An Oregon family pleaded and begged with police and wildlife officers for eight hours on Wednesday to keep their two pet deer, Snowball and Bucky.
But the family lost their fight to keep their pets, and now they are utterly heartbroken. Authorities took Snowball, a 6-year-old doe, and Bucky, her yearling buck, away from their home.
The animals will be evaluated by veterinarians. They will either be transferred to a licensed wildlife facility, released into the wild or euthanized.
Under Oregon state law, it is illegal to keep most wildlife in captivity without a permit.
Wildlife officials said there were health and disease concerns with keeping deer as pets. They added that the deer “belong to everybody in the state of Oregon, not just a few people.”
Six years ago, while Jim Filipetti was driving with his children, he saw a white fawn with brown spots lying on the roadside. She was weak and had deformed back legs and hooves that curved inward. This deformity caused her pain and injuries when she tried to walk.
Filipetti took the fawn and brought her to a veterinarian. The veterinarian fit her deformed legs with tiny casts to straighten them. The family put carpet scraps on the floors to prevent Snowball from sliding. She even nibbled at their Christmas tree. Snowball was part of the family.
Snowball lived in the house for almost a year. She slept at the family’s bed and learned from Tasha, the family cocker spaniel. She pawed at people with her hoof when she wanted some attention.
After awhile, the family then moved Snowball to the yard. She mated with a blind buck, Mr. Magoo, who also lived with the family for some time before he died.
Bucky, her offspring, was born, and the two shared their yard with pot-bellied pigs and roosters.
But in March, authorities received an anonymous tip that the family was keeping deer on their property. State troopers inspected the property in April.
In some incidences, the state allows licenses to residents to care for deer or elk, but the state limits the number of licenses to 16, and there are none available. Also, animals must be legally required which the family did not do.
Both deer are friendly, but Snowball acts more like a dog than a deer. Authorities do not think that Snowball could survive on her own in the wild, so they are looking for a zoo or wildlife refuge for her to go to. If they cannot find a place for her, she would most likely be euthanized. It seems that Bucky is suitable for relocation in the wild.
There has been public outcry over the authorities seizing the deer from the family. Many Oregon residents said that Snowball and Bucky should be returned to the family especially if the state may euthanize the deer. They said the family took care of the deer and treated them like pets, and they should be granted permission to keep them.
UPDATE: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Roy Elicker put out a statement this morning saying that the deer will not be euthanized. They are looking at all types of options and one of those options may be returning the deer back to the family. But they reiterated that euthanasia would not be an option.
An Itchmo reader, Lynn, contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and this is the email response that she received:
We have received your comments regarding the two black-tailed deer that were being held illegally at a private residence in Molalla. We are working to find a solution that recognizes the familiesâ€™ attachment to the animals, but is in the best interest of the two deer and all of Oregonâ€™s wildlife.
Director Roy Elicker has publicly stated that the two deer will not be euthanized. State veterinarians are now caring for the deer. They are assessing their health and determining whether they have any diseases that may be harmful to them or to other wildlife. Those results are expected sometime this week.
The veterinarians are also evaluating the ability of the deer to survive in the wild. In all cases, the preferred solution is to return the deer to their native habitat.
Oregon law recognizes that wildlife should remain wild by prohibiting private possession of wild animals. This protects the public, other wildlife and the animals themselves.
The buck in this case has reached sexual maturity, is aggressive and poses a potential threat to the family and the public. Wild animals that are raised around people lose their natural fear of humans. The majority of the wildlife attacks on humans are by deer and other animals that no longer fear humans.
Private possession of wildlife also puts Oregonâ€™s other wildlife at risk. Chronic Wasting Disease and other diseases can be traced to situations where animals are kept in captivity. Fortunately, Oregon has not had any cases of this disease which is fatal to deer and elk.
Deer hair loss is another devastating disease that has had significant impacts on Black-tail deer populations. We are taking every possible precaution to prevent the introduction of diseases which could potentially devastate our wild deer and elk populations. Prohibiting private possession of wildlife is one way to prevent this from happening.
The law does allow for the licensing of facilities that are equipped to properly provide long-term care for captive wild animals. These facilities have ample room for the animals to roam and to graze on natural vegetation. They provide adequate and proper feed. Their staff is properly trained and equipped to respond to any situation that may arise. This ensures that deer, elk and other animals held at these facilities receive humane treatment.
In closing, we are exploring all of the options available under Oregon law. We are committed to finding a solution that provides proper care for these two deer, protects public health and all of Oregonâ€™s wildlife.
Source: The Oregonian
Photo: Oregon Live
(Thanks Vicki and mallard1975)