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Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) kills all orphaned deer, under all circumstances.

Please sign this petition and ask them to change this policy!

Here is Lucky’s story, one that depicts the serious flaw in the Montana policy that kills all orphaned deer. Unfortunately, Lucky’s luck was very short-lived.

In June near Condon, Montana, two people witnessed a hit-and-run accident where four deer were struck by a car. The two stopped to pull the body of one of the deer off the road only to find that a fawn that had been in utero had been expelled from his mother in the accident. The pair rescued the fawn and took him to their home.  Because he was breathing very well and already trying to stand up, they took the fawn to a companion animal rescue in Eureka, where he managed to take a bit of food, then curled up and went to sleep in a laundry basket with one of the resident dogs.  Given his amazing story of survival, the fawn was named, Lucky.

Unfortunately for Lucky, the pair next decided to do what they felt was the right thing: They called the game warden with the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to see if there were a rescue/rehabilitation location that could help Lucky.

The next day the warden came to take Lucky – not to help him, but to kill him. Although his then-guardians pled with the warden for more than an hour, the warden explained that FWP’s policy left him no discretion, that all orphaned deer must be killed as a matter of policy. Lucky was put to death.

FWP policy dictates that all orphaned deer (and certain other animals) who are not able to be returned to the wild be killed. Although there is a wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena, Montana, the center refuses to take in bats, skunks, raccoons, elk, moose and deer “under any circumstances, due to risks related to disease, public health and welfare.”  This refusal is dictated by state policy for hooved animals that “prohibits the rehabilitation of ungulates  at the centralized Wildlife Center in Helena or by any third party.” 

FWP claims that, “The policy is necessary because Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease that affects deer and elk, is spreading in the United States and Canada. Although it has yet to be documented in wild populations in Montana, CWD is found in nearby states and provinces, and an infected animal could spread CWD from a holding center back into the wild.”  But that excuse doesn’t wash. FWP “tested more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2010-2011 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals.” 

In fact, there have been no reported cases of CWD in Montana and a test exists to detect it. FWP policy could simply be that all rescued animals be tested for CWD.

Lucky was born under very tragic circumstances, yet was miraculously saved by caring Montanans – only to be indefensibly killed by the government. 

Lucky isn’t the first baby deer to be killed needlessly. But we can try and ensure that he is one of the last. His tragedy should be a call for reform so that his death will not have been in vain.

Please sign this petition to the Montana FWP asking them to reconsider this policy and develop one that does not falsely protect public health at the expense  of innocent, orphaned wildlife.

Letter to
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Director Joe Maurier
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Phone: (406) 444-2535
Fax: (406) 444-4952

We, as concerned citizens, ask that you reconsider the current policy of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) that requires the killing of all orphaned ungulates in Montana pursuant to the FWP Policy on Intake, Rehabilitation, Holding and Disposition of Wildlife and the FWP Ungulate Euthanasia Policy. These two policies, together, allow for no discretion to save the innocent lives of orphaned ungulates who are no threat to the public health and welfare. The state understandably has an interest in protecting the public and wildlife from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), but the indiscriminate killing of all such ungulates is indefensible.

To date, no case of CWD has been reported in Montana. In fact, FWP’s own study testing more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2010-2011 hunting season did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals. See Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD Not Found in MT Wild Game (June 3, 2011) at Moreover, a live-animal test exists to determine if an animal carries the disease. See USDA, APHIS, Chronic Wasting Disease at

Finally, the policy creates incentives for otherwise law-abiding citizens to keep wildlife in circumstances that may harm both the animal and the public in order to save the animal from certain death at the hands of FWP.

We request that the policy be amended to reflect this reality and permit the warden or other appropriate official to allow the rehabilitation of orphaned ungulates in cases where there is an alternative available and the animal does not carry the disease.

Thank you for your serious consideration of this matter.

Joan Schaffner started this petition with a single signature, and now has 1,616 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.