Animal Law

Rescuing Deer Puts Wisconsin Man at Risk of Jail Time

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Updated: There’s a happy ending to the case of Charlotte the deer.

According to a report on Thursday, a Wisconsin man who rescued the fawn was being threatened with a fine and jail time for “unauthorized taking” of the animal.

Marvin Graaf took the fawn to his farm in Lake Geneva 15 months ago after she refused to budge from the scene where her mother became road kill, according to a Chicago Tribune column by John Kass. The deer now has a name—it’s Charlotte—and she greets visitors with a nuzzle.

Graaf told the newspaper he thought Charlotte would be killed by coyotes or hunters if he released her into the wild. No rescue shelters would take her because the deer population sometimes carries chronic wasting disease, and other animals could become infected.

The state of Wisconsin had a solution to Charlotte’s plight, Kass wrote on Thursday. It wanted “to kill her, right before Christmas.” Graaf was charged after he refused to turn Charlotte over to state officials who wanted to euthanize her. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to up to eight months in jail and fined up to $2,000. A hearing was scheduled for next Wednesday, but now it appears it won’t be needed.

The Chicago Tribune reported on Friday that the charges were expected to be dropped. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pardoned Charlotte and issued a press release titled “Gov. Walker Saves Charlotte the Deer.”

“Wisconsin politicians just couldn’t handle the angry heat applied by Chicago Tribune readers,” the new story said.

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