callers tipped off the DNR that a baby fawn had been brought there by an Illinois family that were worried the fawn had been abandoned.

Schulze said the fawn had been named “Giggles” because it made a noise that sounded like laughing. Schulze had videotaped the fawn during its two-week stay.

After receiving information about a possible violation of DNR policy, the warden drafted an affidavit for a search warrant, along with aerial photos showing the fawn going in and out of the barn.

Agents said they had to seize the deer because Wisconsin law forbids anyone to possess wildlife without a state-issued permit. Schulze explained that the next day, the deer was scheduled to go to a wildlife reserve in Illinois that allows rehabilitation of deer. He was shocked to see the agents come out carrying the fawn in a body bag.

When WISN 12 News questioned the DNR about the case, supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer said the agents were required by law to euthanize animals like the fawn because of the potential of spreading disease to humans. She said these were “difficult situations,” and the DNR empathized with people involved who were trying to do the right thing.

Niemeyer denied that the agents killed Giggles at the shelter. She said the fawn was tranquilized and then euthanized off-site.

Shelter President Cindy Schultz said no matter where it happened, it was still wrong. She plans to sue the DNR for removing Giggles without even a court hearing. She also wonders what this operation cost taxpayers.

The DNR told WISN 12 News that regardless of allegations in the search warrant, no charges will be filed against the shelter.

Ray Schulze says he still has nightmares about the incident and couldn’t bring himself to move Giggles’ feed bowl or baby bottle.

Some organizations are allowed to house wild deer, but only with a state-issued permit. Ironically, in one more day, the fawn would have been placed in an approved facility.

Posted Aug. 2. 2013

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