Decision Maker Response

Christopher Larson’s response

Christopher Larson
State Senator

Feb 14, 2013 — February 14, 2013

Dear Neighbor:

Thank you for contacting me via a petition on with your concerns regarding current wildlife rehabilitation regulations and the saga of an injured fawn in Indiana. I appreciate hearing your perspective as it helps me to better represent our community.

As you may know, a couple in eastern Indiana has been in the news recently regarding misdemeanor “illegal possession of a whitetail deer” charges they incurred for keeping a rescued fawn without a permit. In 2010, Jeff Counceller contacted the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to inform them he had found an injured fawn on his neighbor’s porch. Jeff and his wife, Jennifer, attempted to acquire a permit to keep and rehabilitate the white-tailed deer. They were informed that the best option would be to return the wild animal to the wild, despite its injuries. Instead, the Councellers kept the deer for two years before the DNR reminded them they could not keep the deer without a permit. Due to this law and the fact that the fawn had been out of its natural habitat for so long, the department informed the couple the deer would be euthanized. However, when a DNR officer arrived for the deer, it was gone.

Since then, the Counsellers were charged by the county prosecutor and faced up to 60 days of jail time due to their misdemeanor charges. Due to widespread coverage of the case, Indiana Governor Mike Pence asked the DNR to reevaluate. After their examination, officials asked the county prosecutors to drop the charges. As of right now, the Counsellers will not be penalized in any way for keeping the white-tailed deer.

It is apparent that all parties involved were only concerned with the overall health of Indiana wildlife – the Counsellers wanted to rehabilitate the injured fawn, and the Indiana DNR wanted to minimize human intrusion into the fragile ecosystems of their wildlife. This is a very interesting and unique case, and I am glad that it has since been peacefully resolved. I will be sure to keep your thoughts and the Counsellers’ unique circumstances in mind should legislation regarding rehabilitation regulations be introduced in Wisconsin during the current legislative session.

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Once again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. If you need assistance, or have concerns regarding any other state or community matters please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.

Chris Larson
State Senator

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